The lynchpin of the French New Wave, Jean-Luc Godard was arguably the most influential filmmaker of the postwar era. Beginning with his groundbreaking 1959 feature debut A Bout de Souffle, Godard revolutionized the motion picture form, freeing the medium from the shackles of its long-accepted cinematic language by rewriting the rules of narrative, continuity, sound, and camera work. Later in his career, he also challenged the common means of feature production, distribution, and exhibition, all in an effort to subvert the conventions of the Hollywood formula to create a new kind of film.
Godard was born in Paris on December 3, 1930, the second of four children. After receiving his primary education in Nyon, Switzerland – during World War II, he became a naturalized Swiss citizen – he studied ethnology at the Sorbonne, but spent the vast majority of his days at the Cine-Club du Quartier Latin, where he first met fellow film fanatics Francois Truffaut and Jacques Rivette. In May… read more
“Oh, Woe is Me” (1993) is Godard’s Study of the Changing Sensibility of Our Epoch In the post WWII period of flowering democracy of material prosperity and secular spirituality, people were proud of rituals of mutual tolerance and development of scientific knowledge. But closer to the end of the century: with the growing uncertainty and unpredictability of life and enlarging opportunities to make easy money outside the West (and with the influx of foreigners, represented in the film by Zeus’ entourage) something new happened with the Western soul and Godard was very quick to register it in “Woe”. What happened is the intensification of interest toward the super-natural (super-human) power. People started to think not about god (they always were believers) but about god’s power, god’s might. They even started to feel the power of (human-made) technology as a super-human might, for example, as we see in the film, the passing ship puts many into a fascinated stupor, the passing train activates in some cartoonish iconoclastic reaction, or the talking pin-ball machine mesmerizes not only characters but also viewers. Swollen interest toward the super-human energies is equally noticeable in different social strata (the literature professor is fixated on finding in poetic texts the taste for super-human perfection, as Rachel Donnadieu, a parishioner and wife of a garage-owner finds super-human aura in her prosaic husband Simon). People’s fixation on technological toys helps the growth of their new pseudo-theological sensitivity. Rachel’s husband Simon also cannot resist, around his business trip to Far East, this new self-aggrandizing feeling. Is Simon starting to feel himself as Zeus and decided to surprise his wife by suddenly returning to her as God (feeling himself as God), or has Zeus incarnated Himself into poor Simon to spend the night with Simon’s loyal wife? We are not suppose to expect any help from Godard on the level of the plot – “objective” realities are always ambiguous because they are partially produced by human feelings and human perceptions, we unconsciously participate in creating phenomena we perceive as belonging to external world. Godard’s unbelievable film is like life, impossible and natural. “Woe is Me” helps us not only to understand better our own complexes (and be astonished by another side of our everyday life) but to get a new feeling of our epoch changing in the direction nobody knows. Read articles dedicated to films by Godard, Resnais, Bergman, Pasolini, Cavani, Bunuel, Kurosawa and Bertolucci (with analyses of shots from films) at: www.actingoutpolitics.com By Victor
From the images to the music to the words, this is easily Godard's most beautiful film, and tied with Pierrot le fou as the Godard I've rewatched the most. While it is impossible on the first viewing, it is a revelation on the second. It is best watched as an essay film, with 2 or 3 Things being the closest point of comparison. Do not make the same mistake that Abraham Klimt made by trying to find a story.
“Oh, Woe is Me” (1993) is Godard’s Study of the Changing Sensibility of Our Epoch
In the post WWII period of flowering democracy of material prosperity and secular spirituality, people were proud… read review