PC. "Tout Va Bien" would recover and expand the extraordinary initial hypnotic/deafening travelling at the car factory, one of this collective's great moments. The sound erupts stridently in and the political prophecy arises from off, which by conjugation with image leads to an iridescent duality: work is what is intertwined with a political doing called cinema.
British Sounds is a revolutionary film, both in the cinematic and the political definition of the term 'revolutionary'. Made for British television and rejected, the documentary explores class conflicts in Britain and ways to take action. Directed by Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Henri Roger, as well as 'Comrades of the Dziga Vertov Groupe', British Sounds is a film that radically aestheticizes radical politics; [cont.]
A great Marxist film text. Some parts are a little hard to get through, but I love the fist busting through teh flag, opening factory scene (just like the long take from "Weekend!") and the juxtaposition scene with the newscaster. It wavers a little, but it's never disinteresting. Worth a watch at less than an hour.
While never precisely hectoring (it is too broken-down, muddy, diffuse, at odds with itself) BRITISH SOUNDS is nonetheless too declamatory at times. The final minutes are very weak indeed. Looking for new forms in fractured times, SOUNDS is profoundly successful in terms of its finding a form adequate to what it assays, though it seems to be advocating for a kind of militant cinema it doesn't actually represent.
Godard in agit-prop mode - surprisingly watchable and at times engaging: the opening production line section and the later discussion amongst the workers have a real poignancy to them. The question for me is whether JLG recognised the irony of his positions: feminist discourse against male gaze camerawork, or the superficiality of the students' clearly privileged radicalism - rhetorically shaky but provocative.
How does revolutionary art break through the screen of the flat bourgeois spectacle (like a fist punching through the flag)? The camera captures in the central section, in black and white a static conventional ‘talking head’ image of a right wing ranter, surrounding this with a barrage of active words and images in vibrant color. We are thus outraged, bored, intrigued or otherwise engaged in the struggle.
JLG's Dziga Vertov era pieces work like a political video essay that lacks the narrative nous of his New Wave era films. There are still many merits nonetheless. His analysis of Marxist thought within a British context intrigues in displaying 70s Leftist groupthink. However, it has dated in its reading of Communism in tandem with Socialism. I would argue that JLG was a better filmmaker than a documentarian.
It is what it is, really. A relic from an era where Maoist ideology gripped the bourgeoise boheme of London as much as it did in La France. Interesting use of the camera to tell a story; fine performances from the actors and a subliminal whisper to 'strike'. It does feel dated.
Unions now more or less non existent the gig economy /people working longer hours for less. Workers in a car plant discussing socialism and communism in the same breath little did they know how f*****d we all came to be and how that language would be driven out of people’s mouths.
Typical Godardian grit in the salad with the expected shards of dissonant provocation and agit prop, be they political or stylistic. One gets the gist in the first ten minutes - although the car assembly-line footage is rather mesmeric - with the remainder almost a parody of these things. However the wannabe student protestors are suitably sent-up.
3.4 stars. Showing this to my students for a class on Marxism I found this far less interminable than I remembered it! It demands active engagement - in fact, I'd say it's only as useful as the debate surrounding it. Laudably, when watched alongside 'Breathless', it impresses how much Godard's gender politics had developed within a decade. Tracking shot of the auto factory vs. traffic jam in 'Weekend' ~dialectics.
With all of the posturing and didacticism, you'd think Godard might be a bit more self-aware of how silly something like the People's Poster Brigade appears, set against the opening tracking shot. Or maybe he is self-aware, and the irony is supposed to be realized; but alas I remain unconvinced, mostly due to a sequence that a person more generous than I would call a misfire of an attempt at a proto-feminist cinema.
If “A Film Like Any Other” bored, “British Sounds” does not. The movie feels more relevant today than then. Forced competition for capital drives the cost of living higher, breaking society down, daily exposed in mass killings, opiate and other drug epidemics, and a reduced level of education electing (by not voting) oppressors who cannot lead.