socialism-1

The single defining preoccupation in Jean-Luc Godard’s prolific career has been that of language — or perhaps more accurately, the limitations of language. To address this point, Godard has employed various tones and styles throughout the years. Early in his career, he had his muse Anna Karina play a heart-of-gold prostitute who earnestly asks whether language can properly communicate human emotions. In the mid-eighties, Godard employed a cynical, cantankerous, and confrontational tone, which culminated in the supremely abstruse King Lear. He questioned the ability of modern technology to facilitate communication by appearing in the film with a rasta-like hairstyle with electronic wires for dreads. Now in his eightieth year, Godard seems to have resigned himself to the inherent imperfections of language. During a scene in Film Socialisme, a young woman imitates a cat by enunciating m-e-o-w with onomatopoeia exactness. Her parents tell her in German to stop, and she replies in French that “meow” was the ancient Egyptian word for “cat”. And with this bizarre exchange, the man who made the jump cut a familiar facet of contemporary filmic language continues to show his innovative chops. With Film Socialisme, Godard has shot one of the most gorgeous digital features ever. Should this be the master filmmaker’s swan song, it is an apt embodiment of the qualities of technical innovation and philosophical musing that defined his oeuvre.