Wednesday, February 23, 2005

1. Notre Musique, 2004 (Dir. Jean-Luc Godard) (Wellspring)

"Killing a man to defend an idea isn't defending an idea, it's killing a man." I think I am still stepping back from Godard's new film, Notre Musique, and assessing my response. I turn to Godard's attack on Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 during the Cannes Film Festival as an opening. This is not because I disliked Moore's film, actually I think it is a sad film, but because Godard when criticizing Moore made an appropriate claim that, "Moore doesn't distinguish between text and image," where here Godard does. Actually, Godard has a scene in this film where he gives a lecture to film students on text and image, shot counter shot, and the future of video in film (on which he stays mute). These are two completely different films and Notre Musique successfully seeks a larger issue.

Notre Musique is divided into three ‘kingdoms’ the first “hell” (the text part) composed of a montage of fictional and documentary war footage that strobes in and out. It made me think of Marine Hugonnier’s film, Ariana, and the totality and euphoria of the panorama in regards to the history of Afghanistan, but in the light of the US-led invasion.

Back to Godard, the second ‘kingdom’ is aptly titled “purgatory” and is the bulk of the film containing characters playing themselves such as Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwich and Spanish writer Juan Goytisolo, as well as fictional characters who wander throughout the city interacting and having circular conversations about war, colonialism, martyrdom, etc. The two primary fictional characters are Israeli Jews Judith Lerner (Sarah Adler) and Olga Brodsky (Nade Dieu.) One drawn to Sarajevo, because she seeks to see reconciliation, the other drawn to much darker conclusions.

The third ‘kingdom,’ “heaven,” is composed mainly of images and rests in an idyll by a large protected lake. As the United States continues its unjustified occupations in Iraq, its unconstitutional imprisonments in Guantanemo, its conflict in Afghanistan, its blind eye to Sudan, and indiscriminate straw-grasping thirst for conflict in Iran, North Korea, or Syria, it is clear that this is a century of imposed war. Godard is sifting through the fact that war has become our music, that “a survivor is not only changed, he becomes someone else”, that utopian ideals have ended. And for me, my country has ended them.

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