Just Another Ant
Friday, 27. September 2002
Godards "Masculin Féminin"

...heute um 22:30 auf 3sat.

Hier eine pointiert kulturpessimistische Deutung des Films vom Godard Biographen W.D. Wheeler:

In the wake of Pierrot le fou, Godard created one of his most compellingly bleak films of the 1960s, one of which still holds up well today. Fascinated by pop music, and the concomitant merchandising of pop music stars, Godard contacted Chantal Goya, already a well-known chanteuse of 'yé yé' music - a lushly orchestrated, bouncy, saccharine style of French pop music which ruled the airwaves in the mid-sixties. Godard proposed that Goya should appear as Madeleine in the film titled Masculin Féminin, working with Jean-Pierre Léaud (as Paul) [...]

Shot by Willy Kurant rather than Raoul Coutard, Masculin Féminin was rushed into production in November through December of 1965, and filmed almost entirely on location in Paris. Nearly everything in the filmm is shot with synchronous sound, and Godard with this film deepened his love for long takes, utilizing complex dollies to hold audience interest.
Ostensibly adapted from two stories by Guy de Maupassant, "La Femme de Paul" and "Le Signe", the film deals with the developing relationship between Paul and Madeleine, and the harsh throwaway world of pop music business, which is seen by Godard as a brutally rapacious enterprise.


The drab greyness of Masculin Féminin makes even the bleak, futuristic Paris of Alphaville seem glittering by comparison. Once again, Godard uses mostly natural light, and shoots much of the film at night (highlighting the depressing rush of the Parisian Christmas buying frenzy). Godard's camera assumes a near-documentary veracity in this film [...]
The camerawork throughout the film is sparse and functional, and heavily "tripoded". There are only a few handheld shots [...]
The film abounds in petty cruelties and savage throwaway gags; [...]
In the entire world of Masculin Féminin, there is not an ounce of warmth or compassion.


Structured as a series of "15 precise acts", and interspersed with typically Godardian full-screen slogans ("Purity is not of this earth, bt every ten years it shines and flashes"; "A mole has no consciousness, but it digs in a specific direction"; "This film could be called the children of Marx and Coca Cola - think of it what you like") accompanied by the random sound of rifle fire, Masculin Féminin is a meditation on the seeming impossibility of relations between the sexes, and the complete commercialism of contemporary art and music.


It is also worth noting that Masculin Féminin is Godard's last film in black and white; the commercial necessity of color for subsequent sales to television had become, by 1966, an unavoidable reality.

(Wheeler Winston Dixon in: "The Films of Jean-Luc Godard" (S. 67-70. University of New York Press, 1997)

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