Jean-Luc Godard with a camera, still stubbornly, unstoppably, beautifully himself

JLG is trying to explain something to the interviewer, but his eyes tell us that in spite of knowing perfectly well in what kind of a world he lives in today, he still can’t help but be surprised at the mental condition of the person he is communicating to.

“Film Socialisme” is not about “socialism” but – the direction of Western civilization obsessed with “technological and material progress” towards more wealth and power. The film consists of three parts – the luxury liner’s cruise towards a “promising future”, life in a French provincial city symbolizing the “backward” back-yard of our civilization, and a poetic representation of the repressed and the pauperized people’s struggle for human dignity in various parts of the world. If the first two parts are fictional, the third consists of Godard’s montage of clips and stills from fictional and documentary films that were shot at different times by filmmakers of various nationalities.

The plot of the film is dominated by the description of the destiny of two families – a previous high SS-rank Otto Goldberg, big scale thief of public money, and his two grandchildren (corrupted by consumerism and amorously fixated on each other as a psychological compensation), and the garage owners in rural France and their two children (searching for meaning of life and oriented on psychological growth).

Each part is constructed in a different stylistic paradigm. Life of the passengers on the “ship of progress” moving towards a more technological and financial power, is depicted by a combination of two clashing ideas – that of the social/financial elite and that of the crowd of demos. By this paradoxical blend: by showing the rich as the crowd, Godard is making a point about the spiritual emptiness and psychological impoverishment of many in today’s Western population where poor are prone to be idolatrous of the rich and dream to belong to the financial elites. Godard shows the wealthy as spiritual bums and psychologically homeless. The small business people of the second part of the film, on the other hand, are sensitive and existentially intelligent, not with calculating but with human minds, and psychologically whole – their depiction is not “generalized”, Godard addresses them with an inexhaustible curiosity and compassion. It is here that Godard creates the most startling images of the film, like an incredible pantomime of mutual beyond-bodily recognition between a son and his mother.

The third part of the film is visually musical and emotionally tormenting. We see the cruelty of power, lust of wealth, indifference of prosperity, the bleeding public realm, emotional violence and absence of grace. And we see human suffering and human heroism of continuous fight for justice, equality and humanity. The film establishes the film director as a visionary spokesman for the human destiny in 21st century.

The wife of a small business owner in rural France is running for local office and is making a film clip with her daughter for her election campaign

People are on their way to the city while the liner on which they travel to the “future” is on one of its stops. They look so confident when they are together on the cruise ship, but they are just prosaic ants outside it.

This is not a portrait of global petro-corporation. It is the very gaze of oil transformed into gasoline – the gaze of 21st century human destiny looking at humans.

In an epoch of absolute monarchy of global corporations a small businessman finds himself as a new kind of proletarian. From the one side, he faces pauperization as a result of “austerity” that is in the process of being imposed by the wealthy decision makers, but from another side, he keeps his humanity in the world of robots and abstract calculations.

Posted on Nov 25 2012 –   Jean-Luc Godard’s “Film Socialisme” (2010) – Prophetic Cinematic Discourse of Compassion, Grief, Truth and Future  by Acting-Out Politics