FR: Marche " Eloge de l'Amour"-54th Cannes Film Festival
Jean-Luc Godard after completing his “Eloge de L’amour

“Eloge de L’Amour” is a film about private love and its public environment – social (the 21st century) and cultural (human history). Of course, Godard’s film cannot be about a particular love affair in general – a kind of particularized on the surface and generalized in essence human experience, love in which everybody can recognize him/herself, even pets and poppies. Godard’s film is not representing love as a love story, as a plot in love with screen, like in commercial movie-making. “Eloge de L’Amour” doesn’t appeal to the money in the viewers’ pockets by making love as easily recognizable as banknotes. Godard’s film is not just about “love”, but about a unique and a rare amorous experiences of a very particular people, Bertha and Edgar, who are exceptionally educated in humanistic sciences (liberal arts) and for whom their particular lives are only a part of their intense interest in the big world. Godard is aware that for the viewers to be able not even to understand the film but just to be able to concentrate on it, it is necessary to have a very rare quality – the ability to love the amorous couples (not sexually, of course) – to enjoy (not voueristically, but disinterestedly) how other people love one another.

In other words, you need to be able to appreciate the specific beautty of Bertha-Edgar love which is too noble, too serious, too sublime for the conditions of life in 21st century (because of the growing indifference of the social and psychological environment towards the qualities of refinement and sensitivity in private relationships). Godard’s film follows Michelangelo Antonioni, Ingmar Bergman and Alain Resnais in their analysis of the psychology of private love and the incompatibility of a sophisticated amorous experience with modern conditions of life. Antonioni in his “Il Grido“, “La Notte”, “L’Avventura” and “L’Eclisse”, and Bergman in his “Anna’s Passion”, “Shame” and “From the Life of Marionettes” warn us how life vulgarized by conformist competition, predatory self-assertion, economic manipulation, ontological rivalry and hedonism of vanity makes it impossible for the beloveds with intelligent hearts and souls to realize their love. Godard confirms and radicalizes Antonioni’s and Bergman’s conclusions in culturological perspective. He shows how private love (including the one between Bertha and Edgar) gets trapped and becomes stifled and suffocated. As heroes of Alain Resnais’ “Hiroshima mon amour”, Bertha and Edgar in order to realize their love for each other have to sacrifice their relationship. They sacrifice their love’s realization for the sake of their love.

A stressful and chaotic environment that doesn’t leave any place for human psychological development and disinterested thinking Godard fills with burlesque landscapes and urbanistic build-up of a digested stone full of human inhabitants and business outposts. At the end of color half of the film we see how world around Edgar (driving to the second part of the film) is becoming shattered in his perception. Is the fragmentation of the physical world an effect of Edgar’s perception or his perception is registering what is really taking place? Here we are dealing with a double, simultaneous decomposition of reality – objective and subjective: when both feed on and at the same time emptify one another. We are already in the 21st century. Destruction of civilization starts with destruction of the human soul. Like after something like an invisible global neutron bomb, civilization is really destroyed, while it continues without human beings.

Any person who is psychologically able not to use pacifier of entertainment and dares to confront the intellectual and existential challenge of cinematic art should meet and expose him/herself to Godard’s “Eulogy of Love” and enjoy being lost and helpless and still find the way again inside Godard’s incredible work.

Jean-Luc Godard (JLG) (to the right), Cecile Camp (Bertha) and Bruno Putzulu (Edgar)

Godard’s principle of working with actors contradicts and transcends that of the commercial directors. He, without, of course, claiming it, works with actors not only as a film director in a applied (functional) sense but as a kind of a therapist and guru of the psychological development of the actors’ personalities. Godard doesn’t have another choice – his characters are much more developed (much more fundamentally elaborated by screenwriting and directorial art than people in the conditions of factual life). The main characters his actors play are not only ahead in psychological development (not in moralistic sense but as individuals) of the actors who play them. They, as Godard directorially interprets them are able to clear the perspective for the psychological development of the actors playing them while the circumstances of actors’ lives can be absolutely different from that of the characters they try to impersonate. But Godard is doing much more than that, he is a kind of aesthetico-cognitivist teacher of the viewers as well. In his films (and especially in the ones like his “Eloge…”) the protagonists and latently the actors personifying them, become non-behavioral and beyond literal emulation and the level of social role models – pointers towards the existentially educational orientation, the routs of possible spiritual development.

54th Cannes Festival: Photo-call of " Eloge a l'Amour" by Jean-Luc Godard In Cannes, France On May 15, 2001-
Jean-Luc Godard (JLG), Cecile Camp and Bruno Putzulu at 54th Cannes Film Festival

Godard in the film personifies himself – in the middle of the night Paris – a central and a marginalized figure, a semi-human being and semi-phantom trying to tell people something exceptionally important but remaining a shadow of Paris’ darkness and Paris’ lights amidst its noise and its silence.

Three Leviathans are coming to the surface in the 21st century again while people are preoccupied with pop-music, sports events and pop-marriages.

Edgar is rushing to the future from the bright tunnel of hope – he will meet Bertha – his amorous match, but he doesn’t know that his happiness can come only together with truth, and the truth in the 21st century will not be an encouraging one. He will understand this truth better in the black-and-white part of the film.

The narrow opening between the ocean and sky is closed – filled by the thick orange-pink membrane reflecting the sunset which masks frightening omen.

Godard’s “Eloge de L’Amour” is dedicated to two persons, Edgar and Bertha who are both going through the ordeal of confronting truth that in 21st century world contradicts love

Bertha is trying to explain to the American movie-business people what they will not be able to grasp:
-You said, “American writer”. What “Americans” do you mean? South America?
-The United States, of course.
-Of course. But Brazil’s states are united too. In Brazil they’re called Brazilians.
-No, I said the United States of North America.
-The United Mexican States are N. America, and they’re Mexicans. In Canada they’re called Canadians. Which United States do you mean?
-I just said: the United States of the North.
-Well, then, the inhabitants of your united state, whatever they called. See? You don’t have a name. This man signed for a country whose inhabitants have no name. No wonder, they need other people’s stories, other people’s legends. You are like us. You are looking for the origin: parents, siblings, cousins. Nothing original about that. But we seek it inside ourselves. Poor you! With no history, you have to seek it elsewhere, in Vietnam, Sarajevo.
-Okay, miss.
-Do you know the origin of Okay? One of your generals, during the Civil War, used it in his report: “0 (zero)-killed.”

Isn’t it strange how history has been replaced by technology and how democracy was replaced by plutocracy?

In spite of the overcrowdedness and entropy of urbanistic life Godard points at the existence of an instant oasises of self- and world-awareness like the poster advertizing Bresson’s “Pickpocket”, one of the best films of the time.

Posted on Dec 19 2014 –   Jean Luc Godard’s “Eloge de Amour/In Praise of Love/Eulogy to Love” (2001) – Godard’s Introduction To The New Century (Spiritually Intellectual Souls Amidst A Growing Social Anomie And Cultural Degradation)  by Acting-Out Politics