Financial Pseudo-democracy And Its Structures – Legalized, Semi-illegal And Illegal Theft, Terrorist Anti-terrorism and Jaw-Jobs

The film depicts the mis-incarnation of Carmen-archetype into post-modern life

Bouts of Carmen’s “mystical” language (“it’s in me, in you. It makes terrible waves… Everything shakes. The earth, the house, me…”) echoes the title and meaning of Luchino Visconti’s “La terra trema/The Earth is Trembling” (1948)

Introduction 1. Carmen

“It’s in me, in you. It makes terrible waves. I don’t know much, but I know – the innocent don’t control this world. We’ll go on, if possible. I’m not scared, but I never knew how to get involved. I’m the girl, who shouldn’t be called Carmen“.
Carmen in the film

Here, we see Carmen (Maruschka Detmers) as a person very attentive to the world but also disappointed in it

Introduction 2. Jose/Joe/Joseph

“Everything shakes. The earth, the house, me… my ass also shakes“.
Carmen and Joseph in the film

Joseph (Jacques Bonnaffe) suffers from being refused (by Carmen who preferred “a “toreador of revolution”), amidst a culture drugged by electronic technology. Here, we see him (who belongs to and simultaneously emptied by an irresistible consumerism of entertainment) looking for consolation.

Chapter 1. Intellectual artist as an outcast

Is Jean-Luc’s character trying to grasp thought or conversely to avoid thinking? He came to spend time in a sanatorium in order to liberate himself from the world and not to surrender to gluttonous illusions.

Here, Godard is parodying today’s art arming itself with newest technology. He is laughing at his own destiny as a film director in times when making films means just a money-making enterprise, which has very little to do with art or understanding of life or just thinking and feeling the reality which itself is beyond (disinterested) feeling.

Jean-Luc, as if, wants to be sure that he is still different from the world surrounding him – that there is a glass window between them, that seeing something doesn’t mean to automatically identify with it.

When Godard is still dreaming about making a film – about the “improbable possibility” not to make (commercial) entertainment, he surrenders to absurd verbalizations with the nurse while being aware of the absurd nature of what he is saying.

Godard is meeting with the “film producer” who is in reality a disguised leader of a terrorist group (which Carmen is a member of), looking how to propagandize their cause and secretly planning to have their terrorist action filmed

Chapter 2. Spirituality of the “great art”. Claire as an alternative heroine of the film

Claire (Myriem Roussel) is a “social friend” of Joseph. She is far from being like Carmen – she will never trespass the distance between friends, even on the level of feelings. She is occupied with sublime tasks.

Claire works very hard to be on the level of serious art’s demands

For Claire there is no difference between art and life – for her life is the dedication of her whole organism to satisfy art’s despotic sublime expectations

In this shot we have Godard’s ironic visual representation of serious music as a communal effort. In the middle of the shot we see the very center of gravity of musical creativity – the very text of music for various people to love, to repeat, and to follow in inspired way. The musicians are represented as the flesh-bone support of musical beauty (we see only lower – anonymous body parts of the musicians). People are not addressed in existential terms – music transcends human life. Beauty becomes de-existentialized in the very moment it addresses the human soul. It’s from here comes Claire’s inability for emotional contact with Joseph, who is left to his primitive conservative reactions. Carmen, on the other hand, is able to breach Joseph’s emotional wall, but with fatal results.

Chapter 3. Aggressive and erotic waves between Carmen and Joseph

The bank robbery is Godard’s image for today’s post-democratic economy, the very engine of which is profitmaking with minimalized or without any limitations. In the center we see Joseph in police uniform – his job is to protect the bank.

“Love” in the film starts as a stratagem in a fight, where kiss (between Carmen and Joseph) is an equivalent of disarming the enemy.

While running from police Carmen and Joseph had both to use the men’s room – Godard’s gentle parody on the ideological use of gender equality issue (with a hint at post-modern frivolous openness to transgender experimentation). In this still we see the real beginning of the utopian love between a conservative guy and an emancipated young woman. A (dynamic) progressivism and a “dynamic” – energetically calculating self-defensive conservatism are both establishing extreme forms of behavior relying on power over another person(s).

The closer Carmen feels herself to Joseph – the more her womanliness surfaces through her emancipated personality. We feel how the ability for tenderness is, as if, born from the power of her character.

We see here how Carmen descends on Joseph’s inertia – on his stubborn and conserved nature, how her emotional strength shows through her amorous openness to him (pay attention to how severely she is holding his hair). Their love is born in self-assertion and unconscious desire to dominate each other.

To do the honors to Godard’s Carmen’s immanent femininity (in the depths of her emancipated demeanor), a moment of natural tranquility around love, which we see in this still certifies the genuineness of this two young people’s amorous attempts.

Carmen’s bodily openness to Joseph is amorous and friendly, which underlines not only their mutual amorous reciprocity, but commonality of their humanity.

Sharing only puffs seems trivial – in reality it’s confirmation of their love by friendship

But with love between Carmen (a person with a progressive imagination) and Joseph (conservatively oriented) comes clash of wills that’s sometimes almost inseparable from caresses. Look at how strained their arms and hands are.

Carmen’s nudity is royal – it seduces not seductively, but imposingly. It seduces by provoking resistance (by stimulating negative dependence), which becomes proof of love and prediction of a pending danger

Chapter 4. Womb of tranquility embraces mutual love

Carmen’s gaze at Joseph is not a gaze of love, but that of a loving frankness of being – it, as if, establishes between them a special – spousal emotional space belonging only to them.

This Carmen’s gaze bares, as if, a unique code of emotional understanding meant for two souls only.

In this third still of chapter 4, Carmen’s gaze retreats when Joseph’s advances, because in this moment retreat means advantage – it is a form of refusing love (when the man is losing even while he is advancing). This retreating response on part of Carmen tells us that she unconsciously perceives Joseph’s direct gaze-to-gaze as it is – as a demand of proof of her love, of her acceptance of him, and she retreats because she doesn’t want to give this confirmation.

Carmen’s gaze in shot 4, shows her (living/trembling) joy connected with her memories of an erotic nature, which were so fundamental for her emotional liveliness, that it became part of the very amorous nucleus of her soul

Carmen shares with Joseph her painful and joyous experience with “Uncle Jean”, which made her able to enjoy life and to suffer it as an adult and became the very heart of her emotional vitality

Shots six and seven of chapter 4 depict Carmen’s soul in a sublimated – emotionally orgasmic trembling, to which sensitive men, certainly not Joseph, couldn’t resist to react in a spontaneous emotional response

These precious moments lighting erotic togetherness are long ego became for Carmen the very psychological reserves not only of her sexual attractiveness, but her very ability to continue to live as human being (not as robot following reasons and necessities)

Chapter 5. Chaos and entropy as a result of structural repression provoking mindless resistance

“Revolution” demands Carmen to itself

Here, we see Joseph in paradigmatic moment of his life – he is protecting the bank against robbers and soon will meet Carmen, when their love will be conceived in the atmosphere of constant strain and stressful rivalry and fight for jobs or for global domination, amidst aggression and indifference, and compensatory consumerism and megalomania-stimulating entertainment.

In the bank, which the “revolutionary terrorists” including Carmen are trying to rob not without success, the work of low level personnel continues as if nothing.

Bank’s janitors need to be paid even for the time when the bank is in a process of being robbed – time, as it’s well known in a decent society “is money“

This is how real love might end in countries where many people have a manipulative and appropriative position towards others

Chapter 6. End of revolution inside chaos

War in reality is a very static experience, like technical science – a lot of movement inside existential stasis. All the change is connected with – who is winning – “we” over “them” or “they” over “us”, but “our” identity is the same regardless we have won or defeated.

Everything is repeatable in war and terrorism, when humans are against humans or humans against nature. But pay attention to the appearance on the right side of the shot Carmen’s boss (and lover). He is victorious but not for long.

All the possible situations are calculated in advance, even the surprises, and the forms of domination and resistance, forms of obedience and disobedience are thought through by a computerized analysis. But where is Carmen – shouldn’t she be in the center of a revolutionary action?

Computers produce countless petti innovations, like today’s democratic pluralism. Oh, we see Carmen on the left – the figure in white – she was just absent!

Terrorists’ action is stopped by the terrorist action of the police. What is provoked terrorism in the first place returns to itself – temporarily, until the next wave of terrorism.

Who is a “fool”, Joseph or Carmen or both? But look at Joseph’s gaze in the moment he is shooting Carmen – isn’t it impregnated by love? For Joseph to kill his beloved, the only person he loves, is a final act of love.

The fact that while watching Godard’s film for the first time it’s difficult to avoid some associations with Georges Biset’s “opera-comique” about a “naive soldier” Jose, the Gypsy seductress and the “glamorous torero”, reminds us that Godard is a virtuoso poly-genre-ist (he uses the semantic space between various plots, themes and styles to build his incredible film-castles where life is transformed into something like “cinematic utopias” – something different and other than life, with unexpected layers of meanings). Like an architect Godard makes from life, cultural motifs and visible world unique semantic and stylistic constructions. “First Name: Carmen” is one of these constructions, where a “naive soldier” became culturally illiterate policeman, Gypsy harlot – an emancipated and educated young woman, and toreador with his bas and aria-march – the very revolutionary enterprise lubricated with ideals and dedication of entrepreneurs of revolution. It’s this enterprise made Carmen “betray” the policeman-Joseph with toreadors of revolutionary movement ready to kill or behaviorally change the bulls-guards of status quo. Finally, the Gypsy women and smugglers – the extras in the opera, have been transformed by Godard into janitors, waitresses and petty or ambitious philistines of both genders.

Of course, this “transliteration” from opera to film came with price of making the veiled absurdity of Prosper Merimee’s story like a proud pose. Godard registers the pathetic meaninglessness of anti-revolution, revolution and a possessive love (of Joseph’s kind), which in our time tends to combine sentimental drive with sexual obsessiveness and manipulation of circumstances to promote and stabilize amorous and marital success.

It looks that Godard sees the very prospect of revolution as a “pragmatic” enterprise (including the robbery of the bank and terrorist tactics) not only moral catastrophe, but venture which in advance is doomed to failure and is just an absurdist etude with tragic consequences. But the film is also debunking the entrenched counter-revolution (Godard thinks that today’s police force and, for that matter, the army can more and more be prone to act as a predator), and pseudo-peaceful philistines (bank customers waiting for the robbery to end, or visitors of the restaurant, dreaming to dine with celebrities, or the maids in hotel and waiters in restaurant, where terrorist are planning their event). The philistines are various categories of proto-terrorists (the people who can easily transform into survivors by any price and instant murderers). For people who watch movies for distracting themselves from the truth of life, for getting hope and “become more optimistic”, or to see a leader who promises to save them or scapegoat whom viewers can hate and feel better, Godard’s film will be a waste of time and loss of pocket money. Only for people who are able to perceive the world through the membrane of their mind-and-heart the experience of watching “First Name: Carmen” will be immensely enriching.

“First Name: Carmen” analyses the psychology of modern Carmen and Jose/Joe/Joseph and through this shows how human love interacts with human history. Their unconscious archetypes are messy revolutionary and equally messy counter-revolutionary “inspirations” (or mindlessly aggressively rebellious aspirations and equally mindless repressive counter-rebellious ones).

These unconscious determinations are the part of the awkward, crude and unproductive nature of basic socio-political conflicts in today’s history. Something in modern life cannot allow for the very possibility of genuinely humanistic efforts to exist. Today’s human society is never provided existentially-spiritual education to frame the fight for further liberation of humanity. Carmen’s dives into mystical language are semantically helpless, like Joseph’s self-centered perception of the world – he is fixated on one thing only – his need to be loved by Carmen, his right to possess her.

Only two characters of the film go out of semantic monotony of the very construction of our human world today – one is Godard playing the a film-director disappointed by the impossibility of getting financing for serious film (not commercial entertainment movie), and the “alternative heroine”, Claire (Myriem Roussel), a violinist and a social friend of Joseph. But the fact that these two characters transcend the reality depicted in the film, cannot open the genuine way to their transcendence.

Today’s world is organized negatively in a very sophisticated way. In the film – revolution is handled through counter-revolution and counter-revolution is addressed by revolution. The both structures are equally meaningless, but effective in mutually neutralizing one another. But the philistines are neutralized by their philistinism – these people are not like Carmen or Joseph who can risk and make existential mistakes. Philistines don’t even make mistakes – they’re in advance prevented from making them. On the other hand, the characters played by Godard and Myriem Roussel are kind of broken in advance. The wit and aphoristic competence of Godard’s character or serious dedication to musical art (Claire) are dead by being alive. If philistines are dead like (programmed) robots with predictable behavior, the two exceptions from the world of “First Name: Carmen” are broken alive, while they are still alive their aliveness itself is broken.

Is Godard’s Carmen able or not able to love? The paradox is that she is remarkably, overwhelmingly capable of love, much more than Carmen of Prosper Merimee and Georges Biset, but the very “semantic structure”/orientation of modern societies is not able, it seems, to sustain disinterested human love of emotional scope and intensity. Two factors among many others make it especially impossible for disinterested human love to flower – the most perniciously entrenched conservatism wedded to profit-by any price bottom line, and the very psychologica2017 – l atmosphere of today’s societies based on rivalry, competition, consumerism, and the obsessive need to be entertained. Being passionately tied to seductive robotic “organisms” of amorous fixation – on technical toys including military style of guns in private hands and entertaining mass culture, people are losing what was once the culmination of happiness – love as a “miracle“, love as a gift, love as something stronger than strength and richer than wealth. Today’s tendency to create symbiotic relations with our professions and hobby helps us to forget about anything else, and general aggressiveness and belligerency, growing xenophobia and primordial fear of violent death, which feeds on intolerance and indifference to other people, adds even more to existentially spiritual degradation of our life today.

Godard’s virtuoso analysis of the structure of post-modern categories of human beings in “First Name: Carmen” is waiting for the 21st century international enthusiastic viewers who can use Godard’s artistic thinking and scientific imagination for their understanding of the reality of our own lives.

Posted on 12, 28 2017 –   “First Name Carmen/Prenom Carmen” (1983) by Jean-Luc Godard by Acting-Out Politics