Liberal Warrior In A Land of Giant Billboards and Posters, Ambitious Secret Agents, Politicians-servants of Power, Intellectualizing Workers and Bartenders, Fitness ladies and Musicians and Writers Fighting For Success


Paula Nelson warms up for the task


Lesson of technocratic intellectualism


The kingdom of moving billboards

Anna Karina’s heroine tries hard to balance the business of fight without hate and revenge without gloating with her personal charm of intelligence framed by femininity and psychological refinement. She becomes a professional murderer, and we need to answer which exactly political powers in American life are symbolized by the victims of her three assassinations. Godard’s representation of Nixon and McNamara as youthfully enthusiastic secret service agents is politically eloquent and significant in its clairvoyance.

Paula’s tireless, obsessive care about her appearance signifies the humongous role of appearance (of political cosmetics) in liberal politics (it is equal to the role of blackmail in conservative politics). Today, in U.S.A. we live in a period of decline of liberal appearance (together with democracy). In 21st century, Paula Nelson would be, for sure, not only a professor-emeritus but a writer with a record of popular recognition.

The film is an incredible collage of images, ideas and characterizations which are as much puzzling as they’re illuminating and enlightening.

Paula Nelson’s “political activism” is, symptomatically, limited by the realm of private life – she investigates and avenges the death of her beloved. Today, we see without any uncertainty that democrats by sensibility, while basically surrender the economic problems to conservatives’ disastrous mishandling, squeeze some progress in issues like legalization of dope and same sex marriage. After her successful adventures Paula, as it’s predicted by the last segment of the film, will function only as a qualified career maker.

According to the film, U.S.A. is a place where thugs are equipped with a technical education and where experienced warmongers look like college sophomores. But Widmark (Laszlo Szabo) – one of the central characters, is the creation of Godard’s ability to see the future – he looks like Bush Jr. with his vulgar bravado and scandalous deeds. But, perhaps, the most shocking achievement of the film is frightening transformation of Jean-Pierre Leaud in the role of a miserably conformist junior special agent Donald Siegel, when the positive innocence of the very human intelligence his previous roles personified, transformed into an empty shell (the same intonations and facial expression with completely amputated existential context).

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Paula is preparing to handle a mafioso

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While psychologically mobilizing for “political action” (even liberal scholars cannot avoid situations like that Paula is drawn into) to investigate and avenge the murder of her lover, Paula is attentively listening to the “intellectual chat” between the workman and barman. She needs to learn a type of “intellectualism” that combines playful theatrics and purely technico-scientific orientation not including any humanistic interests.

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Paula and the honest police investigator who is stepping aside to let the special agents handle her case.

Posted on Aug 28, 2009   Jean-Luc Godard’s “Made In USA” (1966) – Love Is to Private Life What Progressive (Humanistic) Ideals Are to the Public Realm by Acting-Out Politics