Sunday, September 14, 2008
Cinema pioneer Jean-Luc Godard made something like 16 or 17 feature films in the 1960's. 1966's Masculin Feminin is one of his best. It follows young people in France as they go about there daily lives. Paul is an Marxist and an anti-war activist that spray paints graffiti all over town. He is trying to bed Madeleine, a beautiful Ye-Ye girl with the prettiest smile I've ever seen. Ye-Ye is cute innocent pop music that was popular in France, Italy, and Spain back then- it provides the films soundtrack. The girl that plays Madeleine, Chantal Goya, was a real life pop singer that had never acted before. In fact, she barely acts, she just reacts. Godard shot the film with no script, just setting up situations and filming them. When he first set up a meeting for Chantal to meet her co-star Paul (Jean-Pierre Léaud from 400 Blows) he was there, already set up and shooting it, and the film had already begun. In some of the best scenes Godard has Jean-Pierre wear an earpiece and he feeds him questions to ask the actresses. No one knows what Godard will ask so the reactions he gets are real (see clips below). It works in a fascinating way. Some of Godard's other films are hard to get into initially, this one is not. The film is divided into 15 acts, each one starting with Godard's famous titles flashing on the screen, as well as the sound of a gunshot. Upon release it was deemed inappropriate for kids under 18, due to the frank sexual questioning and a scene of 3 people in bed together. One of the French New Waves most engaging and creative works.
This is an interview with a real life beauty queen, Miss 19, that gets a little uncomfortable:
This is Paul and Madeleine's first discussion: