Godard ON Godard
I don't write my scripts. I improvise as shooting goes on. But this improvisation can only be the result of previous inner preparation, which presupposes concentration. And in fact I make my films not only when I'm shooting but as I dream, eat, read, talk to you.
Deux au trois choses que je sais d'elle is much more ambitious (than Made in U.S.A.), both on the documentary level, since it is about the replanning of the Parisian area, and on the level of pure research, since it is a film in which I am continually asking myself what I'm doing. There is, of course, the pretext of life itself - and sometimes prostitution - in the new housing complexes. But the real purpose of the film is to observe a huge mutation.
For me, to describe modem life is to observe mutations, and not simply to describe, as certain newspapers do, the new gadgets and industrial progress.
Basically, what I am doing is making the spectator share the arbitrary nature of my choices, and the quest for general rules which might justifY a particular choice. Why am I making this film, why am I making it this way? Is the character played by Marina Vlady representative of the inhabitants of these housing complexes? I am constantly asking questions. I watch myself filming, and you hear me thinking aloud. In other words it isn't a film, it's an attempt at film and is presented as such. It really forms part of my personal research. It is not a story, but hopefully a document to a degree where I think Paul Delouvrier himself should have commissioned the film.
Actually, if I have a secret ambition, it is to be put in charge of the French newsreel services. All my films have been reports on the state of the nation; they are newsreel documents, treated in a personal manner perhaps, but in terms of contemporary actuality.
To return to this film about the housing complexes, the thing that most excited me was that the anecdote it tells coincides basically with one of my most deep-rooted theories. The idea that, in order to live in Parisian society today, at whatever level or on whatever plane, one is forced to prostitute oneself in one way or another, or else to live according to conditions resembling those of prostitution.
During the course of the film -in its discourse, its discontinuous course, that is - I want to include everything, sport, politics, even groceries. Look at a man like Edouard Leclerc, a really extraordinary man whom I would love to do a film with or about. Everything can be put into a film. Everything should be put into a film. When people ask me why I talk - or have my characters talk - about Vietnam, about Jacques Anquetil, or about a woman who deceives her husband, I refer the questioner to his own newspaper. It's all there. And it's all mixed up. This is why I am so attracted by television. A televised newspaper made up of carefully prepared documents would be extraordinary. Even more so if one could get newspaper editors to take turns at editing these televised newspapers.
This is why, rather than speak of cinema and television, I prefer to use the more generalized terms of images and sounds.
My Approach in Four Movements
As I have said, the story of Juliette in Deux ou trois choses que je sais d'elle will not be told continuously, because not only she, but the events of which she is part, are to be described. It is a matter of describing 'a complex'.
This 'complex' and its parts (Juliette being the one I have chosen to examine in greater detail, in order to suggest that the other parts also exist in depth) must be described and talked about as both objects and subjects. What I mean is that I cannot avoid the fact that all things exist both from the inside and the outside. This can be demonstrated by filming a house from the outside, then from the inside, as though we were entering inside a cube, an object. The same goes for a human being, whose face is generally seen from the outside.
But how does this person himself see what surrounds him? I mean, how does he physically experience his relationship with other people and with the world? (Malraux said: 'One hears the voice of others with the ears, and one's own voice with the throat. ') This is something I would like to make people feel throughout the film, and have inherent in it.
If one now analyses this project for a film, one sees that my approach can be divided into four principal movements,
1. Objective Description
(or at least attempt at description, Pongel would say)
(a) objective description of objects: houses, cars, cigarettes, apartments, shops, beds, TV sets, books, clothes, etc.
(b) objective description of subjects: the characters, Juliette, the American, Robert, the hairdresser, Marianne, the travellers, the motorists, the social workers, the old man, the children, the passers-by, etc.
2. Subjective Description
(or at least attempt)
(a) subjective description of Subjects: particularly by way of feelings, that is through scenes more or less written and acted.
(b) subjective description of objects: settings seen from the inside, where the world is outside, behind the windows, or on the other side of the walls.
3. Search for Structures
(or at least attempt)
In other words, 1 + 2 = 3. In other words, the sum of the objective description and the subjective description should lead to the discovery of certain more general forms; should enable one to pick out, not a generalized overall truth, but a certain 'complex feeling', something which corresponds emotionally to the laws one must discover and apply in order to live in society. (The problem is precisely that what we discover is not a harmonious society, but a society too inclined towards and to consumer values.)
This third movement corresponds to the inner movement of the film, which is the attempt to describe a complex (people and things), since no distinction is made between them and, in order to simplify, people are spoken of as things, and· things as people; and I do not neglect conscience, since this is manifest in the cinematographic movement which directs me to these people or these things.
(As Sternberg and his fish would say: I think, therefore the cinema exists.)
In other words, 1 +2+3=4. In other words, having been able to define certain complex phenomena while continuing to describe particular events and emotions, this will eventually bring us closer to life than at the outset. Maybe, if the film comes off (I hope it will; if not all the time, at least in certain images and certain sounds), maybe then will be revealed what Merleau-Ponty calls the 'singular existence' of a person - Juliette's in particular.
Next, all these movements must be mixed up together.
Finally, I must be able sometimes, not always but sometimes, to give the feeling of being very close to people.
Actually, when I come to think about it, a film like this is a little as if I wanted to write a sociological essay in the form of a novel, and in order to do so had only musical notes at my disposition.
Is this cinema? Am I right to go on trying?
Letter to my Friends to Learn how to Make Films Together
You think there 'are
Rules for the game
Because you are a child
Who does not yet know
What is a game and what is
Reserved for grownups
Which you already are
Because you have forgotten
That it is a child's game
What does it consist of
There are many definitions
Here are two or three
Looking at oneself
In the mirror of other people
Forgetting and learning
Quickly and slowly
The world And oneself
Thinking and speaking
Godard/ Godard ON Godard