Major rush trying to get into the Lumiere theater for the mid-afternoon premiere of Godard’s “Adieu au Langage” yesterday, people pushing, shoving, huffing and puffing their way inside the theater.
“We’re about to go watch the new Godard film in Cannes,” I told my colleague in the rush to the theater, “it’s incredible.” In the end, it felt more like we were stuck in a space-time continuum. Besides the modern-day camera and software that Godard uses to make his film, its vision and message struck me as being from a different era.
Although the cast and the producers were on hand, Mr. Godard himself was absent from the screening. In a video message to festival director Thierry Frémaux, Godard explained his absence from the red carpet, saying: “Dear old friend, once again thank you for inviting me to climb your 24 majestic steps, slightly lost in the herd.” His words were accompanied by images of a herd of cattle.
Ah, the irony.
“Adieu au langage” (“Farewell to language, in the French original) was shot in 3-D digitally but waxes familiar Godard themes of existentialism and religion with less-covered ones of scatology and dogs, putting a romantically-linked man and a woman in the middle of a maelstrom of 3-D images and sound.
It’s like Godard (“Adieu” feels and looks like his previous one “Film/Socialisme”) threw a bunch of ropes at you and hopes that you’ll grab one and start climbing, except he doesn’t tell you why you should do it.
“God has made humiliated people out of us,” we’re told. The names of Che Guevara and Mao Tse-tung are trotted out. The historical references, and the film’s constant and unbridled irony remind us that Godard never quite recovered from the heady seventies. Perhaps this is is claim to fame.
“Adieu au langage” veers beyond conventions straight into experimental territory, Godard tapping directly into our dream-state. Like a dream, however, the images and sounds decay quickly, to be forgotten altogether very soon.