Sunday, April 4, 2010

French New Wave + A Silent Short: Les Fiancés Du Pont Macdonald

Jean-Luc Godard

I recently watched the lovely and classic New Wave thriller/ love-triangle, Band à Part (Band of Outsiders) (1964), directed by Jean-Luc Godard. There are a plethora of literary references simmering beneath the surface, and the Criterion Collection re-release DVD has a nice little commentary elaborating on this.

Here is a useful little blurb about Band of Outsiders, which was created to be a systematic Le Bandeurto the tyranny of what French cinema had become (and, yes, that was a band pun). Le Bandeur is a colloquialism for “up yours”, among other less-savoury things, which--as a rather long aside-- I recently learned thanks to the sailor-mind of H.C. Westermann (American, 1922–1981) and his portfolio of lithographs, See America First (1968). I've been working on an exhibit about Chicago printmakers called Chicago Stories, Chicago Prints in the Prints & Drawings Dept. of the Art Institute of Chicago (opens May 16th!), and the main gallery features the lithographs from Westermann's See America First, including the plywood slipcase for the portfolio which has a wood-burned drawing of a man's arm making a fist, the words "Le Bandeur" emblazoned across his arm. The portfolio was printed at Tamarind Lithography Studio, and a saltily-loving "Le Bandeur!" was reportedly the way Tamarind printers would greet and address each other.

Okay, so... back to New Wave! NPR interviewed actress Anna Karina in 2001 about Band of Outsiders, which was made while she and Jean-Luc Godard were married (which was from 1960-1967). She stars in a number of Godard's films, always with those terribly mournful wide, blinking eyes.

Anna Karina in Band of Outsiders from here.

Anna Karina and Godard, wedding day, from here.

Anna Karina and Godard, from Flickr here
(which also has other marvellous French cinema photos).

Here is the classic one-take dance scene from the film (the actors are dancing the Madison, which they rehearsed for hours and hours throughout the filming of Band of Outsiders). Anna Karina is the girl, Odile; Sami Frey plays the Kafka-look-alike, Franz; and Claude Brasseur plays the uber-masculine Arthur (in the argyle sweater). This is the epitome of cool.

And, finally, here is the adorable silent short, Les Fiancés Du Pont Macdonald, directed by Agnès Varda. It's included in her lovely film Cléo de 5 à 7 (Cleo from 5 to 7) (1962)––Cleo (the blond at the beginning of the clip) watches it from the projection booth. It is a silly love story featuring Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina, who were married a few years earlier, as well as the other actors from the not-yet-released Band of Outsiders. I love that it pokes fun at Godard's ubiquitous dark tinted glasses.

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