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La Chinoise

France 1967. Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Cast: Anne Wiazemsky, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Juliet Berto, Michel Semeniako, Lex de Bruijn

“Godard’s best film by far since Breathless” (Renata Adler, New York Times), La Chinoise offers a spectacularly colourful pop-art collage-portrait of five student radicals, members of a Maoist cell, who spend a summer in a Paris apartment chanting from Mao’s Little Red Book and plotting an assassination. Godard regular Anne Wiazemsky (who married the director the same year) and nouvelle vague icon Jean-Pierre Léaud head the cast. The film was released nine months before the radical events of May ’68. Godard is at the height of his own revolutionary powers here, and his meta-narrative, aesthetically scattershot approach is exhilarating: La Chinoise is intercut with slogans, old photos, revolutionary posters, American comic book figures, and paintings, plus the obligatory Godardian catalogue of cinematic and literary references (including Johnny Guitar and Jean-Paul Sartre). As in his earlier Pierrot le fou, Godard also offers a comic re-enactment of the Vietnam War. “The movie is like a speed-freak's anticipatory vision of the political horrors to come; it’s amazing” (Pauline Kael). “A brilliant dialectical farce ... A prophetic and remarkably acute analysis of the impulse behind the events of May 1968 in all their desperate sincerity and impossible naïveté” (Tom Milne, Time Out). Colour, 35mm, in French with English subtitles. 96 mins.

 

REVIEWS

"Neither drama nor documentary, it's a movie that jettisons narrative suspense for something both more spontaneous and more detached."

Village Voice | full review

"Maybe Andy Warhol didn't make the quintessential Pop Art masterwork. Maybe Jean-Luc Godard did."

Chicago Tribune | full review