High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition presentation of all films
Original uncompressed monaural audio
Optional English subtitles
A Conversation with JLG – Interview with Jean-Luc Godard from 2010 by Dominique Maillet and Pierre-Henri Gibert
Michael Witt on Godard, Gorin and the Dziga Vertov Group – Professor Witt, author of Jean-Luc Godard, Cinema Historian, takes an in-depth look at the films and filmmakers of this collection
“Schick After-Shave” – a 1971 commercial by Godard
Newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow
A 60-page full-colour booklet featuring a revised version of a lengthy essay by Michael Witt never before published in English; vintage texts by Godard appearing in English for the first time; archival interviews with Godard and Gorin; and a copious selection of stills from the films.
"Jean-Luc Godard & Jean-Pierre Godin: Five Films, 1968-1971"
While most are familiar with Jean-Luc Godard, not everyone is familiar with Godard's revolutionary period between 1968-1971 when he collaborated with a young critic and journalist named Jean-Pierre Gorin. It began after Godard had completed the film Weekend in 1967 and it found Godard searching for ways to directly engage with the radical political movements of the era. As Godard put it, "new ideas distributed in a new way."
Working with Gorin and as part of a loose collective known as Groupe Dziga Vertov, Godard and Gorin entered a tremendously exciting experimental phase in which they explored the relationships between image and sound, spectator and subject, and cinema and society.
Arrow Films, as always, has crafted a remarkably exciting collection here that serves as a tremendous example of Godard and Gorin's project. The five films included are:
Un film comme les autres (A Film Like Any Other) is a cinematically based analysis of the social upheaval of May 1968 completed in the wake of works' and students' protests. The film consists of two parts, each with identical image tracks yet differing narration. Written and directed by Godard, the film seems relevant to current American politics as it explores the ways in which sound can be used as an influencer and how variation in sound can change our perceptions even of what we're directly seeing and even when what we're seeing hasn't changed. The film is essentially a short that we experience twice yet our perceptions are likely to be altered within the second viewing. It's an interesting, experimental film and an introduction into Godard's post-commercial period.
British Sounds (aka See You at Mao) explores of the daily routine at a British auto factory assembly line set against class-conflict and The Communist Manifesto. Possessing of a playful spirit, British Sounds is a detour for Godard yet it also makes sure we understand that this is still Godard. The opening shot is reminiscent of that in Weekend, while the auditory track distracts almost to the point of absurdity.
Vent d'est (Wind from the East) was described by Godard as "an organization of shots." The film gives the impression of having a western-tinged theme, but one need only watch for a few minutes to realize that Godard and Gorin have much more going on here and are, in fact, using these images as a sort of indictment of Hollywood's sentimentality at the cost of society. Of this collections five films, Vent d'est may be the most challenging yet it is also likely my favorite of the five films as Godard and Gorin have simultaneously perfected the experiment while pointedly bringing out themes that are undeniablle.
Lotte in Italia/Luttes en Italie (Struggles in Italy) was largely shot in Godard and Anne Wiazemsky's home and serves not so much as an exploration of the struggles in Italy as it does an exploration of one woman's shift from political "theory" to political "practice" while also questioning its own journey.
Vladimir & Rosa is perhaps the most accessible of the five films, a searing and satirical comic-reportage on the trial of the Chicago Eight featuring Juliet Berto and Godard and Gorin themselves.
For any true Godard fan, this is a collection that one can easily consider a "must own." All five of these films are on blu-ray for the very first time and possess a clarity that no one who has ever seen this films will have ever experienced. While the films certainly aren't the most "entertaining" of Godard's films, that's far from the point. The extras are outstanding, as we've come to expect from Arrow Films, while the films themselves remain as meaningful as ever.