Notre Musique Review

I could already imagine the sighs of despair from any Hollywood-fed viewer - "Is this the most pretentious film I've EVER seen?", "It's completely unrealistic!" and "It's too bloody French for it's own good" would be the most frequent responses from that segment of the audience. But something you can seldom accuse Godard of doing is following a well-trodden schemata. Ever since A bout de souffle hit the screens with its urban chic and a swaggering Jean-Paul Belmondo, Godard has been shaking the very vocabulary of our cinematic culture and Notre Musique is no different.

Segmented into three uneven parts - Hell, Purgatory and Heaven - the film starts off with stock footage of all that makes our existence hell on earth, most notably war and civil strife. Editing furiously between the footage, a disembodied voice asks us about our mortality, morality and theology... Suddenly after 10 minutes of outright assault, we move into Purgatory, where the bulk of the film will take place. The story follows a young Israeli journalist reporting from a conference by the European Literary Encounters - her own internal turmoil is mirrored by that of the speakers (played by real-life poets and writers). As the days go by, we hear more from those attending the conference including Godard himself, who dissects our cinematic grammar and the infamous shot/reverse-shot juxtaposition. As the narrative goes, the narrative arc is pretty flat but that's not what Godard has ever sought to achieve. The film moves between documentary, philosophical treatise and lyricism with more or less success. There may be some cringe-worthy moments for some - such as when a character tells us "the only serious philosophical problem is that of suicide" - but at least, it seeks to achieve far more than your average film. Godard may not always hit the target but, even so, the end result is most interesting.

The DVD:

The image:
Transferred in the original aspect ratio of 4:3, the film looks good though quite grainy at times. Godard doesn't seem to use any artificial source of light so as a result the film seem quite somber at times especially in some indoor scenes. Some of the darks also tend to be lacking in consistency but globally it's a good enough transfer.

The sound:
The original 2.0 mix is included though the dialogue seems to be very much central. The musical soundtrack, however, is given a far larger spectrum.

The extras:
Nothing at all bar some trailers for other of Godard's films on DVD. Notre Musique doesn't even feature which is rather strange.

The film will probably not be to most people's taste though if you're wanting something different from a movie, Notre Musique certainly does deliver. The DVD is very much bare-bones - although it cries out for extras such as Godard's interviews at Cannes - but that may be due to France not having had a release yet.

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Last updated: 19/04/2018 08:04:11

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