Masculin féminin (Jean-Luc Godard, 1966)
Jean-Luc Godard's oeuvre is filled with so many films all made with so many subjects and approaches that he can be compared to the Picasso of filmmaking. With À bout de souflle he made cubism Cinema with the jump cuts he dared to insert in his first film/bomb into the world. I like to call his films bombs because like Samuel Fuller he like his films to hit people right in the face, to make them feel, think, and have opinions on many subject. Most of all, Godard likes to provoke.
His use of Jean-Pierre Léaud as Paul Doinel is an open reference to Truffaut's use of the same actor as his most famous role Antoine Doinel. The main difference in the charater here is the fact that Godard's Doinel is so close to Godard himself that he made him sad and even more deseperate than Truffaut.
Doinel is an interviewer for sociology studies. He nteracts with many young people of his generation and it gives a good idea to a young man 1983 born and post-punk era kid of consumation and television what it was in the 1960's, Yé-yé, the raise of Rock N Roll, the rise of the left/communisim/maoism and antiwar/anti-american thought. We also feel the Bob Dylan influence on Godard (Dylan was the only person Godard would have liked to be in 1966). An icon of free spirit, revolution, and leftism.
How could hell be any worse?
Masculin feminin turns around those themes and is about how the young men depicted were conscious of how the world is going straight into"hell" and how the women depicted are falling straight into the Coca-cola/Americanism/Birth control/materialism world. This is the opposition of Masculin=Marx kids who want to change the world by glueing tracts and act against the Vietnam war but also they want to fall in love with girls and get laid. And Feminin represents the kids of Oncle Sam that don't want to learn about wars and the current major issues of the world. They want to live and have fun as in the liberal meaning of it.
The film is very beautiful and instead of the sometimes raw footage Godard acquainted us to see, Masculin feminin feels soft and light like a beautiful Eric Rohmer film. This is a transitionnal film for Godard and a must see in his oeuvre.