Gai Savoir, Le (1969)

Gai Savoir, Le (1969)

“Yes, learn. All we wanted was to learn.”

A young woman (Juliet Berto) and man (Jean-Pierre Léaud) come together in a dark room to discuss the nature of language and learning.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • French Films
  • Jean-Luc Godard Films
  • Jean-Pierre Léaud Films
  • Revolutionaries

Shot just before and after the French civil unrest of 1968, this riff on Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Emile (1762) was a sort of sequel to Godard’s La Chinoise (1967), and a clear exception to the “end of cinema” he proclaimed in the final shot of Weekend (1967). Interestingly, it received a reasonably decent review in The New York Times, with Vincent Canby noting that “Godard is still communicating with us by means of beautiful, comparatively conventional, if fragmented, images and sounds”:

… as his two characters “hav[e] a discourse on language” while “the camera is constantly cutting to points of visual references—Paris streets, cartoon strips, pop posters—images, which, though fragmented, make complete sense.”

“Complete sense” is a bit of a stretch; indeed, this is an intensely heady, academic affair — one which will only appeal to those ready to dive into assertions like, “We can say all we want about what we see, but what we see is never lodged in what we say.” and “The conflicts of a child, I said, are not conflicts with reality but originate from the subject’s inability to identify himself — so what is being questioned is the image of oneself.” Not exactly clear as day, but at least it’s all photographed beautifully by Georges Leclerc.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Georges Leclerc’s cinematography

Must See?
No — unless, of course, you’re a Godard completist (and you know who you are).


One thought on “Gai Savoir, Le (1969)

  1. [PASS} I’ve reached my breaking point with Jean-Pierre Léaud-in-the-lead Godard films. I just… can’t… anymore.

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