Ici et Allieurs (Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Gorin & Anne-Marie Miéville / France, 1976):

After the fervent filibusters, the humbled essay. The foundation is the pro-Al Fatah pamphlet the Group Dziga Vertov trekked to Jordan in 1970 to film; many of the insurgents in it had died and Tout va Bien and Numéro Deux had been born by the time Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin picked up the footage years later, so a different kind of analysis was in order. "First, of course, the people," Godard intones about the mutated work's original goal, when it is clear that the real subject is the gaggle of Euro visitors packing cameras instead of guns, seeking revolution ailleurs ("elsewhere") to dodge the post-'68 defeat of ici ("here"). It's the et of the title, however, that is central, the conjunction that links the two places, along with time and space, message and viewer -- film, that is. Godard and Gorin dote on the kiddie-training and rifle-polishing of PLO camps yet, looking back six years later, they see themselves in the child screaming a poem in the deserted, crumby-orange Casbah ("poor revolutionary fool"). The problem, a blinking computer screen informs us, lies in "the flow of images and sounds that hide silence," elements struggling for control of the screen, a corruptible syntax able to slide from the "Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan Executing a Viet Cong Prisoner in Saigon" snapshot to a glossy stroke-mag spread. Godard and Co. admit to succumbing to its lure, the focus is accordingly shifted to a middle-class Paris living room, where insurrection is manacled to the TV set. Folks carrying pictures line up in front of the camera for an ideological flipbook, manifold and interfluent -- Hitler and the Popular Front, Golda Meir and My Lai, Scheherazade, Nixon "the gangster," flickering slides in the dark. The marriage of form and upheaval remains dysfunctional, but the film has the elation of hope: When Anne-Marie Miéville's voice joins in to complement, question, and undercut the Godard-Gorin collage, there is the unmistakable optimism of mutual dialogue trumping proletyzing harangue, and pushing forward. Cinematography by William Lubtchansky.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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