Jean-Luc Godard / FR, 1967 / 96 min.
A year before the 1968 Paris unrest, Jean-Luc Godard shot La Chinoise. 'An astounding and, to a great extent, prophetic pamphlet', wrote one of the critics for NRC Handelsblad [Dutch broadsheet] when the film reached Dutch cinemas in 1970.
Around 1967, the word commitment was not only written in capitals, but translated into action: students climbed onto the barricades, occupied universities and demanded participation, grassroots democracy and liberation from bourgeois attitudes. Beneath the sidewalk, the beach! Ne travaillez jamais! Homo ludens would swap work for play and free love was the antidote to the hypocritical morality of marriage.
Godard followed the path set out by his new muse, actress and student activist Anne Wiazemsky, making La Chinoise with her a year before the huge student revolts of May ’68 in Paris and Nanterre. His depiction of young radicals inspired by Mao's Little Red Book was a daring experiment; a surprising mix of fiction film, political analysis, pamphlet and documentary. La Chinoise is a visual tour de force, shot in pulsating primary colours – especially highly appropriate red.
Nouvelle vague icon Jean-Pierre Léaud appears in the film as the actor Guillaume; Senegalese Omar Blondin Diop (1946-1973) plays himself as an erudite Maoist preaching permanent revolution. Filmmaker and artist Vincent Meessen dedicated an idiosyncratic documentary to this Black activist: Juste un mouvement, which screens before La Chinoise.
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