Two or Three Things I Know About Her

Two or Three Things I Know About Her (French: Deux ou trois choses que je sais d'elle) is a 1967 French New Wave film directed by Jean-Luc Godard, one of three features he completed that year. As with the other two (Week-end and La chinoise), it is considered both socially and stylistically radical. Village Voice critic Amy Taubin considers the film to be among the greatest achievements in filmmaking.[1]

Two or Three Things I Know About Her
TwoorthreethingsPoster.jpg
Directed byJean-Luc Godard
Written byCatherine Vimenet
Jean-Luc Godard
Produced byAnatole Dauman
Raoul Lévy
StarringJoseph Gehrard
Marina Vlady
Roger Montsoret
Distributed byNew Yorker Films
Release date
17 March 1967 (France)
Running time
87 minutes
LanguageFrench

DescriptionEdit

The film does not tell a story so much as present an essay-like study of Godard's view of contemporary life; Godard wrote that "I wanted to include everything: sports, politics, even groceries. Everything should be put in a film."[1] Godard narrates the film in a whispered voiceover in which he discusses his fears about the contemporary world, including those related to the Vietnam War. The film frequently cuts to various still shots of bright consumer products and ongoing construction.

As with many of Godard's works, the film does not follow the narrative arc of conventional cinema with an introduction, conflict and resolution. Instead, it presents 24 hours in the sophisticated but empty life of Juliette Jeanson, a seemingly bourgeois married mother and prostitute. Juliette begins her day by dropping her screaming child off with a man who provides care for the children of prostitutes. Her uneventful daily routine of shopping, housework and child-rearing is interspersed with client encounters. All of the film's sexual interplay is banal rather than erotic, and one client, an American wearing a shirt with his country's flag, demands that the women whom he has hired wear airline shopping bags over their heads.

Although the film had a script, the cast often breaks the fourth wall, looking into the camera and delivering seemingly random monologues about life and themselves. Vlady and other actors wore earpieces through which Godard asked surprise questions, often catching her off-guard because she was required to give spontaneous answers that were appropriate to her character.[2]

The film features Beethoven's String Quartet No. 16 in F major, Op. 135.

CastEdit

BackgroundEdit

Godard began production in the summer of 1966. Shortly afterward, he was approached by producer Georges de Beauregard to quickly make a film to offset a financial shortfall incurred after Jacques Rivette's film The Nun was banned by the French government.[3] Godard agreed and began production on Made in U.S.A, his last film with Anna Karina. Godard would shoot Two or Three Things I Know About Her in the morning and Made in U.S.A in the afternoon simultaneously each day for one month.[4]

The film was first inspired by an article by Catherine Vimenet in Le Nouvel Observateur about prostitution in the suburbs.[5] Godard stated that during the film he wanted "to include everything: sports, politics, even groceries"[6] and that the film was "... a continuation of the movement begun by Resnais in Muriel: an attempt at description of a phenomenon known in mathematics and sociology as a 'complex'."[5] The film's most famous shot is a lengthy close-up of a cup of coffee.[6] In an essay, Godard stated that "... basically what I am doing is making the spectator share the arbitrary nature of my choices, and the quest for general rules which might justify a particular choice."[5] He added, "I watch myself filming, and you hear me thinking aloud. In other words, it isn't a film, it's an attempt at a film and presented as such."[7]

ThemesEdit

Juliette lives in one of many luxurious high-rises being erected in the banlieues (suburbs) of Paris. Though the structures were meant to provide housing to families working in the growing capital during the prosperous post-war years, Godard sees the banlieues as the infrastructure for promoting a value system based on consumerism, a term he equates with prostitution itself. Godard argued that a consumerist society demands a workforce living in regimented time and space, forced to work jobs they don't like, "a prostitution of the mind."[8]

On 25 October 1966, Godard appeared on the television program Zoom to debate with government official Jean St. Geours, who had predicted that advertising would increase, as the basic impulse of the French society at the time was to increase its standard of living. Godard explained that he saw advertisers as the pimps who enslave women to the point at which they give their bodies without compunction, because they have been convinced that what they can buy has more potential to bring happiness than does the loving enjoyment of sex.[8]

As with many of Godard's films from the mid-1960s onward, Two or Three Things I Know About Her demonstrates his growing disenchantment with America.[citation needed] This contrasts with his earlier French New Wave films such as Breathless (1960) that make admiring references to American cinema and actors.[original research?]

TitleEdit

A promotional poster for the film offered different meanings for the "her" of the title, each one a French feminine noun:

  • HER, the cruelty of neo-capitalism
  • HER, prostitution
  • HER, the Paris region
  • HER, the bathroom that 70% of the French don't have
  • HER, the terrible law of huge building complexes
  • HER, the physical side of love
  • HER, the life of today
  • HER, the war in Vietnam
  • HER, the modern call-girl
  • HER, the death of modern beauty
  • HER, the circulation of ideas
  • HER, the gestapo of structures.[9]

ReceptionEdit

AwardsEdit

Two or Three Things I Know About Her won the Prix Marilyn Monroe in 1967 from a jury that included Marguerite Duras and Florence Malraux.[6]

Many regard the film as being among Godard's most significant works. It received 19 top-10 votes (16 from critics and three from directors) in the 2012 Sight & Sound poll of the greatest films ever made.[10]

American re-releaseEdit

A new 35-mm print of the film was released in American theaters in 2007.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Amy Taubin, "2 or 3 Things I Know About Her: The Whole and Its Parts". 2009. Criterion.com.
  2. ^ Adrian Martin, commentary track on the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
  3. ^ Monaco, James. The New Wave. New York: Oxford University Press. 1976. pp. 173.
  4. ^ Wakeman, John. World Film Directors, Volume 2. The H. W. Wilson Company. 1988. pp. 396.
  5. ^ a b c Monaco. pp. 178.
  6. ^ a b c Wakeman. pp. 396.
  7. ^ Monaco. pp. 179.
  8. ^ a b Zoom, 25 October 1966, available on the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
  9. ^ Monaco. pp. 180.
  10. ^ "Votes for 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle (1967) | BFI". www.bfi.org.uk. Retrieved 9 May 2019.

External linksEdit