For Ever Mozart

(Jean-Luc Godard, France/Switzerland, 1996)


Jean-Luc Godard's For Ever Mozart is a sad case, and one that has wildly divided many critics and viewers. (The ever-loyal Godardians of Cahiers du cinéma voted it second best film of 1996, just under Crash [1996] and slightly above Mission: Impossible [1996]).

It is full of those breathtaking moments of image and sound manipulation we have to come to expect from late Godard, but its central premise – sticking the director's usual beautiful young things mouthing philosophical conundrums and imbibing the canon of European High Art into the battlegrounds of the Bosnian war – misfires to a horrifying degree.

Of course, Godard has tackled issues of war and its crimes at least once before (in Les Carabiniers, 1963), and we should all be immune by now to his strategically flip it's-red-not-blood depictions of violence and atrocity. (In one chilling shot, the actors look genuinely scared of the explosion that is fired uncomfortably close to them.)

But it is hard to credit this essentially tasteless project with any social seriousness or human insight whatsoever.

later Godard: Aria, Soigne ta droite, Hélas pour moi, Histoire(s) du cinéma 1A & 1B, Éloge de l’amour, Sauve qui peut (la vie) , Film Socialism

earlier Godard: À bout de souffle, Contempt, Masculin Féminin, Vivre sa vie, La Chinoise, Made in USA, Tout va bien, Alphaville

© Adrian Martin March 1997

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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