Goodbye to Language 3D (2014)
“Maybe the war is only over for the dead.”
Images are layers. A single image of shot has many layers. Usually with 3D movies, we’re told on which layer to focus. A building collapsing on the background or a close-up detail of a character trying to reach an faraway object. With 3D technology, Godard playfully shows us all sorts of layer experiments he can think of using several types of cameras. Goodbye to Language is fundamental if you are at all interested in 3D film.
His shots with 3D filming are unique and, due to a large amount of equipment (the cameras are even listed on the credits), very different from each other. There’s the cinematic camera, following a couple at home mostly, talking about philosophy, death and all that jazz. That’s when the image is more clear and “professional.”
The use of image layers is beautiful. A woman skimming through some books on a stand, two men exchanging cell phones close to her, and a driver leaving its car on the background. After a few seconds, it becomes clear the woman is not really doing anything, she’s just showing us a couple of books, very slowly. It’s food for the eyes. And they all taste incredible. But that’s only one third of the film.
Another third of Goodbye to Language is just Godard filming day-to-day images (driving, people downtown, a dog. A lot of dog shots. His use of 3D, even with those small cameras, is daring and intentionally against what 3D’s supposed to be about. For instance, you’d never see on a regular movie, a bottom shot looking up directly in the middle of a shower current. It doesn’t make sense, you wouldn’t be able to see things clearly. You’d shoot it outside the current, so it’s obvious the shower head is far, up there, and the water falling is close, down here, right next to the camera. Godard is experimenting, so he obviously doesn’t care about that.
The most unique use of 3D layers is when there are literally two different shots juxtaposed. Two people, one of them goes right and one camera follows. The other stays put. You brain immediately things one of the images is dragging and it hurts to watch. But then you close one eye and see the man, close the other and see the woman. And then the woman comes back and the image is “one” again. Having said that, it completely defeats the purpose of the film to watch it without 3D.
Goodbye to Language also plays with audio layers, during the entire movie. Repetition, switching from left to right speakers, mono, stereo, loud, whispers. That’s one of the reasons this film is probably even better if you speak french, because the subtitles are dreadful. Several times there are two lines of thoughts being spoken at the same time and the subtitle only follows parts of each.
It’s impressive how innovative Godard can still be. Goodbye to Language is a must watch.