Essential Insights: FILM SOCIALISME

All you need to make a film is a girl and a llama: Jean-Luc Godard's "Film Socialisme"

Love him or hate him, one thing is for certain: a new film by Jean-Luc Godard is a major cinematic event for both critics and film lovers alike.  The release of Film Socialisme, rumored to be the infamous French director’s last film, has prompted an outpouring of exceptionally passionate and inspired debate.

Below are the best reviews, interviews and videos that take on the complexities, difficulties and pleasures of Film Socialisme and discuss them in ways that are both accessible and insightful.  But even the most eloquent reviews admit that their interpretations are, in the end, only that: starting points to be explored and understood with time and thought.

Until now it has only been possible to see Film Socialisme at film festivals or during limited theatrical releases, but now you can watch it on Fandor. And then watch it again.  Because love it or hate it, it’s a film you’ll want to watch more than once.

Film Socialisme ranks as one of Jean-Luc Godard’s most optimistic films, one of his most idealistic, for the simple reason that it seems to have been made for a better world. For his entire career, Godard has positioned himself stubbornly, permanently, tragically at the terminal end of cinema—or whatever ‘cinema’ may constitute at any given moment in his life, be it the playground of profound hokum and momentous moving pictures of the mid-20th century, or the melancholy world of conflicting images of the present.”

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky,

“Four principal cameramen, Godard among them, are credited, and they seem to have wielded every variety of video camera from cell phone to state-of-the-art HD. The chaotically pulsing pixels and overly saturated, smeared colors of the low-tech images result in busy, garish near-abstractions, and when they collide with the high-tech images—hyperreal, flattened fields of fauve blues and yellows, bisected and trisected like lessons in geometry or, in the case of the overhead shots of the sea, filling the entire screen with eddies and waves of blues and whites—the visual drama is extraordinary.”

Amy Taubin, Film Comment

Want a sneak peek of the film?  The official trailer for the film plays the entire film in one minute and 14 seconds:

[iframe width=”640″ height=”400″ src=”” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen]

“That Film Socialisme was much maligned by mainstream journalists is of no surprise given its free-form, fragmented narrative, and radically dissonant, but also polyphonic, soundtrack.… That Godard was accused of having nothing new to say (and worse, nothing to say, period) attests to the flagrant laziness and chauvinistic shirking of critics, whose derision undoubtedly grew from their inability to participate in the film’s socialist régime—a diet rich in contra/diction, dissonance, quotation, clips, crunching, crackling sound, varying visuals, poetry, aforementioned prophecy, idiosyncratic Markeresque history-making, and most pointedly, its own lingua franca.”

Andréa Picard, Cinema-scope

“Film Socialisme is dense and challenging, beautiful and provocative, allusive and elusive, bursting with so many ideas and suggestions that it defies the possibility of the kind of complete reading that one generally expects from a movie. In its very structure, the film is making a statement, more even than any Godard film before it, that the idea of complete understanding is an absurd joke.”

Ed Howard, Only the Cinema (Part 1, Part 2)

“GODARD:  There aren’t any rules.  The same applies to poetry, or to painting, or to mathematics.  Especially to ancient geometry.  The urge to compose figures, to put a circle around a square, to plot a tangent.  It’s elementary geometry.  If it’s elementary, there are elements.  so I show the sea… Voila, it can’t really be described–it’s associations.  And if we’re saying ‘association,’ we might be saying ‘socialism.’  If we’re saying ‘socialism,’ we might be speaking about politics.”

-Godard interviewed by Jean-Marc Lalanne Les Inrocks, translated into English by Craig Keller at Cinemasparagus


More Essential Insights:

David Bordwell on the remarkable sights and disorienting sounds of Film Socialisme.

VIDEO:  Christy Lemire and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky passionately disagree about the film at Ebert Presents: At the Movies

At The Moving Image Source David Phelps translates annotations originally published in French and Spanish on the websites Independencia and Lumiere, and reviews the film for BOMBLOG

Film Socialisme in the context of Godard’s career by Fiachra Gibbons for The Guardian

Review by Robert Koehler at

Glenn Kenny at MSN Movies deems the film “ain’t no party” but likes it well enough anyway.

[iframe width=”640″ height=”400″ src=”” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen]

The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw discusses Film Socialisme at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival

And that’s only scratching the surface!  There is much more insight to be found:

Three takes by Jonathan Rosenbaum: Film Socialisme, etc., 40 Years Ago and Now”, “Godard as ‘Good Samaritan'”, and “Two French Godard Books: Informational Obstacles (and Teasers)”

Daniel Cohn-Bendit interviews Godard for Télérama, translated into English by Craig Keller at Cinemasparagus

Aaron Cutler for Slant Magazine

Manohla Dargis for The New York Times

Kenji Fujishima for The House Next Door

J. Hoberman for The Village Voice

Kent Jones for Film Comment

Daniel Kasman for

Eric Kohn for indieWIRE

Armond White for The New York Press

Jesse Ataide is a graduate student at San Francisco State University. He shares his thoughts on film on his blog Memories of the Future.

Did you like this article?
Give it a vote for a Golden Bowtie


Keyframe is always looking for contributors.

"Writer? Video Essayist? Movie Fan Extraordinaire?

Fandor is streaming on Amazon Prime

Love to discover new films? Browse our exceptional library of hand-picked cinema on the Fandor Amazon Prime Channel.