Jean-Luc Godard Stages Return to US Screens 'For Ever Mozart' Is French Filmmaker's Latest Movie

By David Sterritt, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, July 9, 1997 | Go to article overview

Jean-Luc Godard Stages Return to US Screens 'For Ever Mozart' Is French Filmmaker's Latest Movie


David Sterritt, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Cinema superstar Jean-Luc Godard is making a comeback. This is important news, because it means his stimulating brand of filmmaking will be accessible to a much wider audience than it has had in recent years.

It's even more important if it signals a change in American moviegoing, which would benefit from more openness to works that challenge the sensationalism and commercialism of many Hollywood products.

Whatever the deeper meanings of the development, Godard's films are definitely finding increased visibility on American screens. His newest movie, "For Ever Mozart," is his first picture in several years to have a regular US release, courtesy of New Yorker Films. At the same time, filmmaker Martin Scorsese and Strand Releasing are presenting a revival of "Contempt," Godard's 1963 masterpiece starring Michel Piccoli as a French screenwriter, Brigitte Bardot as his discontented wife, Jack Palance as a high-powered producer, and legendary director Fritz Lang as himself. Godard launched France's powerful New Wave movement with his energetic "Breathless" almost 40 years ago, and to this day he inspires high praise. A fellow filmmaker has called him "the one ... who never disappoints me," and a noted critic has hailed "Contempt" as not just a fine movie but "the greatest work of art produced in postwar Europe." American moviegoers are less receptive to European pictures than they were in the 1960s, however, when Godard's visits to the United States were major events for countless admirers. Compounding this difficulty is the challenging nature of Godard's work, which calls on audiences to shed Hollywood-style viewing habits. While ordinary movies encourage us to be passive consumers, he craves an audience that's alert, engaged, and critical. "For Ever Mozart" demands just such an attitude, and its success in US theaters may indicate whether the Godard revival will gather more momentum. The main character is a filmmaker whose new picture goes astray when he can't find the proper cast. He goes to work on a theatrical production in Sarajevo instead, but this runs aground as the Bosnian war hurtles toward the city. …

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