La Chinoise – Jean-Luc Godard (1967)


La Chinoise (‘The Chinese’) is a 1967 French political film directed by Jean-Luc Godard about young extremists in Paris. La Chinoise is a loose adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky‘s 1872 novel Demons. In the novel, a group of five disaffected citizens, each representing a different ideological persuasion and personality type, conspire to overthrow the Russian imperial regime through a campaign of sustained revolutionary violence. The film, set in contemporary Paris and largely taking place in a small apartment, is structured as a series of personal and ideological dialogues dramatizing the interactions of five French university students — three young men and two young women — belonging to a radical Maoist group called the ‘Aden Arabie Cell’ (named for the novel, Aden, Arabie, by Paul Nizan). The five members are Véronique (Anne Wiazemsky), Guillaume (Jean-Pierre Léaud), Yvonne (Juliet Berto), Henri (Michel Semeniako) and Kirilov (Lex de Bruijin). A black student named Omar (Omar Diop), ‘Comrade X’, also makes a brief appearance. … Thematically, La Chinoise concerns the 1960s New Left political interest in such historical and ongoing events as the legacy of Lenin‘s October 1917 Russian Revolution, the escalating U.S. military activities in the increasingly unstable region of southeast Asia, and especially the Cultural Revolution brought about by the Red Guards under Mao Zedong in the People’s Republic of China. The film also touches upon the rise of anti-humanist poststructuralism in French intellectual life by the mid-1960s, particularly the anti-empiricist ideas of the influential French Marxist, Louis Althusser. Godard likewise portrays the role that certain objects and organizations — such as Mao’s Little Red Book, the French Communist Party, and other small leftist factions — play in the developing ideology and activities of the Aden Arabie cell. … This paradox is illustrated in the various joke sunglasses that Guillaume wears (with the national flags of the USA, USSR, China, France and Britain each filling the frames) while reading Mao’s Little Red Book, as well as the sight gag of having dozens of copies of the Little Red Book piled in mounds on the floor to literally create a defensive parapet against the forces of capitalist imperialism, and a jaunty satirical pop song, ‘Mao-Mao’ (sung by Claude Channes), heard on the soundtrack. Godard suggests that the students are at the same moment both serious committed revolutionaries intent on bringing about major social change. …”
Wikipedia
MUBI – Movie Poster of the Week: Jean-Luc Godard’s “La chinoise”
Not Just Movies
amazon
YouTube: La Chinoise – Restoration Trailer

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