Revisiting Godard’s ‘Tout Va Bien,’ a manifesto for post-1968 class struggle

“Starring a newly radicalized Jane Fonda, Jean-Luc Godard’s masterpiece of radical cinema documented a workers strike at a French sausage factory, and revealed the stratification of the leftist movement. Is revolution impossible? Movements like March for Our Lives and #metoo have dominated cultural conversations, and yet, politics largely continue to evade significant disruption. Frustrated progressives are aligning with political ideology outside of the norm, and democratic socialism (or outright socialism, depending on who you ask) has been endorsed by popular politicians like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Unsurprisingly, comparisons have been drawn between left-wing American youth and the radical student activism of the late-1960s and 1970s. In May 1968, student protestors in Paris went on strike, occupying universities and factories, and almost bringing the French economy to its knees. In the 50 years since, literature and cinema have often displayed a tendency to look back on 1968 romantically, focusing less on the political reality and philosophical aims of the movement, and more on its fashionability. This rose-tinted nostalgia is questioned by New Wave icon Jean-Luc Godard and collaborator Jean-Pierre Gorin, whose 1972 film Tout Va Bien stands alone as a perceptive critique of failed revolutionary organizing. Starring Jane Fonda and Yves Montand, the film sifts through the fallout of ‘68 and underscores how—even after achieving widespread solidarity—hierarchies remained untouched. In 2019, Tout va bien serves as a profound investigation of how we engage in revolution, and whether we are really up to the task. Between 1968 and 1972, Godard and Gorin’s radical film collective the Dziga Vertov Group had been on a crusade to reinvent cinema as a political form, and so Fonda’s casting in Tout va bien was well-timed: this was Mullet Era Jane, Mugshot Era Jane, and Controversial-Vietnam-Visit Era Jane. Here, she plays Suzanne, who (like Jean Seberg in Breathless) is an American journalist in Paris.  When the film starts, Suzanne and her filmmaker husband Jacques (Montand) visit a sausage factory in the suburbs to interview the manager, but arrive in the middle of a bitter strike—the manager is held hostage and Suzanne is now tasked with covering the rapidly deteriorating resistance. …”
Document Journal (Video)
W – Tout Va Bien
Criterion: Tout Va Bien, YouTube: Tout Va Bien – Trailer
‘Hanoi Jane’ Fonda Rumors Blend Fact and Fiction
sensesofcinema: Letter to Jane, W – Letter to Jane

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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