Goodbye to Language
Monday 13th October, 6pm – BFI Imax
The combination of crude bursts of imagery so fleetingly exposed it borders on the abstract and a jolting visual and auditory ride, Goodbye to Language is a shock to the senses. It is an unrestful 70 minutes, and Jean-Luc Goddard has shaken the supposed format of commercial filmmaking.
As with any 3D film, it takes time to adjust to the change in your perception of the screens proximity and death, but throughout the duration of the piece, text and moving scenes are layered to mind-bending effect. Constant disruption and visual agitation eradicates the capacity for smooth, passive viewing, Goodbye to Language is more of a physical experience. Purposefully creating double vision and constantly switching up the depth, it’s a piece of film that wouldn’t feel out of place in the context of an art gallery.
With fragmented images and staccato “scene” changes, there is only a slight hint at a narrative. Revolving around a man and a woman sharing a house, we eavesdrop on their disjointed musings. Questions about “the metaphor”, “the language” and the possibility of equality embellished with aggrandised philosophical quotation are juxtaposed with footage of a dog rolling in shit. Scenes of the aforementioned dog, apparently belonging to the couple, exploring wet, leafy and snowy environments continually punctuate the screenplay. In the candid style of a handheld video camera the dogs’ wanderings are documented. Disseminated among shots of French tourists in a harbour and students reading books accompanied with philosophical readings, the film is like a series of filmic vignettes; swirling, replaying, and each layering upon the previous.
The psychedelic and Warhol-esque colours resulting from basic colour saturation and negatives contribute to the experimental impression of the film as a whole. The sound, edited in a jarringly out-of-sync manner to the imagery, is pretty hostile; the musical motifs echo the layering and repetition and grow increasingly tedious. Goddard might be asking some fairly probing questions about what we see of the world and how different representations of that world can be reflected, digested and revisited through film, but it’s hard to crack.
Goodbye to Language release date is yet to be announced.
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Watch the trailer for Goodbye to Language here: