Friday, 2 July 2010
Made in U.S.A.
"Made in U.S.A. is arguably the most quintessentially 'Godardian' of the filmmaker's great Breathless to Weekend period" Village Voice
Made in U.S.A
A newly restored print of Made in U.S.A. (1966) directed by the legendary French director Jean-Luc Godard makes its premiere at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) this August.
Made in U.S.A. was Godard's final film to star his long-time muse (and then ex-wife) Anna Karina, who plays Paula Nelson - a trenchcoated P.I. recalling Humphrey Bogart's take on the hard-boiled detective. As its title suggests, Made in U.S.A. pays a brightly coloured Pop Art style tribute to American noir movies such as Howard Hawk's The Big Sleep (1946).
The film is filled with lingering close-ups of Karina at her most lovely and emotive and as her predetermined last film with Godard, Made in U.S.A is as much a tongue-in-cheek homage to Karina as it is to America.
Taking place in an imaginary hybrid Franco-American place called Atlantic City, Paula Nelson (Karina) is all alone in a sea of bit players named after political and pop culture American icons including David Goodis, Donald Siegel, Paul Widmark, Richard Nixon, and Robert McNamara. Nelson is trying to find her boyfriend, a communist intellectual believed dead, named Richard P. Though he proves hard to find, he is heard - voiced by Godard - in the form of tape recordings reading Maoist ideology.
Godard was becoming increasingly politicized in both his personal and professional life, and Made in U.S.A. is his final attempt at a genre picture. With increasing interest in Marxism, Godard was keen to tie the film to the scandal of the time, which was the "Ben Barka Affair" in which a leftist Moroccan political figure disappeared in Paris in 1965 - similarly to Richard P.
Made in U.S.A was an unplanned film for Godard and was made in tandem with 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (Deux ou trois choses que je sais d'elle) (1966). Whilst Godard was working on the latter he was approached by his former producer Georges Beauregard, who was experiencing financial difficulties when Jacques Rivette's The Nun (La Religieuse) (1966) was banned by the Gaullist Minister of Information. Beauregard hoped that Godard would quickly make a film for him which would help him to finance his next film. The result was Made in U.S.A. which Godard shot simultaneously with 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her; the latter in the mornings and the former in the afternoons.
The film also features nouvelle vague regulars Jean-Piérre Leaud and László Szabó and a musical cameo by '60s counter-culture icon Marianne Faithfull with an acapella rendition of her number one single, The Rolling Stones' penned ballad As Tears Go By.
Made in U.S.A. plays as part of ACMI's First Look program from Thursday 19 to Sunday 22 August. For sessions details click here.
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