"Chinese Girl" and Political Aesthetics

Brent 2022-07-06 21:45:46

Homework given to Teacher Li Xun. Half of Godard's own words, half of Rancière's words; my own words are few and poor.

The question to be discussed in this article is: How did Godard's "The Chinese Girl" aestheticize political thought, or, in other words, how did he interweave politics and aesthetics?

The story in "China Girl" easily reminds us of the May Storm in 1968. Although the film was released earlier than the May Storm, it is worth noting that "China Girl" suffered a lot in 1967 when it was released. Criticisms were then considered an accurate rehearsal of the May storm. The protagonists of the film are a group of fanatical French Maoists who attend lectures, argue and give interviews in their blue, white and red petit-bourgeois apartments. Therefore, from a historical point of view, "Chinese Girl" is an installation, a microcosm of the "Angel of History" facing the events before and after the film. This year, voices against the U.S. sending troops to Vietnam intensified among French progressives. Godard was also involved in the ensemble film Far From Vietnam, in which he made a short film called Caméra-Oeil, a clear tribute to the avant-garde Soviet film artist Ziga Vertov. In this short film, he mentioned that he was refused entry into Vietnam for filming by the Vietnamese side, so he could only "recreate a Vietnam" with a camera and a thesis film in France. The ideas of the "cultural revolution" put forward by Mao Zedong were carried forward in the same vein, but in fact history did not show any kindness to French Maoism. On the one hand, their name "Marxist-Leninist Communist Youth League" showed its own purity. On the other hand, this purity was not recognized by the French Communist Party after the Sino-Soviet conflict became public. Most importantly, from a historical perspective/practical principle, French Maoism was completely wiped out by the May storm. However, the group that originated from Mao Zedong's "violent revolution" in the 1930s and the French reality formed a downright incompatibility. [1]

Therefore, it is necessary to look back at the political practice of "Chinese Girl", because it is not only a historical device as mentioned above, but also an important branch of Mao Zedong's theory of "continuing the revolution". Where should we start the revolution? Should aesthetics be accepted, or should reality be aestheticized?

In short, Godard's political aesthetic in this film is a "posture of relearning." We can see that they were greatly stimulated by the Cultural Revolution that took place in distant China. The Cultural Revolution was a sudden social experiment aimed at a complete and thorough cleansing of society, that is, to Let's forget what we've learned, the experience and lessons of technocrats, forget who we are, and start learning "seeing, listening, speaking, reading" in our daily life again. Then "Chinese Girl" and the thoughts it reflects are about "seeing, listening, speaking, and reading" in daily life, which is exactly what Althusser mentioned in "Reading Capital": there is such a era, in which all the dramatic and arduous attempts to rediscover the most basic meanings of seeing, hearing, speaking, and reading lead people to relate to objects that return to themselves as "(the author's) absent work of absence”. [2] Moreover, the review of basic reading and writing has only begun since Marx. The experimental political aesthetics of "Chinese Girl" is reflected in this.

The political aesthetics of The Chinese Girl is in line with what Rancière called "The Distribution of the Sensible." Rancière has different interpretations of this concept in several monographs and discussions such as "Ambiguity: Politics and Philosophy", "Aesthetics of Politics: The Assignment of Sensibility", "Aesthetic Theory: The Century Scene of the Aesthetic System of Art" . In Rancière's view, the "distribution of sensibility" refers to "a self-evident system of sensory perception" that simultaneously reveals the existence of some common things and the boundaries of their respective positions. [3] Recognizing this distribution also helps us to "constantly re-break the set of existing relationships between the sensuous, that is, between the visible, the sayable, and the thinkable, against the dominance of consensus, continually reinterpreting what is What is normal, what is not normal." [4] In Godard, this anti-movie stance is quite clear, that is, refusing to monopolize, and flattening all identities, objects of use, objects of consumption, and even all sentences and pictures heard on the screen, Implement relearning in redistribution.

Reflected in the film, it is the endless reconstruction of words and sentences that first catches the eye. In the morning, the Maoist youths didn't go to work because they didn't need work, and they didn't go to school, because Nanterre University was a decadent suburban revolutionary periphery, doing gymnastics using sentences from Mao Zedong's quotations to understand everyday life through their bodies Revolution, each word corresponds to an action: The - theoretical - base - which - serves - as - a guide – in – our – thinking – is – Marxism - Leninism); they used the critical discourse of the Cultural Revolution to express love and hate for lovers (“It’s not interesting to tell the love of two Marxism-Leninists, the important thing is to understand What is Marxism-Leninism and what role it played in the process of two people falling in love"[5]), the small group voted to remove Henry the reformist, whom they called the "revisionist" , At this time, the camera was shot from the outside. The maid Yvonne stood in the window frame and shouted "re-vi-sion-ist" (re-vi-sion-ist) to the window. In Rancière's view , which is comparing basic elements such as gestures and images with political discourse, thereby making "discourse and practice intelligible", here "revision-ism-rightist" and "I-no-love" -You-" is actually the same. [6] This kind of comparison method of one divided into two apparently misappropriated from Mao Zedong (refer to the overwhelming public condemnation of "two into one" by "one divided into two" in the 1950s[7]), can be more concise To achieve the purpose of the film: to make films politically, not about politics. We can also see this in a tribute to Brecht in the film, where Guillaume wears bandages about Chinese students who opposed revisionists in the Soviet Union, saying that his face was covered in bandages and yelled at Western reporters " Look what these vile revisionists have done to me!" So Guillaume/Chinese students slowly removed the bandages, the reporter expected to see a scarred face, but what they saw was an intact face , and feel that he has been deceived. But Guillaume says they don't understand the Brecht-style juxtapositions, which are meant to show unseen horrors rather than obvious ones. [8]

Another question is why did Godard have to resort to such a vacuum? We can see that this caricature approach is not for simple satire, but echoes what he mentioned in "Cinema Eye": We are going to build a Vietnam in France. From the beginning of this film, including "East Wind" to "All is Well", Godard has deliberately avoided false recording techniques, which is his transition from "political film" to "movie politics". [9] So the childishness of Maoism in the movie is understandable, which is like the window handle in the movie - in the conversation scene between the philosopher Jeanson and the student Veronica who believes in terrorism, Veronica repeatedly Playing with the handle on the window. As Godard said, this is a very basic and very simple film, in which the characters speak as if they never speak, and do gymnastics as if they never exercise. (“I like basic colors, and when I shot Chinese Girl, my intention was to rediscover the film and start all over again. So in this very original film, I chose to use basic colors, and the camera’s There is also very little use. This is intentional, because it represents a relatively rudimentary stage, as if the camera was not used in the first film of the Lumiere brothers” [10]).

The Chinese Girl, which ends with Guillaume roaming the ruins, hawking vegetables in the deserted land, is titled "Theatre Zero Year" - an obvious nod to "Deutsche Year Zero," but with it The difference is that at this time France has been completely occupied by consumerism. This ending leads us to the final sequence of All Is Well, where Veronica instigates a riot in the supermarket in constant picture-scrolling panning shots. This riot can only happen in supermarkets, because supermarkets are a vacuum separated by society. People obey the principle of circulation of goods. This illusion and the illusion of the movie form an isomorphic relationship, so they need to be challenged. Interrupted by Dahl's "Newsreel" (Godard: "We see the screen as a whiteboard on which we write three elements, three social forces represented by three different voices... These three voices are extracted from reality, nothing is added, they are just put together in a certain order, so this film is actually a newsreel. We are in this one and a half hour, the last two years of France A summary of what happened." Golan: "The scene in the supermarket was based on real events, and the Communist Party did propaganda in the supermarket a week before we filmed it. … Unprecedented and real movies, the real environment of Brecht's dramatic metaphor will break down all the illusions created by TV, newspapers and other media on weekdays."[11])

2020.05.07, no modification.

[1] [French] Julian Boukin: "The Red Guards in Paris: Maoism among French Students in the 1960s", quoted from Wang Min'an: "Forty Years of Reflection on the "May Storm", Guilin: Published by Guangxi Normal University Society, 2008: 192.

[2] [French] Louis Althusser: "Reading "Das Kapital" (Second Edition), Beijing: Central Compilation Press, 2017: 5.

[3] Rancière, Jacques. The politics of aesthetics . Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013: 12.

[4] Lu Xinghua. Self-liberation: Writing life as a poem - An interview with Jacques Rancière [J]. Literature and Art Research, 2013(09): 71-79.

[5] [America] David Street: "Interview with Godard", Changchun: Jilin Publishing Group Co., Ltd., 2010: 105.

[6] Rancière, Jacques. Film fables . Oxford: Berg, 2006: 151.

[7] Zhu Yu: "Socialism and "Nature", Beijing: Peking University Press, 2018.

[8] Rancière, Jacques. Film fables . Oxford: Berg, 2006: 150.

[9] Zhang Aigong. A radical experiment in the film language of Jean-Luc Godard's "Red Age" [J]. Journal of Beijing Film Academy, 2016(01):137-147.

[10] [America] David Street: "Interview with Godard", Changchun: Jilin Publishing Group Co., Ltd., 2010: 73.

[11] [America] David Street: "Interview with Godard", Changchun: Jilin Publishing Group Co., Ltd., 2010: 122.

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Extended Reading

La Chinoise quotes

  • wall text: One must confront vague ideas with clear images.

  • Guillaume: Yes, yes, I think, I think we must be different from our parents. My father, for example, fought very hard against the Germans during the war, and now he runs a Club Med resort. You know, those big holiday condos by the sea. And the terrible thing is that he just can't figure out that they are made with exactly, exactly the same layout as the concentration camps.