Monday, November 22, 2010

First Turning Thoughts on Éloge de l’amour

Éloge de l’amour opens with a filmic return to the city of Paris, and Alphaville, with bright headlight circles beaming through rain, and this circle is part of a film of circles, finished, unfinished, followed. The film opens with the question, “Do you remember their names?” A recounting follows. This question is the beginning, and yet, it is a beginning that foregrounds what came before this moment that is the future of the previous moment as well as our present in the film. This present calls forth a recollection of past. We start in a cycle of remembrance, we follow the circle. Edgar is on a quest, striving to create a project of defining adulthood, for him the blurry and missing present in the cycle of life that moves from childhood to old age. The long in-between eludes him. Throughout the film, we hear the beginnings and ends of conversations, the middle often subsumed by music, wind, or the characters’ backs facing us--reinforcing the slippery slope of present, heart, center. The project remains incomplete. 
And then, the two years earlier to which the film’s characters constantly allude returns, for our first time: the image switches from black and white film to saturated video. As Douglas Morrey notes in Jean-Luc Godard, the past is more rich and live than the uncapturable, less vivid present (229). It vibrates, resonates with color. And then we make the turnaround--events and conversations we have already heard of, phrases uttered when phrases were still possible, make their way back to us in the form of their seeds. We realize how they have changed, what it was like when someone else spoke them, and what their reception inscribed on them after their release into the world. Superimpositions act like layered memories, images of the ocean evoke the unending cycles of tides larger than human activity and history.

Throughout, we get the sense that we don’t know where we are going, but we are held, suspended, cradled in the strange comfort of the circle that can contain an unfinished project, which is also its end. On viewing the film, I felt unmoored, like those boats bobbing on the orange-blue sea, but never lost because I was coming back around, just like those boats can never fall off of the planet.
In his interview with Jean-Luc Godard in Cinema: The Archaeology of Film and the Memory of a Century, Yousef Ishaghpour says, “history is unachievable because it would take an eternity to compile a history of the shortest time.” We all know how this feels. I tried to write about an experience in my journal recently and never got to it because I started writing about the pen I was using and how it got to me and where I took it and what people said about it, and by the time I was done writing about the pen I was writing with, I was tired. Like Edgar says, “no one ever tells the other story” and perhaps that is because each point and thought is connected to others, also connected to others, and we can’t tell the story that way. Even if we get back to it, around to it, things have changed with the weight of history and time. The story you tell is another story anyway. The present and future change the past, and Éloge de l’amour somehow manages to show us this in the transition from black and white to supercolor, through repeated words foretold, as Edgar, Berthe, and the other characters struggle to complete a cycle while inside of many others. There is something in this that says, take heart. In praise of love. 
Tomorrow I leave for Paris and it is the beginning of a journey, led up to forever, and already receding. This film makes me hope it rains while I am there.


1 comment:

  1. This post makes me want to reconsider the film already-you were right that I would begin to change my mind upon a little time passing..

    I was bewildered by the film to some extent, but after reading this and a little of the Morrey, I am starting to see the structure and themes more clearly, which admittedly eluded me during the screening..

    Thanks Ruchi! Have a great trip!