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Women in the films of Jean-Luc Godard

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  1. Introduction.
  2. women - represented as beauty and mystery.
    1. The first trend in Godard's depiction of women in his early work.
    2. The most violent betrayal by a woman in the films of the sixties.
    3. Godard and female sexuality specifically in relation to male desire.
    4. The portrayal of Nana in her daily work.
  3. Godard's later work.
    1. Two themes - highlighted in regards to female sexuality in 'Sauve Qui Peut (La vie).'
  4. Fonda's role in 'Tout va bien'.
  5. Women in Godard's films - sometimes strong, sometimes weak.

Since 1959 and the release of his first film, Jean-Luc Godard has engaged audiences with a varied body of work. He has entertained, quoted, lectured, and bored, inevitably. Throughout his entire career, both the depiction of the female and her role in his films has been of the utmost importance. In the early years of his career, women in his films were represented as objects of mystery and beauty. His films of the Nouvelle Vague and the period immediately following it portray women in two distinct ways within this theme of woman as object. The first is as betrayers of the man they love. The second is the use of prostitution as a metaphor for exploitation of female sexuality. However, his prostitute characters offer varying degrees of strength and independence, and their similarities and differences will be a source of much interest throughout his career. In general, his films mature with their creator, arguably resulting in deeper explorations of issues that arose in earlier films.

[...] Women in his films do not grow or necessarily, but the artist creating them certainly does. In this way, his female characters are elements in Godard's further exploration of his, and their, world, and his investigation of relationships and sexuality. The first trend in Godard's depiction of women in his early work is his female characters represented as femme fatales; women betray or are sources of violence against the men they love. The term femme fatale does not necessarily apply to all of these films, as they do not always result in death. [...]


[...] In his political films this theme appears in the shape of factory workers on strike, youth fighting the police, and previously with prostitution as in ?Vivre sa Vie.? Paul Godard is the source of the remainder of the violence of the male sexuality in ?Sauve qui Peut (La In a scene indicative of the films translated title, ?Slow Motion,? Paul fights with his on again, off again partner, Denise (Nathalie Baye) while they eat in the kitchen. The table and their chairs are knocked over and Denise is clearly hurt when she leaves the room. [...]


[...] Just as Nana philosophizes with Brice Parain in ?Vivre sa or as Paul quizzes Ms in ?Masculin, Feminin,? Godard ponders and probes, looking for truth in an apartment, a hotel room, a movie theatre, or the bottom of a Coke bottle. Most of all life influences Godard, inciting him to make films about commerce, sex, relationships, and entertainment. The female characters that he has realized on the screen represent many different types of personalities, many different facets of life. Women in Godard's films are sometimes strong, sometimes weak. [...]

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