Karina + Frey + Brasseur or Moreau + Werner + Serre?
Two films, two years apart, within one movement, wave or whatever your poison, see three figures faced with a changing Europe. In one, the earlier film, Francois Truffaut’s Jules et Jim (pronounced, DJim, with a hard ‘J’ that sounds like a D), France is a naive space on the verge of war, The Great War, and the fatal reaction such friction would place upon national borders. Two friends, one French, one German, fight on opposing sides, but it’s one woman, Catherine, who, in the grand tradition of all romantic tragedies causes the greater rift. Footloose and fancy-free, even the greatest of sadnesses is rendered light and memorable within the borders of the Nouvelle Vague, even if the grim fate bestowed upon the film’s central three is undeniably dour.
Godard’s tale of trois, the subversive crime pic Bande á part, his second dealing with such an arrangement after his third film Une Femme est une femme (his first lensed in colour), and a work whose title has been pilfered by Tarantino and co. for the cause of a production house title*. With it’s feet firmly ground in the contemporary Paris of the time of the film’s production, Bande á part, looks to the future, not the past of Jules et Jim, and in-turn shaped the way in which the now-history of the early-1960s is viewed. Be it Louvre hopping or impromptu dancing, a great deal of what we associate with the era was invented and affirmed by Godard’s picture. Cinema and history, one and the same.
Both films come from the world of literature. For his film Godard looked to American author Dolores Hitchens, and her Fools’ Gold, and while the source fell victim to the director’s usual tendency to play loose with any influencing matter it’s a relatively merciful adaptation compared to some of his later projects. Truffaut looked to Dadaist Henri-Pierre Roché’s semi-autobiographical novel for his tale of three. Crossover comes in the shape of Raoul Coutard, the eyes of the New Wave. Like actor Jean-Pierre Léaud worked often with both filmmakers, though it’s here in Jules et Jim and in Godard’s Breathless that the aesthetic form associated with the period are truly defined.
* An homage which provoked Godard to declare that he would have preferred they had sent him some money instead.