También la lluvia (2010)

English Title: Even The Rain

Director: Icíar Bollaín

The set of the “film within the film”

Even The Rain is a film about the “Water Wars” of Boliva that took place in late 1999 and early 2000. The plot revolves around a director (played by Gael García Bernal) who is making a film about Christopher Columbus’ early brutal encounters with indigenous populations in the “New World.” This fictional film is depicted throughout Even the Rain as a parallel struggle to the water wars.

Instead of just framing the problems of water privatization and issues of global capital, Even the Rain is as much a film about the actual resistance to those attempts by capital than it is just about the process of (foreign) capital’s attempts to acquire basic resources like water. Throughout the film, one of the main actors hired for the “film within the film” is a leading activist against the water privatization who also plays one of the main ingenious figures who resisted the violence  brought onto indigenous peoples by Christopher Columbus. This perspective of the film provides voice to the resistance to such measures by global capital in ways that go beyond telling the story of globalization as a story of victimizers and victims and instead gives agency to those who are part of the process and attempt to challenge the process itself.

The revolt

The film opens with a nod to Howard Zinn, whose style of telling history from the eyes of the oppressed is quite clear in the film through the use of the “film within the film” to depict the parallels of the struggles of the past as similar to contemporary struggles. The complexities of oppression are also present in the film, for example a scene in the car of the filmmaker includes a conversation about language and privileged (an argument breaks out about not filming in English, which would have made more money, and the lack of presence of indigenous language).

The main event of the film, or climax, revolves around a revolt in the city of Cochabamba. This famous event eventually helped lead to the ascendency of the Evo Morales government to power. The revolt is certainly portrayed in a positive light (which even emotionally affects some characters who had clearly been skeptical to the demands of the local residents).

Overall, the film has an important message of social justice, and is a cinematic achievement in itself. It does an excellent job at capturing a revolutionary period while at the same time avoiding cinematic cliches about such struggles.

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Les Noms des Gens (2010)

This post was submitted by Anna Lekas Miller who is a writer for Alternet

Director: Michel Leclerc

English Title: The Names of Love

So, France has a new president.

In a close election, François Hollande, of the French Socialist Party, defeated the infamous Nicolas Sarkozy. There were many symbolic moments—instead of celebrating in Paris’s Place de la Concorde, as Sarkozy’s supporters had the year before, Hollande’s supporters gathered to rejoice at the other end of the city at Place de La Bastille—the historic site of the French revolution and the numerous social movements, general strikes, protests, marches and celebrations that have characterized the French Left ever since.

François Hollande is part of a growing electoral theme in Europe—tired by austerity measures, and the successive, costly bailouts, the results at the polls are swinging towards the (politically palatable) left.

But will the election of a socialist president translate to a socialist re-configuration of society, where wealth is radically redistributed, bailouts that save the asses of the elite while sacrificing the well-being of the people are off the table, and everyone—immigrants, nationals, bourgeoisie and working classes—lives in harmonious, indistinguishable equity?

Probably not.

Instead of sorting through twitter, and trying to find the balance between the cynics who see a reflection of Barack Obama’s unfulfilled promises in François Hollande and my French friends surrounding me celebrating the end of Sarkozy, I decided to do what any sensible, politically-engaged woman trying to make sense of the left would do on the night of a significant election. I opened a bottle of red wine, lit some candles and watched my favorite French movie in the world, Les Noms des Gens for what has to finally be the ten millionth time.

Les Noms des Gens—translated as “People’s Names”—is a love story based in French identity politics. It opens with Arthur Martin, an ordinary and at first mundane man who makes his living doing autopsies on dead geese. He is predictable, and as his name might imply, comes off as very classically and comfortably French.

Quickly, the camera cuts to Baya Benmahmoud—his polar opposite. She is young, vivaciously sexual and rabidly outspoken, and as she says, “No one in France shares my name.” She is half-Algerian, and half French—and like many French children of Algerian immigrants, struggles with reconciling her white skin and French appearance with her disgust towards racism, colonialism, and the treatment of immigrants.

She has an unabated adoration of the left—which she displays through only sleeping with right-wingers with the sole purpose of converting them to the left.

“When I say I fuck them, I really do,” she says, while explaining her practices to Arthur. “Someone from the Front National takes about ten days. But a centrist, he can be converted in an afternoon.”

Gradually, the two polar opposites begin to fall in love—but not without hilarious moments of political differences punctuating their relationship. In one scene, Baya’s ebulliently leftist mother tries to convince Arthur to marry one of her friends for her citizenship. In another, Arthur tells Baya all the topics of conversation that she must avoid when she meets his parents. Exasperated, she blurts out,

“So what are we supposed to talk about? The weather?”

“Yes! That is perfect!” he replies.

Baya finds out that Arthur is actually Jewish—and his mother’s family experienced the genuine suffering of the Holocaust. She falls even more deeply in love with him.

“This is great,” she says as they are sitting at a bar, “I am Arab, and you are Jewish! Together we are two forgotten pieces of France’s history. We wont have true world peace until we are all mixed.”

In a flurry of personal emotions, Arthur suddenly decides to cut things off with Baya. The relationship has become too serious, and he fears that Baya is making too many waves in his once quiet, predicatable life. However, life without Baya—and her unabated adoration of all that makes the left and how she manifests this in her daily actions—is a dull life. There is no one to hold the subway doors open while an elderly couple struggles to make the train, no one to save the crabs at the market place from being eaten, and no one to blame everyone who doesn’t ardently adhere to the left for being a fascist.

Also, there is far less sex.

In the end, the two lovers reunite—this time when they are at the polling place together, Baya is very pregnant. At one point, she looks down and realizes that she accidently voted for Sarkozy. Her blood curdling screams cut to her in the hospital in labor, giving birth and looking at the TV in horror as Nicolas Sarkozy is elected to La Marseillaise.

“His name?” the nurse asks

“Chung. Martin. Benmahmoud” they say

“His background?”

“His background, we don’t care,” the two reply, smiling at one another.

Baya would have celebrated in the streets when François Hollande was elected—but will he really be the leader that the left wants to see transform France? Perhaps the deregulation and austerity measures started under Sarkozy will be halted and curbed, but the racism, anti-immigrant sentiment and remnants of a colonial past that still plague France, and the many different types of people who make up France won’t be washed away overnight. These aspects of French culture—or any culture—are ingrained in the history, in the family tree that traces its French origins back to the 1500s and in the awkward dinner conversations where a daughter brings her Algerian boyfriend home to meet her father who had also been in Algeria for “different reasons.”

It’s in the streets and the schools, the micro-aggressions and conversations that dictate whether one population feels tolerated or welcomed far more than political parties or policies. It’s in the unlikely friendships and relationships—and, as more and more opposites make love and create a new generation of multiple identities, differences become less distinct and more celebrated and, as Baya says, as our identities mix and mingle we get a little bit closer to world peace.

So, I’m not so sure that an elected leader—especially one who despite his socialist label seems ready to pander to neoliberalism, and doesn’t seem to have anything particularly radical to say about anything—will change France, or any country for that matter. But maybe the people—through meeting one another, sharing stories, being frank about their identity politics, opening each others minds through personal relationships, and making lots and lots and lots of love just might.

Che (2008)

Kate Devlin
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Benicio Del Toro as Che

Map of Cuba from the opening

This film covers the career of the Argentine revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara. This film is not directed in a standard chronological style but , in the words of Wikipedia, “an oblique series of interspersed moments along the overall timeline”. The film is somewhat impressionistic and although anyone can enjoy this film as a “revolutionary action film” it does require at least some knowledge of the life of Che Guevara and the events of the Cuban Revolution to fully understand what is going on.

The film has its origins in a screenplay written by the film maker Terence Malik about Che’s attempt to start a revolution in Bolivia. Due to financing problem’s Mali’s proposed film fell though and Soderbergh agreed to take over the project. In taking on the making of a film about Che Soderbergh felt that it was important to provide the context of the Cuban Revolution and the events leading up to Che’s eventual departure from Cuba. Steven Soderbergh has been known as a film maker with leftist sympathies but he has not been regarded as a leftist or highly political film maker. He has been more commonly known as the director films such as the Ocean’s Eleven remake and Erin Brokovich although he has also directed more unconventional films such as Sex, Lies, and Videotapes. According a review in to Rajesh Ginraajan’s blog “Scorp Says So” the film could be seen as a complex collaboration between Malik, the actor Dell Toro (who was heavily influenced by Jon Lee Anderson’s 1997 Che biography “Che Guevara, A Revolutionary Life” but who is said to have read “every possible book on Che”), Soderbergh, and the screenwriter Peter Buchman, who has had a longtime interest in historical biography.

The film is four and a half hours long. It is deeply engrossing, even without an extensive knowledge of the historic subject, and is definitely worth the the greater investment of time.

Che has two parts. The first part, “The Argentine”, covers Fidel and Che’s early friendship and the events of the Cuban Revolution. We see Che and Fidel meeting at in Mexico City in 1955 and their discussions within the international Latin American leftist mileu. Che joins the July 26th Movement to liberate Cuba and we see him aboard the Gramna in his guerilla invasion of Cuba in 1956.

There is an extended section with Che fighting and in the jungle region of the Sierra Maestra Mountains.  He has periodic meetings with Fidel Castro and there seems to be increasing tension between the two men. This isn’t made apparent in the film but this was the period when their was increasing tension between the middle class oriented July 26th movement and allied movements, which merely wanted to overthrow Batista, and Che and other radicals who saw the need for a deeper anti-capitalist and nationalist revolution. Che is shown as a very able and well liked commander but a somewhat harsh disciplinarian. There is a scene where he personally execution executes a guerilla army guide who admits to betraying the guerilla’s position for a large financial reward. Che is also shown as a voracious reader, devouring texts on history and political theory. He teaches literature and history to his troops and works to raise their cultural level.

Che instructing fighters

Later in the first half of the film as the Cuban rebels enter the cities there are dramatic but very realistic scenes of Che and a female friend fighting urban guerilla warfare in  the Battle of Santa Clara.

A leading commanders of Batista’s army, turns against Batista offers to surrender his army to the rebels in return for allowing his army to remain intact. This offer is turned down by the rebels.

The second part of the film is “The Guerilla”. The film technique of the second half is much different than that of the first. The music score is different and the film ratio is much smaller, leading to a more tense, “claustrophobic” feeling. The second part  covers Che’s role in early revolutionary Cuba and subsequent career as a revolutionary outside of Cuba. Che  holds trials of the most hated and repressive members of the former Batista regime. Che becomes one of leaders of Cuba’s economic transition from capitalism to socialism and is appointed director of the Bank of Cuba. Amid greatly escalating tensions between Cuba and the US Che looks forward to meeting the visiting Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev but this is nixed by Castro. Che appears to become increasingly frustrated at his role in Cuba although the background to this is not explored in the film.

An early highpoint in this second section of the film is Che’s famous “Address to The Tricontinental” speech in 1966 before the UN in New York. This speech blasts Western and US imperialism,and the internal oppression and hypocracy of the US, to the wild applause of many delegates. This is the speech where Che publicly explained his “focii” theory of revolution for the first time and predicted “one, two, many Vietnams” to oppose imperialism. This scene is interspersed with interviews Che gave, including the one where he famously said, “At the risk of sounding ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by feelings of love.”

Around this time Che became increasingly critical of both what he saw the Soviet Union and the “Eastern Bloc’s failure to aid and solidarize with Third World struggles and increasingly upset about the bureaucratization of the Cuban Revolution. This is strongly hinted at in the film but does not seem to be fully explored. In a 1966 speech in Algeria Che called for Third world solidarity and criticized the Soviet Union. In critizing Cuba’s major ally, and growing bureaucratic tendencies within the Cuban Revolution, Che’s position was in Cuba was made untenable and  some Marxist historians today feel Che reached a political point point where his departure from Cuba was almost inevitable.

In 1966 Che leaves Cuba. There is a moving but again very realistic farewell scene with his second wife. Che and some assistants are able to expertly disguise Che as his father, whom with makeup he strongly resembled.

Che spends some time in Congo. After the assassination of that country’s leftist leader, Patrice Lumumba the country had fallen into civil war and anarchy. Che and one hundred men come to fight with Laurent-Desire Kabila, the leader of the ousted Lumumbuist forces.. Che is quickly disgusted by Kabila,  whom he sees as “not the man of the hour” and a person more concerned with drinking and sex instead of revolutionary warfare  and whose forces lack  any  discipline and are pervaded with  corruption. Che briefly returns to Cuba in secret.

Che and other J26M revolutionaries

Che next goes to Bolivia. His Bolivian period covers much of the second part of the film. He leads a small group of mostly Cuban revolutionaries, hoping to spark a peasant uprising. His movement gets little support from the largely apathetic peasantry. There is some support from a peasant family and others when Che and his band are able to proof they “are for real”. They provide medical care for family’s sick daughter and provide some hope of the possibility of a better future. Oppression, intimidation, and tradition mistrust of outsiders inhibit any significant collaboration among the Bolivian peasantry however. There is a scene where an attempt at urban guerilla warfare in a medium sized of indigenous people fails because of the lack of support from the local population. There is another interesting scene in Cuba where Fidel Castro is worried over the amount of aid  the Bolivian Communists are ready to provide his friend.

The film follows the inevitable grinding down of Che’s guerrilla movement. There is an interesting scene where the French journalist Regis Debray, then a leftist hero and friend of Che and a participant in Che’s attempt to foster a Bolivian revolution, and other sympathetic foreigners, take their leave and return home. Che, an asthmatic, loses his asthma medication and is increasingly handicapped by severe asthma attacks. There are vivid scenes where the CIA laison officer Felix Rodriguez is literally telling his Bolivian army allies how to contain Che’s revolution and how to capture him.

The guerilla army is split in two. One group, with the German-Argentine revolutionary Tamara Bunke, “Tania” is pursued into a trap by Bolivian Army pursuers.

After a shootout, Che himself is captured. He expects to be killed right away. Instead hos Bolivian captors chain him to a wall and brutally interrogate him. Despite this continues to try to discuss Bolivia’s political situation and seems to be attempting to gain the friendship of one of his guards.

Finally Che is shot by a guard Mario Teran,who appears to be a brutal sociopath. He appears to have won the opportunity to kill Che after picking strawsand is promised an extra alcohol ration in return.

This film is quite memorable and is well recommended. While it can better be enjoyed with a knowledge and understanding of the historical contexts of the periods in Che’s life, the film can also elicit such an interest. Almost every scene in the film can be a starting point for  much discussion and debate among those interested in alternative’s to capitalism today. Where Che’s tactics correct for their situation? What is the nature of the Cuban Revolution and where is it going? This film provides the important role of acting as a springboard for people today looking for alternatives to savage neo-liberal austerity.
The realistic film style, a welcome antidote to most current Hollywood productions, creates a feeling of credibility. Che Guevara is shown as fully human and his goals and motives are understandable. The role of the CIA in tracking and killing Che elicits outrage. His killing, by  (interestingly) creates a feeling of “open ended closure”, telling us, in effect, that Che’s life in definitively over but his overall project, the goal of liberating humanity, is now up to us, a new generation.

In an ironic afterward the man who killed Che, Mario Teran, was treated fore a disease causing blindness by Cuban doctors in 2007, forty years later.

La Faute à Fidel (2006)

Directed by Julie Gavras

Julie Gavras’ debut narrative film focuses on a sort of “coming of age” story of a young girl (Anna) who is raised in a family in political transition. Anna’s family becomes more radicalized in post-1968 France where her father takes on the cause of defending Allende’s Chile while her mother goes into womens’ liberation. The story revolves around Anna’s anxiety due to the drastic changes in her own life that must occur as a result of the ongoing political changes within her immediate family. The story essentially uses Anna’s growing up as an analogy to explain certain political changes that occurred in the West in places like France during the time the film takes place (the 1970s).

Anna’s father feels quite guilty for his family’s support of Franco in Spain which motivates him to become a passionate supporter of Allende in Chile. Their family hosts exiles, activists working on Allende’s campaigns, etc. throughout the film which make from some interesting interactions between the young Anna and the Communist activists. For example there is a scene where Anna is up late one night and has a conversation with the activists about trading an orange for money. They insist that trade should not be done for personal benefit over another but in an egalitarian way, while Anna resists these progressive notions. The conversation is a sort of “Communism for children” style of dialogue that demonstrates the bourgeois ideology that still dominates Anna’s preconceptions of the world and makes for an interesting scene when those notions are directly challenged.

As the story progresses, Anna beings to challenge these preconceptions in places like her Catholic school which leads her to some trouble (after having already been removed from certain religious classes in the school). These developments make her grandparents quite uncomfortable and they clearly are opposed to the leftward turn the family has made.

There is also tension within the family that is itself representative of greater tension amongst the Left of that time. Anna’s mother becomes quite involved with abortion rights, while her father sees this as a sort of deviation or even a negative struggle to get involved in. This is of course one of the biggest criticisms of the “Old Left”: the theoretical and political “blind spot” of what the Old Left considered to be single issue causes that were considered to be distractions from the more important class struggle. These questions don’t get resolved in the most comfortable way in the film, just as they weren’t “comfortably resolved” in the real history of the Left.

The film does an excellent job at using the perspective of a child to explain a time that was quite crucial in understanding the contemporary Left and at least some of the important developments that got it to where it is today.

La Commune (2000)

La Commune

Peter Watkins

Review by Kate Devlin

Karl Marx regarded the Paris Commune (March-May 1871) as one of the two most important events of the 19th century. (the other one being the US Civil War). The French working class, long suffering under exploitation and oppression, had been in the vanguard of the French revolutions of 1789, 1793, 1830, and 1848. While these revolutions, by transferring power from the landed aristocracy to various factions of the bourgeoisie class paved the way for the development of industrial capitalism, the working class had been cheated out of any meaningful gains. The Jacobins of the first revolutionary period enacted the Le Chapelier law, outlawing workers organizing to better their conditions. The Revolution of 1848 was started by the Parisian working class. This revolution however was subverted by the industrial and financial elites. Worker’s organizations such as cooperative workshops were bloodily suppressed and thousands of working class activists were deported. The resulting bourgeoisie republic was highly unstable. Power struggles between factions of the bourgeoisie, as well as ruling classes continued fears of the lower middle classes and the urban working class, led to the 20 year rule of the corrupt comic opera regime of Louis Bonaparte, a process Marx described in the “Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon”.

Go to fullsize image

Louis Napoleon led France into the disastrous Franco-Prussian War in 1870. France long had a huge gap between rich and poor. The working class of Paris had suffered under appalling living conditions. Fearful of unrest, the ruling class of France severely limited democratic municipal government in Paris. During the Franco-Prussian War of 1871 and the siege of Paris the working class experienced famine, massive unemployment, and bombardment from the Prussians. Discontent was rife.

For self defense the people of Paris were organized into 260 largely self governing National Guard battalions. Adolphe Thiers, the head of the provisional government which had taken power after the ignominious flight of  Louis Napoleon, grew fearful of the Parisian worker’s unrest. Thiers sent elements of the army to seize the National Guard cannon. These were fought back by women from the working class Montmatre district.This triggered the event known as the Paris Commune. Many soldiers refused to fire on the people and joined the rebellion. Workers began seizing government office buildings and several widely hated generals and officials were seized. The Thiers government, in a panic, relocated to Versailles, about 20 miles from Paris. In Paris the city was reorganized along socialistic lines, giving workers control over their lives. There were enormous gains for women’s rights, education, and social protection. There were  moves towards worker control of industries and business.

La Commune

La Commune by the Canadian director Peter Watkins, is a “living history” recreation of this event. The events of the Paris Commune are not presented so much as past history but as part of a process which is still continuing in our own time .The entire film was staged in an abandoned factory outside Paris., The film is documentary style, with filming and interviews done by imaginary television crews, first for “Commune TV”, and then as the Commune faces defeat, by a pro-Versaillais TV station. The actors are non-professional and many are North African immigrants. Actors, sometimes breaking out of character, or as the characters they are portraying, discuss issues of class conflict, poverty, and oppression in our own time. In one scene a woman breaks out of character to discuss how burnt out she is by her job and that her work on the film makes her want to break from watching passive entertainment on TV and reread “State and Revolution” by Lenin. In another scene an actor begins discussing how he feels NGOs can be effective in fighting poverty in the Third World. A debate on this and similar issues ensues with his fellow “Communards”.

La Commune is 5 hours 45 minutes long. Its one of the most intriguing films I’ve seen and is certainly worth investing the time watching it.

The Commune was brutally suppressed, with between  30,000 and 50,000 people killed, including tens of thousands of workers who were summarily executed. Over 7,000 Communards were deported, mostly to remote French colonies in the South Pacific.

The Commune was the first case in modern history of the working class taking power and attempting to create a more humane society. Peter Watkins on his website said that one of his motivations for making the film was that the Paris Commune is severely marginalized in the French educational system. Its legacy, seldom discussed in today’s corporate media, has been an inspiration to the workers movement ever since. Watkin’s film is an excellent tribute to and recreation of this heroic event.

Tout Va Bien (1973)

Director: Jean-Luc Godard

Tout Va Bien is perhaps Godard’s most overtly Marxist film.  It’s entire structure is a diagnosis of class relations and essentially a demonstration of the aftermath of May ’68 (which is referenced quite often in the film), while constantly reminding the audience that France 1972 is not May 1968.

The film revolves around two main characters, one of which is played by Jane Fonda.  (The film itself has it’s own political history of receiving as much funding as it did by getting such a famous actress to be in the film which is actually referenced in the film itself).  Fonda’s character is an American journalist living in France as a correspondent to an American radio news company who is married to a filmmaker who was once a New Wave director who during the film had moved on to make commercials (he later claimed that making commercials was “more honest”)

The film begins with an examination of film making itself, with an opening sequence of checks being signed to the different departments and people who made the film, an opening montage that overtly sets up the structure of the story (even referencing the fact that a famous actress should be sought out).  After the main characters are established, it doesn’t take long for the film to focus on the factory.

The political situation in the factory is that of disarray.  The workers are engaged in a wildcat strike that the union (the CGT) does not support.  The boss finds himself helplessly defending his position in society while the leftists are being written off as “troublemakers.”  This is of course quite similar to the situation in May ’68, where the French Communist Party (PCF) did not back the wildcat strikes and student protest movement.  Godard constantly reminds us that this is not ’68 and that the situation is quite more dire here.  The film has a mood of defeat about it (the filmmaker character expresses this quite explicitly in his ending monologue).

With this atmosphere, the two main characters were scheduled for an interview with the manager of the factory about modern management skills.  They of course are thrown into the turmoil of the strike and are in turn locked up with the manager.  The manager is confronted by the two protagonists and is forced to justify the system of capitalism itself: claiming that Marxism has lost its relevance due to the increased standards of living for all in society (a straw man argument of course) and arguing for a society where classes cooperate instead of conflict.

Cross Section of the Factory

Another major antagonist in the film is the CGT representative.  The CGT at the time was aligned with the PCF and continued to be until the 1990s.  The CGT representative demonstrates how the PCF (and in turn the CGT) were moving to the right: arguing for negotiations with the capitalist class/management and maintaining “order.”  They were just as opposed to the troublemakers as the police.

The film also deals with male chauvinism, with minor references towards the beginning of Fonda’s character being a Feminist, there’s a scene in the film where one of the male workers tells the female workers that they should just be at home cooking, the other female workers back her up and call his chauvinism out for what it is.

After the two protaganists are released (and the workers apologize for locking them up, citing that they had no other option), Fonda’s character ends up trying to do a story in the grocery store where a long scene showing people buying groceries while the Communist Party is in the background trying to sell books (A good quote she has to sum up the grocery store in her monologue that is meant to be for her upcoming article “outside the factory it’s still like a factory” which demonstrates how society is shaped by the capitalist structure).  Here the PCF is portrayed as just another commodity to be bought and sold on the market place, just as much a part of the system as the groceries that the consumers are buying.  Then, a group of radical students comes up and begins to question the PCF representative, pointing out contradictions and inconsistencies in their line.  They then start leading a sort of mass theft of the grocery store, encouraging and inciting and radicalizing the consumers while shouting “everything is free!”  The camera then slowly makes its way to the exist while showing the police suppressing the mini riot.  This is an important demonstration of the tactics of some New Left groups that were called into question at the time: for example the Weather Underground‘s “Days of Rage” event was nothing more than an invite of police repression which was condemned by organizations like the Black Panthers.

Grocery Store Scene

Then there are scenes of the militant factory workers being brutally repressed by the police where even one of the workers is murdered and a long scene (which is often returned to) of the militant workers being marched in a line on the way to jail.

Then the protagonists return to their normal lives and reflect on the recent events and as a consequence reflect on their own positions in society.  Their marriage is shaken by the events and their self-reflection and we are made just to know that there is some uncertainty ahead.

Overall, it’s a film about the politics of the New Left versus the “old guard” of organizations like the Communist Party, and the consequences of the respective stances each position took in the late 1960s.  The film is almost like a Post-Script to May ’68: demonstrating how the failures of the Left lead to essentially a betrayal of the working class.  I don’t think Godard’s final conclusion is that the New Left should be seen uncritically, but he certainly does demonstrate the problems with totally rejecting it.

Further reading: Criterion Collection Essay on Tout Va Bien

There’s also an interesting interview with Godard about the film on YouTube