COMMENT ÇA VA? (Jean-Luc Godard, Anne-Marie Miéville, 1976)

Twice during Jean-Luc Godard and Anne-Marie Miéville’s very beautiful How’s It Going?, we see graffiti on an outside wall consisting of a swastika and a circle—an expression of fascism. Or is it? The circle, on top, makes a target out of the swastika; this, then, is anti-fascist. But this presumes that the swastika preceded the circle. Might not the fascist symbol instead be obliterating a conventional symbol for harmony? Or perhaps the closed circle indicates the closing off of democratic debate, and the superimposed appearance of the swastika may be glossing commentary—to this effect: such “closure” invites fascism. Images bewitch with their ambiguity and possibilities. (One wonders: did Godard himself sketch the graffiti?!)
     An editor of a Communist newspaper (based on Libération) and Odette (Miéville), a typist, together watch the former’s “videofilm.” Thus, for a good deal of the film, we watch these two watch the film-within-the-film, with Odette probing the interior film’s maker out of his clichés and complacency. Here is a film about two photographs, one of confrontation between protestors and the police in Portugal, and the other of a similar scene in France. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the Portuguese photograph is that a young man on the protesting frontline grips the raised fist of an opposing officer. In any case, wipes ever more rapidly flip back and forth between the two photos until both images are superimposed. Correlative to this is a political pronoucement in the editor’s voiceover, a call for one solution to more than one problem: not “equal labor, equal wages,” but “unequal labor, equal wages”!
     Odette hits her manual typewriter’s keys: sometimes the sound is erased while we watch her hands at work; sometimes we hear the sound combined with other images.

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