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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Bridging Fiction and Documentary in Godard's Notre Musique

  • Author(s): Astourian, Laure
  • et al.

This paper is a close analysis of Jean-Luc Godard’s 2004 film, Notre Musique. Its primary focus is the implications of Godard’s blending of documentary footage with staged footage. Among the examples of documentary and narrative blurring, Godard stages an interview with an internationally known poet, Mahmoud Darwish, and though the pretext is completely false, the exchange that takes place is honest and potent. Aside from the famous personages who play themselves, the film’s other main characters are actors. They insert themselves seamlessly through events that actually took place in Sarajevo (i.e. that were not planned for the shooting of the film). I believe this technique echoes Godard’s belief that people have faith in the imaginary, and doubt reality. Even though the narrative curve is atypical--there is no climax, and the two main characters never meet--it offers that which the spectator needs in order to submit himself or herself to a film: the imaginary. Thanks to the lens of narrativity, the varied documentary subjects (the Israeli/Palestine conflict, the symbolic rebuilding of the Mostar Bridge, the Native American plight, the future of digital filmmaking) whose philosophical links would otherwise not be considered are conjoined into a field where realities point to imaginaries and vice versa. Throughout the film, the characters acknowledge the inability of images and words to represent certain atrocities, and strange way by which imaginary representations are at times more believable than the truth.

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