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Charlotte et Véronique + Charlotte et son Jules + Une historie d'eau

Short Films by Jean-Luc Godard

Une histoire d'eau, Jean-Luc Godard & François Truffaut

Une histoire d'eau, Jean-Luc Godard & François Truffaut

 

Charlotte et Véronique, ou Tous les garçons s'appellent Patrick, Jean-Luc Godard, Francia, 1959, 21'

This slight but jaunty, gentle and charming 1957 short was Godard's first 35mm fiction film, Shot in and around the Jardin du Luxembourg, it tells the story of student flatmates Charlotte (Anne Colette) and Véronique (Nicole Berger) who are successively picked up by raffish boy-about-town Partrick (Jean-Claude Brialy). Produced by Pierre Braunberger and directed by Godard's from a script by Eric Rhomer, it is notable primarily for the legion cultural references that would become a Godardian trademark: the copies of Cahiers du cinéma and Hegel's Aesthetics we see, the posters of James Dean and Piccaso in the girls' flat, the copy of Arts magazine visible in a café scene (with its headline from Truffaut's article "The French Cinema is Dying Under False Legends), the "Mizoguchi-Kurosawa" one-liner Patrick uses on Charlotte. 'Real' life's there too: Véronique was the name of Godard's sister, Collet was Godard's girlfriend at the time, Berger was the producer's daughter.

 

Charlotte et son Jules, Jean-Luc Godard, Francia, 1960, 13'

Shot in Godard's Spartan hotel room on Rue de Rennes with film stock donated by Claude Chabrol, this comic bagatelle was envisaged as a gender-reversed homage to Jean Cocteau's Le Bel indifférent (1957) – the one-act play Cocteau wrote for Edith Piaf during the war. Orphée it ain't but it might have easily been titled La Belle et la Bête. Jean-Paul Belmondo's Jules is a self-centered misogynist who scolds and upbraids Anne Collette's Charlotte before weeping at losing her (he assumes she's returned to him but she's only popped back for her toothbrush). Jules is a writer who despises cinema almost as much as he despises his girlfriend: "You really want to go into the cinema. There's twelve thousand other blokes you're going to have to sleep with . . . What's the cinema? A big-head making grimaces in a small room. The cinema is an illusory art. The novel, painting, ok, but not the cinema. Everyone'll tell you you're nuts but you'll never listen. Result: you're the only girl in Paris who anybody can have for free." One of Jules' few noteworthy observations is: "Behind a woman's face, one sees her soul." Just as Truffaut had been detained making Les quatre cents coups, Belmondo was drafted for military service halfway through Chalotte et son Jules so Godard voiced his dialogue himself. As in the two earlier shorts, Pierre Braunberger (whom Godard would later call "a dirty jew") is the Producer and Michel Latouche is Director of Photography. Belmondo's character is called 'Jean' in this dry run for the bedroom scene in À bout de souffle in which he spars with Jean Seberg.

 

Une histoire d'eau, Jean-Luc Godard y François Truffaut, 1961, Francia, 18'

If Godard plays fast and loose with Eric Rohmer's script in Charlotte et Véronique, here he makes merry with footage of Jean-Claude Brialy and Caroline Dim (an ex-girlfriend of Godard's) shot by François Truffaut in the aftermath of a deluge that flooded the countryside around Paris. As in the earlier film, Godard makes a tight wee film at speed, on and out of next to nothing. The rudimentary plot of this 1958  short has a 'Girl' (Dim) picked up by a 'Man' (Brialy) as she tries to get to work in Paris. They fall in love along the way. It's full of references, of course: the title is a wordplay on Anne Desclos' erotic novella Histoire d'O and Aragon, Beaudelaire, Chandler, Franju, Goethe, Poe, Petrach are all cited. While Rhomer was displeased about the extensive revisions Godard made to his script, Truffaut was delighted with the use to which Godard put his raw material while he himself was otherwise engaged, making Les quatre cents coups. The voiceover is by Dim and Godard while, on this occasion, the snappy, sassy script is all Godard's work.

 

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