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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Married Woman

A Married Woman, from 1964, is Jean-Luc Godard's eighth feature. It has many of his familiar themes, prevalently consumerism, and the reduction of women to body parts.

The film begins with two sets of hands playing against a white background. The female pair belongs to Charlotte, Macha Méril, and the male to her lover, Bernard Noël. She is, as the title suggests, married to someone else, and asks him if he will marry her if she gets a divorce. The film ends with those hands disappearing off the screen.

The scene is something like that of the opening of Contempt, as we see her a series of parts--no shots of her as a whole. Hands, feet, eyes, belly button (this when talking about if she will bear him a child). It's very sexy, but also suggests that she is not a complete person without a man.

Charlotte is married to Pierre (Phillipe Leroy) and has a step-son. She is concerned that he has hired private detectives to spy on her (she was caught once, and he thinks the affair is over). As she goes about her day, she and we are inundated with images from fashion magazines. Godard would go on to use this theme throughout the '60s--he seemed to be obsessed with ads for bras. Indeed, one funny scene has Charlotte using an article to figure out if she has perfectly shaped breasts. It seems that perfection is an equilateral triangle from the base of the neck to each nipple.

Later she will find out she is pregnant but is not sure which man is the father. Needless to say this was pretty scandalous for 1964, even in France. The censorship board banned it, as they said it suggested all married woman were adulterous.

Also per usual for Godard, there are many references that can be explored. The lover is an actor who is performing in Racine's Berenice, and the two meet at a movie theater playing Night and Fog, the holocaust film. This is not the only time that subject pops up, as Pierre and a friend are watching the Auschwitz trials. Linking an affair by a bourgeois woman and the holocaust left me scratching my head.

A Married Woman is provocative while at the same time seeming light, an interesting balancing act.

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