Numéro deux Screen 8 articles

Numéro deux

1975

Numéro deux Poster
  • Some will find the English translation of the title all too apt, but in fact the tone is mutable and quite interesting; "What do we do when it's the State, the social system, that rapes us?" - but such fiery rhetoric is dampened by the fact that the impeccably left-wing family... are so obviously messed-up. Both political and pornographic, admits JLG early on - and the latter aspect, which may have seemed a gimmick in '75, is actually what saves it.

  • It's mostly footage of monitors in a dark room, themselves playing footage of domestic scenes shot in long, static takes... It's as if Godard were trying to dispense with everything conventionally "aesthetic" or "pleasurable" about cinema. The effect, as you might imagine, is quite alienating, yet still fascinating, because for all the self-imposed limitations Godard's put on his own toolbox, Numéro deux remains a dense, inventive work.

  • I suspect that the danger [in Tout va bien of foregrounding the big stars'] personal relations was clear to the film’s makers... With NUMÉRO DEUX, however, Godard—now working alone—has solved this possible discrepancy. He brings politics and men/women relations into the home so that mere interpersonal and conjugal problems never run the risk of being analyzed for their own sake. From this point of view the film is crucial.

  • In Numéro Deux, it is impossible to disengage the verbal elements from their contexts and retain any grasp of their assigned meanings — not only because much of the verbiage is unusually obscure, particularly in isolation from the other elements, but more centrally because the integrity of the image is challenged more basically here than before, thereby assigning the words a much more fluctuating and unstable role.

  • ++

    The Chicago Reader: Dave Kehr
    July 01, 1977 | When Movies Mattered (pp. 144-148)

    The most interesting development in Numéro deux may be its use of explicit sex scenes... In Numéro deux, Godard has achieved something of a personal liberation, sex becoming the only genuine means of communication between the characters. But more importantly, Godard has found an effective way of challenging the traditional narrative codes by restoring sex to its normal role in life.

  • A rumination on politics and sex, bodies and machines, men and women, "Numero Deux" plays out at a Brechtian distance, on screens within the screen... Within the flashing, constantly morphing text that appears on screen in "Numero Deux" can be found a blunt summation of Godard's larger project: At one point the word "politics" changes to "history," which in turn becomes "cinema."

  • Where “2 or 3 Things” was produced in sumptuous cinemascope, “Numéro Deux”’s two-monitor set up produces a bleak sense of isolation and claustrophobia. At the same time, Godard uses the video camera to invent a dozen new ways of splitting the screen or layering the image. The effect is grim yet visually entrancing. The brilliance of “Numéro Deux” lies in this strategy—Godard doesn’t allude to the media but rather he sets out to reproduce it.

  • Both in terms of how difficult it is to see and how difficult it still is to parse, Numéro Deux stands out as one of Godard's least accessible films. But it's also one of his most essential and, in many ways, perhaps his most exciting. Released to little notice in 1975, Numéro Deux could be called the defining film of Godard's second and most challenging period...

More Links