France, 1986, Jean-Luc Godard, 26 min.
Two titans of cinema meet when Jean-Luc Godard interviews Woody Allen in this short documentary. But given that it was made by Godard himself, don’t expect a straightforward interview. That man has always been bored with traditional cinematic language and enjoys making his own. It doesn’t matter if no one else can understand it.
The format is simple. Godard films Woody straight on, asking questions and hearing answers. This was filmed right after two of Woody’s best films (Hannah and Her Sisters and The Purple Rose of Cairo), so the subject was working at the top of his game at the time.
Woody Allen comes across as very modest and intelligent. Not very confident about his body of work but clearly eager to contribute as much as he can to the art-form. He makes some interesting points about the structure of films and how television has changed the face of cinema.
But this is a Godard film after all. So Woody Allen is often cut off mid-sentence as the film jumps ahead to the next question. Or he is drowned out by loud classical music so his words are not audible.
Why does Godard insist on going against expectations? Well, that’s why we love him. Because his films have a bizarre unpredictable rhythm. But in this instance, it doesn’t work. The substance does not match the style.
When you have Woody Allen, who is full of interesting ideas and thoughts and stories, the last thing you want to do is to get between him and the audience. Maybe a different subject would have worked. But as it stands the film is a clash of Allen’s clear insightful dialog and Godard’s unique rhythm and style. Separately, both of those things are great, but together, they left me wanting more. See it for yourself here.