Can one take for granted G’s intention or confession about his adieu? Adieu from what? From everything that personally used to matter so much to him, throughout a whole life? Since language means, of course, everything which relates us, him in particular, to the world: observation, judgement, protesting action, experiment, importance of beauty in creation… Or, would it be just a well-known customary moment of an artist when, beyond individual fatigue and disenchantment, there is time to face the weight (values?) of efforts?

Adieu is, of course, also a cry, “ah dieu!”, when one feels like saying: “I am here for telling you NOTHING, and for dying.” –   like  the woman in the  movie does,  when there are no valid answers to the sacred questions  “what is a human being, what is adventure, what is a city, and what is war?” A classical G knack, isn’t it? Putting the most substantial BIG QUESTIONS of our lives into the mouth of anybody, making them excessively empty, (or not?), sending them to the void. Try to deprive them from the most embarrassing ambiguity! It is not the first time that G brings together with lightweight elegance the most banal and the deadly serious: colliding their weight and effect in the smoothest way.

Otherwise, we can see endless fragments about all these issues: beauty of nature, blood and violence, naked bodies of man and woman, a couple in customary scenes of erotic fights, a dog who seems to be the more human among all these visible phenomena…G keeps asking: is beauty an all encompassing quality of nature, of life, a global metaphor for all? … including indifference, cruelty, suffering, …what does it amount to? He, of course, would never venture to offer a simplistic answer to these major questions of human life, but questioning! … Is it not enough to disturb us with the unresolvable query? “ Give up freedom itself and everything will be returned to you!” sounds one kind of cruel wisdom…is this wry advice or just ironic nonsense?

To say goodbye, refusing language, could mean to move out, to stop speaking, having no more contact with the world. After about 39 films made in full iconoclastic excitement is this gesture not the most frivolous and charming “jeu de mots”? Can we believe that this is a last word? And if so, what is the meaning of this last word? The spectator’s impression is that the adieu is not a farewell, and in particular not a dark one. To the contrary.

Goodbye to Language film analysis

Apparently, G cannot lose his exceptional sensibility for discovering Beauty. The experiment to use 3D is clearly a new challenge: how far the camera can go in sensing and sizing it. From this point of view Adieu au langage is sometimes fascinating. The richness of the enchanting colours in nature, the yellow leaves and red flowers, the trees moving in the wind might be banal, yet their close sensual presence, their mere existence becomes suddenly as if it would be something totally new, never seen, though it shows a simple and frequently enjoyed vision. Inexhaustible abundance pulsates, albeit utterly fragmented in their breathing life…no wonder that it eclipses the presence of the human dimension. Compared to the visual associations, allusions (as applied so frequently by him) to the abundance of colour, movement, the fractions about the couple’s lovemaking and soulless fight remain truly incidental…,helas,  nature, if well approached  cannot be transcended. Even if the human body is  (or part of it) symbolized to represent a forest, namely the pubic hair, (inspired by Courbet’s famous painting), isn’t but a mischievous association coming from the always audacious G. In the same way as the scenes on the toilet, accompanied with the comments of the actual physical function are rather boring and their duree doesn’t seem to be justified, even if the profane vision was always part of the master’s “scandalous provocation”. Does he want to prove Monet’s famous words: “paint that you don’t see!”?

Uneven is not the word for a composition in which exceptional and trivial things are decidedly thrown on top of another: l’adieu is precisely the open announcement of this defying and emotional leveling intention. When he or we are fed up with so much entanglement he can call out: ”avoid shattered memories!” – Understandably, no wonder that the beloved dog will be more significant than anything else. But, to be cunning, like the director himself, this assertion can be as ambiguously taken as many other allegations.

The unexpected dimension of 3D becomes as surprising in its naturalness as its undisturbed emphasis: no eccentricity blows up the details, on the contrary, they become familiar in their unusual closeness. Also, the unusual density, not frequent in his oeuvre, becomes a salutary effect  (70 minutes running time!) and to end up, again a meaningful summing up of his movie; like in  a haiku:

“From the human race pass to metaphor
this ends in barking/
a baby cries.”

About The Author

Yvette Biro retired from a long and distinguished academic career in the USA in 2007. Screenwriter, essayist and author of countless books and articles, she now resides in Paris. Her last book Turbulence and Flow in Film was published by Indiana University Press in 2008.

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