SHORT TAKES : Jean-Luc Godard Emphasizes Form Over Content in ‘Vague’

From Times Wire Services

Jean-Luc Godard, regarded as the spoiled child of French cinema, is up to his usual intellectual tricks in “Nouvelle Vague” (“New Wave”), which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival today.

The film concerns an initially destructive but finally triumphant love affair between a beautiful Italian countess, played by Domiziana Giordano, and her lover, weather-beaten French sex symbol Alain Delon.

But the slight plot is nearly buried under a ponderously literary script and Godard’s characteristic emphasis on form rather than content.

Gardeners, maids and waitresses pace plush lawns reciting platitudes from the likes of Raymond Chandler, Dostoevsky, Hemingway and Schiller.


At a news conference today, Godard admitted he had to grapple with the problem of stretching a two-minute plot to the 1 1/2 hours needed for a feature film.

He said he sifted through favorite authors to produce the necessary padding. “All those picturesque, musical quotes don’t belong to me--they belong to humanity,” he said.

Asked whether the director of the 1960 film classic “La Bout de Souffle” (“Breathless”) had just produced his worst film, Godard acknowledged that at times so many people were involved in the project that he felt it no longer belonged to him.

“At one stage I had the impression that this would be my first bad film,” he said.