Je Vous Salve, Jean-Luc Godard
By Malcom Lagauche (Jeff Archer)
March 2-3, 2004
Many people who know I am an atheist have asked my opinion on the current movie "The Passion of the Christ." I tell them that it does not concern me and I have no desire to see it. However, I do mention that the movie's publicity has made millions for those involved. One can ponder whether this is exploiting Christianity for financial gain.
One aspect about the movie that concerns me is that it has been labeled "anti-Semitic" by Jewish groups. I think they mean "anti-Jewish." Semites are people who originate in the Middle East and today, about 95% of Semites are Arabs, not Jews. The other 5% of the Semitic racial stock are Jews. At least the Jews should get their nomenclature right before criticizing the Christians, who obviously need to be confronted because of the hatchet job they do on the Jews.
With all this furor over a movie based on Jesus Christ, most Americans never heard of or saw a movie released in 1984 in France called "Je Vous Salue, Marie" (Hail Mary). In 1986, the movie made the rounds in the United States, but it was shown only in the so-called "art" cinemas, therefore it did not gain a large circulation. If it did, I am sure some cinemas would have been burned to the ground by outraged Christians.
The movie was directed by Jean-Luc Godard, an eccentric French film director who, to many, is outright crazy. Godard has a long list of internationally famous films, however, in the U.S., his following is considered to be cult-like.
Basically, Hail Mary is about an 18-year-old French girl (Myriem Roussel), named Mary who becomes pregnant, yet is a virgin. Her Uncle Gabriel told her this was to happen.
When Mary's boyfriend Joseph learns of her pregnancy, he is outraged and wants to know with whom she had sex. She denies having sex. Then, she visits a doctor who scoffs at her assumed virginity and pregnancy. He examines her and says that it is true.
Joseph is a cab driver and he is accompanied by his dog (representing the Three Wise Men). Mary works part time in a petrol station. Throughout the movie, we see scenes at the gas station, as well as a few scenes in a gym where Mary plays basketball for a local club.
This movie, as well as all of the rest of Godard's offerings, is loaded with symbolism; so much so that one must keep alert not to miss anything. He seems to have a fetish for automobile headlights as many are seen, totally out of context with the storyline, in Hail Mary and most other Godard movies.
The squeamish may not like the scene of a naked Mary masturbating and hallucinating about God, but it is powerful. She decided to perform this act to get in touch with her body as well as with God.
Many parts of the movie seem disjointed, but, by the end of the production, they all come together. The movie ends with a picnic scene in a wooded area. Mary and Joseph are married and her son is now about four years old. He is re-naming some youngsters as he says, "You're now Matthew, and you're Mark . " At this point, the two youngsters object. One says, "No, my name's Howard," and the other says, "And I'm Jim."
Joseph approaches his son (stepson?) and tells him that it is time to go home. The youngster does not agree with Joseph and he runs into the woods. Joseph began to chase him when Mary called him to her side. She said to Joseph, "Don't worry. He'll come back." Joseph asked, "When?" Mary said, "Easter." Immediately after, the screen is black with one word on it; fin (the end).
For those who are interested in seeing Hail Mary, the movie is available for rent in video rental stores that offer foreign films. I have no idea about DVDs, but I am sure it is available in places renting them as well.
Jean-Luc Godard's films take a while to get used to. Once you understand the timing and nuances of his style, a whole new world of cinema will be opened for you.