After all, it may be that Jean-Luc Godard is not Korean. Lucky Koreans : if he had been, they would enjoy and understand him less.

This is the doom of French-speaking viewers, as they listen to Godard dialogues : because the words sound familiar, they think they can make sense of the sentences ; they fail and the more they fail, the more frustrated they grow.

In Korea and the whole non-French-speaking world, spectators run no such risk : as they listen to Godard, they hear the foreign language it is.

They do not try to grasp the words ; to their ears, this is music and how Godard should be appreciated.

Godard’s dialogues are like saloon talk in a Western film : their literal meaning could not matter less.

Do you speak Godard ? Nobody truly does, but Jean-Luc himself. Even his favourite actors speak his prose with a hint of a foreign accent, as if it were French.

Only Jean-Luc does full justice to his words, the articulation of their sounds, the return of their alliterations, their rhythmic slowness.

Only he can intone them to hypnotic effect, like the oracle and zen master, if not God, he truly is, as his voice over comments his experimental films and his « Histoire du cinéma ».

If Godard is not Korean, maybe one need be, or Japanese, to enjoy his aphorisms fully, meditate them for years and be rewarded with sudden illumination.

Stravinsky said that music did not express anything beyond itself. Then, Godard is true music ; his language cannot be lost in translation, because it cannot be translated.

Pierre Marmiesse’s blog lets you hone your French cinema skills and find more reasons to visit France.

Read more about French cinema on his blog:

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