Jean-Luc Godard, France, 1996
A window separates the interior of a building from the world outside. On the inside, safely protected from the extremities, we see the director of photography, in his jacket and hat. Outside we see an actress, on a beach, in a theatrical dress. Her hair whips around her face in the strong wind, while her dress blows here and there. She struggles to deliver her dialogue against the elements. Between the two, straddling the space between inside and out, is the old film maker, representative of Godard himself. No matter how the actress delivers her dialogue he remains unhappy with her work and demands take after take, until she erupts and runs towards the sea, trying to bring an end to this torture.
Godard has always thought that actors are subject to all sorts of humiliations, including the sadism of the director, which is necessary so that something more profound than the simple act of representation is recorded on film. The wind provides a physical representation of the twisting, interior state of the actor, who is prone and exposed in each shot taken. The wind also allows Godard to explore the sound world of the film, to work practically with the red dress, the black of the masking and the men’s clothing, with the grey background of the sea and sand. The dress becomes a lively, colourful mark like a brush stroke of red flames. In the final close up only two colours remain, the red of the dress and the black of the hair, moving constantly. The wind is the tool of Godard the colourist. To get this scene just right, he had to wait patiently for the wind so that they could film.