Saturday, November 03, 2012

Jean-Luc Godard: Notre Musique

Jean-Luc Godard's Notre Musique (2004) is set in Bosnia-Herzegovina less than ten years after the Bosnian War (1991-1995), a savage conflict involving three main factions: Bosnians, Croatians (Croats) and Serbians (Serbs). Sounds and images of significant contemporary documentary value depict street scenes in Sarajevo and Mostar. Without getting into the film proper (yet), a primary image that leaps out from the film is the functioning electric tram. Here it is so soon after the bloodletting, yet trams are humming along.

I couldn't help but think how Detroit used to have a major streetcar/trolley system and may again; how in Fort Worth, Texas, there is currently a discussion over reinstalling trolleys along 7th Street and other thoroughfares. In 1907, there were sixteen streetcar lines in Fort Worth. Today, Dallas runs trolleycars and other light rail, as do other North American cities such as Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco, Mexico City and Toronto.

What does the electric tram represent in Notre Musique? I'm not sure, but it's worth remembering that Orpheus is a tram conductor and the god Hermes runs a tram station in Marcel Camus' Orfeu Negro/Black Orpheus (1959). Perhaps the electric tram represents a hope for the reconstruction of a well-woven social fabric after periods of mass violence and destruction, the kind that makes one think of Syria today, or the Gordian Knot of Israeli-Palestinian relations, which is another key topic in Notre Musique. Or perhaps it's simply making some of notre musique -- "our music."  

Today's Rune: Possessions.         

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

New Orleans did pretty good with putting the streetcars back in operation. It's nice to see them, even though I'm not in a position to need them very often.