(The “Chinese,” Or: Something Like The Chinese)
In La Chinoise, Godard explores the issue of intra-party ideological difference as he tries to contrast what Marxism and Maoism stand for. He criticizes, though not hard-hittingly, the revisionist policies of the present-day socialists and questions if they are true to communist principles at all. But the larger discussion in the film remains about the involvement of the student community in revolution – an issue he grazed in Masculine-Feminine (1966) employing the same Jean-Pierre Léaud. Through this issue and use of a classroom-like atmosphere for almost the whole film, Godard calls for sensible political education and calculated extremism – both of which the protagonists of the film fail at.
Godard’s use of the red, blue and white colours reaches remarkable heights as he employs them to convey multiple layers of meanings. On a basic level, Godard uses them to portray love, hate and apathy respectively and Contempt (1963) and A Woman is a Woman (1961) remain prime examples of that. Additionally, he uses them to represent communist, neutral and capitalist principles in this trilogy. He also alludes to the presence of these colours on the French flag, as if suggesting that France herself is being torn apart by these opposing ideologies. Godard turns down the notion of the Left and the Right in Made in U.S.A. (1966) and interestingly, red and blue respectively occupy the right and the left side of the French flag! And in La Chinoise, he does all this so effortlessly.
Godard continues to ruthlessly breach the fourth wall and even refers to Brecht and other influences during the course of the film. In some ways, La Chinoise looks like Godard’s first politically revolutionary film. 2 or 3 things I Know About Her looked like a yearning for change whereas La Chinoise seeks to do the change. Because of this significantly didactic nature of the film, many may decide to put an end to their journey of discovering Godard. But it is indeed after this film that Godard’s films become both politically and cinematically revolutionary.