France's Godard at 83 screens a 3D 'Adieu' at Cannes

Wed May 21, 2014 2:41pm EDT
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By Alexandria Sage and Michael Roddy

CANNES France (Reuters) - Octogenarian French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard sent a film full of 3D images that looked like moving paintings to say what may have been "adieu" to the Cannes film festival on Wednesday, while staying away himself.

It was hard to make much of "Adieu au Langage" (Goodbye to Language), except to say it features a man and a married woman having an affair, a stray dog and gangsters in a Mercedes who threaten to shoot people in a town on the shore of Lake Geneva.

The film quoted from writings of painters and philosophers and contained shimmering images of water, trees and flowers.

It also punned on the French word "adieu", using it to mean "goodbye", "to God" and "oh God". That suggested - though no one said so officially - that Godard, the onetime enfant terrible of French film who was a founder of New Wave cinema with his 1960 film "Breathless", might be waving goodbye.

In a video message to festival director Thierry Fremaux, Godard explained his absence from the red carpet, saying: "Dear old friend, once again thank you for inviting me to climb your 24 majestic steps, slightly lost in the herd."

His words were accompanied by images of a herd of cattle.

"Adieu au Langage" was the second French film to be shown on the eighth day of the 12-day festival, the other being "The Search", set in Chechnya and directed by Michel Hazanavicius, an Oscar winner for "The Artist".

But fans of the Hollywood fairy tale will be in for a shock with Hazanavicius's latest.   Continued...

Director Michel Hazanavicius (R) and cast member Berenice Bejo pose during a photocall for the film "The Search" in competition at the 67th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes May 21, 2014.  REUTERS/Eric Gaillard