Godard, in his 2nd collaboration with filmmaker Jean-Henri Roger, shifted his searing, pugnacious and rasping attention to Czechoslovakia just a year after possibly the single most dramatic moment in the country’s post-WW2 history, viz. the thudding end to its liberal socialist years – fondly referred to as Prague Spring – through the emergence of Soviet tanks in Wenceslas Square. Lacking in the dialectical lucidity of A Film Like Any Other and the rebellious bravura of British Sounds – the other two works made thus far as part of his radical Marxist-Maoist phase – Pravda was a comparatively more straightforward essay and a decidedly straight-up polemical diatribe, which made it relatively less absorbing on stylistic front; and yet, its epistolary formal device, politically satiric metaphors, whiplash sarcastic tone and ferociously confrontational stance made it an intriguing agitprop of surprising vitality despite its deliberately dry, monotonous, drone-like and testy tonal palette. The film’s political discourse was posited as a mock-serious, ironic and incisive conversation between Vladimir (Lenin) and Rosa (Luxembourg), and the central tenet was the contention between words and image – and therefore between theory and practice – when it comes to what socialism as was envisaged by Dubček (where the proletariat superseded the state) vis-à-vis the revisionist manifestation of it imposed on them by the Soviets (with the state dominating the proletariat in an ironic mirroring of a capitalist consumerist economy). Contradictions, therefore, abounded – be it in a tree full of fruits available to be plucked by the people but the massive field behind it enclosed by fences; or a people’s car built by nationalized auto company, but profited by auto agencies and advertisers; or a sexually liberated woman turned into consumerist prop; etc.
Directors: Jean-Luc Godard & Jean-Henri Roger
Genre: Documentary/Essay Film/Agitprop