In 1966, Jean-Luc Godard was asked by producer Georges de Beureagard if he can create a film quickly. The answer was yes and that the can film two at the same time: "Made in U.S.A." starring Anna Karina and Laszlo Szabo and "2 or 3 Things I Know About Her" starring Marina Vlady. It's important to note that "Made in U.S.A." is the final full-length film he created with his ex-wife and muse Anna Karina and the first film of singer Marianne Faithfull (a popular singer in the '60s and also the steady girlfriend of Rolling Stones vocalist Mick Jagger at the time). While "2 or 3 Things I Know About Her" stars the woman that rejected him for marriage. So, needless to say, these two films are rather significant.
"Made in U.S.A." is the final goodbye between Karina and Godard and "2 or 3 Things I Know About Her" is a film that shows him angered by the rejection. And also two films that mark the end of the cycle of Jean-Luc Godard who has become more of a political person and wanted to use his films to deal with internal conflict that he felt about cinema and politics.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"Made in U.S.A." is known for it's vibrant colors. As a detective, Anna Karina's character is known for wearing vibrant colored dresses and the film definitely does a great job showcasing those colors, especially closeups of Anna Karina's blue eyes. This remastered version of the film looks absolutely beautiful and I can only imagine how this would look on Blu-ray (if it ever receives a BD release). It's vibrant and colorful film!
"Made in U.S.A." is presented in its original aspect ration of 2:35:1 and the HD digital transfer was created on a 2K Spirit Datacine from the original 35mm camera negative. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitt and flicker were removed manually using MTI's DRS system and Pixel Farm's PFClean System while Digital Vision's DVNR was used for small dirt, grain and noise reduction.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
As for the audio, "Made in U.S.A." is featured in monaural French with English subtitles. "Made in U.S.A." was mastered at 24-bit from a 35mm optical print. Clicks, tumps, hiss and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube's integrated audio workstation. The film is primarily center channel driven but I chose to have my receiver play the audio with stereo on all channels.
"Made in U.S.A. - THE CRITERION COLLECTION #481" comes with the following special features:
* On the Cusp - (26:28) Jean-Luc Godard biographers Colin MacCabe and Richard Brody dissect the personal the political in "Made in U.S.A." and "2 or 3 Things I Know About Her".
* Anna Karina - (10:08) A 2002 interview with Anna Karina looking back at her life and working with director Jean-Luc Godard.
* Laszlo Szabo - (5:46) A 2009 interview with Laszlo Szabo who appeared in several of Jean-Luc Godard's films and talks about making "Made in U.S.A.".
* Made in U.S.A.: A Concordance - (17:26) A video essay tracing the source of many of the references that make up the script of "Made in U.S.A.".
* Trailers - Featuring the original release trailer and the Rialto Pictures re-release trailer.
* 16-Page Booklet - Featuring "The Long Goodbye" essay by J. Hoberman.
"Made in U.S.A." is definitely not a film for those not familiar with Jean-Luc Godard's work. Although there is a main story about the character of Paula investigating her lover's murder, the film is not only heavy with references but there are a good number of political dialogue which was more or less Godard's platform for him to get out on what was on his mind.
Although many Jean-Luc Godard films show signs of politics being used in the storyline, "Made in U.S.A." tries to balance the film utilizing Anna Karina as this sexy, stylish detective but then using the film as a platform for politics but most importantly, for Godard to use two characters that define how he was back then as a filmmaker and then having Anna Karina taking care of the men in order to show that Jean-Luc Godard as we knew him in the past in his Anna Karina films is now no more.
"Made in U.S.A." is the final swan song between both Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina. Despite being divorced at this time, she would no longer be his muse and the director would no longer be the director that many people have respected him and loved him for. His next films "La Chinoise" and "Week End" would truly mark the end of Godard's narrative and cinematic period of his filmmaking career and from then on, Godard would be a different director focusing on revolutions and his interest in Maoist ideology and would only return to mainstream films in 1980.
This is not a film for those who are not familiar with Godard's work or Anna Karina. I've met many who have watched this film solely for the purpose of the beautiful shots of Anna Karina and didn't like the film at all. For me, my appreciation was because it was a fitting goodbye to his ex-wife. After watching this collaboration between Karina and Godard, you knew it had to end someway and "Made in U.S.A." was the way to do it.
As incoherent this film may be to many people, I enjoyed the film in fragments. As a "noir" film, it's not my favorite. As a Godard film, I was impressed. The cinematography by Raoul Coutard was absolutely beautiful, the awkward randomness of certain scenes was an interesting way to see a perspective of Godard as a filmmaker and as a person who faced conflict and needed an outlet to let his emotions out. Both "Made in U.S.A." and "2 or 3 Things I Know About Her" are two different types of films made at the same time but are enjoyable in their own way.
Do I recommend "Made in U.S.A.", yes...that is only if you have seen a good number of Jean-Luc Godard films. This by no means is a film you should start out with if you want to learn about Godard's filmmaking style. Overall, a fantastic Criterion release and a film that I definitely enjoyed!