3x3D is an anthology film which as a rule tend to be mixed affairs with wild variations of quality. Even by these dubious standards, 3x3D is a real shocker. The pearl is obviously Jean-Luc Godard’s Les trois désastres. But the ones preceding it range from the irritatingly smug (who else? Peter Greenaway) to Edgar Pera’s marrow chilling dreck. Those attending the festival, hoped that Godard’s film would play first, so that they can attend that and The King of Comedy, with which it had a short overlap. The producers outmoved us on that front, placing Godard at the end. The result isn’t fruitful because the poor quality by the earlier two shorts took away from the grandeur of Godard’s dirge.
What for some is three dimensions is for Godard three disasters. This short film uses digital video of various kinds as well as film clips to create a poetic assemblage bridged by Godard’s voice.
Godard’s voice, a big part of his films – beautiful, soft as a whisper in 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, and still filled with spirit in Notre Musique – sounds uncomfortably frail in this film. The words come out with more audible strain, and at one point, a webcam close-up of Godard speaking (just his mouth), we feel something strange and sad. The film peruses the history of the 20th Century and that of cinema which as Godard has repeatedly pointed out, is nearly the same thing. We see clips from classic films, Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible and also a clip of Eisenstein speaking in English, in addition to this these are clips from Orson Welles’ The Tragedy of Othello and MacBeth. In addition to this there are scenes from contemporary 3D films including Paul WS Anderson’s The Three Musketeers. In-between we see a clip of a dog in the countryside where Godard says, “Voici le conté a dit par le chien…” which may or may not be an anticipation for his 3D feature Adieu a langage.
What makes the film heartbreaking is this haunting phrase, “My life is full of dead people, and deadest of all, is the boy I once was.” The invocations to the film-makers of the past, touchstones like Nicholas Ray(introduced with a clip from the end of They Live by Night and Peggy Lee singing “Johnny Guitar”), Eisenstein, Ford, Lang and Welles is not exactly a lament or nostalgia. It’s almost an acknowledgment of defeat, that the celebration of a kind of cinema he championed no longer has value in the age of “the professor of Titanic”. Godard’s deployment of 3D is more subtle rather than obvious, for him 3D is about the expansion of space, which he discusses in geometric terms, and expresses visually in the swivel of three dices.
Yes, Godard does play dice with the universe.