Nightclub La locomotive
Dream of a singer
Madeleine Zimmer (Chantal Goya) is a young woman dreaming of being a popular singer. She therefore seeks to break into the business by interpreting melodies in the air of time. A real product formatted by the fashion of the time and the consumer society, it responds to all requests.
The potential future star crosses paths with Paul (Jean-Pierre Léaud), 21, an awkward and shy boy, but also with his friend Robert (Michel Debord), a politically committed and very enthusiastic man.
The trio also knows Elisabeth (Marlène Jobert), the opposite of Madeleine. She is more self-effacing and sometimes seems to envy her strength to attract all the boys.
Quartet for youth questions
Masculin féminin is above all about youth. Jean-Luc Godard bases his film on two short stories by Guy de Maupassant, La femme de Paul and Le signe. He keeps above all the difficulties of love, here between Paul and Madeleine.
Vietnam War, the beginning of the consumer society and the torments of love, Masculin féminin is not a real sociological film but a portrait of a Parisian youth.
The film is fueled by nods to pop culture and public figures of the time, such as Bob Dylan, James Bond, André Malraux or Charles de Gaulle.
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From Stockholm to The Locomotive
For the needs of his feature film, Jean-Luc Godard and his team travel to Stockholm. As an admirer of Ingmar Bergman’s work, he wanted to shoot some scenes in the country of the director of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and also have Swedish actors, such as Eva-Britt Strandberg and Birger Malmsten, perform. They invest then the Scandic Hotel Continental for a few days.
The return of Ingmar Bergman is not long in coming. Far from liking the French filmmaker’s films, he calls Masculin féminin “a classic case of Godard: boring as hell”.
The actors continue to shoot this film, which was made without a script and whose scenes are sometimes improvised and whose dialogues were chiseled the day before, in Paris. We discover Madeleine coming out of La Locomotive, a nightclub in the basement of the Moulin Rouge, the famous cabaret of the capital.
And Godard discovered Chantal Goya
Jean-Luc Godard is captivated by the young Chantal Goya. Aged 24, she is already known for her yéyé melodies written by her husband Jean-Jacques Debout. He observes her, comes towards her, approaches her and proposes to her to play in his film whose shooting is envisaged from the following day.
Not yet the star of the children, the interpreter of Pandi Panda, has never yet acted in front of a camera. She does well, especially thanks to the lines of great artists around her like Jean-Pierre Léaud, already known for his role in The Four Hundred Blows or Pierrot le fou. There is also Marlene Jobert, then a theater actress and Brigitte Bardot, already famous.
The soundtrack of Masculin féminin is thus interpreted by the singer and written by her husband. The six tracks were compiled by RCA Victor in 1966.
Due to the depiction of youth and sex, the film was banned for under 18s in France.
90 Bd de Clichy
At 90 Boulevard de Clichy in Paris is La Locomotive, a nightclub in the basement of the Moulin Rouge.
Around 1960, the future comedian André Pousse had the idea of creating La Locomotive, a rock culture venue for young people.
With the proximity of the Bus Palladium, there was a real emulation between the two places. The programme is of high quality, with sets by David Bowie and The Who. There is also jerk dancing.
In the 1970s, La Locomotive lost its aura. It was replaced by a cinema before being reborn from its ashes in 1986. DJs and heavy metal bands performed there.
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Les Années Cahiers (French Edition)
During his studies in anthropology at the Sorbonne, Jean-Luc Godard assiduously attended the film clubs of the capital. He became friends with André Bazin, Claude Chabrol, François Truffaut, Jacques Rivette and Éric Rohmer….
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By Damien Canteau
Passionné par l'Histoire, les animés, les Arts et la bande dessinée en particulier, Damien est le rédacteur en chef du site spécialisé dans le 9e art, Comixtrip.