Saturday, December 03, 2016


Sometime in the near future a military uniformed astronaut, from Earth or another galaxy depending on which dubbed version viewed, lands at Orly International Airport, checks in and is guided to a room in the adjacent hotel. As he proceeds to relax a porter ushers in an "official" prostitute (Marilu Tolo), who goes about her job in a robotic fashion, causing her to be rejected by our spaceman protagonist. He then orders "Miss Conversion" (Anna Karina), making her final appearance of many in a Godard film, who chats him up until they share a rather chaste kiss, after which she looks into the camera and smiles. FIN....

This delightful, visually entrancing 19 minute sketch, was released as part of a rather clunky omnibus French-Italian produced omnibus film (there were a lot of those in the 1960s coming out of Italy and France) titled THE WORLD'S OLDEST PROFESSION for the US market. I happened on it during a drive-in visit sometime in 1968. I think it was co-featured with Terence Young's Europsy, THE DIRTY GAME, which at least gave us a certain synchronicity of titles. THE DIRTY GAME was a downbeat compilation of spy stories. THE WORLD'S OLDEST PROFESSION was an obnoxiously upbeat series of French Ooo La La shorts trying to wring low humor out of the depressing progression of prostitution through the ages. Each story was helmed by a different "name" director and featured a different international female star, from Jeanne Moreau in Philippe De Broca's Mademoiselle Mimi to Raquel Welch in THE GAY 90s.  Most of the stories were painfully witless and overdone to the max. The film was a boxoffice and critical disaster, 

ANTICIPATION is the one highpoint in this ill advised Eurotrash enterprise, and I enjoyed my introduction to Godard back then and made a mental note to watch out for his future films. Of course by then he had already directed such high profile features as BREATHLESS (1960), which made stars of Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo while introducing an alternate way of making free form, low budget films with portable equipment in the streets rather than traditional studio shot megaproductions. Even more radical experiments followed. Several of his best films (VIVRE SA VIE, CONTEMPT), in fact, had already focused on the topic of prostitution and its sociological fallout in the modern world. ANTICIPATION works as an addendum to Godard's 1965 Neo-Noir ALPHAVILLE, which presented Paris as a futuristic nightmare of existential darkness, controlled by a supercomputer and populated by criminals, secret agents and prostitutes. Anna Karina also starred in that classic along with Eddie Constantine as secret agent Lemmy Caution. That film was shot in high contrast black and white, turning Paris into visual abstraction. The world of ANTICIPATION is a different kind. Godard scans the cubist structures of the runway, reception area and hotel with even more abstract set-ups, but this time using gold, blue and red monochrome filters which create a completely artificial environment. At times the look anticipates George Lucas' visionary THX-1138 (1971). 

The outfits worn by the prostitutes are equally stylized, Ms. Physical wears a collar which seems like a futurist sculpture and has to be undone with a sizable wrench. Karina wears a broad, floor length late 19th Century gown, which looks like a leftover from GONE WITH THE WIND. Godard packs a lot of visual/audio commentary (the dialogue is very mechanical and often interrupted by a musical mix of electronica/classical.
There are no performances per se. This future world doesn't allow for dramatic/sentimental displays. 

ANTICIPATION is best viewed as a standalone, away from the awful remainder of THE WORLD'S OLDEST PROFESSION. 

(C) Robert Monell, 2016

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