"[Walter] Benjamin said that people were not only going to film, but to be filmed, that people would have to get used to watching everything while being watched , and that the two great winners in that would be the dictator( director) and the star. What more can you say? Nothing has changed."
Jean -Luc Godard
Marie Riviere, as Delphine in Le Rayon Vert, is a study in circular motion. The sense of her psychological and relational developments provides the movement of the film. I experience the movie as circles that never meet. There are two primary movements, seeming to occur concurrently. There is the movement toward isolation and self harm; the movement of increasing retreat (concentric) where Delphine's fear causes stagnation and constriction. The other movement is toward actualization , connection and freedom (excentric), where Delphine increasingly goes her own way and seeks out a connection in the world; the instances where she is able to have a tender moment with a child or to walk alone in the crowded waves of the sea.
Both of these movements revolve around one another, yet both seem to exist apart. Her retreats seem less a response to her freedom , and more just a step back, a step forward in what adds up to a lack of any forward progression beyond that of walking around a circle. The scene in the sea where she bobs in the waves is a physical crystallisation: she leaps towards the large wave ; she runs from the idea that a large wave is coming. There is a toe in but there is also a missed wave.
Eric Rohmer's Le Rayon Vert, released as Summer in the united states, spends quite some time explicitly discussing color. Many facets of hue are covered; those spiritual in nature as well as more straight forward reflections about how color physically changes in movement; such as how the sun changes colors at dusk, while moving closer to or further from the horizon.
Then Rohmer gets more straight forward, or it may be that the film becomes Structural, because the issue of color eventually ends up moving out of the realm of Discussion and into the realm of Image; culminating in visuals that fill the total film frame.
This chromatic movement is nothing but gradual, as it takes a while, the film's full 98 min running time to be exact, for that pure visual to take over , and actually obliterate all discussion. Ideation becomes actualized. Echoing this movement from discussion (stagnation) to pure physical image (action/movement/ being-ness) is the movement in the film that tracks it's main character, Delphine (Marie Riviere.)
Early in the film Delphine seems trivial and stilted...and the color green in these earlier scenes is mostly noticeable in synthetic materials: plastic bauble jewelry, a polyester scarf, etc. Later in the film the color green is more focused in nature; point of view shots where Delphine finally allows herself to explore the shore along the beach or the greenness of the aqua sea.
There is a synchronisation of experience for film subject and film spectator. The sense of Delpine's psychological intensifications, both echoed and deepened by mise en scene (coverage of Delphine in social circles; coverage of Delphine going it alone in nature, the color of dusk and progression of intensification in the sunset) and relational patterns (Delphine talking about men/relationships, Delphine watching other people relate, Delphine talking about how she watches others, Delphine noticing herself being watched and sought after by men) crystallizes the simpatico of circularity with the one being watched onscreen and the one watching the film.
As Godard has commented on Benjamin, nothing really has changed. Delphine goes forward and back on two parallel tracks, and we, the viewers, are kept just outside, walking around her as we watch her, never getting out of the circle. Rohmer and Riviere have got us beat.
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