• Godard’s modern day retelling of the story of the Virgin Mary marvelously weaves in his patented cutaway editing arrangement.
  • The film was quite controversial at the time—and beyond just Godard’s use of nudity (his actresses in the 1980’s rarely wore pants). Like Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) most reviews at the time not taking it from that angle.
  • Canby noted that the controversy would sell more tickets than the movie and he’s probably right- though Godard isn’t interested in an audience, and never has been. https://www.nytimes.com/1985/10/07/movies/film-festival-godard-s-hail-mary.html
  • It is 72-minutes. That’s brief even for Godard. If you’ve seen a longer version it probably includes the short film (which is not a part of the film, and not from Godard) Book of Mary which often played right before Hail Mary. Godard is so fragmented often in his essayist style- it isn’t impossible to put the two films together and think it’s his typical form-breaking mode.
  • The actual story of Mary could’ve been told here in 20-minutes (she’s often just musing, milling around without clothes on)—so even at 72-minutes it is a stretch- it is rather unremarkable. However, what makes the film quite special is Godard’s use of cutaways. Again and again in this study I’ve compared his editing and cutaway style to that of Resnais and Ozu and Hail Mary is yet another example. Godard cuts to the moon, the sky, the sunset and less often to other objects and elements (flowers, waves). He does this dozens of times. Kurosawa first used the sun cutaway in Rashomon I believe. Godard infuses his love of classical music (Bach here in this film) and all told, you have an impressive collage.

Godard playfully fluctuates the audio as he typically does. He uses the title card “at that time” almost on random—like the arrows or the E = MC^2 in Alphaville

  • Juliette Binoche is here in support- she looks like a baby—21 years old here, and this will be her first archiveable film now. This is the second overall film for the great actress.
  • Recommend but not in the top 10 of 1985