First Name: Carmen

The familiarity of the Carmen story rests upon the circulation of song and narrative within popu­lar culture. The immediate familiarity of the tune unleashes a web of associations extending beyond the realm of the performance or film. Jean-Luc Godard’s 1983 film Prénom Carmen is, on the surface, one of the least faithful contemporary adaptations of the tale. Godard self-con­sciously creates a pastiche of elements borrowed from the history of Carmen, wound around a loose narrative in which the perennial seductress is transformed into a modern-day terrorist. Yet the exaggerated gestures of Godard’s contemporary retelling appear heightened by his irreverence: the music from Bizet’s opera surfaces only on the fleeting whistle of a passer-by, having been completely replaced by the strains of a string quartet rehearsing Beethoven. In addition to its co-optation of Carmen’s more concrete elements, the structure of the film, built upon the tension between music and image, becomes a refrain in itself. The result is a work that addresses not only the history of the Carmen story, but the very processes through which meaning is constituted.
France
'
1980

Director
Jean-Luc Godard

Script
Anne-Marie Miéville

Cinematography
Jean-Bernard Menoud
Raoul Coutard

Editing
Fabienne Alvarez-Giro
Suzanne Lang-Willa

Production
Sara Films

Cast
Bertrand Liebert
Christophe Odent
Hippolyte Girardot
Jacques Bonnaffé
Jean-Luc Godard
Maruschka Detmers
Myriem Roussel
Pierre-Alain Chapuis

Awards
Best Technical Achievement Venice
Golden Lion

Festivals
13th Festival on Wheels
Haneke's CHOICE