Metaphor, Schmedaphor

It’s been two weeks and I know you’ve all been eager for a shower update. All’s well. Shortly after my last post, we received a helpful message from our friend Rick who explained that on-demand systems depend on just the right amount of flow. Simply by adjusting the flow to the shower head, not asking the water heater to heat too much water at a time, we’ve managed to have quite nice showers.

Now, in all fairness, I have to add that Jack insists he’d already told me this and I’d dismissed it. Maybe so. We all know about the prophet in his own country.

Last night, we went to the movies. There’s a cinema club here and a few times during the winter there are films every night for a week or two. Mostly, they’re “foreign” films—ie, neither English nor Spanish. When they are English we (I at least) am thrilled. When they’re Spanish, we both stay home since even Jack’s Spanish isn’t up to that. With all other languages, we read subtitles with varying success. I find French the most difficult because I understand a little French, so my brain is trying to read Spanish and understand French at the same time, not succeeding very well at either.

Last night’s was our first film of the year: Jean-Luc Godard’s Adieu au Langage. Now, we are not cinefiles. Not by a long shot. We rarely go to movies except when we’re here, and we never seem to get around to downloading movies to watch at home. We have just acquired netflix, so maybe that will change. Somehow, I doubt it.

When other people get chatting about who was great in such-and-such a film, my eyes glaze over and, if possible, I wander into another room. I rarely recognize the names of actors or directors.

It should be no surprise, then, that when this particular film came to an end, I sat stupefied and wondering if I’d lost all my mental faculties. Or if, had I been able to read all the Spanish subtitles fast enough, I might have felt somehow enlightened or enriched. Instead, I felt a rush of relief when Jack—who could read all the subtitles—turned to me and said, “What did we just watch?” At least we are mentally deficient together.

“I think it was a metaphor,” I said.

We tried to talk about it over supper and on our walk home. But we didn’t know what to say. We ended up discussing Downton Abby instead.

When we got home, we googled, hoping to have an aha moment. “Of course! Now I see! How could I have missed it?”

Here’s what we found: a synopsis in Godard’s own words from the film’s Cannes press book:

the idea is simple
a married woman and a single man meet
they love, they argue, fists fly
a dog strays between town and country
the seasons pass
the man and woman meet again
the dog finds itself between them
the other is in one
the one is in the other
and they are three
the former husband shatters everything
a second film begins
the same as the first
and yet not
from the human race we pass to metaphor
this ends in barking
and a baby’s cries

Of course. I knew that.

The film was meant to be viewed with 3-D glasses, which weren’t available. It was obvious that some of the cinematography would have been spectacular in 3-D, perhaps partially compensating for my lack of metaphoric sophistication.

Next up: Blue Run (in English!) and Leviathan (in Russian with Spanish subtitles, of course…).







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10 Responses to Metaphor, Schmedaphor

  1. Janet says:

    Love love love a good dog film.

  2. jennydunning says:

    So the line breaks were Godard’s?

  3. Erica says:

    Makes me think of a show we saw in Stratford last year that left Gavin wondering what they’d put in his water bottle.

  4. sandysteer1 says:

    Your film description (hilarious) reminds me of a similar experience we had while living in Ethiopia. An American film was being shown which I had seen and thought Don, along with Duda and her Mom and Dad would enjoy. So off we go, after paying someone to watch our car and make sure no one broke into it. Unfortunately they didn’t show the reels in the proper order so no one but me had a clue as to what the film was really all about! By the way, I cam across a new author you and Jack might enjoy – if you aren’t already acquainted with her. Her name is Donna Leon and she writes mystery books which take place in Venice. The lead policeman is named Guido Brunetti. I am enjoying them because she brings in art and history and makes it quite interesting. Sandy

  5. Marilyn Cooper says:

    Quite the language adventures you’re having!

  6. John Corcoran says:


    I loved this. I know exactly how you feel, though my feelings come from two different films: “Women in Love,” which for years was my number-one worst movie I had ever seen (and it was in English) until it was displaced by “Lovers on the Bridge” (which was in French with English subtitles). I both cases the films ended and my reaction was similar to Jack’s: What was that all about? And any sense I tried to make of them only made less sense. So if you haven’t seen them, don’t.

    Meanwhile, if all goes well we’ll get to GTO Sunday night late and are looking forward to seeing you two again.

    Hasta luego,


    John Corcoran Cell: 413-429-7069

  7. carolynrmiller says:

    Have not seen this Godard film, but his usually leave me in the same state of mind as you describe. I’ve seen some interesting reviews and discussions of Leviathan. Try these:

  8. pdunning says:

    I am relieved to know this. Last night, Blue Ruin which was difficult to watch in a different way. “Classic American Revenge film”–I am not particularly squeamish but had to look away more than once.

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