The Cohen Film Collection is bringing two of Jean-Luc Godard's acclaimed films to Blu-ray for the first time in the U.S. Hail Mary and For Ever Mozart have been digitally remastered and will be released in deluxe Blu-ray and DVD editions on January 7.
Daring, playful, challenging, rule-breaking, profound: Godard's immense body of work is all of these and more. From his earth-shaking 1960 debut, Breathless, through such other classics of the New Wave and beyond as Contempt, Band of Outsiders, Alphaville, Weekend, Pierrot le Fou, Masculin Féminin and In Praise of Love, Godard has continually pushed the art and language of film forward. Hail Mary and For Ever Moazrt hail from the director's 1980s-1990s period, which was marked by a return to (somewhat) more traditional modes of storytelling, but both films are the work of a cinematic adventurer still exploring new territory.
Winner of a top prize at the Berlin Film Festival and one of the highest-profile films of Godard's career, Hail Mary (1985) drew criticism from no less than the Pope. In this modern retelling of the Virgin Birth, Mary (Myriem Roussel of Godard's Prenom Carmen) is a student who plays basketball and works at her father's gas station; her boyfriend Joseph (Thierry Rode) is an earnest dropout who drives a cab. The angel Gabriel (Philippe Lacoste) must school Joseph to accept Mary's pregnancy, while Mary comes to terms with God's plan. Juliette Binoche co-stars.
The film "deeply wounds the religious sentiments of believers," said Pope John Paul II. Godard's response: "The church wants to keep the copyright of their story."
With For Ever Mozart (1996), Godard shifted to a narrative grounded in a distressing reality of the day: the Bosnian War. This densely packed rumination on the need to create order and beauty in a world ruled by chaos is divided into several distinct but related stories, chiefly the attempts by an idealistic French acting troupe to stage a play in war-torn Sarajevo. Along their journey, they are captured and held in a POW camp. Amid the gunfire of war, an elderly director struggles to complete his film.
For Ever Mozart stars Madeleine Assas, Bérangère Allaux, Ghalya Lacroix (most recently the editor of Cannes 2013 winner Blue Is the Warmest Color), Vicky Messica and Frédéric Pierrot.
The Blu-ray and DVD releases of both films have numerous extras, including feature-length audio commentaries, essay-filled booklets, making-of featurettes and trailers. Hail Mary also includes Anne-Marie Miéville's short film The Book of Mary, which was originally released as a companion piece to Godard's movie.