Long out-of-circulation and unavailable on home video, Jean-Luc Godard’s 1964 masterpiece Une femme mariée, fragments d’un film tourné en 1964 en noir et blanc [A Married Woman: Fragments of a Film Shot in 1964 in Black and White] has, until now, represented the ostensibly ‘missing’ key work from the first, zeitgeist-defining phase of JLG’s filmography. The feature which bridges the gap between Bande à part and Alphaville, Une femme mariée is, nevertheless, a galaxy, or gallery, unto itself — a lucid, complex, profoundly funny series of portraits, etched with Godardian acids, of the wife that represents either a singular case, or a universal example, of “a”/”the” married woman, and the men in her orbit.
Macha Méril (later of Pialat’s Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble, and Varda’s Sans toit ni loi) plays Charlotte — the title character. She’s married to aviator Pierre (Philippe Leroy, of Becker’s Le Trou). She sleeps with thespian Robert (Bernard Noël). She talks “intelligence” with renowned critic-filmmaker Roger Leenhardt, and takes part in a fashion-shoot at a public pool. The “fragments” of the film’s subtitle are chapters, episodes, vignettes, tableaux; Une femme mariée is a pile of magazines made into a film, and a film turned into a magazine — the table of contents reading: Alfred Hitchcock. Jean Racine. La Peau douce. A Peruvian serum. Nuit et brouillard. The “Eloquence” bra. The quartets of Beethoven. Madame Céline. Fantômas. Robert Bresson. A Volkswagen making a right turn. — A film shot in 1964, and in black and white.
Designed with Raoul Coutard’s breathtaking cinematography, Godard’s picture captures a moment in time — but all its mysteries, its truths, its beauty, comedy and grace, serve to resolve into a work of art for the ages.