Woody Allen and Jean Luc-Gordard – two of the most iconic and deeply influential filmmakers of all time. Both considered major representatives of the cinematic movement and sentiments of the sixties and seventies that changed cinema forever and ensured its longevity up to this point.
In 1960, the young former film critic Godard shot his Breathless right on the streets, inspired by the gritty and rushed Monogram gangster flicks of the thirties. It would take nine more years for Allen to leave his mark with his riveting, wild and free mockumentary comedy feature Take the Money and Run to establish him as one of the most talented and unique voices in comedy films, but it wasn’t until Annie Hall in 1976 that he showed he could be open to representing the absurdity of humanity through a more sensible type of satirical comedy that even found the time to flirt with drama and romanticism.
Ten years later, the two legendary filmmakers would meet for a short film interview, directed by Godard himself. In Meetin WA, Godard introduces Allen as his “old friend”. Both men were advancing into their fifties, and both men could afford a good retrospective on their amazing and celebrated body of works.
However, instead of attracting attention upon themselves, Godard and Allen seem to be more interested in speaking about cinema and film – its beauty, nature and magic. So, for instance, while Allen reveals his frustration and near despise for television, revealing his almost disgust at the thought of young people watching films like Citizen Kane, Duck Soup or 2001: A Space Odyssey on a cassette, you can also feel in Godard a growing disenchantment with cinema, which was a somewhat unexpected introduction of a need that would progressively take over the identity of the French filmmaker’s works.
One cannot help but recall the time in which another major exponent of the French New Wave Francois Truffaut compiled an interview book with Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock/Truffaut has been quoted by many as a major influence and beloved piece of film literature. Meetin’ WA has nowhere near the same pretences. For starters, the two are contemporaries and friends, while Truffaut and Hitchcock had more of a father and son type of conversation. And while Godard cannot help infuse even this relatively simple concept with his own distinctive – and sometimes eccentric style – the film is a kind of informal conversation between two great men who once did great things.
In a final turn of events, shortly after this interview, the two directors would literally go their separate ways, Godard always leaning towards a more experimental to the point of dadaist approach to filmmaking, whereas Allen would be criticized for his shallow and overtly convetional comedies, especially for most of the nineties, until his rise once again to critical acclaim with Vicki Christina Barcelona and charming the audience with Midnight in Paris. This makes Meetin’ WA feel even more like a charming bookmark in the filmographies of two of the most standout auteurs in film history.