Yesterday we found out that it was the 50th anniversary of our favorite Godard movie, Band of Outsiders (Bande a part). We read a review of Band of Outsiders by our favorite film critic Pauline Kael. And we remembered that when we saw Band of Outsiders, it reminded us of our favorite book in high school, The Catcher in the Rye.
There was the age, obviously—their protagonists are young people. There was the dancing. In the Godard, the three leads suddenly dance the Madison in a cafe in Paris; in the Salinger, Holden meets three girls in a club in New York and dances with them. There was the rebellion against the grown-ups, the wanting to run away. There was the sense of being young and free in a big city full of possibilities.
And there was the nostalgia. What do young people have to be nostalgic about when nothing has happened to them yet? They’re nostalgic for something that didn’t really happen to them—for lives they experienced in the movies. In Band of Outsiders, Franz and Arthur are always pretending to be in a gunfight and acting like they’ve been shot. In Catcher, Holden gets punched in the stomach and staggers into his hotel room as if he’s been shot. Everyone constantly refers to old gangster movies and acts and talks like a tough guy. Holden recounts the plots of movies—he loved Hitchcock, and so did Godard and his cohorts in the French New Wave.
But as Kael points out, “The penalty of (this) fixation on the movie past…is that old movies may not provide an adequate frame of reference for a view of this world.”
Must remember that.