”Don’t slow down, Mrs. Lehmusto!”: The city, the consumer society and the woman in the politically committed films of Jean-Luc Godard and Jaakko Pakkasvirta


Tytti Rantanen

The article examines Jean-Luc Godard’s influence on Jaakko Pakkasvirta’s politically committed films in the late 1960s. Godard’s A Married Woman (1964) and 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (1967) as well as Pakkasvirta’s The Green Widow (1968) and Summer Rebellion (1970) portray the ways an average middle-class woman experience her transforming urban settings. A central topic in these films is the modern consumer society, which creates normative pressures for women and drives them to prostitute themselves either metaphorically or literally. Still, the aim of the directors is to elaborate a more generally leftist form of criticism than to present a fully emancipated feminist study.

I lean on previous studies that discuss the French and Finnish new waves and the ways they reflect on their relation to the society. For Godard and Pakkasvirta, ideological criticism intertwines with the search for new ways of producing films that aspire to evoke social and political awareness. I trace the aesthetics and the philosophy of Godard and Pakkasvirta’s politically committed filmmaking to Bertolt Brecht, Dziga Vertov, Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer. Simultaneously, I outline the cultural differences between the two: why experimentalism marked only a relatively short period in Finnish left-wing cinema compared to developments in France?