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A small group of French students are studying Mao, trying to find out their position in the world and how to change the world to a Maoistic community using terrorism.
Thematically, La Chinoise concerns the 1960s New Left political interest in such historical and ongoing events as the legacy of Lenin's October 1917 Russian Revolution, the escalating U.S. military activities in the increasingly unstable region of southeast Asia, and especially the Cultural Revolution brought about by the Red Guards under Mao Zedong in the People's Republic of China. The film also touches upon the rise of anti-humanist poststructuralism in French intellectual life by the mid-1960s, particularly the anti-empiricist ideas of the influential French Marxist, Louis Althusser.
Godard likewise portrays the role that certain objects and organizations — such as Mao's Little Red Book, the French Communist Party, and other small leftist factions — play in the developing ideology and activities of the Aden Arabie cell. These objects and organizations appear to become ironically fetishized as entertainment products and fashion statements within a modern consumer-capitalist society — the very society which the student radicals hope to transform through their revolutionary project.
This paradox is illustrated in the various joke sunglasses that Guillaume wears (with the national flags of the USA, USSR, China, France and Britain each filling the frames) while reading Mao's Little Red Book, as well as the sight gag of having dozens of copies of the Little Red Book piled in mounds on the floor to literally create a defensive parapet against the forces of capitalist imperialism, and a jaunty satirical pop song, "Mao-Mao" (sung by Claude Channes), heard on the soundtrack. Godard seems to suggest that the students are at once serious committed revolutionaries intent on bringing about major social change as well as confused bourgeois youngsters merely flirting with the notion of radical politics as a fashionable and exciting distraction.
La Chinoise is not one of Godard's most widely seen films, and until 2008 was unavailable on DVD in North America. However, a number of critics such as Pauline Kael, Andrew Sarris and Renata Adler have hailed it as among his best. Given that the film was made in March 1967 — one year before violent student protest became a manifest social reality in France — La Chinoise is now regarded as an uncannily prescient and insightful examination of the New Left activism during those years.
Along with Pierrot le fou, Masculin, féminin, Two or Three Things I Know About Her and Week End, La Chinoise is often seen as signaling a decisive step towards Godard's eventual renunciation of "bourgeois" narrative filmmaking. By 1968, he had switched to an overtly political phase of revolutionary Maoist-collectivist didactic films with Jean-Pierre Gorin and the Dziga Vertov Group, which lasted for the next six years until 1973.
Source : Wikipedia