The One about Jean-Luc Godard’s “Pierrot Le Fou”

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n 1964, Jean-Luc Godard went to work on his tenth film, a color film titled “Pierrot Le Fou” which would feature his ex-wife Anna Karina and Jean-Paul Belmondo (who worked on Godard’s “A bout de Souffle” (Breathless) and “Une femme est une femme” (A Woman is a Woman).

The film is his most ambitious film yet, not only reuniting with two stars that he has worked with before but the fact that elements of his previous nine films shows up on “Pierrot Le Fou”.

Perhaps one of Godard’s most accessible films, “Pierrot Le Fou” is a film that is best enjoyed after watching a good number of his films that preceded this film.  With the film now released on Blu-ray for the first time through the Criterion Collection, many people will will be introduced to Jean-Luc Godard but in my opinion, this film is not a starting point for the beginner.  It’s more of a film that can be appreciated even more after watching his previous films and seeing how things have culminated in his work before he started to focus more on his political films.

“Pierrot Le Fou” is often seen as an early paradigmatic example of postmodernism in film.  In the film, Godard shows his feeling towards American pop culture but Godard also becomes gets political as he uses the film for his characters to discuss the Vietnam and Algerian war.  For many viewers familiar with Godard and his work, many believe this is Godard’s way of using characters to flesh out his true feelings about society.  While many feel the film is a paying homage to his nine previous films leading to “Pierrot Le Fou”.

Personally, what I enjoy about this film is the adventure that Godard takes you.  We wonder how these two people who are in love with each other, are yet so different.  Ferdinand is reserved, quiet and just wants to enjoy the simple and peaceful life he has at the moment.  Marianne just is tired of settling down and not doing anything.  The fact is that she’s a bad girl.  She’s involved with some shady characters dealing with illegal activity but in some way, that is her form of fun and she wants to expose Ferdinand to that life.

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The way that Godard has shot the film is quite intriguing.  We see things in the film but rarely are they explained.  Why does Marianne enjoy killing and hurting others and why is it that both see or do things but not much is mentioned about it.  It’s like it’s something natural for them.

Nevertheless, its the adventure of these two unlikely individuals that I find so interesting.  Personally, I found it great to see Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina together as the primary leads for the film.  The two have really good chemistry onscreen and the fact that we are enjoying this adventure of two people involved in criminal activity is quite interesting.

Godard has done a great job and utilizing many scenes with the two together to show their story of life together, when things start to become problematic leading up to a pivotal scene that comes out of left field (granted, this is common theme with Godard’s ’60s films, always expect the unexpected).

Overall, “Pierrot Le Fou” is an enjoyable stylish, arthouse film.  It’s also one of those films that I feel is appreciated the more times you watch it.  Again, this film is not where you should start out if you are wanting to get into Godard films, otherwise you will find yourself a bit puzzled by how the film is paced, how the scenes were cut and how Godard’s endings tend to be.

“Pierrot Le Fou” is a Godard masterpiece, but I highly recommend watching a few of his films such as “Breathless”, “A Woman is a Woman”, “A Band of Outsiders”, “Contempt”, “Alphaville” and “Masculin Feminin” before tackling on this film.  Once you start appreciating Godard’s filmmaking, then you’ll definitely appreciate this film even more.

Definitely recommended!


 

Dennis A. Amith