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Pierrot le Fou

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Pierrot le Fou - 14/6/2006 12:50:55 PM   
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The stuff cinema was invented for. - 16/2/2008 9:29:42 PM   

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Joined: 6/1/2007
From: The Village Green
Pierrot le Fou (1965)
Director: Jean-Luc Godard

Pierrot Le Fou is a magnificent, sublime piece of work- it's a prime example of what can happen when something different is done with cinema. It's colourful, surreal, free-wheeling, politically charged, entertaining, important and compelling. It is, quite simply, one of the finest films ever made.
It's the story of Pierrot/ Ferdinand (the superb Jean-Paul Belmondo, giving one of his finest performances), a bourgeois husband and father, who is incredibly bored with his life. One day, he meets an old-flame, the enchanting Marianne (Anna Karina, too, giving one of her best performances). Soon enough, they're living together- along with a dead body. Once they realise their mistake, they go on the run- heading for Marianne's possibly imaginary older brother, in Southern France. Along the way, Ferdinand discovers some dangerous secrets about the real reason for their journey.
The film is hugely important in Godard's career- it seems to mark the time when his films turned towards a more abstract form of storytelling. In two years, Godard would produce the sublime La Chinoise, which is, really, an attempt to create a new form of cinematic thinking and expression. In another few years, he would give up on conventional cinema until the 1980's. To say that Pierrot le Fou is important is an understatement. It could be viewed as the summit of Godard's work, the time when all the ideas from everything that came before, and the all the ideas that came after, merged into one film. As it was, it could have felt disjointed- a mixture of a past recently gone, and a future soon to come. But, instead, it stands as one of Godard's finest films.
It maintains the feeling that only his films produce. It feels free-wheeling and spontaneous, yet thought out and pre-planned. Godard mastered colour in a way few other directors have managed, and Pierrot le Fou is the perfect example of such. It's a film where nothing is wasted, and even the colours correspond with a certain scene or action. Interestingly, Godard sometimes uses flashes of blue in panic sequences, and flashes of red in those that are more calm- the opposite of most Technicolor films. The use of filters is extraordinary. The sequence at the party is sublime- the filter colour depending upon the guest. It's extraordinary, and the cameo by Samuel Fuller (one of the few times the filters are removed in the scene) is a delight for film buffs- his philosophy on cinema is obviously that of many people, including Godard.
It's a film rich in symbolism and thoughts. It has something to say- in fact, more than one thing. It contains nearly all of Godard's favourite themes- attacks on commercialism (the previously mentioned party sequence, where guests sprout taglines from advertisements, to Ferdinand's anger), examination of the conflict in Vietnam, American attitudes to the communist philosophies of Stalin and, in particular, Mao, the war in Algeria, and much more.
A film for intellectuals, certainly, but it's one that even the biggest film retard would find entertaining, at least, in part. It's screenplay is superb ("I've found that I've quoted multiple lines multiple times- including, oddly, enough this one: I'm glad I don't like spinach, because if I did then I would eat it, and I can't stand the stuff”), demonstrating Godard's gift for great dialogue. His writing is always intelligent, believable and perfect for his characters. (Would Michel Poiccard as memorable if Godard hadn't given him such superb dialogue?) Plus, I've always had a liking for some of his language-based puns, and some are repeated here- "Allons-y Alonso” returns from Breathless, and I swear I heard "Get in your Alfa, Romeo” on one occasion.
It feels almost like the ending of a career- the film where the director finally combines everything that has interested him throughout his entire oeuvre. It's odd, really.
But isn't that fate line song magnificent?
But I feel like I'm rattling on, and none of it will make sense if one hasn't seen the film. I fear I'm straying from the real point, but Pierrot le Fou is so multi-layered that it is almost impossible to review without straying away from your original reason for writing. I shall close with two points:
1) Godard was a remarkable director- one of the very best, a true master of the format. He pushed cinema into new realms, and thoroughly explored what it could do. Frankly, I adore his work. Cinema would not be the same without him. My film tastes wouldn't be the same without him.
And here is the perfect quote to describe this masterpiece. Taken from the film itself:
Marianne: Look at the last page, there's a little poem about you. It's by me.
Ferdinard: Tender ... and cruel... real ... and surreal... terrifying ... and funny …nocturnal ... and diurnal… usual ... and unusual ….handsome as anyone.
Marianne: Pierrot le Fou !!!


(in reply to Empire Admin)
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- 20/4/2009 9:52:20 PM   

Posts: 5397
Joined: 21/10/2005
From: Sin City
To celebrate today`s release of one of the dvd`s that I`m looking forward to the most this year (Masters Of Cinema version of Une Femme Mariée) I decided that today it was time to revisit one of Godard`s other masterpieces: Pierrot Le Fou.

As is normal with Godard, here again it isn`t really (or not alone) about the story itself, about two old lovers (Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina) who meet again by coïncidence and make a roadtrip together, that is just the beginning.
The film is a mix of a lot of things: a political statement, a satire of the Western consumption society, an aversion of Hollywood and as said a pretty "normal" story about, as Godard called them, "the last romantic couple".
Driven by the gorgeous cinematography from living legend Raoul Coutard, using a wide range of different colours and colour filters, it is a mix that works perfectly. People that want an ordinary story get their bit, but cinephiles looking for more than just that and are familiar with Godard`s work and standings on issues get a lot more than that.
An absolute masterpiece in wich you can discover new things with every viewing.
This is Cinema with a capital C, an absolute must-see for every film lover.


(in reply to Empire Admin)
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RE: - 19/10/2012 12:45:35 AM   

Posts: 443
Joined: 13/10/2008
I recently watched Breathless for the first time and I instantly adored it, but this was even better. The film doesn't have a traditional narrative driven story, but at the same time it's a very simple story with a lot of extra greatness thrown in. It felt like Godard was playing around here just for fun in some scenes, and it's all the better for it. The use of pop culture was brilliantly done, and the recklessness of young people in love was amazingly portrayed. The editing was amazing, I've never seen anything quite like it before. I also thought the way the film was a statement on cinema as a whole was really interesting, it could have easily come off as pretentious, but it didn't at all. The characters would break the fourth wall (just like in Breathless), and it didn't seem forced or in any way like it was trying too hard to mess around with the fundamentals of cinema to garner a reaction. That's not to say it doesn't get a reaction, because it does, but it fits in with the film so well that it almost feels normal. The use of colour and lighting to highlight different settings and moods was brilliant and visually amazing, and the narration was almost haunting in it's delivery in some scenes, especially the final lines. To put it simply, this is a piece of art, and a masterclass in film making from Godard. It's not for everyone by any means, but if you're looking for something with more to it than a simple narrative, I'm pretty sure it won't get much better than this. Incredible film.

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