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Foreign Films > Pierrot Le Fou (Jean-Luc Goddard 1965)

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message 1: by Phillip (last edited Apr 10, 2009 08:56AM) (new)

Phillip | 10781 comments Pierrot Le Fou (Goddard, 1965)

Jean-Luc Goddard created a highly original body of work that subverts a variety of artistic and cultural traditions with playful zeal and vengeance. Pierrot Le Fou is one of the finer examples of this tradition and uses the pursuit of artistic integrity as a foil for Goddard’s giddy deconstruction of genre and narrative.

At the onset of Pierrot Le Fou, Goddard assumes a role fashioned by Luis Bunuel by taking overt stabs at the European bourgeoisie. Jean-Paul Belmondo plays Ferdinand, a restless husband who reads biographies of Velasquez to his daughter while in the tub; a man who is ushered by his wife to parties where he can meet influential people and find lucrative work. Ferdinand strolls the party, listening to dialogue that sounds drafted from automobile and perfume advertisements and notices with nonchalance his wife kissing other men. He bumps into director Sam Fuller, who explains that cinema is a battlefield…

Bored within this vapid realm of highly privileged hedonism, Ferdinand departs. He returns to his swank apartment and finds the babysitter asleep. At this late hour, he decides to drive Marianne home. On route to her apartment, it is clear that they have known each other from a past relationship and share a fondness for one another. The radio broadcasts a report on a massacre in Vietnam and Marianne (played by Anna Karina, the coyest of femme fatales and Goddard's feminine alter-ego) comments on the anonymity of the casualties of war. And so life on the battlefield begins.

In search of a more vital way of life, the two go on a spree of recklessness. One of the more amusing aspects of Goddard’s work is his willingness to mock himself (via his protagonist) along with traditional culture. While Ferdinand seeks to live a life that resembles Vasquez’ work, one that embodies and embraces silence and nothingness, he finds himself at the mercy of a frivolous kind of nihilism. He is sucked into a world of espionage through his relationship with Marianne and in the process, Goddard ushers the film’s narrative into a stylistic collage of Hollywood musicals, comic battle of the sexes, crime thrillers, and romance dramas while positing a probing existential inquiry.

In the end, having been driven away from his pursuit of silence and the observation of the space between all things, Ferdinand finds himself the victim of a lack of discipline. If there is a point to Goddard’s seemingly reckless reading on the road movie tradition, it is that artists cannot be lured from their path by earthly desires. To do so is to find self-immolation and cultural destruction.

For those that enjoy filmmakers that stretch the boundaries of genre more than adhere to them, the cinema of Jean-Luc Goddard is always a personal favorite destination. His films confound every bit as much as they satisfy. In pursuit of delivering his "message", he calls upon texts both literary and pulp, radio and television broadcasts, popular and art songs, advertisement in all its forms, and the history of cinema. He is a director who, like Quentin Tarantino, celebrates his love for the art of cinema by making films. He has a profound respect for his audience, but none at all for empty traditions, which he mocks and destroys whenever possible. Pierrot Le Fou is vintage Goddard, made in 1965, when the filmmaker was at the peak of his talent for being simultaneously experimental and accessible, and is rightly considered one of his most popular and artistically satisfying films.



message 2: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments Again brother, great review of one of my favorite Godard films!! Thank you:)


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