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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Pierrot le Fou

I think my favorite among all Godard films is 1965's Pierrot le Fou, because it is laugh-out-loud funny. It is certainly not a traditional film, but it makes a certain sense, and has a ridiculously absurd ending. It also shows off the beauty of Anna Karina.

Jean-Paul Belmondo plays a recently laid off television executive, who is bored with his life. He goes to a party with his wife, and the babysitter is a woman (Karina) whom he had been in affair with some years earlier. The party scene is hilarious. Shot with color filters, the characters speak in ad copy, whether about shampoo or cars. Some of the women are topless.

Belmondo decides to take up with Karina, who is apparently being chased by spies. Her apartment is stockpiled with guns, and there is a corpse on the bed. The two take off, pursued by the law, and find a temporary idyll on the French Riviera, but Karina becomes bored and there is a suitcase full of money involved.

Pierrot le Fou (Karina calls Belmondo Pierrot, who was a sad clown, and every time she does he corrects her--"My name is Ferdinand") sort of reminds one of Monty Python, with over the top images and a breaking off the fourth wall (it only happens once, when Karina asks who Belmondo is talking to--"the audience," he says, and Karina looks at the camera, as if just noticing she's in a movie). The title literally means "Pierrot the Madman," and the film's anarchic style is very winning.

Godard does have some serious things to say, but in a comic manner. The two fugitives meet some American sailors and decide to put on a play for them, which they call the "Vietnam War." The American sailors hoot like demented sadists (this would begin Godard's disdain for America, which would surface in the late '60s). He did still admire American filmmakers, though, giving Samuel Fuller a cameo.

The ending has Belmondo, after Karina steals all his money and runs off with another man, wrapping dynamite around his head and lighting it. He changes his mind, but too late! Boom!

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