Monday, 7 December 2015

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 3: Sun Jan 3

Pierrot Le Fou (Godard, 1965): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 3.10pm


The BFI are running a major season devoted to Jean-Luc Godard from January to March. This film also screens on 26th January. Full details here.

For the director's early years' output I'm using this article by David Parkinson as a guide and choosing his selections for the Capital Celluloid picks in the first week of the year.

When Pierrot Le Fou, which will surely come to be seen as one of Jean-Luc Godard's finest, was re-released in 1989 after many years out of circulation, critic Jonathan Rosenbaum had this to say in an article in Chicago Reader : "Looking at Pierrot Le Fou again almost a quarter of a century after it was made, 20 years after its initial U.S. release, is a bit like visiting another planet; it’s an explosion of color, sound, music, passion, violence, and wit that illustrates what used to be regarded as cinema."

It's impossible for me to give a swift synopsis for Pierrot Le Fou in which Jean Paul Belmondo, ostensibly escaping stifling domesticity, and Anna Karina, fleeing a group of gangsters, depart Paris for the south of France suffice to say that it is brimming with ideas and scenes of extraordinary complexity. My abiding memories of seeing this the first time was of the vitality and colour - I was reminded when viewing it again last year that this was also a caustic commentary by the director on his relationship with Karina. Still, a huge treat and a film you will not forget in a hurry.

If I had to pick one excerpt it would be this one in which fellow director Sam Fuller is asked what is the meaning of cinema: "Film is like a battleground", recounts the American filmmaker. "Love, hate, action, violence, death. In one word: emotion.

Chicago Reader review of Pierrot Le Fou:
"I wanted to tell the story of the last romantic couple," Jean-Luc Godard said of this brilliant, all-over-the-place adventure and meditation about two lovers on the run (Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina). Made in 1965, the film, with its ravishing colors and beautiful 'Scope camerawork by Raoul Coutard, still looks as iconoclastic and fresh as it did when it belatedly opened in the U.S. Godard's misogynistic view of women as the ultimate betrayers is integral to the romanticism in much of his 60s work—and perhaps never more so than here—but Karina's charisma makes this pretty easy to ignore most of the time. The movie's frequent shifts in style, emotion, and narrative are both challenging and intoxicating: American director Samuel Fuller turns up at a party scene to offer his definition of cinema, Karina performs two memorable songs in musical-comedy fashion, Belmondo's character quotes copiously from his reading, and a fair number of red and blue cars are stolen and destroyed.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

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