Pierrot le fou Screen 16 articles

Pierrot le fou

1965

Pierrot le fou Poster
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    The Village Voice: Andrew Sarris
    January 23, 1969 | The Village Voice Film Guide (pp. 194-196)

    Pierrot le Fou is a film of fireworks and water, of explosions and immersion, the metaphorical expression of passion being cooled by existence, the visual equivalent of feelings being chilled by words. The influence of Renoir, Jean even more than Auguste, is everywhere, even in Belmondo's hilarious imitation of Michel Simon, but especially in the pervasive wetness of Pierrot le Fou, itself at least partly an ode to liquid pastoral à la Lautréamont in Weekend.

  • Looking at it 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.

  • The insouciant grace of Karina's spontaneous outbursts is paralleled by the film's: culturally, Pierrot le Fou is all over the map, juxtaposing Sam Fuller and García Lorca, Vietnam and Auguste Renoir. Possibly no Godard film has ever been more hostile to Americans and more devoted to their cars. Pierrot is hardly free of Godard's romantic misogyny, but it radiates the joy of cinema.

  • More than any of his other works, PIERROT masterfully walks the line between Godard's expressed intention to throw everything he can into a film and the compelling, immediate charms of classical cinema-the result being a surprisingly accessible film that will richly repay repeat viewings.

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    Everything Is Cinema (book): Richard Brody
    May 13, 2007 | Chapter 12

    Pierrot le fou brought Godard's devotion to classical cinematic forms and moods to a spectacular end, and began a set of works marked by a hysterical, self-flagellating despair.

  • Though the whiz-bang, comic book-panel aesthetic of Pierrot is as potentially intoxicating as any contemporaneous head movie, it’s also one of [Godard's] most finely balanced works, one that successfully straddles generational gaps far wider than the one separating Ferdinand and Marianne—even the one separating 1960s-era Godard from latter-day JLG/JLG.

  • Of the Godardian '60s, this effervescent, self-mocking, effortlessly iconic masterpiece may be the filmmaker's quintessential work, the ultimate commentary on how life and movies fuck and spawn spectacularly beautiful children. It's not merely a guy-&-girl-on-the-run film, nor a farcical tango with the subgenre, but a catapulting Godardianism, a living tissue, a fabulous and hilarious shared week in the life of Godard, Karina and co-star Jean-Paul Belmondo.

  • Pierrot le fou is quite possibly the “movie-about-movies” par excellence, because by the end of it those moments of love, hate, action, violence and death don't matter so much as one's own unsettled awareness of just how familiar and concrete movie emotions—especially those within the kinds of genre films often adored by Godard and his Cahiers du cinéma peers—often seem compared to the messier and more complex emotions one encounters in real life.

  • At its extremes Pierrot le fou offers some of the most gratuitous and wacky indulgences of Godard’s entire career: low-production musical numbers in half-finished apartments and shaded forests, mustachioed dwarfs squawking gibberish into walkie talkies, a cameo by the exiled princess of Lebanon, a netted booby trap capturing a gangster-driven car, etc., etc. These are the logical results of the brand of free cinema Godard has always simultaneously preached and practiced.

  • Who was it that wrote that it was after seeing CITIZEN KANE that he discovered the Director and could think of no better way for others to discover the same? PIERROT LE FOU's audiences discover the Thinker, and they discover him or her within themselves. Anyone who sees it—regardless of whether they just pick up a new release at Blockbuster once a month or sit in the front row of the Siskel on weekdays—becomes, if only for the minute after movie ends or on the bus ride home, a film critic.

  • Mostly playful, the film nevertheless dabbles in the type of film essay that would mark Godard's post-1967 turn towards more political and experimental works. There are surely politics here, but they're hidden within the comic angst of the leads, who, like many in the 1960s, were quite sure of what they were fighting against, but less sure of what they were fighting for.

  • Godard inventively drapes genre pastiche, literary references, flash inserts and cheeky agitprop over a robust ‘Bonnie and Clyde’-like framework to deliver a film which, in spirit, feels like both the sum total of his past work and an exhilarating sign of things to come. It’s a wild-eyed, everything-in-the-pot cross-processing of artistic, cinematic, political and personal concerns, where the story stutters, splinters and infuriates its way to an explosive finale.

  • If this all sounds like a dry exercise in subversive chic, it’s anything but. Godard and his great cinematographer, Raoul Coutard, translate the ideas into some of the most visually exuberant French cinema of the Sixties. This movie is a symphony in the key of red, obsessed by contemporary design and semiotics, and oddly meticulous in its deconstruction of classical filmmaking, the crime genre – even musicals.

  • His 1965 working version of it is very bright, a little anarchic, a soupcon sexy, quite silly, a tiny bit too long. Ferdinand lives up to his nickname—Pierrot the clown is eternally getting dumped. But murder-suicide isn’t the point, we must remember. What fool said there was one?

  • Like the majority of Godard’s 60s output, plot takes a backseat to style and irreverence in Pierrot Le Fou... By the time Godard shot the film, he and Karina had divorced. The resulting depiction of what Godard called “the last romantic couple” bristles with the filmmaker’s pain and humiliation over the breakup.

  • Godard once referred to Pierrot le fou as his second “first film,” and its liberated tone, coupled with the rapidity at which it flits from idea to idea, certainly marks a turning point in the filmmaker’s body of work. Yet the doomed romantic pairing at the film’s center provides a solid emotional anchor for the freewheeling mania.

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