Pierrot le Fou (1965) Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
As I have stated before in this blog, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Anna Karina and Jean-Luc Godard have an almost holy place in my cinematic heart. To see and experience life as Pierrot Le Fou is to really live – or so I have thought. That's been the innocent child-like view of mine. Cynically speaking, Godard's films from this period offer a vast visual resource pool for any young blogger wanting to tap into effortless cool. His films also offer an air of intellectualism, name dropping and they mix fairytale with essaying about art. This complexity is second nature to Godard. Who cares if anyone can follow a plot from beginning to end in some coherent linear way, at least you can congratulate yourself for recognizing at least ten names of film makers, philosophers and poets mentioned in any given Godard movie...
The reason why none of the snobbism gets to me in Pierrot Le Fou is Anna Karina with Jean-Paul Belmondo. Their acting looks like the most fun kind of playing, spontaneous and unexpected. Not only do they look amazing in their clothes and without their clothes, they have a sense of humor about themselves. Nothing is too serious. Not even this movie. This time around I didn't really care much for the plot of this film. I was bothering to try and understand what motivated the two characters, but did not come up with anything rewarding in the end. In my mind I had also mixed up a couple of other Godard films with this one and created my own story thus looking for scenes in Pierrot Le Fou that never take place.
A suspicion smoulders in my mind that maybe Godard is somewhat resentful towards his always stunning leading ladies. He seems to portray these women as cunning, deceitful, confusing, mysterious and deathly. It is always the women who drive the men to trouble bigger than they can cope with. And it is the women who stop loving the men first. Godard's attitude to women as dubious femme fatales is something I've never thought of before and now that I have started, this idea disturbs me a little.
Ultimately, I would like to remain a woman who can watch Pierrot Le Fou without too much analyzing, just for its visual impact and occasional emotional reward too.
In the annals of looking cool with a cigarette dangling from between your lips, there have been many wannabe champions of the art. In popular song, David Bowie, Bryan Ferry and Serge Gainsbourg have all tried to master this pose. Humphrey Bogart & Elliott Gould as a certain dick called Marlowe have improved the pose compared to their rockstar counterparts. Many others have tried this look, but the undisputed king is Jean-Paul Belmondo. Just watching the fat Gauloises hang from those luscious lips is enough to make you wanna strike one up. Yummy. Sexual. It's a shame I dont do that anymore.
Godard understands the power of "Chercher La Femme" and in Pierrot le Fou he realizes that Belmondo's love for Marianne Renoir (Anna Karina) like his own love for Karina is doomed. It's all over Pierrot le Fou and in the subsequent movies he directed Karina in. He's telling us you can dream about someone like that but you'll never have someone like that. Belmondo as Ferdinand, Pierrot or himself is as cool as screen males ever have been or ever will be. But he's no match for Karina. Pierrot le Fou has more ideas in it than most of popular culture combined and then some. It's still radical, sexy and pretentious. But as it gets older, Pierrot le Fou starts to resemble something even more classic in cinema. The look is spectacular in an oddly conventional way. The use of color and the cut-up soundtrack somehow recall a vintage quality.
If I were to compare this to an album I'd say it's a White Light/ White Heat or a Before Hollywood. Does that enlighten you much? A Scott 4 or New York Tendaberry perhaps? Can I make this easier for you? In these postmodern times I can suggest A River Ain't Too Much To Love or Wu-Tang Forever? Pierrot le Fou is not like these albums at all in any way. The film just leaves me with the same feeling, that's all. I'm just trying to say you should see this if you have not. Life's too short and Pierrot le Fou is one of its pleasures.