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Pierrot le fou

France 1965. Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Cast: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Anna Karina, Dirk Sanders, Raymond Devos, Graziella Galvani

“The most ravishing and romantic film ever made has only improved with age” (Amy Taubin, Village Voice). A work of giddy, glorious spontaneity and self-reflexivity, Pierrot le fou is one of the quintessential achievements of Godard’s most fertile period. It’s also something of a Godard compendium, referring back to earlier Godard films (the ironic gangster cool of Breathless and Bande à part) and anticipating future ones (the dazzling social analysis, the apocalyptic visions, of Two or Three Things I Know About Her and Weekend). After Ferdinand (Jean-Paul Belmondo), a jaded Parisian TV executive, abandons wife and child for Marianne (Anna Karina), the family baby-sitter, the two lovers set out on a Bonnie-and-Clyde-like trek to the south of France. Godard described Pierrot le fou as “the story of the last romantic couple.” The film abounds in explosive primary colours, Brechtian asides to the camera, abrupt shifts in tone and mood, and a characteristic catalogue of references (art, literature, advertising, politics, cinema). Filmmaker Sam Fuller, in a famous cameo, pops up to define cinema as “a battleground — love, hate, action, violence, death. In one word: emotion.” With its tragic exploration of amour fou and the transience of love, the sensational Pierrot is one of the most uncommonly emotional works in the Godard canon. Colour, 35mm, in French with English subtitles. 110 mins.

 

REVIEWS

"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."

Time Out | full review

"Made in 1965, this 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."

Chicago Reader | full review