Godard's "Pierrot Goes Wild" -- A Brief Analysis

                                       Godard made "Bande a part" (Band of outsiders) in the year 1964. But, before making this movie, Godard attempted to film an adaptation of 'Obsession' by Lionel White, the author of the source material for Stanley Kubrick's taut crime thriller "The Killing." Godard wanted to cast Sylvie Vartan, a famous Bulgarian French singer (one of the first rock girls in France), but she refused so the project was subsequently put on hold. After he had completed "Band of Outsiders", he envisaged making the film with Anna Karina and Richard Burton, but this also fell through. Later on, Belmondo came on board and Godard decided that the film would tell the story of the "last romantic couple." The end result is a testament to the magnetic screen presence of both Belmondo and Karina. 

                                      "Pierrot Goes Wild" starts with Ferdinand (Belmondo), husband of a rich Italian woman, returning home from a dismal party. Bored, he offers a ride to his kids' babysitter, the attractive student Marianne Renoir (Anna Karina). Before long, they decide to take a one-way street out of Paris and head for the south of France. Their impromptu journey will involve a bag of loot that goes up in flames, some gun-running shenanigans and auto-theft as they resolve to hook up with Marianne's brother. the adventure sees them falling in love and ends with Ferdinand painting his face pale blue, wrapping dynamite to his head. 

                                    As fast and loose a film as Godard has ever made, "Pierrot Goes Wild" (Pierrot le Fou) recalls Howard Hawks' axiom, that a movie's plot could really be just an excuse for some great scenes. Here, Godard spins another girl-and-gun, lovers-on-the-lam narrative in order to unfold a characteristically autonomous procession of digressions, stories, set-pieces, references, satirical swipes, discursive debates, tongue-in-cheek gags and flights of fancy. One highlight is Karina's charming rendition of a song about her fate-line. The film abounds in ideas but critics considered it a little scatter-shot for its own good. Many thought it as 'repetitive  rather than inventive and fresh' and recommended pruning to increase its commercial appeal. 

                                      Like "Breathless", the film divides its time between action sequences and pensive, discursive scenes. It serves up a typically Gordardian bugger of both high and low culture references. Just as he had mixed William Faulkner with Humphrey Bogart in his first film, here the director includes references to art, poetry, film and philosophy. The artists mentioned range from modern masters, like American pop art maestro Roy Lichtenstein, to classical greats such as the 17th century Spanish pinter Velazquez. The writers who are referenced are similarly varied and include Robert Browning, Raymond Chandler, Joseph Conrad, F Scott Fitzgerald and William Shakespeare. 

                                       Recalling Fritz Lang's appearance in "Contempt" (Le Mepris), the influential American auteur Sam Fuller appears briefly as himself. Ferdinand meets him at a party where the director says he is in town to make a movie. Fuller declares that his film will be like a battle ground, encompassing love, hate, action and violence: "in one word, emotions." Pierrot Goes Wild can claim the same. This is a dazzling assault on the senses. "Pierrot le Fou" is a film about liberty and reinvention. A product of a director at the height of his powers.


Roger Ebert's Review

Pierrot Goes Wild (Pierrot le Fou) -- IMDb

1 comment:

Jiggyasa said...

very nice review. it sounds very interesting :)