Pierrot le Fou

Pierrot le Fou

My name’s Ferdinand. I have told you often enough.

So, after that admittedly somewhat crass and borderline vitriolic review of Alphaville (though I didn’t really hate it as much as my review made it seem like I did, I just found too much fault with the technicals), why am I continuing this Godard-a-thon? Well, for one, I’m of a kind that would much rather follow through on their commitments than back out halfway through, so when I commit to a trilogy of films, by golly, I’m going to watch those films. Secondly, and probably more importantly, I have to; Godard has plenty of films left on the list, so I might as well get them over with as quickly as possible in case I dislike them for the same reasons I found to be contemptuous of Alphaville. Pierrot le Fou is different in that regard to what I know of Godard’s early work; it doesn’t have nearly as much of the skipping around and disjointed technical “experimentation” that Breathless and Alphaville had, so I was able to enjoy the film mostly on its own merits. For another thing, it’s in color, so maybe the realization that he couldn’t get away with having his film seem like a film in black-and-white rather than the natural color of the world prompted Godard to tone down his eccentricities a tad. Or maybe I’m just postulating.

The film is very typical of Godard in that most of the so-called action consists of people standing around, conversing with each other. The Book likens Godard to Joseph L. Mankiewicz as one of the premier directors of the conversation, and for the first time, watching this film, I gained an appreciation for this aspect of Godard’s handiwork; he truly does find it fascinating when two people simply talk to one another, and he shares this fascination with us, allowing us into his head to see just how and why he finds it so interesting. Like films based mostly on a particular comedic performer or duo, the plot is mostly here just as a scaffold to hold up something else, in this case Godard’s bits of conversation. To think too much about the plot in a film like this is to go about watching it in the wrong way; and besides, most of what does happen in the plot seems, to me at least, to be a parody or satire of other conventional movie tropes, and indeed Godard does seem to be playing around when it comes to the actual plot of this film.

Like I mentioned in the opener, this doesn’t have nearly as much of the technical faults that Godard calls his style, so I didn’t need to get hung up on that aspect of the film as much as Alphaville. This left me to watch the film in peace, and get a better appreciation for what the film does try and do with the runtime it’s allotted, and for what that’s worth, I appreciated this a hell of a lot more than the previous film. Once I was able to accept that this film wasn’t about plot or story in the normal sense, but about the art and theater of the spoken word, the film opened up to me greatly, and I was able to find many things about it to like. Most of these can be summed up in that the film simply is very good at what it tries to do, and thanks to the color, it’s not half bad to look at either. Movie lovers well-versed in the cinema of the times will find much to appreciate about Pierrot le Fou as well, I’d think, and they should definitely give it a try. It’s by far the most accessible of Godard’s works that I’ve seen thus far, mostly because it’s the most normal. Here’s hoping the rest of Godard has at least some aspect of what made this work enough for me to like it.

Arbitrary Rating: 8/10

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