The nicest thing you can say about Les Carabiniers is that it is “minor-Godard”. Breathless, A Woman is a Woman, and Vivre Sa Vie feel revolutionary– like Godard may be the greatest auteur working in 1963- but things come crashing back down to earth with Les Carabiniers. Frankly, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World from Stanley Kramer is stronger.
Clocking in at 75-minutes, this pitch-black war comedy feels like a 30 minute short stretched out an extra 45-minutes
It does include Godard’s trademark jumps, and like A Woman Is a Woman, the warming up of the orchestra to start the film over the bold big entire frame-sized titles, is inspired. A great auteuristic trait.
The story is fairly simple, these simple farmer/peasants are recruited into the army to make money for The King and themselves. They’re all soulless and detached (certainly in line with his work). They write home to their wives in these big handwritten title cards. Godard splices in their hijinks with real documentary footage of war, (including executions, dead bodies), and then will cutaway to the wives comically going to their mailbox. As I said, very black comedy indeed.
It does have some laughs—“in war you can steal classy pants? And massacre innocent folks?”- those two lines back to back
The uniforms have two crosses as an insignia- sort of like the uniforms in The Grand Budapest Hotel
The random needle drop sound mix is pure Godard as well—explosions and guns go off seemingly randomly in the background
Here the slapdash style of Godard hurts— the film is just ugly, looks like it is held together with duct tape and gum
An inspired vignette about the lie of cinema with the Lumiere train scene and the peasant ducking for cover. The scene of the postcards is funny—they grow more and more ridiculous. You have Lola Montes and Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra among them. Reflexive and postmodern
Godard wields the zoom in and out rapidly in a scene late- he’s commenting on the absurdness of war this entire time. This is angry cinema.
Recommend but closer to being out of the archives than the top 10 of 1963
@Malith- thank you
Just watched this to finish godards 60-67 films. It was very unremarkable, but it also didnt have those really bad moments many godard films have, it was just “meh” the whole time. I did like the ending tho and there were some funny moments
Aparently rosselini had some part in writing it which is interesting
The thing that baffles me most is that it was made the same year as contempt. It feels like something he would have made when he was making short films in the 50s. My bet is godard embezzled a couple hundred bucks from the contempt budget and made this on a weekend off from filming contempt