• Pierrot le Fou is Godard’s ninth archiveable film, fourth masterpiece, sixth film with wife (divorced in 1965) and muse Anna Karina, third film with Jean-Paul Belmondo. It is also his third film in color (all three masterpieces actually) making up an unofficial trilogy of red, white, blue splattered films (A Woman is a Woman, Contempt). This sort of recap of Godard’s run to date in 1965 may be better served on Godard’s page, but it is worth noting that for many great auteurs—nine archiveable films (seven worthy of being in the top 10 of their respective years) and four masterpieces would take 30 or 40 years. For Godard, it took six.

Opens with the red and blue titles (trademark at this point)—the Antoine Duhamel score a little derivative of Vertigo. Godard uses score to show how false this movie world is—he picks up the needle randomly in places and then drops it in again

  • It is also time to note again the work of cinematographer Raoul Coutard who is partially responsible for all nine of Godard’s archiveable films to date, not to mention Demy’s Lola, and Truffaut’s Jules and Jim and Shoot the Piano Player.
  • The prologue (which turns into Belmondo reading aloud in the bathtub) is about Spanish painter Diego Velázquez – who lost interest in painting anything but shape and tone—certainly this is Godard’s thesis for Pierrot le Fou.
  • Like all of Godard’s work, it is postmodern and referential (they fly at you- Johnny Guitar – Nicolas Ray is one), and even self-referential (he has a poster of Le Petit Soldat in a scene- and there are similarities here between the films including the waterboarding)
  • Chapter two is the stunner—the color splashes from tinting, Godard just using the frame as his canvas—the red at the six-minute mark, conversations at the party include commercials about cars, advertising about deodorant (Godard does not hide his distaste for the banality of it all). Then Godard is on to green with Samuel Fuller, yellow and so on… jaw-dropping use of color

the jaw-dropping use of color tinting in chapter two

the famous green tinting sequence with Sam Fuller

At the 11-minute mark Belmondo and Karina are in the color with the over-the-top expressionistic and reflexively-fake colors on the windshield

  • At 16-minutes Karina breaks out into song (one of two in the film—the later is her “life-line” and “thigh-line” duet with Belmondo – charming)
  • Godard’s trademark jump cuts of course (often loose, and looking stapled together), but the ever-increasing cutaway is used here— you can see Godard using the cutaway more and more in comparison with Breathless just six short years before. Ozu used his trains, alleys, hallways, laundry… Godard cuts to paintings (Renoir- Karina’s name in the film, van Gogh), red and blue neon signs of (“Life”, “Riviera”, Cinema), handwriting, characters talking directly to the camera

a blue PIcasso, just one of the many cutaways used for color, tone, influence

van Gogh here- Godard is a montagist at this point in 1965 — his cutaways are simply different than Ozu’s

all part of the formal connective (though loose, utterly brilliant) tissue- red, white and blue neon signs at least three times

Color splashes again- the gun with the blue trinket—like Antonioni’s Red Desert (and he was doing this before) if he doesn’t like the color of something he paints – like the stripe in the bowling alley later- painted blue

Silent sequence of violent with this sort of repetitive plot poetry being read aloud by dueling voice-overs from Belmondo and Karina …. references to Vietnam, Algerian war, the slapstick action at the Total gas station (red sign, anti-oil), introduces an extra at the 28-minute mark before going to the blue brick and blue door background of the couple— it is a mad collage

  • Reflexive, “it’s gotta look real, this isn’t a movie”- and Belmondo talks to the audience from the car
  • Again, to the point that this is a collage, he skips to chapter eight in the voice over—this is skipping at least four chapters- haha. He actually repeats reading chapter eight, and then does chapter seven after
  • At 45 minutes they go to the sea and the relationship and film changes—it is an entirely different film than the postmodern, mock, lovers on the run film—this is more like Contempt’s scenes from a marriage—Belmondo the intellectual reading and writing in his journal (part of the cutaways with red and blue ink and/or paper), Karina the emotional – she plays the femme fatale of sorts

part of the collage of cutaways…. Belmondo’s journal, always on red or blue paper– or with red or blue ink

  • Godard is mocking narrative “Monday…. I read a lot”- haha
  • Referential—not just painting and film, Joyce, Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night.

Karina’s character is bored and says “Let’s go back to our detective novel”- and Godard does- he takes the film there. She’s there with her wide eyes, red dress… her allure, her energy—this is a major feather in the cap for both Karina and Belmondo. It is a stretch to see him as an intellectual, but his confidence level on screen has few peers—swagger. Nicholson would have it. Belmondo in the bar orders two beers “that way when I finish one, I’ll still have one left”- haha

  • The absurdity of the narrative, the action sequences in particular – are precisely the point
  • A dedication to color in the mise-en-scene— primary colors—the lampshades, movie theater seats are red (Jean-Pierre Léaud is just hanging there), everything for nearly two hours— the chase scene with red and blue cars, of course Belmondo brilliantly paints his face blue, and uses red and yellow dynamite – the apocalypse—preceding Antonioni’s lovers on the run political explosion in Zabriskie Point by five years

Leaud just hanging out barely in the frame—- with every stitch of clothing chosen to match the painted red movie theater

Karina with the scissors, in red, in front of the Picassos as an immaculate cinematic painting

  • Cutaways to painting for the violence scene— Godard as a montagist
  • A masterpiece