Film review: Jean-Luc Godard’s “Pierrot le Fou”

Pierrot le fou. A movie that is really a book. A Henry Miller or Marcel Proust type of novel rendered in cinematic language.

References to classic movies, literature, poetry, and art abound in Godard’s films. Pierrot le Fou is heavy with references and direct quotations. In fact, it begins with the main character reading from a book to his little girl.

Pierrot le fou, also reminds me of a play. Makes sense, as Godard learned his famous distancing technique from playwright Bertolt Brecht.

The girl wants an adventurous life, he wants a literary life. His name is Ferdinand but she calls him Pierrot because you can’t sing Ferdinand. He wants to read, she wants to go dancing. Godard’s version of Bonnie and Clyde. She killed a man, the pair are on the run. In the end, she doublecrosses him. He shoots her and her lover, then blows himself up with dynamite. The end.

What is the spirit of "modernism"? To make it new. To find fresh forms and modes. To modernize. The beauty of Godard’s films is they feel modern today, even though his famous fifteen classics of his early period are from the sixties. He was ahead of his time and the film world has never caught up. This movie is from 1965, but Hollywood has never caught up, so it feels more modern than anything out today, like a movie from the future. Any ambitious filmmaker reading this, check out Godard’s work, you will thank me for it.

It will take me a while before I am able to really talk about this movie. I’ll have to see it a few more times. Therefore this is not really a review, it’s an attempt.



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