TamTam Books News

Tuesday, January 28, 2003:

"Jean-Luc Godard's Pierrot le Fou" by David Wills (Editor) Cambridge Univ Press ISBN: 0521574897

Thank God for university presses that publish books about little known or even unavailable films. Godard's Pierrot le fou (France, 1965) was recently released on DVD, and if any film ever needed footnotes, this is it. Now one can read Cambridge Film Handbooks's Jean-Luc Godard's Pierrot Le Fou, edited by David Wills, and enjoy the book as a supplement to an almost-forgotten masterpiece. Pierrot le fou is a cinematic work that nails the '60s in 110 minutes. The plot is quite simple: A bored man portrayed by ultracool Jean-Paul Belmondo goes to a party with his wife, at which everyone converses in advertising slogans. He leaves and runs off with his baby-sitter, played by the beautiful Anna Karina, and they go on a crime spree. Ridiculous? Well, this is a Godard film. The baby-sitter is named Marianne, and she symbolizes the French republic, as she is consistently clothed in the colors of France. Marianne thinks she is in a movie (which she is) and wants emotion and movement. The Belmondo character, Pierrot, wants to leave civilization, live on an island, and read books -- a character with whom I fully sympathize. He wants to live in words and thoughts, and she wants emotion and action. The film is about role-playing, the nature of cinema and its audience, Vietnam (where the French had difficulties before the Americans did), and the dynamics between reading and action.

The book contains five essays, each focusing on specific aspects of the film. The writings form a critical study, rather than just including gossip about the film shoot and about its participants. The most interesting essay is the last one, "Pierrot le fou and Post New Wave Cinema," by Jill Forbes. The essay focuses on the complexity of Pierrot le fou: Since the characters know they are acting out their dramas in a film, Forbes discusses how this relates to their world in terms of audience. Forbes also writes about Godard's use of the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud, who invented a poetic language "that will be used by all the senses." Godard plays with film genres, such as the musical, and incorporates literature into his cinema as well. Not only are there literary chapters named after Rimbaud's poetry in the film, but his use of color and quotations gives the work layers of meaning. One could argue that his films are really open-ended essays on the nature of language, images, and life. I recommend this book, only as a supplement to this fantastic film, which is a sort of book in its own right.

Tosh // 10:42 PM

Comments: Post a Comment

This site is powered by Blogger because Blogger rocks!

The wonderful world of TamTam Books by publisher Tosh Berman