Saturday, December 13, 2008

Response XV- Pierrot le Fou

For me, "Pierrot le Fou" was an intriguing film that was full of profound meaning and had an interesting, unique plot. This was the last film Godard made with his ex-wife Anna Karina and it also is not ambiguous in showing Godard's preference for left-winged politics and anit-Americanism.

This film is very dense and rich in symbolism and allusions. Many viewings of this film would be required in order to fully understand and appreciate this film and to recognize all of the left- winged symbolism and the anti-Vietnam War propaganda present in "Pierrot le Fou." Marxist symbolism is found as early as the first few scenes. At the beginning of the film, Ferdinand (Belmondo) is shown at a party with many wealthy people. These people do not have normal conversation; it seems everything they say is an advertising line. They advertise many different products, especially Alfa Romeo. In this scene, Godard undermines capitalism and the middle class and portrays them as slaves to materialism.

In addition to the Marxist allusions in this film, Godard includes anti-Vietnam war propaganda. When Ferdinand and Marianne encounter American tourists, they decide to put on a play for them in order to make some money. Their play turns out to be a satirical play about the War in Vietnam with Belmondo dressed up as a man in the US navy and Karina dressed up as a Vietnamese woman. Belmondo and Karina humorously quarrel while the Americans watching praise their play saying "That's pretty damn good!" After Karina and Belmondo fight an image of the letters "SS" show up on screen, perhaps alluding to Hitler's "SS" thereby associating the US with the Nazis.

What Godard's negative portrayal of Vietnam and capitalism ultimately boil down to is the director's preference for anti-Americanism. Godard clearly did not approve of capitalism or the Vietnam War thereby leaving him disgusted with America.

The political statement this film makes is probably what it is best known for; however, there are other interesting aspects of "Pierrot le Fou," such as the connection between Ferdinand and Marianne and Godard and Karina. Throughout the whole film, Marianne is shown as always wanting to have fun, and Ferdinand is the character who wants to write books. This difference in character often leads to arguments between them. By this time, Godard and Karina were divorced. Godard's portrayal of Marianne and Ferdinand's relationship is the director's attempt at sharing his interpretation of his relationship with Karina.

The film's metaphysical ending is another aspect of the film that I found rather intriguing. Ferdinand romantically commits suicide to be reunited with his lover Marianne. The humor in this scene is when he changes his mind at the last second and tries to stop the dynamite from exploding. He is unsuccessful, but the final shot of a beautiful horizon with a setting sun gives one the feeling that the two characters are reunited and achieved eternity together.

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