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The Soldiers (1963)
"Les carabiniers" (original title)

 -  Comedy | Drama | War  -  27 September 1967 (USA)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 1,880 users  
Reviews: 25 user | 19 critic

During a war in an imaginary country, unscrupulous soldiers recruit poor farmers with promises of an easy and happy life. Two of these farmers write to their wives of their exploits.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Marino Masé ...
Ulysses (as Marino Mase)
Patrice Moullet ...
Michel-Ange (as Albert Juross)
Geneviève Galéa ...
Venus
Catherine Ribeiro ...
Cleopatre
...
Car salesman
Jean-Louis Comolli ...
Soldier with fish
Gérard Poirot ...
Carabinier #1
Jean Brassat ...
Carabinier #2
Alvaro Gheri ...
Carabinier #3
Odile Geoffroy ...
Young Communist girl
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Storyline

During a war, the poor and ignorant brothers Ulysses and Michel-Ange are lured and recruited by two soldiers that promise wealth to them in the name of their King. The greedy wife of Ulysses Cleopatre and her daughter Venus ask them to enlist to pursue fortune. They travel to Italy and become unscrupulous criminals of war. When Ulysses is wounded in one eye, he returns home with Michel-Ange and a small bag full of postcards of famous locations and the promise that they would be entitled of the properties in the end of the war. However, when the King signs the peace treaty with their enemy, they find that the agreement was actually surrender and they have a prize to pay for their actions. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | War

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

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Language:

Release Date:

27 September 1967 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Los carabineros  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Budget:

$140,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

[last lines]
Narrator: Henceforth the two brothers slept for an eternity, believing the brain, in decay, functioned beyond death, and its dreams are what constitute Paradise.
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Connections

Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

 
a film that challenges audience's expectations to the conventions of a war film
2 March 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

One of Godard's better films from the 60's, which like a number of his films from his prime era is usually either liked a lot or detested to hell, is almost audience-dividing on purpose. His film is a black comedy that sometimes is (successfully) deceptively a bleak drama of corruption of the working man in times of War. Stylistically it is Godard all the way, though one can't disregard the likely significant contributions (though it may be hard to detect since it IS Godard's mouth all over the pie so to speak) of screenwriters Jean Gurault (usually Truffaut's co-writer), and (apparently) Roberto Rossellini. Rossellini, who was one of Godard's big influences, is countered by what was also a big influence likely on this picture, Samuel Fuller, the king of B War pictures. So one could look at the quasi-split of ideals in the film, of Rossellini's documentary style of telling it like it is, crossed with Fuller's hard professionalism and no-holds-barred view of War. Whomever influence comes through stronger, this is really Godard's show, and has here something that is fairly usual in terms of his challenging styles and criticizing past films (including Truffaut with his own comments on War depicted in film), but also is unique for how it is presented, and makes it a difficult, though rewarding experience. This is the French new-wave equivalent, to put it another way, to Sam Mendes's Jarhead; you're not sure if this really should be classified as a typical 'war' film, despite being in a league of other films already in place.

One thing that is as fascinating as it is occasionally frustrating is Godard's main male actors, Albert Muross and Marino Mase, are not very expressive, and of course are not really 'actors' in the traditional sense (at least at the time they were close to un-professionals). But maybe that is what's needed, dumb farm boys who are propogandized into going to fight for their invading, nameless country; the opening scenes of the list of things the men will get is equally funny and troubling. Then the boys go off to war, and there is a really astute episodic kind of storytelling used, which works considering the short time length. One scene that really stood out was when one of the soldiers goes to see his first film ever, and is almost like some kind of primate seeing a woman disrobing on a screen (it's also arguably the funniest scene in the film). When the boys come home they are loaded with pictures, in a scene that is the one that almost had me questioning if it was either really good or really too long; the length of the list of pictures is like a litmus test for moviegoers- can you take all of these images, done almost to make a point that's not too clear?

But what makes Les Carabiniers work for me is how it is so un-like other war films that it stands alone on its own terms, like a French new-wave Dr. Strangelove (though maybe not a masterpiece like that one). At times I wasn't totally sure where the satire started or ended, and there is a certain distance that Godard places with his many long-shots getting in as much landscape as tanks and soldiers with their guns. What's surprising is how the tone is always assured, which is crucial considering this is a story told through the side of the invaders this time, men working under their elusive King for land and riches and wealth. One of the best scenes I may have seen in any Godard film is when they have a woman who is at first thought to be 'a friend' of the soldiers, but then goes off on a Leninist rant. The men are about to shoot her, but can't for a few minutes, as the words she says strike some kind of chord in their primal mindsets. Amid montages of archive footage of planes flying and bombs dropping, there's a scene that would never ever be in any 'conventional' war picture. There's a real thought process going on here, and even if it's got some of Godard's usual 'f*** you, it's my style, take it or leave it' attitude, it's not totally un-accessible either. It's a slim volume of gritty anti-War pathos, and it's maybe a tad under-rated in the director's massive catalog.


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