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This is a very rich and entertaining work. The plot revolves around two men
and a woman who decide to rob the employer of the woman's aunt. However,
Godard uses this slender plot as an excuse to riff on a wide spectrum of
subjects. The would-be criminals run around, dance, recite newspapers
stories to each other and have pretend shoot-outs.
This film is a lot of fun. Watch out for the celebrated dance sequence in the cafe and the scene where the three hold a minutes silence and all the noise on the soundtrack is cut off for the duration.
Acting wise, the film is stolen by the lovely Anna Karina (who was Godard's wife at the time) as the sweet, vague woman at the centre of the trio. Godard himself does the voice-over narration relating the story.
Filmed on the cold, de-glamorised streets of urban Paris, the film has a spontaneous feel that adds a lot to the exhilarating feel of the whole work.
This film is a charming, fun and suspense filled picture from one of the world's most interesting film-makers.
Sure, it may not be as important as Breathless historically, but I think it
is more successful in a lot of ways. Wheeler Winston Dixon, in his book
Films of Jean-Luc Godard_, a rather good exploration of Godard's cinema,
devotes a single paragraph to Bande a part, having written several pages
each for such other Godard films as Breathless, My Life to Live, and Une
femme est une femme. Basically, his consensus on Band a part is that it is
slight film that more or less is just a repitition of Breathless. He
say it, but it is just as easily said that it is also a repitition of
Truffaut's Shoot the Piano Player and Jules and Jim.
Why would Godard, who has just expanded into making a film, a major film, like Contempt (and will go on to make Pierrot le fou (which I haven't seen yet, though I will in the next few days) and Alphaville) go back to a cheap crime movie? I would guess that it has something to do with the conditions Godard underwent when making Contempt (harassed by producers and Jack Palance alike). And I don't know what Godard himself felt about Contempt, but I personally found it really stuffy, self-important and ultimately disappointing. After dealing with a big budget, internationally produced film (by three separate producers), I'm sure that another cheaply made crime film appealed to him.
And I have to admit that I fell into that critical trap when I began watching this film. It seemed a lot like Breathless (and Shoot the Piano Player and Jules and Jim). And although I was liking it, I was also kind of bored. That is until about a half an hour through, when there is this amazing dance scene, probably the most famous part of this film if there is any famous part at all. The three main characters, Arthur, Odile and Franz do this great dance (kind of a proto-line dance, although a lot more attractive) to a great jazz piece (the music is great throughout, like it is in all of Godard's other films; he has quite the ear for it). As they dance, the music stops (as it did in Une femme est une femme) and Godard inserts what each of the characters are thinking as they still dance around musicless. It is a great scene, as good as any of Godard's other innovations, and it completely won me over. After that, everything about the movie seemed to get better and better as it went along. Perhaps my attention was unfocused before that, but afterwards I became involved. The characters started to become three dimensional, and the story, although from a cheap dime-store novel, became compelling. And its greatness escalated steadily as the film progressed, until it ended.
Let's discuss for a moment the acting of Anna Karina, at the time Godard's wife and obsession. I don't remember Alphaville enough to recall how she was there, but, just lately, I have seen her in Une femme est une femme and Vivre sa vie. I was unsure whether she was a good actress or not. Of course, she was hypnotizing. For the sake of mankind, she has to be one of the most beautiful women who ever lived. Her eyes are just amazing. In Vivre sa vie, Godard compared her godly visage to that of Marie Falconetti of The Passion of Joan of Arc. Now that film I take seriously, never putting up with any derogatory thing said about it. And I was initially offended that Godard would be so bold as to compare his wife to Falconetti, perhaps the best actress who ever lived. But now, I'm no longer offended. Karina is a great actress. In the three films that I remember seeing her in, she has played three very different characters successfully. In Une femme est une femme, her role required a woman of strong convictions and independence with a twist of camp. She was great there. In Vivre sa vie, her role required also strong convictions and independence, but in a completely different way. Une femme est une femme was joyful in mood, for the most part, kind of sweet, really, but Vivre sa vie is a definite tragedy. Her convictions and independence end up destroying her. Now in Bande a part, Karina is a young girl who is fed up with her daily routine. She finds two guys from the wrong side of the track who seem to be offering her a better life. She soon, however, realizes that they are using her. Her trusting innocence is completely believable, and so is the nervousness that comes later. It's a very subtle performance, and Karina develops her character marvelously.
Bande a part is not the typical Godard movie. The experimentation is much less than in his other films. Therefore, no one who writes on Godard ever needs to bring it up. If it had been made by another director, its fame may have been greater. My prediction is that a Godard enthusiast will dislike it, or at least see it as lesser. One who despises Godard may find him/herself liking this film, especially if that person likes Truffaut's films better. Myself, I appreciate Godard a lot, but do not idolize him. Some will defend him no matter what. I believe that he can make mistakes, such as Contempt and Alphaville (two films which many people idolize). I believe that, just because Bande a part repeats other films a bit, there is no real reason to ignore it, for it has a lot of greatness in it. 10/10
Band of Outsiders, from the novel by Dolores Hitchens, is a jazzy and
poetic take on the modern crime film, with more successful sequences
than I could have expected. Unlike in his debut, Breathless, here the
characters - two young men Arthur (Claude Brasseur) & Franz (Sami Frey)
and the young woman Odile (the beautiful Anna Karina) - are quite
accessible (at the least watchable) to those who aren't used to
Godard's treatments of his main players.
That, along with a style including artful but elegant and, in opposition, gritty and 'cool' cinematography by Raoul Coutard and a striking, upbeat musical score by Michel Legrand, gives Jean-Luc Godard the edge in creating one of the most influential films of the new-wave. Arthur and Franz are different personalities- you can notice the differences in the little moments- but they have a shared idea as being would-be petty criminals. Franz meets Odile in a writing class, and after much talk they hatch a plan to steal all the money that Odile's father has stolen from the government and kept inside her house. The film takes its time leading up to the robbery, which is like a two punch knockout that at first is astonishing and then following it by devastating.
What makes Band of Outsiders a great film is not just the last act, but that the lead up to it, the filler, is rather extraordinary in its good grace to keep the audience entertained even as they know they're watching an art film (a good analogy is that Godard narrates much like Cocteau narrated over Blood of a Poet, except that here it's over a crime instead of a series of surrealistic events). Such moments of note are the minute of silence (like in Week End's traffic scene the audience feels much like the characters amid the duration of the scene), the subtly light-hearted feel of the classroom scene, and most notably the Madison dance.
The Dance sequence, in which our three anti-heroes turn on the jukebox and give a dance number that immediately calls to mind as inspiration for Travolta and Thruman's number to Chuck Berry in Pulp Fiction. However, after seeing this number, I'm inclined to argue that the Madison is the better of the two. There are also little moments that are funny and/or fascinating, and they go to show there's more emotion in this triangle than would usually be found in any kind of conventional film-noir.
After now seeing four of his films (Breathless, Contempt, Week End, and Band of Outsiders), this is my favorite. A+ (on my first viewing)
"Band Of Outsiders" covers about the same ground as "Breathless", but
I think with less depth and less humor. Godard sticks more to plot here and
less to his wonderful scenes of empty talk that are like good jazz riffs.
People may respond more to this one than Breathless precisely for that
reason- it more fits the conception of an American B-movie: The plot is
conceived, designed and carried out with a few twists and turns in the
This movie is the most self-referential of Godard's B-ish movies in that Godard is a director who lives in a world of the junk crime movies he grew up with making a movie about characters who live their lives like a bad crime movie. When Anna Karina jokes that Stolz probably made his loot from cheating on his taxes, then repeats it again in the final scene- this time as stated fact, it shows you how deeply these characters are entrenched in the fiction of it all, how the wisecracking becomes a way of living. What was disappointing to me is that there was less of the memorable nonsense that makes Godard's films unique- although there is some. Godard's overwrought, sickly poetic narration is obviously a gag, as is Arthur's hilariously overacted death scene; the minute of silence at the soda shop where Godard cuts the soundtrack completely is great, and the synchronized (well, almost) dancing is just precious, and I loved it. But it's the almostness of Godard's films that makes it special; if it were too perfect, it would be mechanized and dull. Instead of dancing, it would be choreography, an applied science.
Band Of Outsiders is definitely worth seeing if you like Godard's way of filmmaking; to me, it falls a little short of greatness, but it does have its moments. Beware of croc-Odiles! 3*** out of 4
Accessible Godard! Between the more famous "Breathless" and "Alphaville.." Godard wrote and directed this gem of French chic. The story is straight out of the tabloids, a love triangle of misfits who band together briefly but end up making a mess of things. But their moments together are oddly fascinating particularly an infectious dance sequence as all three do the Madison. It's worth watching the movie for this scene alone! The leads, including Jean-Luc Godard partner Anna Karina, are young and charming and their quick dialogue keeps things light. Yet the viewer remains detached throughout and ultimately is left with a sense of surrealism. A wonderful example of French "new wave" cinema, "Band a'part" is a delight. Voyez!
With this film Godard returned to the (petty) crime genre and his
fascination with American pop culture. Odile (Karina), Arthur
(Brasseur) and Franz (Frey) meet in an English language class and
become friends. When naive Odile tells them she lives in a house where
a large amount of money is cached, their imagination runs wild.
Fantasizing and discussing Hollywood B-movies and pulp literature, they
decide to rob the house with the help of Odile.
Godard goes to even further extremes in "violating" traditional storytelling with his voice-over narration, giving the viewer information during the action and letting his characters talk to the camera. It might not be Godard's most innovative release, compared to let's say BREATHLESS, CONTEMPT and TWO OR THREE THINGS I KNOW ABOUT HER, but is probably more entertaining and accessible to modern audiences than almost any other pre-1970 film he made (his later work is difficult to grasp for any audience). In the case of CONTEMPT audiences might have flocked to the cinemas because of Brigitte Bardot's presence, but besides BB-devotees, that's hardly a recommendation now. But this one generally is an entertaining and insightful film, with the dancing sequence in the bar justly memorable, as is the 9-minute tour of the Louvre.
Still, essential for movie buffs. Godard even credited himself as Jean-Luc "Cinema" Godard. Quentin Tarantino paid tribute to this film naming his production company A Band Apart.
After seeing Breathless I didnt think Godard could do any better, I was mistaken. This film is, in my opinion, one of the greatest ever made, theres so many little touches that make this film stand out, the acted shoot out, the moments silence, the dance and my favorite, the whistle stop tour of the louvre. The films influence can be seen in the work of many directors from Quentin Tarantino to Hal Hartley. (both pay hommage to the dance sequence in their films, they are both also brilliant directors) Theres one thing that stands out for me every time in this film, Anna Karina's performance. She plays the part of Odile to perfection. A film well worth finding and once you get it your guarenteed to watch it over and over, 10 out of ten.
Bande à part [A Band of Outsiders] is an extraordinarily influential film, maybe even more so than Breathless. It's themes of a generation lost are still relevant today, and many scenes have been copied by numerous filmmakers. Quentin Tarantino, for one, regards this as one of his all time favorite films, and it's not hard to see why, the cafeteria and dance scene were heavily borrowed for Pulp Fiction. Anna Karina is one of the most gorgeous actresses of all time. 9.5/10.
I found this to be more of a film about film-making than a great piece of cinema in its own right. It started fairly slowly and was unlike anything that I'd seen before but at the same time it wasn't really going anywhere. I watched some of the extras with the DVD and I'm glad I did because it highlighted the camera work and score which is really all that I'd really picked up watching it. The dance scene was brilliant but aside from that I didn't really find much in the characters to hook me in. I understand from the extras that there was no script which I know isn't uncommon with other directors but it did play like that. There was some good interaction between the characters at times but overall the only real spark inside the film itself was the dance. More technical for me than anything else.
For anyone interested in the history of film, this is a must-see, in
the same way Birth Of A Nation or GWTW are must-sees; One can see the
brilliance D.W. Griffith brought to early cinema in his epic recreation
of his own Southern version of the American Civil War without admiring
the sketchy politics that lie at it's roots, without rooting for the Ku
Klux Klan to rescue Lillian Gish from the freed slaves. In the same
way, I give Godard's film a high historical rating although I
personally find the characters a drag, and their aimless lives less
Regardless of the brilliant avant-garde cinematic techniques that pepper the Band of Outsiders, one is also stuck with the characters, an aimless lot without a lot of talent, charm or magnetism, rootless folks who ignore others completely as long as they can run about and steal and make noise and act like unruly children. Late in life they have discovered they can be naughty--but without talent or insight or much else than self-indulgence, after a while watching them get's to be a drag. So you can run screaming through the Louvre and feel free and make noise and annoy the other patrons and guards? If you missed your adolescent years, it's a shame, but rootless behavior in and of itself doesn't create much of anything save a picture of self-indulgence.
One can appreciate the new vision of cinematography that frees the narrative from ancient strictures--but one also gets tired of a supposedly "free spirit," Arthur, setting up Odile for failure, using her body for his own instant gratification without any eye for consequences; simply put, he's a loser, and why do I want to spend two hours with him? I recognize Godard's contribution to the New Wave, but also find his characters tiresome in their attitudinal posing and aimless vapidity.
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