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Crime Story and Musical, Melodrama and Grotesque Comedy
"Film is like a battleground", tells Samuel Fuller Ferdinand in the beginning of this film: "Love, hate, action, violence, death. In one word: emotion." 'Pierrot le fou' is a 110 minutes film by Godard and his tenth feature. It's roughly based on a crime novel written by Lionel White. Tho, don't expect a linear adaptation. In fact, Godard and his actors mostly improvised and therefore deliver a dodgy 'surrealeperiment'.
The plot summary therefore must be given a little superficially: It's about a wannabe writer, Ferdinand Griffon (Belmondo) who escapes his every day life and runs off with his mistress Marianne (Karina) to the Mediterranean Sea. Far away from his family, he lives for the moment, reads books and tries to work on a diary. Meanwhile, the police and Algerian killers are chasing Marianne because she has committed a murder.
Godard assembles philosophical texts with shots of posters and screens, sets in musical elements and achieves to encode his film in a very inspiring way. Sometimes the imagery is fair and beautiful (i. e. Belmondo and Karina are running along a silhouette like forest which is photographed in front of a white, flat background), sometimes odious and angry (i. e. Belmondo finds an Algerian murdered with scissors and he keeps on raking in the wound), sometimes stirringly artistic (i. e. Karina takes the murder instrument, the scissors holds it in front of a wide-angle-lens and creates an unbelievably coherent effect of distortion).
Those who take the film with a living mind will experience a fascinating, beautifully filmed love story with two protagonists who do everything within the power of their tremendous acting potential. Concerning the contents, it is a cinematic toying with the duality of the characters (Ferdinand and Pierrot or Ferdinand or Marianne) or rather with schizophrenia. Belmondo plays a mad crackpot who first has a pretty martialistic based life as a husband and father whose world view staggers because of upcoming converse feelings - personated by Karina. She, married with Godard at that time, plays the character Marianne with wit, depth and anarchic charme. Her role is the symbolic enlightenment in Ferdinands being. While he strives melancholically for wisdom and always throbs on the importance of the arts, Marianne is a lackadaisical playgirl and swinger who wants to be instead of having. Belmondo as Ferdinand shows in all of his agility a vulnerability that hides behind the same gruffness of 'Une femme est une femme'.
'Pierrot le fou' is a film that dines from various influences, having some sort of private, economic, cultural or political natures. More than every other 'auteur' Godard manifests himself once more as the chronologist of his time.
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