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throughout his work in the early to mid-sixties, jean luc godard rode the
nouvelle vague by employing and twisting the classic features of a
film genre. examples of this are his sci-fi (alphaville), and his
gangster film (breathless).
when examining les carabiniers, his take on the war movie, one must see godard's purpose in two parts; one, as an anti-war movie, and two, as an anti-war-movie movie.
that is, in addition to the visual social commentary which displays the standard horrific shots of dismemberment and destruction, godard uses the structural components of his film as a whole to mock films along the lines of 'private ryan'.
this means that he refuses to use the concept of war as something that will prove to provide the viewer with any degree of vicarious pleasure, whether that pleasure be derived from identification with a noble lead (which is surely why he has ulysses and michelangelo be such jackasses), beautiful glimmering visuals, (hence the low-caliber film stock), or enjoyable montage and pacing (akin to the conclusive lengthy postcard recounting).
to end this brief rebuff to those who compare this film to tomb raider, i will quote critic david steritt, who states that in les carabiniers, godard refuses to turn aggression into commodification.