Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Anna Karina
Written by: Jean-Luc Godard
Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Language: French, with English subtitles
Running Time: 110
Date: 08/29/1965

Pierrot le Fou (1965)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Blue in the Face

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

As with many other Godard films, I didn't like Pierrot le Fou the first time I saw it, but it stuck with me, and months later, I couldn't wait to see it again. Now I believe it's a masterpiece.

Pierrot le Fou stars Jean-Paul Belmondo (from Breathless) and Anna Karina (Godard's wife at the time and the star of his Vivre sa vie). It's a typical lovers-on-the-run story, but with lots of weird stuff thrown in. Ferdinand Griffon (Belmondo) leaves his bourgeoisie family and runs away with his babysitter and ex-girlfriend Marianne (Karina). It turns out that gangsters are already hunting Marianne. The couple begins a crime spree, which eventually strains their relationship. Ferdinand begins reading a lot, and Karina sings.

There's a sequence that comments on war. Characters break the fourth wall. Jean-Pierre LĂ©aud appears in a cameo. Samuel Fuller makes an appearance as himself, making his famous statement: "Film is like a battleground. Love. Hate. Action. Violence. Death. In one word... emotion." The movie ends when Ferdinand paints his face blue, wraps himself up in dynamite and blows himself to smithereens.

The Criterion Collection released the Blu-ray, but it has gone out of print following a rights issue. Studio Canal officially owns the rights, but their Blu-ray is outrageously expensive. Other editions are likewise out-of-print or very expensive. Only the digital download from iTunes is reasonably priced.

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