Les carabiniers


1h 20m 1968
Les carabiniers

Brief Synopsis

Two soldiers from an unnamed country are caught up in an absurd war.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Black Comedy
War
Foreign
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1968
Premiere Information
New York opening: 25 Apr 1968
Production Company
Cocinor; Laetitia Films; Les Films Marceau; Rome--Paris Films
Distribution Company
New Yorker Films; West End Films, Inc.
Country
France
Location
Paris, France
Screenplay Information
Based on the play I carabinieri by Benjamin Joppolo (adapted by Jacques Audiberti; Paris, 28 May 1958).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Synopsis

In response to a summons from the king of an unspecified country, two oafish brothers, Ulysses and Michelangelo, leave their ramshackle home to go off to war. The summons is delivered by two military policemen (carabiniers) who describe the joys of being soldiers in foreign countries and doing such splendid deeds as stealing juke boxes, breaking old men's eye glasses, setting fire to women, informing on people, and leaving restaurants without paying the bill. Once they have joined the war, the two men bumble their way from Egypt through Rostov to American, all the while merrily reporting by postcard to their women, Cleopatra and Venus, on the fine summer they are having. As Ulysses kills a Marxist revolutionary woman, Michelangelo cheers for more and Ulysses continues to shoot her dead body. Besides the usual horrors associated with war, the brothers see all the artistic treasures of man's civilization. The fighting continues for 3 years without a sign of peace; the brothers' enthusiasm begins to wane, and they discover that their letter from the king will not enable them to acquire the new sportscar they had been promised. Eventually, however, the brothers return home with a suitcase of picture postcards showing the treasures of the world. When the war ends, they are instructed to exchange the cards for the treasures as a reward for their service to the king. But after the peace treaty has been signed, Ulysses and Michelangelo are unable to collect their bounty; fighting has broken out in the streets, and the king has been deposed by a revolution. The two brothers are arrested and shot as war criminals. Their executioners are the same carabiniers who persuaded them to join the army.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Black Comedy
War
Foreign
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1968
Premiere Information
New York opening: 25 Apr 1968
Production Company
Cocinor; Laetitia Films; Les Films Marceau; Rome--Paris Films
Distribution Company
New Yorker Films; West End Films, Inc.
Country
France
Location
Paris, France
Screenplay Information
Based on the play I carabinieri by Benjamin Joppolo (adapted by Jacques Audiberti; Paris, 28 May 1958).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Articles

The Carabineers


Jean-Luc Godard's The Carabineers (Les Carabiniers, 1963) is the most rarely seen of his feature films from the early 1960s. Although the anti-war satire in The Carabineers is perfectly clear, Godard's aesthetic intentions were largely misunderstood and unappreciated at the time of its release. If anything, the film's acting style and extensive use of newsreel footage and handwritten text look forward to the director's formally and politically radical films of the late Sixties and Seventies.

The source material for The Carabineers is the 1945 play I Carabinieri by the Italian playwright Beniamino Joppolo (1906-1963). Banned in Italy, it was first performed in Paris and Vienna. In 1962 Roberto Rossellini staged the play for the opening night of the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, but he faced a hostile audience and complaints lodged by the actual Italian Carabinieri. Later, according to Rossellini biographer Tag Gallagher, Jean Gruault "recorded a tape of Roberto telling the play's story," and passed it on to Godard. Apparently this was the extent of Rossellini's actual involvement with Godard's film, though he did receive screen credit as a co-author for the script. Beniamino Joppolo's son Giovanni recalls that Joppolo and Godard met frequently in Paris to discuss the adaptation.

However, in an interview published in the December 1962 issue of Cahiers du cinéma, Godard claimed that the screenplay was written mainly by Rossellini, adding: "The scenario is so good that all I need to do is film it without worrying." He also declared that he wanted to shoot the film in 16mm and color since "shooting in 16mm matches the spirit of the film" and that "it will all be very realistic, but seen from a purely theatrical perspective, with war scenes, commando-style as in Fuller's films, and some newsreel footage." While Godard's ideas about the film no doubt evolved by the time shooting began, its rough and contrasting appearance belies the care that he and his cinematographer Raoul Coutard took to create its visual style. Godard later explained that Coutard shot the film with Kodak XX black-and-white negative, but used high contrast stock for the positive prints and even duped certain shots multiple times to increase the contrast and match the newsreel footage.

According to Godard scholar Colin MacCabe, The Carabineers sold fewer than 3,000 tickets during its initial Paris release, making it one of the greatest flops of that era. Critics also savaged it. Jean Rochereau of La Croix characterized it as "Scenes shot at random, edited any old how, stuffed with continuity errors." Robert Benayoun of France-Observateur wrote, "Godard wallows in his own mire by using overexposed photography." The reviewer for L'Express called it a "badly made, badly lit, badly everything film." In an article published in the August 1963 issue of Cahiers du cinéma, Godard dissected their arguments point by point, detailing the care with which he had constructed the film. Among other things, he claimed, the text of the letters written by the characters of Ulysses and Michel-Ange were "copied word for word from letters by soldiers in the siege of Stalingrad, from a letter by one of Napoleon's hussars in the Spanish campaign, and also from circulars by Himmler to his various chiefs of staff[.]" Godard perhaps summed up his intentions best when he wrote, "Having treated as an improvised farce something for which so many men have died, it seems to me that the film fulfills the basic requirements of decency."

Producer: Georges de Beauregard
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Screenplay: Jean-Luc Godard, Jean Gruault and Roberto Rossellini, adapted from the play I Carabinieri by Beniamino Joppolo
Photography: Raoul Coutard
Editing: Agnès Guillemot
Sound: Jacques Maumont
Production Design: Jean-Jacques Fabre
Music: Philippe Arthuys
Cast: Marino Masé (Ulysses); Patrice Moullet (Michel-Ange); Geneviève Galéa (Venus); Catherine Ribeiro (Cleopatre); Barbet Schroeder (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).
C-80m.

by James Steffen

The Carabineers

The Carabineers

Jean-Luc Godard's The Carabineers (Les Carabiniers, 1963) is the most rarely seen of his feature films from the early 1960s. Although the anti-war satire in The Carabineers is perfectly clear, Godard's aesthetic intentions were largely misunderstood and unappreciated at the time of its release. If anything, the film's acting style and extensive use of newsreel footage and handwritten text look forward to the director's formally and politically radical films of the late Sixties and Seventies. The source material for The Carabineers is the 1945 play I Carabinieri by the Italian playwright Beniamino Joppolo (1906-1963). Banned in Italy, it was first performed in Paris and Vienna. In 1962 Roberto Rossellini staged the play for the opening night of the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, but he faced a hostile audience and complaints lodged by the actual Italian Carabinieri. Later, according to Rossellini biographer Tag Gallagher, Jean Gruault "recorded a tape of Roberto telling the play's story," and passed it on to Godard. Apparently this was the extent of Rossellini's actual involvement with Godard's film, though he did receive screen credit as a co-author for the script. Beniamino Joppolo's son Giovanni recalls that Joppolo and Godard met frequently in Paris to discuss the adaptation. However, in an interview published in the December 1962 issue of Cahiers du cinéma, Godard claimed that the screenplay was written mainly by Rossellini, adding: "The scenario is so good that all I need to do is film it without worrying." He also declared that he wanted to shoot the film in 16mm and color since "shooting in 16mm matches the spirit of the film" and that "it will all be very realistic, but seen from a purely theatrical perspective, with war scenes, commando-style as in Fuller's films, and some newsreel footage." While Godard's ideas about the film no doubt evolved by the time shooting began, its rough and contrasting appearance belies the care that he and his cinematographer Raoul Coutard took to create its visual style. Godard later explained that Coutard shot the film with Kodak XX black-and-white negative, but used high contrast stock for the positive prints and even duped certain shots multiple times to increase the contrast and match the newsreel footage. According to Godard scholar Colin MacCabe, The Carabineers sold fewer than 3,000 tickets during its initial Paris release, making it one of the greatest flops of that era. Critics also savaged it. Jean Rochereau of La Croix characterized it as "Scenes shot at random, edited any old how, stuffed with continuity errors." Robert Benayoun of France-Observateur wrote, "Godard wallows in his own mire by using overexposed photography." The reviewer for L'Express called it a "badly made, badly lit, badly everything film." In an article published in the August 1963 issue of Cahiers du cinéma, Godard dissected their arguments point by point, detailing the care with which he had constructed the film. Among other things, he claimed, the text of the letters written by the characters of Ulysses and Michel-Ange were "copied word for word from letters by soldiers in the siege of Stalingrad, from a letter by one of Napoleon's hussars in the Spanish campaign, and also from circulars by Himmler to his various chiefs of staff[.]" Godard perhaps summed up his intentions best when he wrote, "Having treated as an improvised farce something for which so many men have died, it seems to me that the film fulfills the basic requirements of decency." Producer: Georges de Beauregard Director: Jean-Luc Godard Screenplay: Jean-Luc Godard, Jean Gruault and Roberto Rossellini, adapted from the play I Carabinieri by Beniamino Joppolo Photography: Raoul Coutard Editing: Agnès Guillemot Sound: Jacques Maumont Production Design: Jean-Jacques Fabre Music: Philippe Arthuys Cast: Marino Masé (Ulysses); Patrice Moullet (Michel-Ange); Geneviève Galéa (Venus); Catherine Ribeiro (Cleopatre); Barbet Schroeder (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). C-80m. by James Steffen

Les Carabiniers


Two naive peasants, Ulysses and Michel-Ange, are promised great riches if they will serve their country at war. Abandoning their wives, the duo become soldiers of the king, raping, murdering, and plundering in his name. They eventually return home as victors but discover a revolution has taken place in their absence and they are now branded as traitors.

Les Carabiniers is easily one of Godard's most challenging films, juxtaposing black farce with real newsreel footage of battlefield atrocities to comment on the absurdity of war. The unique visual style of the film, which is both a tribute to the silent films of Louis Lumiere and the grainy texture of early photographs, also emphasizes the director's strangely detached presentation of events. Certainly one of the more memorable scenes in the film is a montage in the style of Sergei Eisenstein that catalogues the many conquests of the two moronic riflemen, rendered as postcard images. Equally notable is the sequence where Michel-Ange, experiencing his first movie, tries to enter the screen.

Needless to say, Godard's film was savagely attacked by French critics and stirred up considerable controversy. One critic wrote, "As for the horrors of war, you will find them evoked here not only clumsily but with offensive crudity. Jean-Luc Godard has not hestitated to provide his film with an authentic counterpoint by including newsreels shot by war correspondents at the risk of their lives. Caricature does not become satire as he had hoped: our laughter freezes." Godard took all this criticism as high praise, however, and responded, "In dealing with war, I followed a very simple rule. I assumed I had to explain to children not only what war is, but what all wars have been from the barbarian invasions to Korea and Algeria."

Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Producer: Georges de Beauregard, Carlo Ponti
Screenplay: Jean-Luc Godard, Jean Gruault, Roberto Rossellini (based on the play "I Carabinieri" by Benjamino Joppolo)
Cinematography: Raoul Coutard
Editing: Agnes Guillemot, Lila Lakshmanan
Music: Philippe Arthuys
Principal Cast: Marino Mase (Ulysses), Albert Juross (Michel-Angel), Genevieve Galea (Venus), Catherine Ribero (Cleopatre).
In French with English subtitles
BW-77m.

by Jeff Stafford

Les Carabiniers

Two naive peasants, Ulysses and Michel-Ange, are promised great riches if they will serve their country at war. Abandoning their wives, the duo become soldiers of the king, raping, murdering, and plundering in his name. They eventually return home as victors but discover a revolution has taken place in their absence and they are now branded as traitors. Les Carabiniers is easily one of Godard's most challenging films, juxtaposing black farce with real newsreel footage of battlefield atrocities to comment on the absurdity of war. The unique visual style of the film, which is both a tribute to the silent films of Louis Lumiere and the grainy texture of early photographs, also emphasizes the director's strangely detached presentation of events. Certainly one of the more memorable scenes in the film is a montage in the style of Sergei Eisenstein that catalogues the many conquests of the two moronic riflemen, rendered as postcard images. Equally notable is the sequence where Michel-Ange, experiencing his first movie, tries to enter the screen. Needless to say, Godard's film was savagely attacked by French critics and stirred up considerable controversy. One critic wrote, "As for the horrors of war, you will find them evoked here not only clumsily but with offensive crudity. Jean-Luc Godard has not hestitated to provide his film with an authentic counterpoint by including newsreels shot by war correspondents at the risk of their lives. Caricature does not become satire as he had hoped: our laughter freezes." Godard took all this criticism as high praise, however, and responded, "In dealing with war, I followed a very simple rule. I assumed I had to explain to children not only what war is, but what all wars have been from the barbarian invasions to Korea and Algeria." Director: Jean-Luc Godard Producer: Georges de Beauregard, Carlo Ponti Screenplay: Jean-Luc Godard, Jean Gruault, Roberto Rossellini (based on the play "I Carabinieri" by Benjamino Joppolo) Cinematography: Raoul Coutard Editing: Agnes Guillemot, Lila Lakshmanan Music: Philippe Arthuys Principal Cast: Marino Mase (Ulysses), Albert Juross (Michel-Angel), Genevieve Galea (Venus), Catherine Ribero (Cleopatre). In French with English subtitles BW-77m. by Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Opened in Paris in May 1963 at 75 min.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States April 24, 1968

Released in United States Spring April 28, 1968

Limited re-release in United States June 22, 2018

Released in United States May 31, 1963

Released in United States October 1963

Released in United States September 27, 1967

Released in United States 2001

Shown at London Film Festival October 1963.

Shown at New York Film Festival September 27, 1967.

Shown at the National Film Theatre in London, England as part of a special two-month program dedicated to Jean-Luc Godard, June 1 - July 31, 2001.

Released in United States April 24, 1968

Released in United States Spring April 28, 1968

Released in United States October 1963 (Shown at London Film Festival October 1963.)

Based on the stage play "Carabinieri," written by Benjamino Joppolo.

Shot between December 1962-January 1963.

Released in United States 2001 (Shown at the National Film Theatre in London, England as part of a special two-month program dedicated to Jean-Luc Godard, June 1 - July 31, 2001.)

Released in United States May 31, 1963 (Premiered in Paris May 31, 1963.)

Released in United States September 27, 1967 (Shown at New York Film Festival September 27, 1967.)

Limited re-release in United States June 22, 2018 (New York)