Pierrot le fou


1h 50m 1968
Pierrot le fou

Brief Synopsis

A bored middle-class man takes off on a crime spree with an ex-girlfriend.

Film Details

Also Known As
Il Bandito della 11, Le Démon de 11 heures
MPAA Rating
Genre
Romance
Drama
Adventure
Crime
Foreign
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1968
Premiere Information
Los Angeles showing: Nov 1968
Production Company
Dino De Laurentiis Cinematografica S.p.A.; Productions Georges de Beauregard; Rome Paris Films; S. N. C.
Distribution Company
Pathé Contemporary Films
Country
France
Location
Paris, France; Southern France
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Obsession by Lionel White (New York, 1962).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 50m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

French television director Ferdinand Griffon becomes bored by the pretentious chatter of people at a party given by his wife's wealthy parents and returns home alone. Upon finding that the babysitter for his two children is a former girl friend, Marianne Renoir, he leaves with her. The next morning, after a man is murdered in her flat, Ferdinand, whom Marianne insists on calling Pierrot, agrees to flee to the Riviera and search for her brother, a gunrunner. On an idyllic island, Ferdinand decides to take advantage of the serenity by writing; Marianne, however, soon becomes bored and once more involves him in violence. He receives a phone call from Marianne asking for help and arrives to find the body of a dwarfish gangster, stabbed with a pair of scissors, and two gangsters waiting to torture him to learn Marianne's whereabouts. After escaping, Ferdinand discovers that Marianne's brother is actually her lover. Following a double-cross in which he is involved in another murder, the disillusioned Ferdinand returns to the island and kills both lovers in a gun battle. Unable to reach his wife in Paris by telephone, he paints his face blue, ties dynamite around his head, and lights the fuse. Although he changes his mind, it is too late to snuff out the burning fuse.

Film Details

Also Known As
Il Bandito della 11, Le Démon de 11 heures
MPAA Rating
Genre
Romance
Drama
Adventure
Crime
Foreign
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1968
Premiere Information
Los Angeles showing: Nov 1968
Production Company
Dino De Laurentiis Cinematografica S.p.A.; Productions Georges de Beauregard; Rome Paris Films; S. N. C.
Distribution Company
Pathé Contemporary Films
Country
France
Location
Paris, France; Southern France
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Obsession by Lionel White (New York, 1962).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 50m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

Pierrot le Fou


Making a film that exemplifies the career, personality, and soul of the director usually comes late in a filmmaker's career. Alfred Hitchcock didn't make Vertigo (1958) until he had fewer than ten films to go until the end of his career. Jean-Luc Godard, on the other hand, somehow managed to do it only ten films in. The movie, Pierrot le Fou (1965), has been called Godard's most personal film or, as is probably more apt, his most self-referential. He quotes himself, and the movies, throughout and continued his road trip through the conventions of cinema, ignoring the sign posts and blasting through the stop lights.

The film begins with Ferdinand Griffon (Jean-Paul Belmondo), stuck in a loveless marriage and recently unemployed, forced into a dinner party with shallow society elites quoting product lines from commercials, like the kind Godard used to make, as if they're having meaningful conversation. The tinted colors of each individual scene jumps randomly from red to green to blue until Ferdinand enters into a dialogue, via willing party guest translator, with American director Sam Fuller. It seems the perfect time for Mr. Fuller to succinctly define cinema for everyone watching and he does so thusly:

"Film is like a battleground. There's love, hate, action, violence, death... in one word: emotion."

The joke here is that while this story and indeed every story Godard had done to that point, and perhaps even afterwards, contains every single one of those defining criteria, emotion itself is never something bubbling to the surface in any work by Godard. His insistence on abandoning cinematic technique must include abandoning sentimentality and, if necessary, the realistic eruption of emotion itself. One doesn't experience histrionic emotion in a Godard film, one experiences Godard blatantly portraying the cinematic artifice of emotion in almost every cut.

After talking with Mr. Fuller, Ferdinand leaves the party (but not before starting a food fight - a pie in the face - that never has more than a second to take hold), heads back home and finds his daughter's babysitter, Marianne Renoir (Anna Karina), asleep in the foyer. He offers to drive her home and the two of them discuss how they were once lovers. She nicknames him "Pierrot" and the two decide to run off together, living a life of spontaneity and adventure, or at least we can assume since Godard never once provides us with the usual cinematic clichés to guide us there. In fact, as the film jump cuts to Ferdinand waking up in her apartment, Marianne breaks into song, taking us into another genre entirely before we have even fully determined what genre we were supposed to be in in the first place. That's when we see the murdered corpse on the bed in the other room, a corpse that Marianne reacts to with utter indifference, which is to say she doesn't react to it at all. Ferdinand doesn't really either and the explanation for the body and the guns and munitions scattered around the apartment are neither forthcoming nor clear. Godard is showing us those Fullerian emotions - love, hate, action, violence, death - without connecting to them, or connecting them to the story, and thus to the audience, in any meaningful way.

When Ferdinand and Marianne go on the run they travel the world, and when Ferdinand, content by the seaside, decides he could settle down, Marianne wants to get back to the guns, the death, the violence. Godard probably wanted to do the same. Coming into his tenth feature with a bigger budget and a star, Jean-Paul Belmondo, acting as guarantor of the financing, Godard probably already felt himself stirring to move into another period, one that would remove him from the settled complacency of the unexpected status he now held as critical darling. In some ways, Pierrot le Fou feels like Godard's farewell to the Godard from Breathless (1960) up to then. A compilation of all those emotions that Godard never really felt in the first place and didn't trust anyone else had either. Exposing the artifice and rules of cinema in combination seemed to be an early goal and one that Pierrot le Fou helped fulfill.

After Pierrot le Fou, Godard had a few more successes, notably Weekend (1967), but moving away from even the most fundamental engagement with the rules of cinema, found himself increasingly ignored by the critical community that rushed to his beatification early on. It was easier to cheer on a director working against the tropes of cinema as long as we could all see him doing it. As the lines obscured, and Godard refused to even give us a basic framework from which to view his indifference to it, the audience left. The critics, for the most part, returned and late Godard has found an audience willing to experience the cinema as interpreted through his lens once again. But it was this film, Pierrot le Fou, that set all of it in motion. It was and is Godard, from beginning to end, both a personal statement and self-reflexive commentary, a slap in the face to convention, and a road map, in road trip form, that outlined the career of Godard even though that career was decades from its conclusion.

By Greg Ferrara
Pierrot Le Fou

Pierrot le Fou

Making a film that exemplifies the career, personality, and soul of the director usually comes late in a filmmaker's career. Alfred Hitchcock didn't make Vertigo (1958) until he had fewer than ten films to go until the end of his career. Jean-Luc Godard, on the other hand, somehow managed to do it only ten films in. The movie, Pierrot le Fou (1965), has been called Godard's most personal film or, as is probably more apt, his most self-referential. He quotes himself, and the movies, throughout and continued his road trip through the conventions of cinema, ignoring the sign posts and blasting through the stop lights. The film begins with Ferdinand Griffon (Jean-Paul Belmondo), stuck in a loveless marriage and recently unemployed, forced into a dinner party with shallow society elites quoting product lines from commercials, like the kind Godard used to make, as if they're having meaningful conversation. The tinted colors of each individual scene jumps randomly from red to green to blue until Ferdinand enters into a dialogue, via willing party guest translator, with American director Sam Fuller. It seems the perfect time for Mr. Fuller to succinctly define cinema for everyone watching and he does so thusly: "Film is like a battleground. There's love, hate, action, violence, death... in one word: emotion." The joke here is that while this story and indeed every story Godard had done to that point, and perhaps even afterwards, contains every single one of those defining criteria, emotion itself is never something bubbling to the surface in any work by Godard. His insistence on abandoning cinematic technique must include abandoning sentimentality and, if necessary, the realistic eruption of emotion itself. One doesn't experience histrionic emotion in a Godard film, one experiences Godard blatantly portraying the cinematic artifice of emotion in almost every cut. After talking with Mr. Fuller, Ferdinand leaves the party (but not before starting a food fight - a pie in the face - that never has more than a second to take hold), heads back home and finds his daughter's babysitter, Marianne Renoir (Anna Karina), asleep in the foyer. He offers to drive her home and the two of them discuss how they were once lovers. She nicknames him "Pierrot" and the two decide to run off together, living a life of spontaneity and adventure, or at least we can assume since Godard never once provides us with the usual cinematic clichés to guide us there. In fact, as the film jump cuts to Ferdinand waking up in her apartment, Marianne breaks into song, taking us into another genre entirely before we have even fully determined what genre we were supposed to be in in the first place. That's when we see the murdered corpse on the bed in the other room, a corpse that Marianne reacts to with utter indifference, which is to say she doesn't react to it at all. Ferdinand doesn't really either and the explanation for the body and the guns and munitions scattered around the apartment are neither forthcoming nor clear. Godard is showing us those Fullerian emotions - love, hate, action, violence, death - without connecting to them, or connecting them to the story, and thus to the audience, in any meaningful way. When Ferdinand and Marianne go on the run they travel the world, and when Ferdinand, content by the seaside, decides he could settle down, Marianne wants to get back to the guns, the death, the violence. Godard probably wanted to do the same. Coming into his tenth feature with a bigger budget and a star, Jean-Paul Belmondo, acting as guarantor of the financing, Godard probably already felt himself stirring to move into another period, one that would remove him from the settled complacency of the unexpected status he now held as critical darling. In some ways, Pierrot le Fou feels like Godard's farewell to the Godard from Breathless (1960) up to then. A compilation of all those emotions that Godard never really felt in the first place and didn't trust anyone else had either. Exposing the artifice and rules of cinema in combination seemed to be an early goal and one that Pierrot le Fou helped fulfill. After Pierrot le Fou, Godard had a few more successes, notably Weekend (1967), but moving away from even the most fundamental engagement with the rules of cinema, found himself increasingly ignored by the critical community that rushed to his beatification early on. It was easier to cheer on a director working against the tropes of cinema as long as we could all see him doing it. As the lines obscured, and Godard refused to even give us a basic framework from which to view his indifference to it, the audience left. The critics, for the most part, returned and late Godard has found an audience willing to experience the cinema as interpreted through his lens once again. But it was this film, Pierrot le Fou, that set all of it in motion. It was and is Godard, from beginning to end, both a personal statement and self-reflexive commentary, a slap in the face to convention, and a road map, in road trip form, that outlined the career of Godard even though that career was decades from its conclusion. By Greg Ferrara

Pierrot le Fou - Jean-Luc Godard's 1965 Masterpiece PIERROT LE FOU on DVD


Jean-Luc Godard, arguably the most important film director of the 1960s, began the decade with his feature debut Breathless, a scrappy, free-spirited, cinematically audacious take on the B-movie crime genre. By the end of the sixties, he had all but rejected commercial cinema for politically pointed commentaries and film essays like Sympathy For the Devil and Le Gai Savoir.

Smack in the middle of the genre goofing and cinematic game-playing of Godard's earlier sixties film and the consumer satire and cultural deconstructions of his late sixties films lies Pierrot le Fou. Not that there was some sudden turn in direction; Godard embraced both sides throughout and they blur in so many films of this era. But Pierrot feels like a perfect midpoint (whether or not you could even objectively measure such a thing) in the way that it bounces between the flippant play of moviemaking fun and the social commentary on the modern world.

Pierrot le Fou is a road movie, a crime fantasy, a cultural satire, a tale of consumerist alienation and bourgeois apathy, and a femme fatale noir in Technicolor and CinemaScope, shot in the bright sunlit canvas of broad daylight. Jean-Paul Belmondo, star of Breathless, plays Ferdinand, a former teacher pushed into an advertising career by a wealthy wife with high-society values: "You'll do as your told," she demands as they get ready for a party where she hopes he will be offered a job, and he bristles at the empty life he inhabits, escaping only through his books. Anna Karina, Godard's one-time muse and wife (their divorce became final before the shoot was over), is Marianne Renoir, niece of Ferdinand's brother-in-law and the family babysitter.

Oppressed by the banality of his existence, the alienated intellectual Ferdinand flees an empty bourgeois cocktail party (where the conversations read like advertising copy) and runs off with Marianne, who has taken to calling him 'Pierrot,' despite his insistent corrections. Their flight is also motivated in part by the dead body in her apartment (a place strewn with machine guns and other weapons) and armed men on Marianne's trail. Thus they begin a flaky, at times slapstick crime wave of petty thefts, interrupted by an extended second act diversion in a seaside Eden, a repast where their relationship problems simmer underneath the seemingly idyllic surface. She may be mixed up with gun smugglers and killers, but they're not exactly Bonnie and Clyde.

It was Godard's third and final film with Belmondo and his sixth with Karina. The two performers had worked together in Godard's A Woman is a Woman, but Godard had not originally intended to pair them up for this project. He described Lionel White's novel "Obsession," on which the script is loosely based (or perhaps "inspired by" is a better description), as a "Lolita-esque novel" and intended to cast a mature Richard Burton opposite the young Karina. "In the end the whole thing was changed by the casting of Anna and Belmondo," explained Godard in a 1965 interview. "I thought of You Only Live Once, and instead of the Lolita or La chienne kind of couple, I wanted to tell the story of the last romantic couple..."

By his own recollection, Godard was "completely panicked" as he tried to wrestle the new dramatic dynamic into the pre-existing script and shooting schedule. From the evidence on screen, he was already bored with the conventions of genre cinema as a structure. Where he once played at making crime movies and musicals and other genres with both a love of the form and a desire to deconstruct it onscreen, he seems to be going through the motions here. By the time the film drifts from its playful reverie at the seaside and back in the territory of crime and betrayal, it feels all the more like an put-on, a half-hearted fantasy of a corporate-culture misfit playing at criminal. Godard finds his story in between the beats, tossing in impromptu skit-like diversions (Ferdinand and Marianne recreate the war in Vietnam as a piece of street theater for American tourists) and cinematic games. And Godard's cheeky side is there as well, as heard in this throw-away line that could have come from Godard's early comic short films: "I'm glad I don't like spinach, because if I did then I would eat it, and I can't stand the stuff."

On the one hand, Pierrot is Godard's summation of his films up to that point, from Breathless (as when Belmondo watches Jean Seberg on the screen at a movie theater) to Le Petit Soldat (a torture scene that also resonates with recent history – Belmondo is essentially waterboarded) to Contempt (the car wreck tableaux that our runaway lovers use to fake their own deaths). He liberally references his favorite films and filmmakers (from Hitchcock to Nicholas Ray's Johnny Guitar) and he has Samuel Fuller deliver the film's most famous line: "Film is like a battleground. Love, hate, action, violence, death. In a word, emotion." "I wanted to say it for a long time," Godard explained in a 1965 interview. "But it was Fuller himself who found the word: emotion."

On the other hand, it looks forward to (among other films) the splashy color and advertising sloganeering and political debates of La Chinoise and the far more savage satire of bourgeois culture in Weekend, where Godard pushes he above mentioned car wreck tableaux to epic extremes. And in this film, Godard makes direct reference to Vietnam for the first time.

Like Contempt, which Godard made as his marriage to Karina was falling apart, Pierrot is a portrait of a failing relationship. Critics have described the story as an artist destroyed by a (double-crossing) woman and a reflection of the director's painful private life. But the reflection is hardly flattering to the so-called artist in the equation. Ferdinand holds literature as a high artistic ideal, but he himself does little more than pontificate on the novel he'd like to write ("James Joyce came close, but you can do better"). As he settles into a comic domestic fantasy of effortlessly living off the land and basking in the Mediterranean sun, he spend his days reading aloud from books and scribbling notes in his journal, never actually getting around to writing his great novel. He arrogantly criticizes her interests in popular music while he spends their money on more books, and never once bothers to ask whether this lazy inertia is adventure-junkie Marianne's idea of happiness. He's the complacent intellectual snob to the restless emotional youth of Marianne, the establishment to her rebellion. They belong together like peanut butter and pastrami.

The film was roundly booed when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 1965 and was a flop upon its 1966 release in Paris, though it was not without its champions. Michel Cournot proclaimed it "the most beautiful film I've seen in my life" after its Venice screening and Andrew Sarris, writing in 1969, called it "the kind of last film a director can make only once in his career."

Looking back from the present, Pierrot le Fou plays like Godard's formal farewell to his past films, a last play with his old toys before putting them into storage and moving on to more serious concerns. It's also his farewell to Karina, and perhaps his way of working out why they simply don't belong together. Marianne betrays her 'Pierrot,' just as Patricia betrayed Michel in Breathless, but there's no malice in the almost rote way the story plays out, and no emotion in the cavalcade of murder, torture and revenge that fills the final act. They're just going through the motions of a formal declaration of the end of a love affair, as defined by the cinematic conventions of the genre.

Criterion's new 2-disc DVD release delivers a beautiful transfer of the widescreen film, approved by cinematographer Raoul Coutard. The colors, from the liberal splashes of red paint that stand in for blood to the flashing neon of advertising signs to the shots of Renoir and Picasso canvasses edited through the film, burn through the screen. The second disc is highlighted by Luc Lagier's 53-minute docu-essay Godard, L'amour, la Poesie (Godard, Love, Poetry), a look at Godard's career from Breathless to Pierrot through the prism of the relationship of an artist and his muse, both on and off-screen. Lagier affectionately affects a Godardian style for the visual presentation and calls upon Godard collaborators for their recollections of their romance and marriage. Godard is, of course, nowhere to be seen but for a few publicity stills and other ephemera and Karina is heard from solely through audio interview clips from the "Karina Archive," but the disc also features a new 15-minute interview with Anna Karina (in English), where she generously discusses her life and films with Godard. "Of course there was no script," she recalls of the Pierrot shoot. "There never was a script. But every morning we'd get pages that we'd have to memorize quickly."

Former Godard collaborator Jean-Pierre Gorin offers commentary (also in English) on select scenes in the 36-minute A Pierrot Primer. Not exactly "scene specific commentary," it plays like an audio essay with a visual track and Gorin's finger on the pause button. Also includes a nine-minute excerpt from a 1965 French TV program where fluffy talk-show questions are lobbed at Jean-Paul Belmondo, Anna Karina and Godard on the set of Pierrot, four minutes of filmed interviews with Godard and Karina at the 1965 Venice Film Festival, the trailer, and a 48-page booklet with new and archival essays and a print interview with Godard from 1965.

For more information about Pierrot le Fou, visit The Criterion Collection. To order Pierrot le Fou, go to TCM Shopping.

by Sean Axmaker

Pierrot le Fou - Jean-Luc Godard's 1965 Masterpiece PIERROT LE FOU on DVD

Jean-Luc Godard, arguably the most important film director of the 1960s, began the decade with his feature debut Breathless, a scrappy, free-spirited, cinematically audacious take on the B-movie crime genre. By the end of the sixties, he had all but rejected commercial cinema for politically pointed commentaries and film essays like Sympathy For the Devil and Le Gai Savoir. Smack in the middle of the genre goofing and cinematic game-playing of Godard's earlier sixties film and the consumer satire and cultural deconstructions of his late sixties films lies Pierrot le Fou. Not that there was some sudden turn in direction; Godard embraced both sides throughout and they blur in so many films of this era. But Pierrot feels like a perfect midpoint (whether or not you could even objectively measure such a thing) in the way that it bounces between the flippant play of moviemaking fun and the social commentary on the modern world. Pierrot le Fou is a road movie, a crime fantasy, a cultural satire, a tale of consumerist alienation and bourgeois apathy, and a femme fatale noir in Technicolor and CinemaScope, shot in the bright sunlit canvas of broad daylight. Jean-Paul Belmondo, star of Breathless, plays Ferdinand, a former teacher pushed into an advertising career by a wealthy wife with high-society values: "You'll do as your told," she demands as they get ready for a party where she hopes he will be offered a job, and he bristles at the empty life he inhabits, escaping only through his books. Anna Karina, Godard's one-time muse and wife (their divorce became final before the shoot was over), is Marianne Renoir, niece of Ferdinand's brother-in-law and the family babysitter. Oppressed by the banality of his existence, the alienated intellectual Ferdinand flees an empty bourgeois cocktail party (where the conversations read like advertising copy) and runs off with Marianne, who has taken to calling him 'Pierrot,' despite his insistent corrections. Their flight is also motivated in part by the dead body in her apartment (a place strewn with machine guns and other weapons) and armed men on Marianne's trail. Thus they begin a flaky, at times slapstick crime wave of petty thefts, interrupted by an extended second act diversion in a seaside Eden, a repast where their relationship problems simmer underneath the seemingly idyllic surface. She may be mixed up with gun smugglers and killers, but they're not exactly Bonnie and Clyde. It was Godard's third and final film with Belmondo and his sixth with Karina. The two performers had worked together in Godard's A Woman is a Woman, but Godard had not originally intended to pair them up for this project. He described Lionel White's novel "Obsession," on which the script is loosely based (or perhaps "inspired by" is a better description), as a "Lolita-esque novel" and intended to cast a mature Richard Burton opposite the young Karina. "In the end the whole thing was changed by the casting of Anna and Belmondo," explained Godard in a 1965 interview. "I thought of You Only Live Once, and instead of the Lolita or La chienne kind of couple, I wanted to tell the story of the last romantic couple..." By his own recollection, Godard was "completely panicked" as he tried to wrestle the new dramatic dynamic into the pre-existing script and shooting schedule. From the evidence on screen, he was already bored with the conventions of genre cinema as a structure. Where he once played at making crime movies and musicals and other genres with both a love of the form and a desire to deconstruct it onscreen, he seems to be going through the motions here. By the time the film drifts from its playful reverie at the seaside and back in the territory of crime and betrayal, it feels all the more like an put-on, a half-hearted fantasy of a corporate-culture misfit playing at criminal. Godard finds his story in between the beats, tossing in impromptu skit-like diversions (Ferdinand and Marianne recreate the war in Vietnam as a piece of street theater for American tourists) and cinematic games. And Godard's cheeky side is there as well, as heard in this throw-away line that could have come from Godard's early comic short films: "I'm glad I don't like spinach, because if I did then I would eat it, and I can't stand the stuff." On the one hand, Pierrot is Godard's summation of his films up to that point, from Breathless (as when Belmondo watches Jean Seberg on the screen at a movie theater) to Le Petit Soldat (a torture scene that also resonates with recent history – Belmondo is essentially waterboarded) to Contempt (the car wreck tableaux that our runaway lovers use to fake their own deaths). He liberally references his favorite films and filmmakers (from Hitchcock to Nicholas Ray's Johnny Guitar) and he has Samuel Fuller deliver the film's most famous line: "Film is like a battleground. Love, hate, action, violence, death. In a word, emotion." "I wanted to say it for a long time," Godard explained in a 1965 interview. "But it was Fuller himself who found the word: emotion." On the other hand, it looks forward to (among other films) the splashy color and advertising sloganeering and political debates of La Chinoise and the far more savage satire of bourgeois culture in Weekend, where Godard pushes he above mentioned car wreck tableaux to epic extremes. And in this film, Godard makes direct reference to Vietnam for the first time. Like Contempt, which Godard made as his marriage to Karina was falling apart, Pierrot is a portrait of a failing relationship. Critics have described the story as an artist destroyed by a (double-crossing) woman and a reflection of the director's painful private life. But the reflection is hardly flattering to the so-called artist in the equation. Ferdinand holds literature as a high artistic ideal, but he himself does little more than pontificate on the novel he'd like to write ("James Joyce came close, but you can do better"). As he settles into a comic domestic fantasy of effortlessly living off the land and basking in the Mediterranean sun, he spend his days reading aloud from books and scribbling notes in his journal, never actually getting around to writing his great novel. He arrogantly criticizes her interests in popular music while he spends their money on more books, and never once bothers to ask whether this lazy inertia is adventure-junkie Marianne's idea of happiness. He's the complacent intellectual snob to the restless emotional youth of Marianne, the establishment to her rebellion. They belong together like peanut butter and pastrami. The film was roundly booed when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 1965 and was a flop upon its 1966 release in Paris, though it was not without its champions. Michel Cournot proclaimed it "the most beautiful film I've seen in my life" after its Venice screening and Andrew Sarris, writing in 1969, called it "the kind of last film a director can make only once in his career." Looking back from the present, Pierrot le Fou plays like Godard's formal farewell to his past films, a last play with his old toys before putting them into storage and moving on to more serious concerns. It's also his farewell to Karina, and perhaps his way of working out why they simply don't belong together. Marianne betrays her 'Pierrot,' just as Patricia betrayed Michel in Breathless, but there's no malice in the almost rote way the story plays out, and no emotion in the cavalcade of murder, torture and revenge that fills the final act. They're just going through the motions of a formal declaration of the end of a love affair, as defined by the cinematic conventions of the genre. Criterion's new 2-disc DVD release delivers a beautiful transfer of the widescreen film, approved by cinematographer Raoul Coutard. The colors, from the liberal splashes of red paint that stand in for blood to the flashing neon of advertising signs to the shots of Renoir and Picasso canvasses edited through the film, burn through the screen. The second disc is highlighted by Luc Lagier's 53-minute docu-essay Godard, L'amour, la Poesie (Godard, Love, Poetry), a look at Godard's career from Breathless to Pierrot through the prism of the relationship of an artist and his muse, both on and off-screen. Lagier affectionately affects a Godardian style for the visual presentation and calls upon Godard collaborators for their recollections of their romance and marriage. Godard is, of course, nowhere to be seen but for a few publicity stills and other ephemera and Karina is heard from solely through audio interview clips from the "Karina Archive," but the disc also features a new 15-minute interview with Anna Karina (in English), where she generously discusses her life and films with Godard. "Of course there was no script," she recalls of the Pierrot shoot. "There never was a script. But every morning we'd get pages that we'd have to memorize quickly." Former Godard collaborator Jean-Pierre Gorin offers commentary (also in English) on select scenes in the 36-minute A Pierrot Primer. Not exactly "scene specific commentary," it plays like an audio essay with a visual track and Gorin's finger on the pause button. Also includes a nine-minute excerpt from a 1965 French TV program where fluffy talk-show questions are lobbed at Jean-Paul Belmondo, Anna Karina and Godard on the set of Pierrot, four minutes of filmed interviews with Godard and Karina at the 1965 Venice Film Festival, the trailer, and a 48-page booklet with new and archival essays and a print interview with Godard from 1965. For more information about Pierrot le Fou, visit The Criterion Collection. To order Pierrot le Fou, go to TCM Shopping. by Sean Axmaker

Quotes

Look at the last page, there's a little poem about you. It's by me.
- Marianne
Tender ... and cruel... real ... and surreal... terrifying ... and funny nocturnal ... and diurnal usual ... and unusual handsome as anyone
- Ferdinard
Pierrot le Fou !!!
- Marianne
My name is Ferdinard. I have told you often enough. Christ almighty ! You bore me to death !
- Ferdinard

Trivia

Director Jean-Luc Godard allegedly shot the film without a script. See also A bout de souffle (1960).

Notes

Filmed on location in Paris and in southern France. Opened in Paris in November 1965 as Pierrot le fou; working title: Le démon de 11 heures; running time: 90 min; opened in Rome in February 1966 as Il bandito della 11; running time: 95 min.

Miscellaneous Notes

Limited re-release in United States December 18, 2015

Released in United States 2001

Released in United States August 29, 1965

Released in United States November 1965

Released in United States October 2006

Released in United States September 1996

Released in United States September 21, 1966

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1965

Re-released in United States August 10, 2007

Re-released in United States December 20, 1991

Re-released in United States October 6, 1989

Premiered at Venice Film Festival August 29, 1965.

Shown at London Film Festival November 1965.

Shown at New York Film Festival September 21, 1966.

Shown at Pusan International Film Festival (Special Program - Contemporary French Auteurs) October 12-20, 2006.

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.

Restored print re-released in Los Angeles August 10, 2007.

Jean-Pierre Leaud has a bit role in the film.

Re-released in London July 27, 1990.

Re-released in Paris June 19, 1991.

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.)

Re-released in United States August 10, 2007 (Los Angeles)

Released in United States August 29, 1965 (Premiered at Venice Film Festival August 29, 1965.)

Released in United States September 1996 (Shown in New York City (Anthology Film Archives) as part of program "Best of the Indies" September 5-15, 1996.)

Released in United States September 21, 1966 (Shown at New York Film Festival September 21, 1966.)

Released in United States October 2006 (Shown at Pusan International Film Festival (Special Program - Contemporary French Auteurs) October 12-20, 2006.)

Re-released in United States October 6, 1989 (New York City)

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1965

Limited re-release in United States December 18, 2015

Released in United States November 1965 (Shown at London Film Festival November 1965.)

Re-released in United States December 20, 1991 (Film Forum 2; New York City)

Techniscope