Pierrot le Fou (1965) – An Unorthodox Work of Art

I’ll not be able to describe, I mean, compose a word when talking about Jean-Luc Godard’s works. I don’t know, there is something I just don’t know how to explain but it’s hard. In contrast to Andrei Tarkovsky, Ingmar Bergman, or even Stanley Kubrick, seeing a film as part of a full-fledged art and essence isn’t difficult for me. However, talking about “Pierrot le Fou” isn’t just a film that changes 90 degrees of film and art. Yet, is it true that a painting or film made by an artist can be drawn again? Or are we just always looking for what are the flaws in the painting? Do we always criticize everything?

I watched “Breathless” last night. Thinking when the film appeared in 1960, “Breathless” changed an art movement and the film created something new, fresh, fun, stylish, and full of layers. It’s a movie that is rich in innovation, thematic, nature, subjects, apart from being technically prosperous. Godard’s works aren’t as memorable as watching a movie in general. However, Godard tried to paint the film using a brush without having to rely on material that you don’t have. Just camera as your brush and make a movie in the middle of the road. Let people see them, like a breeze that goes unmarked.

I heard Jean-Luc Godard from my friends and advised me to watch his films. Even though he tried to explain it to me and I didn’t understand a single word, I was interested in watching one of his films. “Pierrot le Fou” is one of the fascinating works but at the same time so frustrating and mind-bending. I say mind-bending in the sense that it is difficult to understand what the director wants to say, not because of its mind-bending story. Perhaps, we always forget Godard as just a film director because a lot of people think all of his films are ugly, pretentious, non-sense, etc.

But, is it like that? Are Godard films just art, not as films and don’t have a close influence on filmmaking? “Pierrot le Fou” is a new era for Godard himself, an era for him to be able to destroy and change the film rules. In his world and era, Godard has his color, has his ideology (especially politics), and creates his own culture so that it has a big impact on pop culture. This movie has essential that films, at the time, didn’t have. Maybe some directors, one of them, Orson Welles, also has his world. But, at the same time, Godard’s universe is more colorful and more pop.

Godard’s work always has something that breaks what the film was at that time. He isn’t afraid of taking all the consequences and this is the reason why people always consider his works to be ugly and childish. “Pierrot le Fou” also doesn’t seem to be included in the specific genre. It’s like watching one movie but with more than one story. It blends thrillers, noise, music, comedy, romance, politics, drama, action, and many more. It’s a work that has a straight narrative, like Ferdinand’s story as bored with his life and living freely by doing everything in his way.

“Pierrot le Fou” is a 1965 movie. In Godard’s universe, anything can happen. His mastery of brush in Hollywood seems like not only a film about gangsters from its synopsis. Jean-Paul Belmondo’s Ferdinand, after being bored with his life and leaving his wife, is free to travel with his girlfriend, Anna Karina. After finding it that Karina’s Marianne had just killed a man, they went around stealing cars, going to an island, singing, recreated the Vietnamese war to interest Americans, etc.

Godard’s world is wide. There is a purpose of why disorientation arises between the director and the audience. His trademark always uses rapid jump-cut, out of sync sounds, loud noises with the out of place transitions between scenes, beautiful colors, and interchanges tones between stories. Just like reading a book, but you don’t start from the first page or chapter, this movie feels like that. In Godard’s world, space, sight, sound, color, and movement lies between the screen. It’s more concerned with a representation of what happens than just the characters explaining what is happening.

Godard’s world isn’t too concerned with what is in the script, especially what this film would tell about. That is the reason one of them is also why a lot of audiences cannot stand his films. It’s not about the gangsters trying to find or kill Marianne but what it comes next doesn’t lead to the next part. Godard love to use a new technique. If you don’t understand, “style over substance” might be the right sentence to describe it. Godard also refused his films to be “written” and “explained”.

“Pierrot le Fou” trying to break a form, formula, and trying to create a new movement. The film is heartache and you can feel every emotion to just watch one of the movies that you like. Whether it’s hatred, sadness, tension, happiness, and others. It’s a form of expression, how movies can make you think and feel sympathy about the characters or feel impressed about the style and effort. This is true with all films whether it’s a bad movie or a good movie. Come to think of it, we always appreciate how bad or good a film is. Whether you give it a scathing criticism or mixed opinion, we always praising such works. That’s why I love cinema because you don’t have to think about what the director or writer thinks of.

Indeed, all I have to write about is how Godard and “Pierrot le Fou” created free space, to each other, for us. And I also don’t even know what I just composed, wrote, thought, and talked about. But yeah, do I just try to think of intelligence that this is a masterpiece? Did I just make it complex but in reality, this is a bad movie? I just don’t know what else Godard’s exploration of our world is so weird. “Pierrot le Fou” is true of Godard’s work.

5 out of 5 stars.

Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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