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Pierrot le fou(1965)
After abandoning his wife and infant daughter for the new babysitter, a woman he'd loved and lost several years earlier, an errant husband embarks on a haphazard road to tragedy.
For more about Pierrot le fou and the Pierrot le fou Blu-ray release, see Pierrot le fou Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on September 7, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Anna Karina, Dirk Sanders, Raymond Devos, Graziella Galvani, Roger Dutoit
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
» See full cast & crew
Pierrot le fou Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, September 7, 2009
Jean-Luc Godard's "Pierrot le fou" (1965) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The disc contains a high-definition transfer created on a Spirit Datacine from the original 35mm negative, and color corrected on a Specter Virtual Datacine, that has been personally approved by cinematographer Raoul Coutard. Amongst the special features on the disc are an interview with Anna Karina recorded exclusively for the Criterion collection, the documentary "A Pierrot primer", "Belmondo in the Wind", "Venice Film Festival, 1965", "Godard, L'amour, La poesie", as well as the original theatrical trailer for the film. Region-A "locked".
Do a quick search on Pierrot le fou to see what other critics think of Jean-Luc Godard's film and you would discover something very interesting - the overwhelming majority of them talk about what the film isn't. They insist - and I agree - that Pierrot le fou is neither a crime film nor a comedy. Then, many of them proceed to talk about what their initial reaction to the film was. I would like to break the status quo and attempt to describe what Pierrot le fou actually is. Hopefully, this wouldn't annoy those of you who already feel at ease with the Gallic director's body of work.
Pierrot le fou is an experimental film. It was apparently shot without a script, though director Godard was very particular about its dialog. The film does have a story, but as you would quickly notice once you start watching it, it is incredibly complex, to the point of being impossible to fully deconstruct.
The two main characters in Pierrot le fou are Ferdinand Griffon a.k.a "Pierrot" (Jean-Paul Belmondo, Le professionnel) and Marianne Renoir (Anna Karina, Vivre sa vie). We first meet them at a chic party of some sort where they bump into each other. By the end of the night, they are already running away from everything and everyone that they have ever known. We don't immediately understand why.
As the film progresses, we learn that Marianne and Pierrot are former lovers. We also learn that Marianne has killed a man. Again, we don't immediately understand why, but from what we are shown through flashbacks, we begin to suspect that she might have been involved with a group of arms traffickers. We assume that somewhere something went terribly wrong, and this is why she is now on the run with Pierrot.
Like a Dostoevsky novel, Pierrot le fou demands utmost concentration - there is a lot in the film that you would miss if you do not pay close attention. Take for example the middle section of Pierrot le fou, where Marianne and her lover stage a small play for a group of American tourists. Now, focus on the lines the two lovers utter - there is a very blunt political statement behind them.
Here's something else that is very interesting (and typical for other Godard films) - Marianne and Pierrot are well aware that you, the audience, are watching them. Halfway through Pierrot le fou, Marianne would look in director Godard's camera and, literally, "talk" to you.
Seen from a slightly different angle, Pierrot le fou can also be described as an experimental lesson by a former film critic (director Godard was once a critic for Cahiers du Cinéma). Again, though, you have to pay close attention to what is being said, when and where, in order to grasp the lesson. A proper knowledge in classical cinema, for example, could also be helpful in decoding Marianne and Pierrot's actions (many scenes in Pierrot le fou are clever replicas of familiar scenes from well known classic films).
Finally, Pierrot le fou isn't only a visual litmus test designed to measure your intellectual capabilities for thinking and reasoning, it is also a bold statement from a director announcing that he is abandoning the canons and principles of conventional cinema.
Note: Pierrot le fou premiered at the Venice International Film Festival in 1965 where it was nominated for Golden Lion. During the same year, it was also awarded the Sutherland Trophy at the British Film Institute Awards.
Pierrot le fou Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Jean-Luc Godard's Pierrot le fou arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
A lovely transfer approved by cinematographer Raoul Coutard! Contrast, detail and clarity are indeed very convincing. The color-scheme is also fabulous – reds, blues, greens, yellows, blacks and whites are lush and well saturated (take a look at the party shot from the first half of the film as well as the panoramic shots from the second half of the film). Additionally, neither edge-enhancement nor macroblocking plague the transfer. On the contrary, Pierrot le fou looks very fresh yet natural. There are no stability issues to report either. Dirt, scratches, debris, or stains are nowhere to be seen (many have been manually removed using MTI's DRS system and Pixel Farm's PFClean system). For the record, when blown through a digital projector, Pierrot le fou looks incredibly strong. All in all, this is fantastic upgrade over the existing SDVD release of the film that will certainly please even the most demanding amongst you.
Pierrot le fou Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: French LPCM 2.0 mono. For the record, Criterion have provided optional white English subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
The monaural soundtrack has been remastered at 24-bit from a 35mm optical track print. A number of pops, cracks and hissings have been removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle has been attenuated using AudioCube's integrated audio workstation. As a result, the French LPCM 2.0 track sounds as good as it probably could – there are no stability or balance issues to report whatsoever. Furthermore, the dialog is incredibly clean and easy to follow. Antoine Duhamel's superb music score sounds lovely as well. Indeed, I have absolutely no reservations with the audio treatment.
Pierrot le fou Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Anna Karina - in this interview, recorded for Criterion at the Brasserie Lipp in Paris 2007, celebrated actor Anna Karina recalls working with her former husband director Jean-Luc Godard and her role as Pierrot le fou's Marianne Renoir. (15 min, 1080i)
A Pierrot primer - this segment, with commentary by filmmaker and educator Jean-Pierre Gorin (Tout va bien, Letter to Jane, My Crazy Life), presents an introduction to Pierrot le fou. (36 min, 1080i).
Belmondo in the Wind - in the following excerpted program, Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina comment on Belmondo's role in Pierrot le fou and his easy desposition as an actor and collaborator. The interviews were recorded during the film's production by journalist Mario Beunat, for the television series Panorama, and originally aired on June 18, 1965. (10 min, 1080i).
Venice Film Festival, 1965 - Pierrot le fou premiered at the Venice Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Golden Lion award. During the event, Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina were interviewed by Maurice Seveno and Christian Durieux for a French TV news segment on the festival that originally aired on September 2, 1965. Excerpts from the segment are presented here. (4 min, 1080i).
Godard, L'amour, La poesie - a fifty-three minute documentary created by French filmmaker Luc Lagier in 2007, tracing Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina's marriage and films, from Le petit soldat through Pierrot le fou. The documentary also includes interviews with Karina and Godard collaborators Charles Bitsch, Raoul Coutard, Jean Douchet, and Jean-Paul Savignac. (53 min, 1080i).
Trailer - (2 min, 1080i).
Booklet - a 46-page illustrated booklet containing the following: "Self-portrait in a shattered lens" by Richard Brody (the author is an editor and writer at the New Yorker), "Sarris on Pierrot le fou" by Andrew Sarris (the review originally appeared in the Village Voice on January 23, 1969, on the occasion of Pierrot le fou's long-delayed New York release, and was later reprinted in the author's anthology of film writing, Confessions of a Cultist), "Let's Talk About Pierrot: An Interview with Jean-Luc Godard" (the interview was conducted by Jean-Louis Comolli, Michel Delahaye, Jean-Andre Fieschi, and Gerard Guegan, and appeared in the October 1965 issue of Cahiers du cinema, upon the film's release in France).
Pierrot le fou Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Jean-Luc Godard's Pierrot le fou looks and sounds fantastic. Once again, I cannot think of a single reason why you would not want to have this disc in your collections. At this point, my only advice to Criterion is - release more! Very Highly Recommended.
Pierrot le fou Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Pierrot le fou Criterion Blu-ray Going Out of Print - February 2, 2010
The Criterion Collection has sent an email to its customers informing them that "a large group of titles from StudioCanal" will be out of print at the end of March, and among them the Blu-ray of Jean-Luc Godard's Pierrot le fou, which will suffer the same fate ...
• Today on Blu-ray - September 22nd - September 22, 2009
Over the past decade, spoof films have become somewhat of a Hollywood sure-thing. If you're all out of unique idea, call up a Wayans brother and ask them to star in a spoof of the latest hot property (look for 'Vampire Movie' next summer – just kidding – I hope). ...
• Slight Delay for Three Criterion BDs (Update) - September 16, 2009
Retailers have been alerted that three upcoming Blu-ray titles from Criterion will delayed one or two weeks. 'Monsoon Wedding', initially announced for October 13, will street on October 20. In turn, 'Howards End' and 'Wings of Desire', previously slated for October ...
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