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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 May 21, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 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, May 21, 2010
Jean-Luc Godard's "Pierrot le fou" (1965) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Optimum Home Entertainment. The supplemental features on the disc include a short introduction by Colin Maccabe; an audio commentary by French writer and film critic Jean-Bernard Pouy; the documentary feature "Godard, Love and Poetry"; the original French theatrical trailer for the film; German TV ad; and posters. The disc also arrives with a 20-page illustrated booklet. In French, with optional English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Japanese, Norwegian, and Swedish subtitles. Region A/B "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 an 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 British distributors Optimum Home Entertainment. Please note that in addition to English the main menu could be set in one of the following languages: Danish, German, Spanish, French, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese, Finnish, Swedish, and Japanese.
The following text appears before the film begins:
"This film was restored by Studio Canal and Cinematheque Francaise with the support of the Franco-American Cultural Fund. Pierrot le fou was shot in Techniscope on Eastmancolor emulsion. Techniscope was often used at the time, notably for reasons of economy, because the image only took up two perforations per photogramme. The dupe-positive, also printed Techniscope, is lost. As for the negative, it had become unusable and was destroyed in 1990. A new internegative element was made on reversible film stock, with an anamorphic image on four frames, which is still used to make prints today. However, this element doesn't reflect the qualities of the original work, particularly in terms of the colormetrics. The restoration resides entirely in the making of a new negative from the digitisation in 2K of the camera negative, which has the original colors of Eastmancolor. As for the sound, the original magnetic elements disappeared, a new negative was made from a positive of the period, respecting the original mono format."
As most of you who are interested in this film probably know by now, the transfer Criterion used for their Blu-ray release of Pierrot le fou in the United States was approved by cinematographer Raoul Coutard. The transfer used for this Blu-ray release, which as I understand is the same transfer French distributors Studio Canal have provided to different distributors throughout Europe (Kinowelt Home Entertainment in Germany, Optimum Home Entertainment in the UK, etc), isn't.
There are key scenes in the film that reveal entirely different color-schemes. On the Criterion release the party scene where Pierrot meets the American producer is entirely in green; on the Optimum Home Entertainment's release, this scene lacks the heavy green tint. Additionally, the reds and blues are slightly stronger here, while grays appear more prominent on the Criterion release.
Generally speaking, fine object detail and clarity are very good. Contrast levels are also convincing. Edge-enhancement and macroblocking are not a serious issue of concern either. I did notice, however, a couple of scenes where some extremely mild halo effects were present. Blown through a digital projector, this high-definition transfer looks just as solid as Criterion's. Finally, I did not detect any disturbing scratches, debris, cuts, or splices to report in this review. All in all, even though the restored transfer for this Blu-ray release of Pierrot le fou does not have cinematographer Raoul Coutard's stamp of approval, and, obviously, there are some color discrepancies with the one he approved for Criterion's release, I still think that it looks very strong. (Note: This Blu-ray disc is coded for Regions A and B. Therefore, you must have a native Region A or B, or Region-Free, PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Pierrot le fou Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are four audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, and German DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, Optimum Home Entertainment have provided optional English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Japanese, Norwegian, and Swedish subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they split the image frame and the black bar bellow it.
The French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 is solid. The dialog is clean, stable and very easy to follow. There are no balance issues with Antoine Duhamel's music score either. I also did not detect any disturbing pops, cracks, or heavy hissings to report in this review. All in all, I think that the audio treatment is as good as it could possibly be.
Pierrot le fou Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Note: All of the supplemental features on this disc are perfectly playable on Region-A PS3s and SAs.
Presentation by Colin Maccabe - a lovely introduction to Pierrot le fou by Godard expert Colin Maccabe, who discusses the message of the film, its characters, Godard dissatisfaction with American politics, etc. In English, with optional French, German, Dutch, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish. (4 min, 480/60i).
Godard, Love and Poetry - 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. In French, with optional English, Dutch, German, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish subtitles. (53 min, 480/60i).
Film Analysis by Jean-Bernard Pouy - a terrific audio commentary/deconstruction of Pierrot le fou and Godard's body of work. In French, with imposed English subtitles.
Trailer - the original French theatrical trailer for the film. In French, with optional English subtitles. (2 min, 480/60i).
German TV ad - In German, with optional English subtitles. (4 min, 480/60i).
Posters - five posters for the film; from Belgium, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Spain.
BD Live Functionality -
Booklet- a 20-page booklet containing an essay by Roland-Francois Lack. (The author is Senior Lecturer in French and Film at University College London. He is currently preparing Reading with Jean-Luc Godard, an edited volume on Godard and his books).
Pierrot le fou Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
This is a strong entry into the Studio Canal Collection. Though the transfer is not identical to the one cinematographer Raoul Coutard approved for Criterion's release of Pierrot le fou, I still like it a lot. I also like the supplemental features found on this disc, and especially the audio commentary by Jean-Bernard Pouy. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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