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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • French Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 2 Discs
FEATURES
  • New video interview with actor Anna Karina
  • A "Pierrot" Primer, a new video program with audio commentary by filmmaker Jean-Pierre Gorin
  • Godard, l'amour, la poťsie, a fifty-minute French documentary about director Jean-Luc Godard and his work and marriage with Karina
  • Archival interview excerpts with Godard, Karina, and actor Jean-Paul Belmondo
  • Theatrical trailer

Pierrot le fou


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Jean-Luc Godard
Starring: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Anna Karina, Samuel Fuller,
1965 | 110 Minutes | Licensor: Studio Canal

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #421 | Out of print
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: February 19, 2008
Review Date: September 15, 2009

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SYNOPSIS

Dissatisfied in marriage and life, Ferdinand (Jean-Paul Belmondo) takes to the road with the babysitter, his ex-lover Marianne Renoir (Anna Karina), and leaves the bourgeoisie behind. Yet this is no normal road trip: genius auteur Jean-Luc Godard's tenth feature in six years is a stylish mash-up of consumerist satire, politics, and comic-book aesthetics, as well as a violent, zigzag tale of, as Godard called them, "the last romantic couple." With blissful color imagery by cinematographer Raoul Coutard and Belmondo and Karina at their most animated, Pierrot le fou is one of the high points of the French new wave, and was Godard's last frolic before he moved ever further into radical cinema.

Forum members rate this film 8.4/10

 

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PICTURE

The Criterion Collection presents Jean-Luc Godardís Pierrot le fou in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 on the first dual-layer disc of this two-disc set. The image has been enhanced for widescreen televisions.

I had seen the film previously on a nasty Fox Lorber disc which I recall being a little jittery and mushy. I donít have that disc for a direct comparison but my memory of it is that it wasnít at all good while the Criterion edition has exceeded any expectations I had; it looks gorgeous. Iíd have to rank it up there with one of Criterionís more recent Godard releases, Made in U.S.A., which has one of the most striking DVD transfers Iíve come across lately. The image is crisp with excellent detail, colour saturation is perfect, all of the filmís primary colours are striking, and blacks look deep. There is some slight edge-enhancement and the red in the opening credit text looks a little blocky but otherwise the digital transfer is pretty much flawless.

The print is also near-perfect, only a stray hair appearing at the frame edge on occasion. In all it looks absolutely wonderful, one of Criterionís most impressive video transfers.

9/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The French 1.0 mono track is fine enough and about what I expected. Itís clean and free of noise, and dialogue is intelligible if a little flat. Music is loud but sounds a little harsh when it reaches its highs.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterion has devoted the entire first disc to the film while the supplements are all found on the second dual-layer disc, which is sort of overkill since there is less than two hours worth of material on here.

First up is a 15-minute interview with Anna Karina. In English she talks quickly about her various roles in Godardís films and then concentrates specifically on Pierrot le fou, her character Marianne, her working relationship with Godard on the film, and then anecdotes from the set, one of which involves Godard frustrated at the fact she couldnít knock the pins down in the bowling scene close to the end of the film. She then gets a little into the filmís reception. I like her interviews and this is another excellent one. I guess Iím always a little thrown that she speaks so fondly of Godard in her interviews since every other interview Iíve heard that mention the man present a man the individuals respect but who is, well, difficult, to put it nicely. But then Iím sure she knew him better than everyone else.

A Pierrot Primer is a sort of audio commentary/video essay featuring future Godard collaborator Jean-Pierre Gorin, who talks about the film and how it fits into Godardís body of work. It runs almost 36-minutes but only covers the first 14-15 minutes of the film as the feature constantly pauses the film or repeats certain sections. Covering the narrative set-up, various quotes, and even breaking down the opening credits itís an interesting feature though I think I would have appreciated a full commentary more. Plus I must admit that personally Iíve always had trouble with Gorinís English and subtitles would have been of help.

Belmondo in the Wind is a short 9-minute interview piece with Belmondo primarily, taken while Pierrot le fou was being filmed, getting the first interview with the man after heís just dodged a train. He talks primarily of his acting technique, not buying into the art of ďmethodĒ acting, and he even talks about his wife and the jealousy that can occur when he has to share certain scenes with lovely actresses. Godard and Karina also pop up to talk about him, Karina giving an ďuhÖ thanks?Ē sort of compliment to Belmondo by saying he ďisnít gorgeous, but not bad.Ē Short but worth the viewing, if also for some of the behind-the-scenes material present.

More interview footage is found under Venice Film Festival, 1965, running about 4-minutes. Here youíll find brief material with Godard and Karina, recorded separately. Itís actually fairly fluffy and not all that insightful with the two just talking briefly about the material presented in the film.

The big feature on here is the 53-minute documentary Godard, líamour, la poťsie which covers the working relationship between Godard and Karina. I was actually looking forward to this documentary but must admit I was a little disappointed in it. The film quickly covers Godardís early career and then moves on to his film work starting with Breathless. The documentary then steps through the films he did with Karina, touching on where their relationship was with each film, including Contempt, in which Karina does not appear. It then concludes with Pierrot le fou, though doesnít touch on Made in U.S.A.. Itís an okay documentary but it didnít really offer anything new. People completely unfamiliar with Godard and Karinaís working relationship would probably get more out of it. The only thing I really found nice about the documentary were archival audio interviews with Karina who talks about her relationship with Godard.

The supplements then conclude with a theatrical trailer.

The best part about this release is the booklet, which contains an excellent analytical essay on the film by Richard Brody, Andrew Sarrisí original 1969 review for the film, which is an excellent read, and a reprinting of a great interview with Godard, that takes up most of the 43-page booklet. Easily the best part of this release.

Theyíre a decent batch of supplements but not great in terms of quality. The booklet was easily my favourite aspect of the DVD, followed probably by the Karina and Belmondo interviews.

6/10

CLOSING

The supplements are okay, but the DVDís real selling point is the transfer, a sharp improvement over the previous Fox Lorber DVD. On that basis alone this edition comes with a high recommendation.


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