foto: uma cena do filme
MAIS SOBRE “PIERROT, LE FOU”
Quando saiu o DVD do filme de Godard, pode ler-se no The New York Times (26.02.2008):
«Jerzy Radziwilowicz and Isabelle Huppert in “Passion.”In the last couple of weeks DVD consumers have been treated to, if not exactly a flood of newly released films by Jean-Luc Godard, at least a quickened trickle. The Criterion Collection has issued a lushly appointed double-disc edition of “Pierrot le Fou,” a 1965 film that made its debut on the festival circuit at the height of Mr. Godard’s art-house popularity. Meanwhile, for $5 less than the Criterion release, Lionsgate offers four later Godard films, from 1982 to 1993, in “Jean-Luc Godard Box Set.”
Mr. Godard himself would probably be the first to wonder (in crisp, epigrammatic phrases) why a single film from the early part of his career should be worth more, at least to those crazy Late Capitalists, than four films from the later half (“Passion,” 1982; “Hélas Pour Moi,” 1993; “First Name: Carmen,” 1983; and “Detective,” 1985). “Pierrot le Fou” does feature Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina at their most glowingly movie-star beautiful, but the difference can’t be pinned on celebrity value alone. The Lionsgate box has, among others, Isabelle Huppert, Hanna Schygulla, Gerard Depardieu, Johnny Hallyday and Nathalie Baye. As it turns out, all five films have been leased from the French pay television channel Canal Plus, which has amassed one of the largest film libraries in Europe, so it isn’t a question of different vendors.
Rather, it seems to be a question of style — both in the sense of fashion and in how the films were made. “Pierrot le Fou” belongs to a period when, for Americans, seeing subtitled films was a mark of sophistication and urbanity, unlike today, when subtitles all but automatically banish a film to a few courageous independent theaters and the not-for-profit circuit of festivals and museums. Any reasonably well-read adult of the late 1960s would have been familiar with the accomplishments of the French New Wave.
But by 1994, when “Hélas Pour Moi” (here translated as “Oh, Woe Is Me”) played in New York at the Public Theater, only the most hard-core cinephiles would have been aware of it. The hip crowd that year was going to “Pulp Fiction,” an excellent movie but one unimaginable without the revolution in film form that Mr. Godard helped to bring about.
Today’s indie audience is often faulted for wanting to see only films that reflect its own demographic: that of young professionals, ages 18 to 34. But that was also true in 1965: “Pierrot le Fou” is about a disaffected television producer, Ferdinand (Mr. Belmondo), and an innocent, open-faced young woman (Ms. Karina) who may or may not be a gun runner for African revolutionaries. The two give up Paris and privilege for a bohemian life on the Côte d’Azur, essentially offering the same tale of romantic abandon that the movies have been thriving on for decades.
Mr. Godard identified his source as Fritz Lang’s 1937 “You Only Live Once.” It’s the same tradition that Robert Benton and David Newman were drawing on when they wrote “Bonnie and Clyde,” around the time “Pierrot” was released. Certainly, the famous “Bonnie and Clyde” tag line — “They’re young. They’re in love. They kill people.” — could have applied to “Pierrot” as well.
Seen today, particularly in the crystal-clear, brightly saturated print offered on the Criterion disc, “Pierrot le Fou” remains a great movie, masterly on a number of levels: the subtle abstraction supplied by the red, white and blue color scheme (the colors of the French flag, of course); the postmodern ease with which it mixes and matches genres, moving from shootouts to improvised musical numbers; its rich network of high and low cultural references, from Louis-Ferdinand Céline to children’s comic books; its theme of alienation from a lost, natural world and banishment to a universe of cheap consumer goods and advertising slogans.
But “Passion” (1982) in the Lionsgate set is no less great. The protagonist Jerzy (played by Jerzy Radziwilowicz, the star of Andrzej Wajda’s politically important 1977 “Man of Marble”) is making a film for French television. He finds himself in a small Swiss town, trapped in a studio where he is trying to recreate several old master paintings as live tableaus for TV.
“Pierrot le Fou” begins by citing Velázquez; “Passion” by citing Rembrandt. (Jerzy is staging “The Night Watch” using workers from a nearby factory as models.) The search is on again for the truth contained in (or concealed by) a classic image. And just as Ferdinand is caught between his wealthy Italian wife and his dangerously unmoored mistress, so does Jerzy hesitate between an affair with the smoky-voiced, unhappy hotel owner (played by Ms. Schygulla, Fassbinder’s muse) and one with the insurgent drill-press operator (Ms. Huppert, in a working-class role that seems meant to evoke her breakthrough in Claude Goretta’s Swiss film “The Lacemaker”).
Both Ferdinand and Jerzy long for escape, and they seem, with their unfailing moral rectitude and gift for high-brow one-liners, stand-ins for Mr. Godard. But there were some developments between 1965 and 1982: the rise and fall of radical chic in Western Europe; the emergence of Solidarity and the Soviet crackdown in Eastern Europe. Jerzy would never dream of drawing chalk portraits of Mao for the amusement of tourists (as Ferdinand does); with his country in crisis, Jerzy seems most inclined to join his Hungarian production manager (Laszlo Szabo) and high-tail it to Hollywood. During those 17 years business became politics, and politics business, leaving little room for the sensitive artist to maneuver. The romantic despair of “Pierrot le Fou” is gone, replaced by a sense of realpolitik and ideological compromise.
But there is a way out. The final shot of “Pierrot le Fou” is a pan across the blue-gray Mediterranean, the sea reflecting the white clouds suspended above it. The opening shot of “Passion” is of a jet trail in a clear blue sky, a line as hard and definite as the final image of “Pierrot” is soft and generalized. Mr. Godard, always a sneaky transcendentalist, is here suggesting the possibility of escape through art and abstraction into the universe of line and color, of light and its many gradations.
Artists are widely supposed to become more pessimistic and resigned as they grow older, but Mr. Godard has moved in the opposite direction: as he ages, his work becomes more playful and conceptual, more casual and even more frivolous (in “Detective,” perhaps even to a fault). “Passion” ends much as “Pierrot” begins, with a couple climbing into a stolen car and taking off for a distant land, consequences unknown.
But where the conclusion of “Pierrot” is closed and despairing, “Passion” ends on an encouraging note, its director waving from the sidelines as the characters set off for Poland on an open-ended adventure (one that, as we know in retrospect, will even have a happy ending). Today, we have a happier Jean-Luc Godard, but a much less commercial one. »