Phrixos Le Fou Critique Essay

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1 Betil Alara Akcan 21262456 Pierrot Le Fou & Chungking Express
 Pierrot Le Fou is one of the important French New Wave films, directed by JeanLuc Codard in 1966. From it’s style, story-telling, and mis-en-scene it is impossible not to notice that it is a French New Wave film. The film is about a man and a woman, travelling to the South of France from Paris, while making a crime spree everywhere they go. “Pierrot le fou is an extraordinary experience that tells the romantic story of a failed TV writer who decides to run off and leave his boring family and society friends with his children’s babysitter, who are both played by the two most iconic faces of the French New Wave; Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina. The two of them decide to go on a cross-country road trip towards the Mediterranean Sea, because the woman claims to hold several underworld connections. The two rob, kill and steal to get where they are going and even though this could have easily been predictable formulaic outlaw road film, Godard makes it his own with a collage of B-movie thriller conventions, social satire, political commentary, and beautiful primary colours” (Matthew, 2015). 
 French New Wave is famous with it’s bizarre story-telling; jump cuts, interesting dialogs, endings without a meaning, the films of this form always try to make the audience question what they are watching and what they should think of while 2 questioning their life and what they are feeling. The common thing in French New Wave film’s are that they are out of touch with reality, but also connected in a way, mostly with human feelings. All these films try to show the little things in life, feelings, relationships rather than focusing on the big world problems, politics, etc. In this wave, every director has its own characteristic in their films. When it is watched, it can be felt and seen who directed the film because the aspects in the films are very distinct. Pierrot le fou is one of Jean-Luc Godard’s important films from the French New Wave period. “Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot le fou is a road movie, but one which the characters move, not through any physical geography, but across the well-traveled terrain of Godard’s own cinematic corpus, revisiting key themes and familiar scenarios from the nine feature films that Godard made in the five years preceding Pierrot Le Fou. The film’s pivotal placement at a turning point in Godard’s career - after his most successful Nouvelle Vague hits but still before his increasingly radical Maoist period - makes it particularly ripe for analysis in terms of Godard’s filmography as a whole. It features two of Godard’s finest actors and his most iconic figures, Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina, the latter appearing in her penultimate role in a Godard film. Godard is also revisiting one of his key concerns from his pre-Maoist period, namely the nature of romance and the adversarial relationships that society sets up between man and woman” (Howard, 2008). One of French New Wave’s biggest feature is that showing the young adults’ life, relationships, romance, love, passion, hatred, etc. Although, it shows these feelings in a surreal way, the dialogs have a feeling but it is out of touch with reality, not the dialogs people would use in their ordinary life. For example in a scene in Pierrot Le Fou, Anna Karina’s character is screaming while walking on the beach, telling “What am i to do? I don’t know what to do. 3 What am i to do?” in a rhythmic and unrealistic way, and then the man asks; “Why do you look so sad?” and the woman answers; “Because you talk to me with words, and i look at you with feelings.” Then the man says it is impossible to make a conversation with her because she does not have any ideas, she just has feelings. She replies that feelings contain ideas, than the man suggests that both of them will say what they like and what they want to have a serious conversation. The woman answers; “flowers, animals, the noise of music, and.. everything”, then the man says “Ambition, hope, the motion of things, accidents and.. everything.” The woman replies saying that she was right 5 years ago; they never understand each other, and continues walking on the beach while yelling “What am i to do? I don’t know what to do.” repeatedly. This dialog has a lot of meanings in a sentimental way, but it is not a usual dialog human would do in their ordinary life. It has an affect on the audience, they can feel and relate to this scene, even though it is surrealistic. The summary of this dialog is the man is looking to the world without feelings, but with ideas, rather than the woman who is looking it with feelings. Rather than making a dialog and saying this openly, they used dialogs and make the audience feel and understand this secretly, mysterious and unconventional way, which makes the audience think about the scene, the dialog and how they feel about it. This film is full of with dialogs like this. Everything they say is not relatable, not connected to the thing they said before, but also relatable when it is heard with feelings. 
 In French New Wave, they mostly use outdoor locations, nature, people, streets, etc, just like in Pierrot le fou. Most of the scenes in Pierrot le fou were outdoor scenes. Beach, port, streets, travelling in a car, and so on. In this wave, they try 4 to show the beauty of nature, the colours, people because it helps to show the emotions with these mis-en-scenes. One of the interesting and significant thing about the visuals in this particular film is that the emphasis of the colours, vivid colours were used throughout the movie. Blue and red combination appeared in every scene. For example, in the beach scene which was analysed in the previous paragraph, the woman had a red dress, the man had a shirt which had blue and red stripes on it, the sea was blue in the back, and he had a blue bird on his lap. In every scene the significant colours were red and blue. 
 One of the interesting and surrealistic aspects of this movie is that involving the audience into the film. Characters talk with the audience in some scenes, or they make an eye connect with the camera, which implies they are looking at the audience. It feels like the characters know that they are watched by the audience. 
 Pierrot le fou is a confusing, jumpy, very ‘Godard’, surreal film and the story is uniquely told. The film progress really quick and random, not usual when it is looked at other films, which makes the plot twists way more significant. The characters and their feelings are the main structure of the film. It is telling a romance, but not a boring, conventional romance. It is more adventurous than a romance, more than discovery than a relationship. And every scene, the randomness, mysterious and bizarreness of French New Wave period can be seen and felt. 
 Chungking Express is a Japanese film directed by the cult Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar Wai in 1995. Apart from the other Japanese films, like Jackie Chan and John Woo styled films, Chungking Express has a ‘Godardian’ effect. It is not an 5 action film like most of the Japanese films would do but it is an adventurous, mysterious romance film, very influenced by the French New Wave period. “Chungking Express is deeply influenced by the work of the French New Wave, particularly Jean-Luc Godard, for whom the Coca-Cola logo is a symbol of American cultural imperialism (something he abhorred) but also of American popular culture (something he had a much more complicated, love-hate relationship with), so the symbolism is fascinatingly ambivalent” (Murray, 2013). “Through much like Quentin Tarantino, another self-confessed Godard disciple, Wong is more a pleasure-seeker than a provocateur, and his way of breaking down and reconfiguring narrative style is about creating more sensual, intuitive experience for the viewer. Chungking Express has the movie-crazy, referential quality of a New Wave film, and a similar refusal to access its characters’ feelings in a conventional way, but the New Wave is more of a springboard into his own unique sensibility, with its rhythms, repetitions, and quirky assortment of songs and objects that he embeds with meaning. The politics are there in the backdrop - the face of Hong Kong on the cusp of a major transition - but they inform the action rather than impose upon it; he seems more interested in beauty, and the amassment of smaller, more personal moments out of time” (Murray, 2013). 
 The dialogs in Chungking Express are just as bizarre as the dialogs in Pierrot le fou. For example in the beginning scene of Chungking Express; it starts with a man sitting in a bar, telling himself that he will fall in love with the first girl who walks in to the bar. A girl walks in, and the man tells himself that he will ask her a question, she might like him. He goes to the woman and asks; “Do you like pineapple?” but the woman does not answer. He tries in different languages but 6 the woman keeps her silence, but at the end they start talking. The man is keep trying to get to know her but the answers she gives to the man are mysterious and absurd. At the end of the scene, where two of them are laying in a bed, she tells herself “Actually, really knowing someone does not mean anything. People change. A person may like pineapple today, and something else tomorrow.” Symbolisation is really significant in this film, pineapple, the same song ‘California dreaming’, Noodle jars, salad and so on. And all these objects are repetitive, and presenting an incident, or a feeling. The woman in the beginning scene is particularly interesting; wearing sunglasses in the night, silent, and mysterious. 
 Even though both of the films are from different countries, and in different periods of time (Pierrot le fou - 1966, Chungking Express - 1995), it can be seen that Chungking Express is very influenced by the French New Wave period. Both of these films are about human feelings, relationships and ordinary everyday life. Both of these film are bizarre, the dialogs are absurd but contains feelings that it is impossible not to understand what they are implying. Both of these films end with an open ending, leaving the audience with questions and making them feel weird about the ending. In both of these films the editing is jumpy. Also locations; Pierrot le fou starts in Paris, and moves to South France, but in non of these locations we see spectacular things about these places. We see ordinary streets, not significant places that it will tell us where they are. Just as Chungking Express; they are in Hong Kong, but we just see a Kebab shop, crowded streets and limit- 
 ed locations. But the feelings both of these movies contain are hard to resist. 
 7 References
 Matthew, (July 31, 2015) Classic Art Films,
 Ed Howard, (May 28, 2008) Seul Le Cinema,
 Noel Murray, (October 15, 2013) The Dissolve, http://


- Это не ребро или палец, как в церквях Галиции. Вам и в самом деле стоило бы задержаться и посмотреть. - Может быть, я так и сделаю. - Mala suerte, - вздохнул лейтенант.  - Не судьба.

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