Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Le Petit Soldat (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)

Jean-Luc Godard avoided his sophomore slump by getting his second feature banned from being released. The film revolves around the young French spy, Bruno (Michel Subor), who refuses to carry out an assassination on a professor linked to aiding Algerians terrorists. The controversy occurs an hour into the feature when Bruno is caught by Algerians who use torture obtain information from Bruno. These same terror tactics are used by the French, but off screen. Bruno never takes a political stance accept disillusionment of both sides.

Besides the controversy, the film is historically important because it co-stars Anna Karina, who makes her Godard debut. Anna Karina is a total babe, but her Veronica character isn't as innocent as her appearance.

An hour into the film Bruno is put through some graphic torture that gives the picture some much needed excitement.

This time around Godard utilizes the impulsive and improvisational excitement of "Breathless", but he is much more conservative with the narrative and aesthetic anarchy. In fact, Le Petit Soldat is never self reflexive except for a monologue delivered by Bruno directed at the camera. This film shares more with Godard's late 60s early 70s political documentaries or anti-narratives, then with his or any other film of the French New Wave movement. (**out*****)