Saturday, April 15, 2006

La Petit Soldat

Jean-Luc Godard's second film. I had previously seen his first (Breathless) and his most recent (Notre Musique). Le Petit Soldat (The Little Soldier) shares elements with both. The French Algerian war is central to the complicated plot. The film was actually banned in France for 3 years until the war was mostly over. I'm not at all original in noting the similarities between that war and the mess we're in now. Godard takes a good look at torture in this film. Anna Karina is stunning. There's a Pell Mell tune named after her (which you may recognize due to its popularity as a music bed on MTV or NPR, for example). I love Godard's writing. I feel like watching his films with a pen and pad handy. Lots of art and politics. I notice that Godard often shows his characters reading. I love that too. Of course, the acting is great. The cinematography and editing share much with the loose, improvisational breakthrough that was "Breathless," but maybe just a little more focused.

Another film about Algeria is "The Battle of Algiers." It was shown at the Pentagon sometime near the beginning of the current war. The film has a wikipedia entry where you can read about that. The flyer for the Pentagon showing read:
How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas. Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range. Women plant bombs in cafes. Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar? The French have a plan. It succeeds tactically, but fails strategically. To understand why, come to a rare showing of this film.


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