Friday, March 30, 2012

#592. Band of Outsiders (1964)

Directed By: Jean-Luc Godard

Starring: Anna Karina, Claude Brasseur,Danièle Girard

Trivia:  The voice-over narrations in the film were provided by director Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard was one of the founding members of the French New Wave, a cinematic revolution that began in the late 1950s when a group of movie critics, tired of the cookie-cutter mentality of contemporary French films, put down their pens and picked up a movie camera. Perhaps the most vocal member of the New Wave movement, Godard’s best works have a refreshing breeziness about them, as well as a raw edge that's really quite engaging.

Two friends, Franz (Sami Frey) and Arthur (Claude Brasseur), spend their days wandering aimlessly through the streets of Paris in search of some excitement. They soon find what they’re looking for when they attend an English language class, where they meet the beautiful and bubbly Odile (Anna Karina). Before long, Odile becomes their constant companion, and naively lets it slip that a gentleman in the building where she lives has a large stash of money hidden in his room. Though Franz and Arthur are both in love with Odile, it doesn’t stop them from trying to steal this money, thus putting Odile firmly in the middle of a serious situation.

In making Band of Outsiders, Godard took the approach that nothing was off-limits, and no rules existed to restrict his vision of what the film should be (a basic philosophy of the New Wave in general, but especially prevalent in Godard's output). Not much in Band of Outsiders can be categorized as cinema in the traditional sense; it is alive, always moving forward, with both a beating heart and a soul. Franz and Arthur re-enact the gunfight between Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid in the middle of a Paris street, and in one of the film’s most memorable sequences, the three companions make a mad dash through the halls of the Louvre museum, hoping to set a record for the shortest visit in the art house’s illustrious history. For the story at hand...a theft and a betrayal of confidence...these scenes mean very little. But for the notion that movies are a living entity which promote, by their very nature, freedom of expression, such asides are positively vital.

In displaying a talent for understanding the autonomy of film, Godard has managed, over the years, to make his own contribution to the art, and Band of Outsiders is the cinema in its most liberated form.

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