Highlights and quotes from Jean-Luc Godard’s “Pierrot le fou”

Jean-Luc Godard once quipped, “My aesthetic is that of a sniper on the roof.”

I am huge fan of Godard’s work. Many of his films embody the ideal combination of aesthetic experimentation, language, politics, character development, and drama.

Although I am not a romance movie aficionado, I recently returned to his 1965 film Pierrot le fou, for the first time in several years, and must admit I had forgotten how brilliant it is. It is easily one of Godard’s more under-appreciated works. It exhibits a great balance of experimentation with the cinematic medium, poetry, politics, Brechtian distanciation, humor, and conventional storytelling.

There are a great many amazing scenes in the film, yet these are some of my favorite highlights and quotes, in order of appearance:

(WARNING — SPOILER ALERT)

love scene

(Marianne) I’ve decided never to fall in love again.
It’s a disgusting habit!

 

spinach scene

(Pierrot) It’s a good thing I don’t like spinach, because if I did, I’d eat it, and I can’t stand the stuff.

 

words scene

Eyes: human landscapes…
Mouth: onomatopoeia that ends up as language.
Ruins beget the language of poetry.
The writer chooses to appeal… freedom of others.
Ruins beget the language of poetry.

 

tourist scene

(Pierrot) If we’re going to leave here, we’ll need money.
(Marianne) There are lots of tourists from the mainland. We can rob them. Come on, Pierrot.
(Pierrot) My name’s Ferdinand.

 

vietnam scene - combined

(Marianne) Damn, Americans!
(Pierrot) That’s ok, we’ll change our politics.
We can put on a play. Maybe they’ll give us some dollars.
(Marianne) What play?
(Pierrot) I don’t know. Something they’ll like.
(Marianne) I’ve got it! The Vietnam War!
Hurray for Kennedy!

(In this scene, Godard is taking an obvious jab at US imperialism and its genocidal war in Vietnam. The chalk picture Pierrot and Marianne are making at the beginning of the scene has a picture of a Chinese communist with the words “Vive Mao!”)

 

shooting scene

(Marianne) It’s easy for a girl to kill a lot of people.
There’s no reason why soft breasts and thighs should keep her from killing everybody, to stay free or defend herself!

 

obviously scene

(Pierrot) Obviously.
(Marianne) Obviously… Words are funny… They say the opposite of what they mean. We say “obviously” when things aren’t obvious at all.

 

dynamite scene