An iconographic and text archive related to communication, technology and art.

2008 - 2021

Pierrot le fou by Jean-Luc Godard, 1965, around 01:39:00. YouTube link.

The man telling the funny story is the famous Belgian-French humorist Raymond Devos (Wikipedia).
From the american magazine Cineaste:

Pierrot le fou also offers numerous moments of comedy, some of them due to the outrageousness of Godard’s filmmaking, others actual routines—Laurel and Hardy at a gas station, silent-film comedy as Ferdinand steals a Ford Galaxy off of a pneumatic lift at another gas station, and a piece of totally off-the-wall U.S.-vs.-Vietnam street theater are but three examples. But the most outrageous comic shtick of all is the appearance of the late Raymond Devos, a manic standup comedian who would have been well known to French audiences of 1965. Just as the film begins to move ineluctably toward its tragic climax, Ferdinand, just before he jumps on a small boat (brightly painted in red, green, and blue) in pursuit of Marianne and Fred to an island where the latter has a villa, runs across Devos, who performs, to an invisible piano playing Meredith Wilson’s “‘Til There was You,” a comic routine based around the words “Est-ce que vous m’aimez?” (Do you love me?), which paradoxically mirror Ferdinand’s anguish. Imagine, if you will, in the film Double Indemnity Fred MacMurray on his way to murder Barbara Stanwyck. Imagine that, just before he reaches the front door of Stanwyck’s bungalow, he comes across Jack Benny, sitting on the front lawn, who promptly proceeds to stop the filmic action dead cold for some three-and-a-half minutes as he performs one of his routines. That is the equivalent of what you have in Pierrot le fou, which offers here one of the cinema’s supreme moments of surreal, absurdist irony. (“Pierrot le fou” by Royal Brown, Cineaste, vol. 33, no. 3, summer 2008).

The best way to discover Pierrot le fou (aside from a 35 mm presentation) is by watching the high-definition restored version produced by The Criterion Collection in 2008. At Criterion’s website, one can also enjoy an essay by film critic Richard Brody (he’s a staff writer for The New Yorker and author of Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard, 2008). Excerpt:

Pierrot le fou was booed when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 1965, but in Le nouvel observateur the influential critic Michel Cournot wrote, “I feel no embarrassment declaring that Pierrot le fou is the most beautiful film I’ve seen in my life,” and when it opened in France at the end of the year, he virtually wrote in tongues to praise it. In Les lettres françaises, the novelist and poet Louis Aragon waxed dithyrambic in a front-page rave (“There is one thing of which I am sure . . . : art today is Jean-Luc Godard”); these and other critics recognized and mentioned the film’s intense and intimate personal significance.

Cover design for the The Criterion collection edition (2008) of Pierrot le fou by Jean-Luc Godard, 1965
Cover design for the The Criterion collection edition (2008) of Pierrot le fou by Jean-Luc Godard, 1965 (image retrieved from DVDTown.com)

[UPDATE – October 9, 2011] The cover was created by Vancouver based graphic designer Steve Chow. Check his official website for other Criterion covers featuring Jean-Luc Godard’s film, along with poster created for the Pacific Cinematheque (Flash is required). Finally, Criterion’s blog just published a short interview with the designer.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
10 Shares

Subscribe to our newsletter

This newsletter serves one purpose only: it sends a single email notification whenever a new post is published on aphelis.net, never more than once a day. Upon subscribing, you will receive a confirmation email (if you don’t, check your spam folder). You can unsubscribe at any time.