Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pierrot Le Fou

I know that I should look beyond Godard’s relationship with Anna Karina in discussing Pierrot Le Fou. But he makes it difficult. He has her singing, “I never told you I'd love you all my life. Oh my love, you never swore to adore me all your life. We never made promises like that, knowing me knowing you. We never thought we ever would be caught by love fickle as we were. . .” to Ferdinand, who she keeps calling Pierrot. Also, Godard has her look at the camera saying something like “I’ll never leave you.” I will admit that I do not know the particulars of their relationship but somehow I feel like this film is a thinly disguised punishment for a love gone wrong rather than “the story of the last romantic couple.” Who is getting punished? I could easily claim Karina as the victim especially in one sequence where she repeated says “I don’t know what to do. What am I to do?” This suggests that Godard feels that Karina cannot do without him directing her even though she has worked with other directors during their marriage. But I could easily claim Godard as being masochistic watching his ex-wife playing Ferdinand for a fool for love. Godard should have known better yet he just could not see it in reality. But he could see the decline of their love on film.

Aside from that, I found the little play Ferdinand and Marianne put on for the Americans funny. Not only does it mock Americans for their attitude towards Vietnam but I also think that Godard was making fun of yellowface that American films had employed in the past when depicting Asian characters with Caucasian actors. Despite having an all-Asian American cast in The Flower Drum Song, yellowface still existed in American cinema such as Mickey Rooney’s character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s released in the same year. However, if I was to award the worst case of yellowface, I would give it to Katherine Hepburn in Dragon Seed (1944). At least Marianne’s version was meant to be a joke. I do not know if French cinema has the same history with the depiction of Asian characters, but I still enjoyed the fact that Godard called attention to it.

But in the end this film is still about Godard and Karina.

No comments: