Monday, December 20, 2010

Self-referentiality, Postmodernism + Pierrot le fou

From the start of Pierrot le fou, we see Godard referencing himself, not only with prior works, but also in works he had yet to make. Per Morrey, "ultimately, the film threatens to create a closed circuit of self-referentiality," with the suggestion that the film is a postmodernist one, even before the term was invented. Further, Ferdinand could be described in the terms of Frederic Jameson's "compensatory decorative exhilaration," as he has lost the ability to distinguish truth from fiction, or important issues from trivial ones - becoming most clear at the end of the film, but constant throughout. The self-referentiality, the characterization of Ferdinand (as well as, to some extent, Marianne), and the fourth wall break all fit into the definition of postmodernism, and it's interesting to see such an early example. On an unrelated note, it's also one of my very favorite Godard films. 

Here are just a few examples of Godard referencing his earlier works:
+ choice of stars - Jean Paul Belmondo + Anna Karina - Une femme est une femme
+ playful, romantic domestic scene in Marianne's apartment - À bout de souffle
+ repeated car theft - À bout de souffle
+ musical sequencesUne femme est une femme
+ repeated use of Alfa Romeo - Le Mépris
+ coastal scenery, especially at the end of the film - Le Mépris
+ use of "pickups" - Vivre sa vie
+ escape under the cover of night in an American car - Alphaville

And a few examples of Godard referencing content that will appear in his later works:
+ advertising copy + product placement - 2 ou 3 choses que je said d'elle
+ Vietnam and Mao references - La Chinoise
+ a couple wandering through the countryside after stealing and wrecking cars - Week-end
+ elaborately staged wrecked cars - Week-end and One plus one

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