One of Godard’s finest films, Pierrot le fou is a rich and strange elaboration on the couple-on-the-run formula so beloved by the director. Ferdinand (Jean-Paul Belmondo) and Marianne (Karina) are the last romantic couple’ who flee from Paris to the South of France before the inevitable betrayal. As with many Godard films, it works on a number of different levels: it’s a painting by Velasquez (says Godard); or the story of a bourgeois hubby eloping with the babysitter; or a gangster story (with Karina the moll and Belmondo the sucker). She was never more cautious about her love; he was never more drily self-aware; and the film agonises for two hours over a relationship that reflects the state of the Godard-Karina partnership at the time. France-Italy, 1965. English subtitles. Colour. Anamorphic. 110 min.
ANNA KARINAA special guest at this year’s CineFrance, Anna Karina is best known to lovers of French cinema for her work with Jean-Luc Godard in the 1960s, three examples of which will be shown in the festival. They were married for six years, and in many ways the films they made together appear to map out the paths they followed throughout their relationship, with Karina injecting emotion into the director’s intellectual framework. In films like Vivre sa vie, Alphaville and Pierrot le fou, Karina’s radiant self-sufficiency made for one of the most memorable portraits of a woman in French cinema of the ’60s. ‘Karina is always Anna, the ‘New Wave Bride’,’ wrote Roland-François Lack, ‘the model discovered, married and transformed into a star by Godard. He also made her an actress, and in each of their seven films elicited performances that were at once different and perfect.’
Born in Copenhagen, Karina had appeared in a couple of Danish shorts before she left home for Paris at the age of 17. She worked in commercials and as a model before meeting Godard. In fact, she turned down the female lead in À bout de souffle (Breathless) before taking up Godard’s second offer of a role in Le petit soldat in 1960. She also worked extensively for other directors during her time with Godard, and received great acclaim for her role in Jacques Rivette’s La Religieuse (1966). After the split with Godard, Karina appeared in a wide range of international films and tried her hand at directing with Vivre ensemble (Living Together) in 1973.