albemuth | 08/29/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this film some 8 years ago in a revival theatre along with most of Godard's early classics. As a part of his body of work, Les Carabiniers fits in snugly, but I would most emphatically recommend NOT to start your Godard spree with it. The film appears messy, with inconsistent pacing, strange comic interludes, baffling dialogue and pointed (but rarely obvious) commentary about the nature of war. Godard utilizes some action scenes (taking cues from Sam Fuller) and plays with the conventions of Hollywood cinema with obvious delight. Much of this is true of all his films up to WEEKEND. But at the heart of this small film there is an anger that would only resurface years later - probably due to the fact that this film was pulled from the market soon after its release (thanks to public indifference and critical vehemence, both of which are understandable reactions if you expect your standard fare from a film such as this). It is invigoratingly different, energetic to a fault, and of course pure Godard. It doesn't have (m)any familiar faces in it, and the sloppy approach with eccentric acting only enhances the narrow line between innocence and cruelty that the film repeatedly touches on. Very much worth a look, but be cautious in your expectations."
Godard's Treatise on War is difficult, but enlightening
C.B. Derrick | From the 2.20 Aspect Ratio | 01/14/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Godard made his 5th feature with the goal of infuriating the viewers, he succeeds on one level. But on another level, he made a masterstroke film that condemns war and inanities of blind patriotism. But employing a fictional setting and war, Godard is able to get at the heart of the matter more quickly than most anti-war films, because he doens't have to "waste time" setting the scene of the battle - whether it's D-Day, the Battle of the Bulge or Back to Baatan - those operations have to be faithfully re-created and, I guess, in Godard's mind cloud the real issues that are mined in an anti-war film.Shot in 16mm to accecentuate the war correspondant feel of the picture, Godard employs he unique, trade-mark sound editing to most effective results and creates a world that takes to task the materialist cultures of the west that fight wars in order to ensure continued monied-existences for the citizenry.The DVD transfer is remarkably clean, considering the elements and the style that Godard wanted. It probably looks better that even Godard intended. A worthy purchase those looking for a strident, fresh examination of that unqiuely human enterprise - war."
Audacious anti-war film...
Edmonson | Canada | 08/07/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Les Carabiniers" (1963) is a film directed by Jean-Luc godard. This black and white film is about two men who go to war and are given free license to do as they please, but when they return they realize they had been lied to by the recruiters about what they could hope for as a reward for their services. Like in any Godard film there is a cheeky quality about his film making style as he comments on serious issues like Imperialism, monarchies and war, and people's stupidity. The film itself has a look to it of a silent film with the use of written segments screened as the soldiers write home, and a general sort of naive playfulness and spontaneity and fragmented quality that is accompanied with the use of brash organ music on the soundtrack. The film itself has been digitally remastered and evidently looks even better than it did when it first came out. This is Godard at his audacious best though it might not be to everyone's taste given its playfulness with style and lack of dramatic storytelling and compelling characters."
Attracted By Anarchy
Chris Roberts | Astoria, NY | 05/05/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"To me Godard is much more of a thinker as opposed to a filmmaker or a storyteller. That could be considered to be an insult, if you'd like, but the overwhelming power of his intellect easily outshines his cinematic skills. Here he screams about the evils of war and imperialism that by the end nearly turn into a cry for Communism. At the conclusion of the film our two protagonists, Ulysses and Michelangelo, share the wealth they have procured throughout their time in the military with their girlfriends. Much to the chagrin of the ladies all they produce are a heaping pile of pictures of all the wondrous things to be found in this world. The point being that your riches lie in the world riches, and as a regretful capitalist I am very sympathetic to the idea. A more interesting idea for me was the way that war actually cultured these Neanderthals. Sure it resulted in mass murders in the name of a power hungry king, but what is more important the lives of those individuals or a more educated, albeit smaller, society?
The film follows a very simple outline; idiotic peasants go off to fight in a war they know nothing about because the King's cronies promise them Carte Blanche to burn towns and break the arms of children. They are supported by their girlfriends because they see this as an opportunity to improve upon their physical beauty (in their minds their studs would pillage towns and obtain beautiful clothes for them). So off they go, following their reptilian brains and holding tight to their letters from the king which they believe to be their free pass to do whatever they please. And let us not pretend, please, that our current society is any better. These two fools in this film were won over by a generic letter from the king; here in the US many of our troops were won over by grandiose speeches by Bush calling them into action to fight evil doers and terrorists. And in both cases that power ran amok. Godard shows his men slaughtering innocents and attempting to buy a Maserati with the letter, in the real world we were left with the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. Both are cases of a society promising an individual more power than they can actually grant and then shaking their collective head when the miscommunication actually has consequences. Kill the bad people just don't humiliate them and take pictures of it. Well why not?
The film ultimately didn't work for me for a number of reasons, though it is not one of Godard's bigger disasters. I found it heavy handed that he would have us believe that Michelangelo was so stupid that he would fall through a movie screen trying to fondle the starlet. Also, the endless listing of photographs at the end went on way too long. Sure the point is that the world is filled to capacity with amazing objects, manmade and otherwise, but it really got to a point where he was beating a dead horse. At one point Ulysses and Michelangelo come across a female soldier who is trying to kill them. She starts quoting Lenin and is quickly thereafter shot. . .more for boring her audience than for dropping profound truths on them. Sadly I feel a connection to that scene because as I felt intellectually enriched by watching this film I was also bored and thus have to resist the urge to recommend it. **3/4