Jean-Luc Godard - Le Petit soldat (1960)

Posted By: FNB47
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Jean-Luc Godard - Le Petit soldat (1960)
728.6 MB | 1:24:17 | French with Eng.+Tur. s/t | XviD, 1030 Kb/s | 512x384

Set during the Algerian War, Le Petit Soldat follows Bruno Forestier, a disillusioned young deserter who becomes involved in the French nationalist movement. He is ordered to kill an Algerian sympathizer, and although he does not hold deep political beliefs, commits the murder and undergoes torture when captured. At the same time, he meets and falls in love with a woman (Anna Karina in her film debut) who he does not know is fighting for the other side. Godard's controversial follow-up to Breathless, Le Petit Soldat was originally banned from release in France because it refers to the use of torture on both sides, during Algeria's struggle for independence. (-DVD Back cover)

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During the Algerian war for independence from France, a young Frenchman living in Geneva who belongs to a right-wing terrorist group and a young woman who belongs to a left-wing terrorist group meet and fall in love. Complications ensue when the man is suspected by the members of his terrorist group of being a double agent. (http://imdb.com/title/tt0054177/plotsummary)

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Jean-Luc Godard

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It's somewhat of a pity that "Le Petit Soldat" is typically not seen as one of Godard's best films, just as it is a pity that both critical and popular reception have largely been lukewarm ever since its release. The French government in 1960 certainly didn't like it. They censured Godard because of the film's political ambivalence about the Algerian war for independence, as well as its depiction of torture, a technique that was accepted and used by both the Algerians and the French. As a result, "Le Petit Soldat" was not released until 1963. By that time, the war had been over and the political furor over the film had died down. (amazon.com - customer reviews)

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Stylistically, "Le Petit Soldat" picks up where "Breathless," Godard's first film, left off. The photography is stunningly beautiful (kudos to Godard's cinematographer, Raoul Coutard). The jump cuts are present, although they aren't as extreme as they are in "Breathless." There are also wonderful Godard trademarks: location shooting, as opposed to set pieces (Geneva is the background this time), a cinematic love affair with the automobile (all everyone seems to do in this film is drive), and numerous literary and cultural references. (amazon.com - customer reviews)

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In terms of its cinematic style, "Le Petit Soldat" is a triumph. It is also notable, on this account, because it is Anna Karina's first appearance in a Godard film. He hired her for her looks and then married her. Like his later films with her, though not to the same extent, "Soldat" is a study of Karina. She is beautifully lit, and the camera lingers on her in several key scenes. Fortunately for Godard, Karina also turned out to be a wonderful actress. (amazon.com - customer reviews)

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"Le Petit Soldat" simply follows Bruno as he is forced to assassinate a political enemy while, in the process, he meets and falls in love with Veronica (Karin's character). Aside from that, there isn't much plot; it is at the service of dialogue and images. Bruno's capture and torture are not easy to watch, even though there is no blood or grim violence; but that should not deter one from viewing or admiring this film. Godard, better than anyone, knew how to elevate the B-movie to art, and he does it with "Le Petit Soldat." Sure, the story doesn't cohere, but that's the entire point. And whether it does or not is, in a sense, beside the point; this film is worth seeing simply for its photography, for seeing Geneva in the early 60s, and for a fine example of Godard's early New Wave style. (amazon.com - customer reviews)

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