When discussing Godard it seems that the general opinion is that his earlier films are light entertainment, while his later films really had something to say.
Band of Outsiders is one of my favorite of Godard’s films (Pierrot le fou barely beating it). I find it strange when this film is called light, because personally I find it very disturbing. I feel like the film is not about three people planning a robbery and getting into shenanigans before and after, but really about the manipulation of Karina’s character, Odile.
Odile is so innocent, and painfully naive, and the two other men take such advantage of her, I find it difficult to watch at times. All of the “fun” moments (the dance, running through the Louvre) are there to represent Odile’s childlike persona.
The film gets very dark towards the end, but this can be forgotten due to its playful ending. I feel like this is only there because the whole thing was just a childlike fantasy for Odile.
Does anyone else see the film the way I do? Does anyone appreciate the film as much as I do?
It is certainly much lighter than something like 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her or Weekend or Histoire(s) du cinema. Perhaps the comparison is relative?
Sadly I have only seen Week End out of those three, but while Band of Outsiders is less political than Week End, I do not think it is lighter.
I’ll be seeing the other two within the next month, so maybe I shouldn’t be comparative until then.
However I stick by my thoughts that this film is not light entertainment.
Band of Outsiders was my first Godard film and I saw it I believe around the beginning of the year. It didn’t make much of an impression on me and is actually one of my least favorite of his films. I didn’t find anything wrong with it, but I just didn’t love it that much.
I think it’s Godard’s most melancholic film of the 1960s. He and Karina had completely hit the skids at that point, and the sadness of the cold, chilly, wet black and white images is palpable Nothing lite about it.
I think it is lighter. Weekend is a contemplation about a large social problem, not politics. Band of Outsiders might be a dark character study, but it does not have the intellectual weight of Weekend, for sure.
But I think there is room in this cinematic world for dark character studies and intellectual contemplation about large social problems!
A film isn’t light just because it focuses on character over ideas.
Well, I think that’s what people mean by lightness.
Do you think its successful at what it tries to do?
I much prefer Weekend, 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her and Histoire(s) du cinema because they are densely packed with ideas and I go to cinema to find ideas. Nevertheless, all of Godard’s films are driven by ideas including Bande a part, with the ideas you mentioned. I think rather than a fantasy for Odile though, the film is a melancholic and brooding take on the 60s and the social environment then. Also, it does comment on cinema with its characters attempting to emulate gangster characters but being halted by the harsh realities of life.
I don’t mean her fantasy, but just fantasy as in it was just “make believe”.
I know you prefer the others, but if I’m not mistaken you do like the film, right? I’d like to hear from someone who dislikes it.
Kurt! Explain your low ranking, sir!
This was my first Godard film and it effectively kept me away from him for a year.
Care to say why?
Because it struck me as the sort of deconstruction that only takes layers away rather than adding them.
Band of Outsiders is Godards first character movie, before hand his ‘characters’ were mere archetypal figures, here in lies the problem. Whilst I agree with Drew that the film captures Odile’s (note: named after Godard’s mother, no less) fall from complacency into reality rather vigorously captivating. I can’t help but see behind this facade at the fact that these characters are not developed to the measure that the plot demands from them. Godard would notify this in his own way, by including character biographies (written by himself) to be sent to theaters with the reel.
There are parts of Band of Outsiders which sometimes suspend me from my criticisms, ie: the madison dance, the louvre, and the going underground. Perhaps the biggest misstep is the nihilistic, automatic, and lazy final moments of the film where Godard phones in all of his contempt for America in the flimsiest way possible.
I disagree about the characters not being developed, specifically Odile who is really the one that needs to be developed the most, however since I have no evidence we can’t really debate that point.
I agree the ending bothered me when I first saw it, because it made the whole thing into the playful joke I think the film is not. However after thought I have decided that this goes along well with what Godard was trying to portray with the character, Odile.
I found Bande A Parte one of his warmest films, very accessible and connecting. Prior to that a certain cool intellectualism tended to dominate in a kind of post modernist Godard soup, where the trivial or the important had equal weighting. Curiously one I’d never seen I caught up with last week, Une Femme Mariee, and that was an eye opener. It’s witty, deep and has an emotionally engaged Godard firing his shots on relationships, elevating what could easily have lapsed into melodrama into high art. Genius.
Can’t wait to see Une Femme Mariee! Been putting it off for far to long, perhaps because I have heard so little praise or criticisms! It’s like the 60’s Godard film which no one talks about.
(if I were in control of what Godard films we talked about, his late films would get the discussion the deserve…)
Odile is not a character- she’s Anna Karina. And the two men are Godard. This is crucial to understanding the film.
Kurt: I wish you were in control of releasing them. A number of the later ones don’t seem to have great releases. :D
Kurt, You are in charge! Start a thread!
Ahh maybe i’ll make a Prenom Carmen thread sometime this week, after a rewatch.
Josh: it’s almost the same problem, Godard ‘fans’ undermine his late films, and so do distributors. There’s a pretty good region 1 box set which has Prenom Carmen, Detective, Passion, and Oh Woe is Me. Cahiers Du Cinema issuing of ’Histoire(s) Du Cinema" is probably the nicest DVD packaging I own.
Kurt, I’m literally shaking in excitement to get that DVD for my birthday!
Kurt: I’ve seen the box set, I plan on getting it someday but I’d like to see the other three films first. I just wish there were individual releases . . . ‘cause I’m obsessive like that. I do intend to get Histoire(s) whether or not I see the film before hand.
Kurt, Une Femme Mariee is excellent! (Just to add to the praise.)
i saw “une femme mariee” many years ago when i was first getting into godard. i found some old vhs copy of it at a library i think. it didnt impress me then, but its way overdue for a retrial.
regarding “bande apart”, its a masterpiece. i wouldnt call it light entertainment, but its obviously not a radical political tract either. the film does have a palpable sadness to it, but also an aching beauty. this contradiction makes the film unique.
I actually saw the film as some sort of joke. A brilliant one.
Godard satirizes his own characters making them some sort of “cool-but-empty” kids (which is very exemplified with the monologue during the dance scene), he might also be making fun of how words in a book, or narrated, can enlarge things as you imaginate them and thus make them ambiguous. (as in the part where he narrates something like: “They went down to the center of earth” and putting the metro as the next scene, because of course that when you’re reading a book you actually do imagine something very epic, not a metro.).
He satirizes traditional films as well (we can clearly see this on the ending, and another reference to this would be the boy in the english class that says something like "a disgusting film that took 1million to make.) and thus makes fun of his own film (with the T.S. Eliot quote).
hope i made myself clear
Well Godard is one of those people whose jokes are to be taken seriously and seriousness is still with a sense of humor, so that vies with some of those self-aware aspects you refer to.
Something like the metro sequence you mention is both an elegant metaphor and a visual pun at the same time.