Jean Luc-Godard was once asked if heâ(TM)d rather direct a ten million dollar movie or a four-hundred thousand dollar movie. He responded with, if the story works with just four-hundred thousand, than the four-hundred thousand.
In Les Carabiniers, Jean Luc-Godard does just that and makes a movie with no budget. From the very few minutes of the story, it is obvious that the film was shot with very little production money. The extras are scarce, the war scenes are taken from documentary shot footages, the action is described either through voice-overs or inter titles, and some of fight sequences are shot off screen.
I am still trying to understand why a Jean Luc-Godard film is so memorable. Itâ(TM)s not as if filmmaking is an inborn talent. Filmmaking is a process and in essence, making a movie is just someone pointing a camera and shooting. But why and how is Les Carabiniers so interesting?
Take for instance a long and dragged out sequence towards the end when a solider is telling his mother about his adventures on the battle field. He has collected pictures of everything from the places he has been to the animals that he has seen to the women he has been with. For over ten minutes, this solider lays out each photo on the table and says aloud the names of each picture. The shot is so simple.
The cards are framed as the soldier lays down the pictures and from off screen the soldier simply lists them off one by one: Eiffel tower, Statue of Liberty, the leaning tower of Pisa etc, etc. This is one of the most memorable sequences in the film because the scene drags on and on. You would think that by the end there would be some big payoff scene; something that would reward the audience for patiently listening to the man listing off his adventures through pictures. But no, there is nothing at the end. No big explosion, no gun battles, no lovemaking. The scene is just is what it is as it is. Yet, that scene continues to repeat in my mind. Why is that?
Maybe itâ(TM)s the actors that fulfill their roles so perfectly. Or how the story is executed. Or maybe itâ(TM)s the dialogue. Or the mise-en-scene. Or simply because it is a Jean Luc-Godard film. I donâ(TM)t know. Perhaps the good movies are the ones you can't express verbally but know it is something when you watch it. Whatever it is, I am not ready to understand Les Carabiniers at the moment.