Le Petit Soldat (The Little Soldier) (2013)
Le Petit Soldat (The Little Soldier), writer/director Jean-Luc Godard's second feature film, was made in 1960 but immediately banned in France due to its sensitive political content and did not premiere until 1963. Michel Subor (Beau Travail) stars as Bruno Forestier, an army deserter caught in the middle of a covert war between the French government and the Algerian Liberation Front in Geneva. With both sides resorting to any means to achieve their clandestine ends, Bruno must decide what he is willing to do to escape with Veronica (Anna Karina, star of Band of Outsiders and A Woman Is A Woman, in her enchanting debut) and lead a free life. Arguably an espionage riff on the filmmaker's own debut feature, Breathless, this is the film where Godard penned his signature statement: "Cinema is truth 24 frames a second." Also starring László Szabó … More
as Bruno Forestier
as Veronica Dreyer
as Activist Leader
as Bystander at Railway...
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Critic Reviews for Le Petit Soldat (The Little Soldier)
Even this early in his career, Godard knew how to make audiences viscerally experience and contemplate things they might otherwise not have wanted to.
It's a classic espionage plot shot through with a typically heady mix of art and literary references: Klee and Velázquez, Bach and Haydn, Bernanos and Musil.
In many ways, Jean-Luc Godard's Le Petit Soldat is equal to Breathless in its inventiveness and exuberance.
A dry-ice parody of a spy thriller, an acute snapshot of the politics of struggle and the politics of relationships, and a captivating documentary account of a filmmaker falling in love with his actress
Godard's followup to Breathless is both lesser and greater than its forefather.
Gradually it becomes clearer that, starting with Le Petit Soldat, Godard was forging his own individualistic art and becoming the most relevant director of our time.
ubor's contemplative voice-over and Raoul Coutard's somber cinematography make this seem severe compared to the jazzy exuberance of Breathless.
Le Petit Soldat is far more confusing than Breathless, jumping in and out of scenes without letting the audience get a grasp on the narrative.
Looked at in the context of Godard's later, militant work, this film's analysis is at once naive and fascinating.
A lean and witty piece of politically engaged filmmaking that combines all the drive of a thriller with Godard's own, singular, New Wave aesthetic.
Godard is most clear in showing that the Left and Right are two sides of the same coin.
Audience Reviews for Le Petit Soldat (The Little Soldier)
I much prefer Godard's early work, Le Petit Soldat being his first political film and as far as I've seen, his best. First off, it looks great, new wave at its best. There is the romance between the two leads like in Breathless and there is intrigue like in Alphaville but Le Petit Soldat is never quite as accomplished as either film. It feels more like a Malle film to be honest but to Godard's credit, the ending is wonderfully bleak and very much his. I generally like the style of his script rather what is actually said but the last scene leaves you with very little doubt about what this film is about and it really makes the film. Michel Subor is super cool and a great actor and Anna Karina is a goddess.More
An early Jean-Luc Godard film that was made on a shoestring budget about a young revolutionary, Bruno, living in Geneva who is fighting against French involvement in the war in Algeria, only to run into Veronica (Anna Karina).
Shot like a newsreel, much of the film is photographed with a hand-held camera, with sound post-synchronized. A moody, often violent film, complete with sequences of torture modeled after the actions of occupying French forces in Algeria. These scenes resulted in the movie being banned by the French government for some time.
The title is misleading -- there are no true soldiers in this film, and no uniforms. This is a movie about urban terrorism, plotted by young men in suits and ties.
The plot is not especially easy to follow, but the setting is the Algerian War. A French deserter lives in Geneva, and is pressured to commit an assassination. When he resists, the heat comes down on him from both sides of the conflict. Along the way, he becomes smitten with a girl portrayed by Anna Karina, and who could blame him?
What's most impressive about "Le Petit Soldat" is not its story, but how much director Jean-Luc Godard achieved on such a low budget. Almost all the scenes appear to have been shot silently, with sound dubbed in later. Most of the camera work is handheld, and the narration carries a heavy burden of explaining the background details.
Typically for Godard, the script includes an obsessive number of allusions to personal influences like Paul Klee and Carl Dreyer. There's also an extended monologue where the lead actor suddenly turns and begins speaking to the camera. A startling moment, created with some rather primitive tools.
"Le Petit Soldat" was Godard's second film after the more celebrated "A Bout de Souffle," but was initially banned due to a controversial torture sequence (laughably tame, by today's standards) and some unflattering comments about French politics.
[font=Century Gothic]In "Le Petit Soldat," Bruno(Michel Subor) is an undercover antiterrorist agent in Geneva who works for the French Information Bureau and is tasked with an assassination. In the meantime, he is asked to photograph Veronica(Anna Karina) for some odd reason.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"Le Petit Soldat" is a political allegory about terrorism and graphically depicted torture that comes tantalizingly close to succeeding despite its very odd setting of Switzerland, a general lack of coherence and its polemical tone.(One shot features a woman reading from the works of Mao.) But then this would not be a Jean-Luc Godard film if he did not get distracted somewhere along the way which explains the photography session that is at least photographed nicely.[/font]
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