Watching Pierrot le fou last night reminded me how much I enjoy watching Anna Karina on screen. There’s something so special and classic about her cinematic presence that is again and again delightful, elegant, and silly; she sings about her boredom, throwing rocks in the ocean as she wonders what there is to do.
The film is more exotic than what I have come to know as typical of Goddard. It is primarily set on the Mediterranean Sea, in a sort of at once jungle-like and beach landscape, and with the inclusion of a large blue and yellow parrot as well as a tiny, scraggly dog that become companions to the runaway couple.
For me, the film was about a resistance to growing up, to thinking about the consequences of one’s actions, and to some extant, to the surrendering of play. The lovers put on plays for American tourists, dressing up as people from other cultures and sing songs while dancing and chasing one another. Throughout the film, both Karina and Belmondo’s characters carry with them a teddy bear and a comic book respectively, while carelessly burning or throwing away money. These objects of childhood hold an importance to them more so than anything that might contribute to their survival.
Perhaps for them, however, these objects constitute and signify survival, and a retaining of that which seems to matter most to them – their sense of adventure, of their own freedom. Yet, this deep search for continuous freedom is ultimately the demise of their romantic relationship, as Belmondo’s character, Ferdinand, gives up Marianne’s (Karina) location to murderous men seeking money and revenge and Marianne ultimately leaves Ferdinand for a man she initially claims is her brother. Alas, both characters fail to be free – Marianne is found and shot by Ferdinand, who is caged in his own misery and inability to find purpose, and wraps his head in dynamite, changing his mind a moment too late.