Le Petit Soldat

Overview

Jean-Luc Godard's first feature after enjoying international success with Breathless was initially banned in France for its controversial political content and isn't often screened in the United States, so fans of the groundbreaking filmmaker should welcome its appearance on Region One DVD in this edition from Fox Lorber/ Genius Entertainment. Le Petit Soldat has been transferred to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and while the images sometimes look a bit rough (as was intended), the ...
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Overview

Jean-Luc Godard's first feature after enjoying international success with Breathless was initially banned in France for its controversial political content and isn't often screened in the United States, so fans of the groundbreaking filmmaker should welcome its appearance on Region One DVD in this edition from Fox Lorber/ Genius Entertainment. Le Petit Soldat has been transferred to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and while the images sometimes look a bit rough (as was intended), the source materials look clean and well cared for, and Raoul Coutard's energetic cinematography is well served here. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Stereo (retaining the original single channel sound mix), and sounds good considering its vintage, if not great. The dialogue is in French, with optional English language subtitles. Bonus materials include a chat on the film and its politics from critic and film historian David Sterritt, which is illustrated with clips from the picture, as well as filmographies for Godard and actors Michel Subor and Anna Karina and a page of internet web links. If this isn't a definitive presentation of Le Petit Soldat, it's a very good one, and should certainly satisfy most film enthusiasts interested in Godard's work.
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Special Features

Mini-audio commentary with film critic David Sterritt
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Wheeler Winston Dixon
Le Petit Soldat is an early Jean-Luc Godard film that was made on a shoestring budget. Michel Subor (who would surface years later in Claire Denis' Beau Travail [1999] to great critical acclaim), stars here as Bruno Forestier, a young revolutionary living in Geneva who is fighting against French involvement in the war in Algeria. He meets and falls in love with rival revolutionary Veronica Dreyer (Anna Karina, soon to be Godard's wife), and the mutual recriminations begin. Shot like a newsreel, much of the film is photographed with a hand-held camera, with sound post-synchronized; a "film noir" narration holds the film together, but the narrative, as is usual with Godard, is slight. It is some measure of Godard's political commitment, even this early in his career, that he would forsake the proven commercial formula that had brought him such success with Breathless (1960) and create a brooding, moody, often violent film, complete with explicit sequences of torture, patterned after the actions of the occupying French forces in Algeria. These scenes resulted in the movie being banned by the French government for some time, but it is now readily available on DVD. Breathless now seems like a light, affectionate take on the American gangster film (which is what it always was; Godard himself referred to it as "Alice in Wonderland"), but Le Petit Soldat has much greater artistic conviction when viewed in light of contemporary events (substitute the war in Iraq for the French occupation of Algeria, and you begin to get the idea). Viewed in this light, the film has a pressing claim on our collective memory, and signals the beginnings of Godard as a mature political artist. Raw, unpolished, and deliberately downbeat, Le Petit Soldat marks the beginning of Godard's engagement with issues of personal responsibility in times of war, and is also, surprisingly, one of the most accessible films of his long career. It is highly recommended.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 12/11/2001
  • UPC: 720917526720
  • Original Release: 1960
  • Rating:

  • Source: Fox Lorber
  • Aspect Ratio: Pre-1954 Standard (1.33.1)
  • Presentation: Black & White / Mono
  • Sound: monaural
  • Language: Français
  • Time: 1:28:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Michel Subor Bruno Forestier
Anna Karina Veronica Dreyer
Henri-Jacques Huet Jacques
Paul Beauvais Paul
Laszlo Szabo Laszlo
Georges de Beauregard Activist Leader
Gilbert Edard
Jean-Luc Godard Bystander at Railway Station
Technical Credits
Jean-Luc Godard Director, Screenwriter
Raoul Coutard Cinematographer
Georges de Beauregard Producer
Agnès Guillemot Editor
Lila Herman Editor
Maurice LeRoux Score Composer
Nadine Marquand Editor
Jacques Maumont Sound/Sound Designer
Nadine Trintignant Editor
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Scene Access
1. Geneva, May 13, 1958 [4:34]
2. Veronica [3:19]
3. Trip to Nyon [4:59]
4. Business Associates [3:37]
5. The Next Assignment [6:07]
6. Photos of Veronica [7:48]
7. Drawing Games [4:48]
8. Photos & Bad Dreams [2:58]
9. Hit & Run [3:15]
10. Following Palivoda [3:36]
11. Paul & Jacques [4:30]
12. Abduction [5:47]
13. Torture [8:37]
14. Electricity [3:02]
15. Veronica's Apartment [14:25]
16. Unwelcome Visitors [2:41]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play the Movie
   About This DVD
      DVD Production Credits
   Subtitles
      On
      Off
   Special Features
      Abridged Commentary With David Sterritt
         Play
         Writings by David Sterritt
      Filmographies
         Anna Karina
         Michel Subor
         Jean-Luc Godard
   Weblinks
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