Band à part
or Band of Outsiders
by Jean Luc Godard made in 1964 is the story of Odile, Arthur and Frantz, three young people looking for the fast way out of trouble and their daily lives. Odile played by Anna Karina is mousy and fearful and she quickly falls for the bad guy, Arthur preferring him over the mild mannered and gloomy Frantz. Odile meets Frantz at the Louis language course in Paris. This is a pretty strange English school. The teacher speaks primarily French with only a few words in English. She has the students translate Romeo and Juliet, which she reads rather dramatically. A student takes a swig out of a pint in the lesson, and Arthur writes notes to Odile about her ugly hairstyle. In this early film of Godard he already is beginning to experiment with the use of sound and image. Odile, Arthur and Frantz observe a silent minute during one scene in the film in which there is no sound.The film is full of charming and amusing scenes for example when all three go to a cafe and dance the Madison in unison side by side, clapping their hands. They also try to break an American record of 9 minutes to see the Louvre. Odile falls for Arthur, more forceful than Franck who is always lurking in the background. Odile tells them that a Mr Stolz who is seeing her aunt where she is living has hidden a bunch of money in a dresser. Frantz and Arthur decide they are going to steal it and Odile is going to help them get in. But the scheme goes all wrong, Odile's aunt is home and is locked in the closet and she either faints or dies during the robbery. Odile is beside herself with grief. Arthur's uncle comes to the house and there is a shoot out.
The whimsical nature of Band à part
is compelling for the three characters enjoy their outsider status and small pranks. Odile does not know how dangerous the two men are and their relatives. Yet even in her own home her aunt is seeing someone from either Monte Carlo or Russia that is laundering money. The film shows a class portrait of three disenfranchised youth whose only hope is to learn English and improve themselves. Many references are made to Hollywood films and gangsters, which is a common theme in Godard's movies. Although Band à part
is not considered one of his masterpieces, it is an extremely moving film. Anna Karina shows the range of her acting abilities in this film where she plays a forlorn damsel who is just naive enough to trust the bad guys but also just smart enough to wind up on her feet. Frantz in many ways is like her and knows who to stay out of the way and get what he needs- Arthur is brutally frank but it doesn't seem to pay off in the end. Anna Karina was recently honored at the Creteil Films de Femmes festival in Paris which ran 13- 23 March. Today Anna Karina likes to wear a mans hat like the one she wore in the cafe scene in Band à part
For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan Paris France.
© 2009 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 4/08/09
Band à Part