Les Caribiniers

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Godard's Les Caribiniers is a film that is very explicit about pointing out the pointlessness of war. The film is almost cartoonish in the way it unfolds. It revolves around two men who are 'drafted' into a war involving their country as a "favor to the king." Michelangelo and Ulysses jump to the chance of fighting for their king, whom obviously takes such good care of them. They live in an extremely deserted area in a house that looks as if it were made with a 'Lincoln Logs' set. The soldiers who come to recruit them promise the two geniuses of Maseratis, Rolls Royces, women, priceless works of art, power, stabbing guys in the back, etc. Of course, they are on board. Ironically enough, the two women in their lives are just as eager for them to go as they are. Most women would be afraid for their men to go put their lives on the line. However, Venus and Cleopatra literally kick them out of the house to go so they can get their share of the treasure upon their courageous return.

From this point on, the cartoon only gets more amusing with each scene. They take the fact that they can operate without consequence to heart. They break into homes and steal from the people living there, they force women to undress in front of them, and they even steal a car and kidnap the woman riding inside of it. The worst, however, is their use of extreme violence. Granted that they are 'soldiers' doing nothing more than following orders, the extent to which they take the violence is very excessive. They march people in secluded areas for their execution. Michelangelo is usually not happy with the result as he continues shooting the already slain victims.

Godard's use of all this over-the-top activities only makes his mockery of war more effective. With the two women constantly prancing and spinning around and Michelangelo running around a movie theatre so that he may get a better angel to see the woman undressing on screen, it makes everything else that is happening around them even more absurd. The postcard sequence is a vivid example of this. It is not only the longest running sequence in the film, but it is also the most absurd. When the men return from war without expensive dresses and makeup, the women are extremely angry with them. That is until they see all of the 'deeds' of the property that were brought back to them. Michelangelo and Ulysses bring back hundreds of postcards thinking that they are deeds for all of the property that are shown on them. They bring back tons of postcards of cars and ancient monuments thinking that they will own all of these things once the war is won. However, it is the gullibility that is ultimately their demise. When they are informed that they actually lost the war, they are killed for committing war crimes against the new state. Tough break indeed.


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