Les Carabiniers, or as I think of it, Les Cranberries, is described by David Sterritt as not only an anti-war film, but an anti-war film film. Maybe it’s even an anti-“anti”-war film film. In any case, the idea is to present and criticize war without applying a drop of varnish. No war heroes, movie stars, action thrills and chills, or spectacular battle scenes, although there is some very funny satire. Sterrit describes the film as being made so as to avoid creating pleasure, but I don’t think that’s accurate. Les Cranberries is well crafted, generally nicely paced, thought provoking and presents some impressive images. So you get the pleasure of enjoying a fine, stimulating film. In fact, a large part of Godard’s genius is that he’s able to make this sort of film so watchable and enjoyable. What the film lacks is the kind of pleasure you get from going down a water slide or watching scenes from Apocolypse Now, Three Kings or most other war films and anti-war films. The reason for withholding this pleasure is pretty obvious: war isn’t a waterslide and Godard doesn’t think it should be represented as such.
Perhaps the most impressive images from this film are the fireworks, photographed as negative images. Fireworks are supposed to be brilliant and glorious, but these look like explosions of mud. It isn’t pretty imagery, but is an awesome image with which to critically symbolize war.
The only special feature to speak of is the mini-commentary by Godard scholar and Christian Science Monitor critic David Sterritt. I have several points of disagreement with Sterritt, but that’s good. It means he’s really offering an interpretation of the film rather than relating a series of facts. The commentary runs over sixteen and a half minutes of highlights from the film. On the one hand, I want to say, it’s only an eighty minute film, just do a whole commentary. On the other, the shorter version is nice and concise. Most people who do full length commentaries run out of things to say. This way, you can get the commentator’s point of view without investing an hour and a half.
Finally, I should point out that this, like similar Fox Lorber titles, is cheap, especially compared to the Critereon Collection (I know the Critereon Collection usually does more). I bought it at DVD Planet for a mere eighteen bucks and change.
- Film Overall: 8.5
- Direction: 9
- Acting: 7
- Story: 8
- DVD Goodies: 6
- Rewatchability 7.5
- Number of Times I paused the movie to do something else: 0