Sunday, September 2, 2012
LE SAMOURAI (1967, FRANCE)
Today's guest movie commentary is from the honorable Boo Spanyer
It's impossible for me to give this film a review without bias.
I first watched this with my parents and grandfather as a small child and instantly loved it because all over the screen I see "our car" (the Citroën DS---we had two that Popa had imported.) That was my first viewing, and I was very small. Only the cars and the main character Jef Costello, stuck in my mind because he was stylish and sad and lived in a rather monastic room with only a songbird for company. I was a little girl, so I felt sorry for the nice man. Where was his family?
Upon subsequent viewings I came to appreciate the story. My family liked this film a great deal, so when it was on the television we watched it. I discover more about the character 'Jef Costello'---he is a free-agent hitman, he lives by his own code of honour, like a samurai. The film opens with a supposed quote from the Book of Bushido,
"There is no greater solitude than that of the samurai unless it is that of the tiger in the jungle... Perhaps..."
but the text given was actually written by one of the film's writers, Jean-Pierre Melville. It doesn't matter about the origin of the text because it gives a good insight into the character and sets the tone of the piece. Costello is fluid like a tiger in his movements, he is stealthy and cat-like clean. He is honourable in his way. But his business is death, so whatcha gonna do? Itiz wot itiz.
The plot of the film involves a 'hit' that goes wrong. It's the first time that perfectionist Costello has messed up a job and when he leaves the scene there are several witnesses who can describe him to the police...
Well I won't give it all away because I hope you will want to see it.
It's a beautiful film, visually. The people in the film are very attractive. All the locations are nice to see. Everything is very stylish and clean. And it has that wonderful rainy moodiness that some French films have. Things look so nice in the light rain and at night with all the lights of the city! So it's really beautiful to watch.
There are many scenes of great tension that will keep you on the edge of your seat, or it does me that way---everyone is different.
I must say if you are a first-time viewer: don't just give up at the opening! There is very little dialogue in the first 10 minutes or so, but then they talk. It's all for setting the tone.
Because he is alone.
Because he is Le Samouraï.