New to Blu-ray: Band of Outsiders (1964)

  • Actors: Anna Karina, Claude Brasseur, Sami Frey, Louisa Colpeyne, Chantal Darget
  • Director: Jean Luc Godard
  • Format: Blu-ray, Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Release Date: May 7, 2013
  • Run Time: 95 minutes


             Though Jean-Luc Godard is one of the most recognizable names in the history of foreign cinema, he is also one of the more acquired tastes of cinema. Most of his film’s in the 1960s had a preoccupation with American culture, and although there are definite reminders of this consistent subject in the taste and demeanor of its characters, Band of Outsiders (Band á part) may be one of his most accessible films.


             Following up the surprise commercial success of Contempt with something a return to his New Wave roots, Godard shot Band of Outsiders in the less glamorous portions of Paris, east of the Bastille. The remainder of the film was shot in the outskirts of the city, in countryside which would soon be taken over by factories after the completion of this film. The narrative is one of a simple robbery, with a love triangle between the three planning the theft, but it is Godard’s signature style that makes this film so unexpected.


             Two aspiring crooks with a penchant for American gangster films (played by Claude Brasseur and Sami Frey) actively pursue and seduce a naïve student learning English, named Odie (Anna Karina). Mostly these three have awkward interactions with each other, including their minute of silence followed by the choreographed dance. There is also the famous sequence in which the three run hand-in-hand through the Louvre in a record visit. Eventually they get to the actual crime, stealing bundles of money from an undeserving man living in the stone villa where Odile works.


             The Blu-ray release of this New Wave classic includes the digital master of Gaumont’s 2010 high-definition restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. The special features include a visual glossary of the references and quotations found buried within the film, as well as exclusive interviews, excerpts from a documentary about the New Wave, and rare behind-the-scenes footage. There is also a 1961 silent short film featuring Godard and members of the Band of Outsiders cast. The disc also comes with a booklet insert with an essay by critic Joshua Clover, character descriptions by Godard and a 1964 interview with the director.


    Entertainment Value: 7/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 9/10

    Historical Significance: 10/10

    Disc Features: 9/10



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