Le Petit Soldat (The Little Soldier)

In 1960, legendary film French director Jean-Luc Godard was riding high on the critical and commercial success of his debut feature film, Breathless. The stylish thriller would epitomize the “French New Wave” of cinema. But you can still see Godard toying with camera angles, thematic content and his love of American film noir with his second effort, Le Petit Soldat (The Little Soldier). Filmed in Geneva and set during the Algerian war for independence, it tells the story of a French right-wing secret agent (Michel Subor) who has deserted the army. When he can’t quite seem to fulfill his mission to assassinate a young and fetching woman of the left wing (Anna Karina) and the pair fall in love, he is suspected of being a double agent. The film’s torture sequences and political overtones are so heavy that it was actually banned in France for three years. “Given this attitude, it might seem strange that Le Petit Soldat is funny [but] it is, for long stretches,” Roger Ebert wrote in his review of the film. “And usually the laughs are grisly; we wince at the same time.”

7 p.m. Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit mfah.org. $9.
Sat., Dec. 14, 7 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 15, 5 p.m., 2013

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero