Customer Reviews: Band of Outsiders (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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In 1964, French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard went to work on his latest film "Bande à part" (Band of Outsiders) which was created with a small budget at around $125,000 and unlike his previous film "Contempt" which was in full color, Godard decided to go back to basics by filming in black and white and also to avoid any interjecting of politics in the film and thus many critics have called it Godard's most accessible film because it s quite different from many of the films he has directed in the 1960′s.

"Band of Outsiders" is a film based on the novel "Fools' Gold" by American author Dolores Hitchens and a film which Godard describes "Band of Outsiders" as "Alice in Wonderland meets Franz Kafka". For many critics, they like to call the film a B-Noir in which the film contains noir elements but also other elements of humor and things that you would see from a French New Wave film. When it first came out in theaters in the US, not many people could understand the concept of the film and thus it didn't do well in the theaters. But now as the film is 46-years-old, publications such as Time Magazine has selected "Band of Outsiders" as part of its "All Time 100 Movies".

In 2008, "Band of Outsiders" was released on DVD courtesy of The Criterion Collection and now, the HD version of the film featuring Gaumont's 2010 high-definition restoration with uncompressed monaural soundtrack was released on Blu-ray courtesy of the Criterion Collection in May 2013.


I gave the 2008 DVD review a positive when it comes to picture quality, but with this restored version courtesy of Gaumont's 2010 restoration of the film, "Band of Outsiders" in HD definitely surpasses its original DVD version in clarity, detail and contrast. The film is not soft or blurry, you can actually see much better detail in the clothing, well-contrast within the whites and grays of the film and black levels which are inky and deep.

According to the Criterion Collection, the digital master came from a restoration undertaken by Gaumont in 2010. For the restoration, a high-definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine from a 35 mm composite fine grain at Eclair Laboratories in Epinay-sur-Seine, France.


"Band of Outsiders" is presented in French monaural LPCM. According to the Criterion Collection, The original monaural soundtrack was restored from a 35 mm optical soundtrack positive.

Subtitles are in English.


The "Band of Outsiders" comes with the following special features:

Visual Glossary - (17:58) Featuring selected quotations from "Band of Outsiders" and an explanation of the quotation.
Godard 1964 - (5:17) Featuring Jean-Luc Godard talking about Nouvelle Vague and its Raison D'Etre with filmmaker Andre S. LAbarthe for the documentary "La Nouvelle Vague Par Elle-Meme".
Anna Karina - (18:26) Featuring an interview with Anna Karina, recorded in 2002. Karina talks about loving films, working with Jean-Luc Godard, Raoul Coutard, running into Claude Brasseur and more.
Raoul Coutard - (11:00) Featuring an interview with Raoul Coutard discussing his work with Jean-Luc Godard, the challenges he had in shooting complicated scenes, the French New Wave and more.
Les Fiances Du Pont Mac Donald - Featuring the short directed by Agnes Varda (used on Agnes' 1962 film "Cleo From 5 to 7″) starring Jean-Luc Godard, Anna Karina, Sami Frey, Daniele Girard and more.
Trailers - Featuring the original and the re-release trailer for "Band of Outsiders".


"Band of Outsiders" comes with a 26-page booklet which includes the essay "Get Your Madis On" by Joshua Clover, "The Characters According to Godard" from the original press book and "No Questions Asked" featuring an interview between Godard and Godard critic Jean Collet from 1964.


"The Band of Outsiders" is a charming and enjoyable film. Is it my favorite Godard film, I would still have to give the title of "My Godard Favorite" to his 1965 film "Pierrot Le Fou" but I will say that "Band of Outsiders" manages to pull me in with its various scenes and its interesting plot. Needless to say that many Godard fans enjoy the film and even prompted Quentin Tarentino to name his production company "A Band Apart" after the French title "Bande à part".

The title of the film "Band of Outsiders" is about these three individuals who are outsiders. From the two male characters named after Godard's favorite authors Arthur Rimbaud and Franz Kafka, Arthur is a player and obviously have some experience breaking the law and schmoozing with women, while Franz is the silent type who you can tell is not so comfortable when his friend actually starts to win Odile's heart. And as for Odile, an innocent girl with not much experience with being around men and she is very much a different person from these two men. When Arthur asks for a kiss with a tongue, her inexperience shows as she sticks out her tongue. But it's how these three individuals react to each other, you wonder how in the heck can these three people get mixed up together?

But perhaps that was the winning combination that made this film work as the three characters manage to keep you're eyes glued to the screen. Not knowing what are going to happen to them but knowing that with director Jean-Luc Godard, anything can happen and for the most part, if you submit your 95 minutes to Godard, you're definitely in for a wild ride. The ending might be a bit bumpy but the actual ride is where you feel satisfaction as you will encounter quite a few surprises, twists and turns and that is how I feel about "Band of Outsiders".

From Odile (Karina) looking directly to the camera when asking a question, to the moment of silence which almost seems like an eternity but at the same time, you can't help but be amused by it. From the playfulness of Arthur and Franz play shooting each other and my two favorite scenes, when the three individuals take part in the "Madison dance" and the Louvre scene in which the three try to break the American Jimmy Johnson's record of how fast they can see all the art inside the Louvre. How fun is that? So, I was quite amused to see that scene but really enjoyed the various scenes that just stick to your memory (a lot of Godard films tend to do that for me).

But the creation of "Band of Outsiders" was somewhat of Godard's comeback at the time (one of many). After the beating he took for the film "Les Carabiniers", Godard decided to work together with his wife Anna Karina (both had separated at the time) and the first time the two worked together since "Vivre sa vie". But it was a tough time for both husband and wife who were having problems in their marriage, but it was also a film that helped the two grow closer to each other.

Many will take notice that Karina looks different in this film compared to other films and that is because the film was shot after she came out of the hospital after a suicide attempt. But because of this film, Karina credits "Band of Outsiders" of saving her life.

For Godard, "Band of Outsiders" gave the filmmaker a chance to try something different and whether or not he succeeded or failed depends on the viewer as the film today is seen as one of Godard's best, but at the time of screening at various film festivals, the film infuriated audiences and also previous Godard defenders, film critics who had problems with the film. The film also gave Jean-Luc a chance to name a character after his mother (who died in a scooter accident ten years earlier).

While a low budget film, the film was enjoyed by film critics all over the world, as film critic Richard Brody would lend to the film's ongoing popularity due to the film's "overt neo-classicism" but Brody writes in his book "Everything is Cinema", that the failed experiment was trying to separate "instinctive" and "reflective" elements. The result was failure and so he would come back to combine the elements once again.

As for this Blu-ray release, "Band of Outsiders" looks so much better in HD after the restoration. No longer soft or even blurry, the film shows much more detail, much better contrast and a cleaner picture. Also, you get an uncompressed monaural soundtrack and all six special features that were included on the original 2008 DVD release.

Overall, I enjoyed the playfulness, the youthfulness and how entertaining the film came to be, as well as it began to transition to include more darker undertones. But the film is quite entertaining and I had a fun time watching it. Although there are other films I Godard/Anna Karina films I recommend watching before "Band of Outsiders", the film is still worth having on your checklist of must-see Godard films.

Definitely recommended!
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on July 3, 2013
One of the most undeniably cool movies I've seen, Band of Outsiders by Jean-Luc Godard is the story of three young adults who scheme to rob a neighbor. Everything that takes is by chance, including their friendship by ending up in a class together and the woman (played to vulnerable excellence by Anna Karina) who accidentally slipped to her boyfriend that a fellow tenant in her apartment building is loaded.

Like you'd expect from Godard, though, this is a classic case of style over substance. As meaty as the story is, the Band gets its bite from its filmmaking techniques; the black-and-white imagery of a bleak home accompanied by melancholy music foils the outrageous fun of the famous Madison dance scene in which the three heroes dance to a (possibly imaginary) R&B song.

This high contrast makes the pacing uneven at times, swirling between quiet moments of plotting with high-intensity crime, but that's probably the point. These are individuals who are clearly uncomfortable and not equipped to pull something like this off, so it's uncomfortable for us the audience to watch them.

The icing on the cake is in the final scene; as characters drive off, their discussion recaps what essentially the theme of the film is. There is a dialogue on the nature of humanity, whether we are even meant to band together, or if we are always individuals at heart, ready to break apart.

This concept is reflective both of the French New Wave as well as this film's overall influence by American culture; the sense of individual over the community is a pretty groundbreaking idea in 1960s French cinema, reminding us how groundbreaking this film and the ideas it presents really are.

As almost a middle ground between the more thrilling Breathless and the more lighthearted and comedic A Woman is a Woman, Band of Outsiders may be the ultimate Godard film, seamlessly blending his humor with cold-hearted intensity.
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on August 17, 2014
Jean-Luc Godard's 1964 film "Bandè a part" (sometimes titled "Band of Outsiders") is an adaptation of a American crime novel that transcends its pulp origins through Godard's cinematic invention. The young lady Odile (Anna Karina), who isn't very bright, meets lowlife Franz (Sami Frey) in an English course and makes the mistake of telling him that the home in which she lives with her aunt holds a large amount of cash. Franz and fellow criminal Arthur (Claude Brasseur) plan a heist while at the same time vying for Odile's love, or at least her body. As is common in the French New Wave, the auteur only uses a crime caper as a skeleton for his own storytelling. A narrator (Godard himself) occasionally reads descriptive passages from the original novel, which are horribly purple prose, as if Godard is poking fun at his own source of inspiration.

"Bande à part" has occasionally been treated as a departure from this director's work, as "Godard for people who don't like Godard". However, anyone who has seen Godard's films to date will immediately recognize elements typical of his work at the time. For example, someone reads aloud a classic work of literature, this time an English teacher in a parody of modern language-learning methods. There is leftist social commentary, as the two criminals kill time by reading aloud tragic passages from Parisian newspapers. There is also dancing, as in the film's most famous scene Odile, Franz and Arthur interrupt their plotting for an amusing line dance in a café, over which the narrator tells us their unspoken thoughts.

And then there is Godard's many references to the film canon. "Bande à part" is deeply imbued with the spirit of American noir films, which fits with the crime caper plot, but it also nods to classic slapstick and romance, which gives it a levity and charm I wouldn't have expected from a film with these particular characters. "Bande à part" may not be among the most awesome masterpieces of cinema, but it is memorable and funny, and very much worth seeing for fans of mid-century French films.
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on September 8, 2014
One of the classic New Wave films has been transferred brilliantly by Criterion. I'm writing about the Blu-ray, which is particularly fine. If you like good films, if you see yourself as a lover of cinema, buy this film and watch it once a year for the next decade.
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on September 24, 2001
i saw this last night over bread and tulips and i was smiling by the time i left the theater...goddard is the undisputed master of the french new wave...he based this film on a a roman noir crime nove. odile becomes a companion of arthur and franz and she helps them to pull off a heist, along the way she gets involved with both of them romantically.
goddard pays a touching tribute to crime flims in this one. a lot of the dialogue appears to be stream of consciousness, like you wouldn't expect people to say things like this in real life, but its so cool. goddard's narration, which is at times inflated, comes off charming...the photography is goregous,a creamy black and white. as a movie it works better this way as opposed to color. two of my favorite scenes is when arthur and odile are riding in the metro people watching and the scene in the bar which odile, franz and arthur, do " the madison " dance sequence, that quentin tarantino copied in pulp fiction, using uma thurman.....
this film a is a wonderful escapist treat.....
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on August 13, 2013
My understanding of Godard, my somewhat uninformed opinion has been shaped by articles and essays that are filled with adoring mumbo-jumbo (isn't that a wonderful phrase!), as well as the agonizing, bizarre experience of this "pseudo-intellectual" offering us his "take" on "black power" while the Rolling Stones sit in a studio recording "Sympathy for the Devil" (the name of the movie as well) a STUPID, RIDICULOUS non-film that I am certain had thousands of people walk out of the theater feeling deeply cheated.
But being an autodidact as I have become over the years has made me realize that many artists that are barely understood are ultimately deeply rewarding. One example is PIET MONDRIAN-----those paintings took me YEARS to stop sneering at and finally turn around one day and see the great beauty in them.

And so with Godard. I think I saw "Weekend" but was too arrogant to pay much attention to.

And now "Band of Outsiders", one of his most accessible films, from what he has said, and clearly you realize this. And yet this is no easy movie to deal with. It is deeply FRAGMENTED (as in life) and it tests your patience many times as the sometimes RIDICULOUSLY ABSURD PLOT seems to be going nowhere.
But ultimately the film turns out to be a minor masterpiece.
Godard manages to create a film that defies genre. It is a pathetic "menage-a trois", it is a Hollywood infused creation, it has an element of those old musicals of the Ginger Rogers-Astaire era (Godard himself acknowledges), and a frenetic pace that bewilders and confuses.
It is a portrait of adolescence (in the sad, tragic way that the word may be used for so many of us trapped in that period of our lives that we never somehow totally outgrew), of FRACTURED SOULS, of true Bi-polarity-------well, my psychiatric reading leads me to that, although Godard may wince at such a term--------at the time (1964), I believe, called by the more brutal name of "Manic-depression".......
These three "adolescents" (really in their twenties, and the men perhaps in their 30's?)run around Paris and its BLEAK suburbia---the UGLY Paris that we visitors rarely venture to-----with complete aimlessness.........
A short "theme" of music by that mediocre composer Michel Legrand suffuses the film with an extra layer of sadness, of hopelessness, of people without aims, without discipline, without any order in their lives.....
Godard creates a truly multifaceted film that rarely lags, enchanting in its profundity, "shallow" on the outside and filled with a myriad of surprises within.
All three actors are extraordinary in the way they LIVE their characters, and they are used for a few truly sweet sequences. Godard is a narrator in the background extrapolating on history, poetry, Flaubert-------you need a "classic" education to get the whole scope of this but in a sense you don't--------he is also bitingly funny in his dark, conspiratorial way.
Watch for two unforgettable moments. One is exquisitely SILLY-------they consider the agony of letting a minute pass, and Godard stops sound and action (but not freezing them) and lets a whole minute go by. I don't think anyone has ever done this in the history of film, but you may know better. It's a simple silly moment, but transcendental in its context.
Then, in the same tawdry, dingy "diner" where they are sitting "killing time", preparing (ha!) for the heist------do not ask me for plot, you can get it from a hundred other of these reviews that give you the a to b to c---------that will not be me--------they get up and out of the blue start dancing a routine a la old "Hollywood musical" (really only a suggestion of it), but it is one of the most beautiful of moments in cinema-------it allows them for a moment to be happy, to forget, to live entirely in the moment.

I highly recommend this movie for anyone searching for a certain humanity, a touch of beauty among the dread and misery of life.
The power of the film is that although it is after all a tragedy, a sad impression of lives hanging by a thread, it is also quite comedic, and even ends in a farcical manner that delights----indeed, one can argue that the movie is suffused with quite a lot of farce.
A MAGNIFICENT accomplishment from an artist, that like so many, as far as I understand, became more and more self-absorbed, arrogant, and didactic with his "pseudo-philosophical" movie/political tracts belonging more in a book than film.
But that's not the case here.
Watch this movie again and again. As multi-layered as it is, it shall offer many hours of joy, humanism, and a painful, yet deeply tender mirror to our lives.
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on August 20, 2014
Great Upgrade to High-Definition Blu-Ray Format. Classic Film that seems like You are Seeing it for the First Time.
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on March 9, 2016
A GREAT film from the master of it. This is some of Godard at his finest.
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on August 20, 2015
Came perfect! Love the movie.
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