The Little Soldier

Watch The Little Soldier

  • NR
  • 1960
  • 1 hr 28 min
  • 7.1  (7,959)
  • 97

The Little Soldier is a French film released in 1963, directed and written by Jean-Luc Godard. The movie tells the story of a young man, Bruno Forestier, who is involved in Algerian nationalism during the Algerian War, a conflict fought from 1954 to 1962 between France and the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN). In the film, Forestier (played by Michel Subor) is a French soldier who has been sent to Geneva to carry out a mission for the French Secret Service. He is tasked with assassinating a politically influential Algerian businessman who supports Algerian independence. However, his mission is complicated by his personal beliefs and doubts about the morality of what he is doing. He meets and falls in love with Veronica Dreyer (Anna Karina), a woman who is also involved in the Algerian struggle and whose ideals coincide with his.

Their relationship, though passionate, is doomed due to their different viewpoints and external circumstances. Veronica is a young, beautiful, and wealthy woman who is dedicated to the Algerian Cause, and her constant presence in Bruno’s life puts his mission, and consequently his life, at risk. Her glamour is not enough for him as there is something beyond that: her intelligence, fierce passion, and youth, a combination that seduces him, but also reinforces his doubts about the war.

Forestier is a complex character whose motivations and loyalties are never fully clear. He refers to himself as a "little soldier", one who is simply doing his duty to his country, but he is also clearly conflicted about what he is being asked to do. As a result, he is constantly struggling with his feelings of guilt and doubt, which lead him to question his own loyalties and beliefs. He is not portrayed as a hero of the war, but rather as a pawn caught in the middle of two political sides, where each side would rather use him for their own ends rather than care for his own wellbeing.

The Little Soldier was made during the early years of the French New Wave, and it is recognizable for its unconventional storytelling, lack of traditional narrative structure, and unconventional use of music and cinematography. The movie's black-and-white photography enhances the portrayal of a world bereft of hope and meaning, placing the viewer uncomfortably amid the chaos and madness that occurs.

The events of the film take place between breathtaking locations in Switzerland, Paris, and Lebanon, showing the lyrical beauty of the conventional world of westerners, contrasting with the harsh and bleak realities of the native Algerians living under colonial rule. One of the prominent themes explored in the film is the futility and brutality of war, as it shows the lives on both sides swept away by propaganda.

Additionally, The Little Soldier contains many of Godard's trademark themes and motifs, such as disillusionment, alienation, and the changing role of women in society, as Veronica is portrayed as a strong and independent character, which was uncommon in films of that era.

Overall, The Little Soldier is an excellent portrayal of the moral and political complexities of the Algerian War, a conflict that has long-lasting legacies and effects on both the native Algerians and the French who fought them. While the film may be a little slow-paced, it is a valuable work of art with powerful messages about the human condition that are still resonant as they were in the sixties.

The Little Soldier
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 28 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.1  (7,959)
  • Metascore