Prenom Carmen


by Tuna

Prenom Carmen, or First Name Carmen, is a Jean-Luc Godard film "based on" the familiar Bizet opera.

Carmen is either a concert violinist rehearsing Beethoven quartets and daydreaming, or she is Jean-Luc Godard's niece who holds up a bank to raise money then hits on the idea of pretending to make a film and kidnapping either a wealthy man or his daughter. Jean-Luc Godard, playing himself,  is living in a hospital, his choice, but is willing to help Carmen make her film. During the bank robbery, she is caught by a young policeman who falls in love with her and they escape together. He is arrested then acquitted, but the two are star-crossed, and the relationship is not destined to last.

I think I am now supposed to write about how Jean-Luc brilliantly deconstructed the Carmen story, creating one of his most accessible films, full of social commentary and wry humor. If you need a collection of flowery and pretentious verbiage like that, IMDb's linked reviews and comments will build your collection in no time. Unfortunately, even pretending that I understand what the above means, I am not sure I agree. Most honest people find it a difficult watch, and are not sure they completely understand it. But I have included the requisite flowery phrases apropos to French period art films, so that I can then finally talk about the film's true merit: Marushka Detmers shows everything, full frontal and rear, as does costar Jacques Bonnaffé. Also daring was a scene where Bonnaffé joins Detmers in the shower than jacks off on her.

So is the film really a retelling of Carmen? Well ...

Carmen Prenom Carmen
Young gypsy Young thief/concert violinist
Soldier Cop
Bizet's fiery latin score Beethoven and a Tom Waits song
Doomed love affair Doomed love affair

... you tell me.

Whatever it is, it is damned strange, and would be unwatchable in my opinion were it not for the nudity. Bottom line: If you enjoy that "WTF?" feeling, or really want to see Marushka Detmers very naked, this is your film.


Note from Uncle Scoopy (Johnny Web):

Why, I can't believe Tuna found this pretentious:

"He is searching for a point of equilibrium between the made and the found, the ordered and the chaotic--a point from which to define an aesthetic for the 80s."

First Name Carmen

It is now available at in a new transfer with optional subtitles in 8 different languages and a couple of image galleries.

(Click on the image for details.)


3.5 Roger Ebert (of 4 stars)
86 Rotten Tomatoes  (% positive)


6.4 IMDB summary (of 10)


Not available.



  • See the main commentary.


Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


Considered a solid genre entry by devotees of French novelle vague arthouse fare.