Les Carabiniers is Godard’s most explicit and concentrated attack on war. More than that, however, it seems to be an attack on humanity in general, and the trivial and senseless justifications behind the decision to go to war. Per usual with Godard, especially in his later works, it is nihilistic and disgusted. Ulysses and Michelangelo, interestingly named, are two buffoons drawn into serving for their country by the promise of the riches of the world, which they will have at their fingertips, and which they may take by any means, exempt from any punishment. The two, without any sense of intelligence, humanity, or compassion, and in fact taking pleasure in it, thieve, murder, pillage, run rampant across the countrysides and cities. It is a pitiful depiction of human desire and compassion. Ultimately, the two are left with nothing but photographs and postcards of places they have been, but without any physical thing in their possession. Thus, commodities are truly nothing.
I enjoyed this film for the mere fact that it works well in what I believe it is trying to do. It may sound simplistic and I may in fact be marginalizing or missing the point here, but, to put it plainly and without any Godard-like intellectualizations, it is against war. And, as Godard is apparently expressing, war is based fundamentally on the acquisition of commodities, more than it is anything else. And, interestingly, Ulysses and Michelangelo are commodities themselves, objects of the state to be used to further the status of the state. And it is exactly this objective, inhumane, and materialistic idealism that is at the root of the decay of society.