Bruno Forestier and Veronica Dreyer are very young, almost teenagers, in spite of their impressive appearance. Bruno is elegantly masculine, Veronica – intelligently feminine. And they are very seriously politically involved. Veronica is humanistically oriented and genuinely dedicated to her noble cause – helping those who are trying to liberate themselves from the oppressors (here, Algerians fighting for liberation from Imperial France). Bruno’s situation is much more complicated and sometimes ambiguous. There is no question that Bruno is dedicated to high culture (to knowing and understanding serious art, philosophy and music) with exceptional intensity. But his intellectual dedication, instead of being rooted in reality and finding way to people’s lives – not only staying Bruno’s personal interest, but, in a climate of domination of politico-economic aspirations over life, it became his attempts to escape the feverishly prosaic world full of repressive and manipulative energies. It became a kind of a psychological trick of distracting himself from the unbearable truth about the society which is seducing people into consumerist and entertainment addiction instead of stimulating their thinking about what’s going on.

Bruno is trapped by the right-wing organization working against Algerian liberation, and in spite of his impulsive and often childish attempts to liberate himself, is forced to become a hit-man and follow orders. Bruno is, probably, not the typical man among the right-wing secret agents, but it makes his collaboration even more tragic. While Veronica, because of her youthful idealism and a lack of understanding that nice ideas about liberation and her taste for freedom and her support of national self-determination are not identical with militant fight for realization of all that and even can come to contradict the very spirit of liberation, collaborated with the agents working for Algeria’s independence, Bruno as enemy of Veronica’s organization was captured and tortured by her comrades-in-arms. Bruno heroically survived torture without surrendering to the enemy any worthy information, but Veronica was captured by Bruno’s associates, tortured and murdered. Pretty hopeless results for human love, and that says something important about condition of young people doomed to be outsmarted by the adult functionaries of political and economic powers.

Scenes of Bruno’s torture in the film are shown without sensationalism but with truthfulness that makes it not easy to witness. Waterboarding of Bruno and the end of Veronica emphasize how fragile the young people are in comparison with professionally trained in manipulation functionaries of organized politics. The film is a warning – how successfully even the culturally educated and even with noblest hearts young people are manipulated by the political functionaries because youthful humanism (personified by Veronica) and genuine artistic proclivities (personified by Bruno) cannot match the practicality of political militancy of those who organize and carry out belligerent political fight.

Godard’s film is futuristically oriented, for example, it shows sessions of torture as habitual and matter-of-factly practices as if it takes place in the 21st century – in the 60s nobody could imagine that torturing could be done with a halo of pride around the torturers’ heads. By this film Godard warned people about what will come, and his prophesy of a coming barbarization of humanity is proved to be true. The systemic abuse of the young people – their transformation into (conservative) agents of repressive powers and by this shattering of their spiritual and intellectual potentials is another horrifying prophesy of Godard’s “The Little Soldier” which today is in a process of being confirmed by life. Young people today have to watch this film instead (of attending) rock-concerts or spectacular sport-events.

The tremendous, confident, shining and driving an expensive car, Bruno Forestier entered Switzerland. In the backseat, over the movie-camera we see Jean-Luc Godard.

Playing philosophical ping-pong with himself distracts Bruno from cultural destruction around

For pure thinking (in philosophy and in technical science) Bruno may be right, but not in understanding life

Michel Subor and Anna Karina in Jean-Luc GodardÕs LE PETIT SOLDAT (1963). Courtesy: Rialto Pictures/Studiocanal
Composition of this still suggests that Veronica in their relationship with Bruno is for him like ephemeral butterfly in between him and his self-introspective reflection of himself

Veronica is saying “no” to Bruno

Veronica, trapped by Bruno’s artistic “pressure” looks like she is making a confession in love, saying “yes” to him

Laszlo – the senior secret agent, working for the Algerian liberation, lights his cigarette right before using fire to torture Bruno

“Enhanced interrogation technique”, to use the 21st century vocabulary, is applied to Bruno in the early 60s