|We get a bourgeois couple.....|
Described as an attack on consumerism Jean-Luc Godard’s 1967 feature film Weekend appears more like the gradual decline of civilisation. This was the last of what is considered his French New Wave Period (1959-1967) and is another example of his mid-sixties departure from plot driven narratives (see also Made in USA 1966). It is a joy to watch but its narrative is indeed incoherent in comparison with earlier work like the inspired Band a part (1964) or Le Mepris (1963) a typical French art house movie where Goddard directs Brigitte Bardot as Brigitte Bardot and Jack Palance as Jack Palance. This film was described as a ‘sublime meditation on absurdity, compromise and integrity in art and marriage’, which basically means nothing really happens! But to be fair watching Bardot at the height of her beauty is a real treat, almost brings you to tears. She is undoubtedly one of the benchmark’s by which beauty is measured. I digress.
Although quite humorous, Weekend is an unconventional and bizarre road movie that portrays a frightening world. We sample this world through a bourgeois French couple who leave Paris for the countryside to claim an inheritance from a dying parent who, if not dead by the time they get there, they intend to murder. On their journey they encounter figures from both history and literature along with a group of cannibalistic revolutionary’s! This unusual road trip is not only punctuated by violent car accidents and dead bodies littering the roadside but with rape, murder and pillage.
No assessment of this film would be complete without mention of its famous 10-minute tracking shot: the most surreal traffic jam ever seen on screen. This nightmarish gridlock does not only consists of cars but a horse and cart, zoo animals, boats, people picnicking, playing cards and board games and a whole load of blood!
One critic stated ‘since Godard’s films have nothing to say, perhaps we could have 90 minutes silence instead of each of them’. I find this a rather bigoted view because we need directors with vision and imagination, people like Godard that made avant-garde movies rather than run of the mill safe and stale ‘entertainment’ that we do tend to get at todays multiplex’s! Long live Fopp.