“What a rotten film. All we meet are crazy people.”
‘Weekend’, directed by Jean-Luc Godard in 1967, is a satirical French comedy. It’s a strange, apparently directionless film that at times seems to seek to dismantle the concept of film itself. It focuses on a couple who are travelling to secure an inheritance, they leave suburban Paris and, as they travel through rural France they encounter a variety of eccentric and symbolic characters each of whom has a political message for them. They also become involved in a sequence of violent and subversion situations including (many) car crashes, gun fights, rapes and incidents of cannibalism. The film it reminded me most of was Luis Buñuel’s 1967 ‘The Milky Way’, released two years after Godard’s movie, but ‘Weekend’ seems threaded with Buñuel’s style and even nods towards him with one episode titled ‘The Exterminating Angel’. Like Buñuel, Godard presents an abstracted rural location, interwoven by roads, as a location for a serious of social and political commentaries about Europe, the political left, and colonisation. Where Godard diverges from Buñuel though is in the way he comments on, and playfully subverts, the form he is using. The director frequently breaks the fourth wall and, tellingly, exposes the illusory fabrication of film. There are two scenes that stand out – the first is an epic, unbroken tracking shot along a traffic jam which slowly exposes ever more visceral evidence of accidents before finally showing the two main characters completely oblivious to the carnage around them. The second is an equally languorous shot showing a barnyard in which the camera revolves showing the location, but also the camera crew. Godard seems to be tying together his criticism of western colonisation with an artistic critique of cinematic norms. I might, of course, be wrong about this as I fell asleep for twenty minutes in the middle.
Would I recommend it? Yes – but maybe with caffeine. I’d watch with a Buñuel movie, possibly ‘The Milky Way’.