Godard was the bad boy of the French New Wave.Whereas his contemporaries such as Francois Truffaut were “safe” and
“accessible,” Godard liked to shock people.A lot of his work, especially in the sixties, was also political in
nature—this was a man unafraid to scathingly portray French bourgeois society
at its worst and trumpet his views on class discrepancy with the ferocity of a
bull dog.In other words, he enjoyed
pissing off audiences.
in 1967 with the opening titles caveat that “children under 18 should not see
this film,” we are told at the beginning that Weekend (or Week End or Week-end, depending on what country
you’re in) is a film “found on the trash heap.”It is one of the darkest and most vicious black comedies ever made, and
naturally, it is one of Godard’s best pictures.It is simultaneously fascinating, repulsive, and hilarious, and not for
the faint of heart.But discerning fans
of art house cinema should eat it up.
story, as it were, involves a bickering married couple (Mireille Darc and Jean
Yanne, both of whom were major French TV stars at the time the film was made)
who have plans to kill each other and run off with their respective
lovers.But before that can happen, they
have to murder Darc’s father so she will inherit his wealth.They set off across country to her parents’
home and find themselves on a nightmare journey through a landscape of traffic
jams, automobile accidents (and fatalities) at nearly every juncture, and
violence.The humor comes with the
couple acting as if it’s all part of everyday life.
celebrated sequence is a lengthy tracking shot along a road backed up with
vehicles.As our anti-heroes attempt to
pass the idling cars and trucks to move to the head of the line, we’re treated
with all kinds of sight gags (such as one car that’s facing the opposite
direction and wedged between two vehicles going the right way).We laugh and laugh.Then, when we finally reach the front of the
traffic jam, we see that the cause was a bad accident, and entire families are
lying bloody in the road.The couple
drives through the scene as if the holdup was a minor nuisance.Later, when the couple’s car is also in a
collision and catches fire, Darc is more upset about her Hermes handbag getting
burned than the fact that she and her husband are covered in blood and the car
is destroyed.That’s the kind of movie Weekend is.
new digital restoration with uncompressed monaural soundtrack is superb.The cinematography by Raoul Coutard always
had a color documentary feel to it, but the Blu-ray brings out a sharpness
hitherto unseen in prints.Extras
include archival interviews with the stars and assistant director, an archival
piece on Godard featuring on-set footage, and more.The thick booklet contains an essay by
critic/novelist Gary Indiana, selections from a 1969 interview with Godard, and
excerpts from a Godard biography.
Weekend was a comment on
French society in 1967, and the irony today is that the film might be even more
relevant in our own present world.