Week End

Infobox_Film
name = Le weekend


caption = Film poster
director = Jean-Luc Godard
producer =
writer = Jean-Luc Godard
starring = Mireille Darc Jean Yanne
music = Antoine Duhamel
cinematography = Raoul Coutard
editing = Agnès Guillemot
distributor = Athos Films
released = December 29, 1967
runtime = 105 min.
language = French
budget = $250,000 (estimated)
imdb_id = 0062480|

"Le weekend" (1967) is a black comedy film written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard and starring Mireille Darc and Jean Yanne, both of whom were mainstream French TV stars. Jean-Pierre Léaud, iconic comic star of numerous French New Wave films including Truffaut's "Les Quatre Cent Coups" ("The Four Hundred Blows") and Godard's earlier "Masculin, féminin", also appears in two roles. Raoul Coutard served as cinematographer.

Summary

A stylish and rather jaded bourgeois French married couple, Roland and Corrine (he in his forties, she in her twenties) set out for her parents' place in the country to secure her inheritance - by murdering her father, if necessary. They find themselves on a chaotically picaresque car journey through a French countryside populated by increasingly bizarre characters and punctuated by violent car accidents. The plot becomes little more than an excuse for brilliantly inventive vignettes involving everything from schematic delineations of the class struggle to figures from literature and history, creating an overall impression of a humorous, beautiful, but also senseless and frightening world. All this is also the armature for great formal experimentation, including intertitles that intrude suddenly to cut off the action. Near the beginning two pop up to let you know you're watching 'a film adrift in the cosmos' and then 'a film found on a scrap heap'.

Corinne and Roland do eventually arrive at her parents' place - days late, thanks to the various obstacles their journey's thrown up - only to find that her father has died and her mother is refusing them a share of the spoils. Without much thought, they kill her and set back off on the road - only to fall into the hands of a group of radical hippy cannibals, in whose encampment the film ends.

Context

"Week-End" came roughly at the end of an extraordinarily productive period for Godard in the sixties, during which he made at least two films a year. Radically leftist, he describes his output during this time as the angry rattling of a metal cup against the bars of his cell - and expresses his frustration that this elicited nothing but the banal approbation of the bourgeoisie. This film, then, may be seen as a desperate attempt to wake the audience up by rubbing their face in the callousness and viciousness implicit in their lifestyle. However, Godard is too intelligent to let himself indulge in simplistic agit prop and presents a contradictory, chaotic and pessimistic worldview with no obvious solutions. In doing so, he brilliantly presages the souring of the sixties dream.

Formal, political and aesthetic aspects

The over-all look of "Week-End" is bright, summery and colourful, but Godard's kindergarten colour palette is often splashed with blood and blighted by destruction and the air of menace is enhanced by strange, disorientating cutting and Antoine Duhamel's brilliantly sinister, minimalist soundtrack music.

The great tracking shot near the beginning, in which Corrinne and Roland drive along a typical narrow, tree-lined French country road clogged with vehicles is one of the most famous in film history. Technical achievement though it is, it's likely that Godard was trying here, as in much of the rest of the film, to bore, disorient and frustrate the audience. The shot is incredibly long and, compared to anything in a mainstream film, not much happens.

This is partly a matter of Brechtian alienation technique, designed to prevent the audience from using a play or film for escapism through being entertained, tricked by illusionism and falsely empathising with the characters. In deploying this, Godard, like Brecht, might be seen as setting himself against the implicitly ideological numbing of audiences described by Adorno in his essay The Culture Industry. An even clearer instance of this occurs when the couple hitch a ride on a rubbish truck and are forced to sit listening to the Algerian and Congolese bin men explaining each others' worldviews – in great and intellectually trying detail. Cuts from close-ups of the bin men to wide shots reveal the couple's jaded expressions during these speeches – potentially confronting the audience with a mirror of their own callousness.

Transgression also features prominently, starting with the opening scene’s quotation from Georges Bataille’s "Story of the Eye," and ending in cannibalism.

It might seem reductive to pass everything in the film through the lens of Godard's politics, but the politics covers a great deal and, as in a great deal of Modernist art, is intricately bound up with the aesthetics. At times the film seems to be not just the fruition of his career up to that point, but of the whole of Modernism in art, literature and film. All his colour films of the period have the bold, primary colour palette that begin with explicit references to Mondrian's paintings in Godard's earlier film "Le Mépris" ("Contempt"), there are references to great American films such as "The Searchers" and "Johnny Guitar" and, from the strange cast of characters to the collaging in of disparate texts to the disorientating games played with film form itself, Godard often seems to owe more to Dada and Surrealism than to Brecht. For instance, in the tracked traffic jam, the soundtrack is made up of car horns, though no one in the shot is shown honking a horn. It's distancing and also aetheticises the shot, the horns becoming an oddly beautiful atonal soundtrack.

At the same time, there are also invocations of pre-Modernist figures - Emily Brontë, Louis de Saint-Just, Alexandre Dumas and, in a long scene in which a pianist plays in a farmyard, Mozart, a composer much loved by Godard. There's also a certain primitivism - one of the hippies plays a drumkit in the forest while reciting an incantatory poem, taken from the Comte de Lautréamont, that begins 'Greeting, ancient ocean'. This seemingly celebratory profusion of artistic expression of almost every variety sits oddly, yet oddly comfortably, in a film that appears to present such a grim world view. It becomes easier to read in the light of the fact that the central, bourgeois couple are almost always shown either bored by or actively hostile to artistic expression. When the Emily Brontë character presents them with a surreally poetic series of conundra, they burn her to death, averring snidely that she's only a fictional character. Again, the political dimension returns, the vitality of art and intellectual thought under threat from the belligerent banality of consumerism.

Still, it's worth remembering that Godard described himself at the time as a Maoist and the film is almost exactly contemporaneous with China's Cultural Revolution, a murderously anti-intellectual pogrom, though its full implications were not clear in the West at the time. A bit of clearly Maoist sentiment turns up a year later in Godard's "One Plus One", an even more disjointed film than Week End. When the Eve Democracy character is asked 'Do you believe, do you truly believe that to be a revolutionary intellectual one must give up being an intellectual?' she replies 'Yes! Yes! Yes!' Much of the excitement of both these films is in their relentless breaking of filmic conventions. In "Week-End", there are the traffic jam and bin men examples already cited as well as the intertitles, strange temporal cuts backwards and forwards in the narrative, slips between image and sound and long sequences of people talking direct to camera or reading aloud. Like the tracking shot, they have become celebrated elements in Godard's art, but may also be seen as arising from an antagonism to art. The film finishes with the traditional onscreen text closer, 'End' only to be completed by the addendum, 'of cinema'.

Cast

*Mireille Darc as Corinne
*Jean Yanne as Roland
*Paul Gégauff as Pianist
*Jean-Pierre Léaud as Saint-Just
*Blandine Jeanson as Emily Brontë
*Yves Afonso as Tom Thumb
*Juliet Berto as The Radical

External links

*imdb title|id=0062480|title=Week End


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • week-end — [ wikɛnd ] n. m. • 1906; mot angl., de week « semaine » et end « fin » ♦ Congé de fin de semaine, comprenant la journée ou l après midi du samedi et le dimanche. Des week ends. Partir pour le week end, fam. en week end. « ses parents sont partis… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Week end — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Week end (homonymie). Le week end (anglicisme) ou weekend ou la fin de semaine (au Québec) est une période hebdomadaire d’un ou deux jours, généralement le samedi et le dimanche, pendant laquelle la plupart des… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Week-end — n. The end of the week, usually comprising the period from Friday evening to Monday morning, observed commonly as a period of respite from work or school; as, to visit one for a week end; also, a house party during a week end. Contrasted to {wor …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • week-end — s.m.inv. ES ingl. il sabato e la domenica, in quanto giorni non lavorativi e disponibili per lo svago: trascorrere il week end al mare, nel week end sono stato in montagna, al lago Sinonimi: fine settimana. {{line}} {{/line}} VARIANTI: weekend.… …   Dizionario italiano

  • Week End — (Кан,Франция) Категория отеля: 2 звездочный отель Адрес: 14000 Кан, Франция …   Каталог отелей

  • week|end — or week end «WEEK EHND», noun, adjective, verb. –n. 1. Saturday and Sunday as a time for recreation, visiting, and other pastimes: »a weekend in the country. 2. a house party occurring over a weekend, as at a college or university. –adj. of or on …   Useful english dictionary

  • week-end — /wiˈkɛnd, ingl. ˈwiːkˌɛnd/ [comp. ingl. di week «settimana» e end «fine»] loc. sost. m. inv. fine settimana, sabato e domenica □ vacanza di fine settimana …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • week-end — / wi:kɛnd/, it. /wi kɛnd/ locuz. ingl. [comp. di week settimana e end fine ], usata in ital. come s.m. [i giorni di sabato e domenica, intesi come periodo di riposo dal lavoro: trascorrere il w. al mare ] ▶◀ fine settimana …   Enciclopedia Italiana

  • week|end|er — «WEEK EHN duhr», noun. a person who spends a weekend away from home: »Boating takes vacationists and weekenders off crowded highways (New York Times) …   Useful english dictionary

  • Week-end — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Week end (homonymie). Le week end (variante weekend[1], comme en anglais), issu de l anglais weekend ; ou la fin de semaine (au Canada francophone) est une période hebdomadaire d’un ou deux jours,… …   Wikipédia en Français


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