Jean Luc Godard's film Weekend
isn't an easy film, and much of the chaotic fragments are difficult to interpret. It was made in 1967 at time of student protests against the exploitation of the individual, nature, civil liberties and western imperialism in the third world. It is clear that Godard succeeded in breaking up the invisible narrative unity of commercial film with a dark farce. The film is about a car ride of a bourgeois couple Corrine and Roland Durand played by two popular television stars Mireille Darc and Jean Yanne. They are cheating on each other and plan to kill each other. But first they want to kill Corrine's father in order to get her inheritance. They set off in a small black convertible Triumph after crashing into their neighbor's car and being chased away by the owner with a tennis racket, her son, a young boy dresses up as a Native American Indian and her husband with a gun.
On route there is one long traffic jam with people waiting to get out of town for the weekend. The car passes various vehicles, some which hold Llamas and monkeys in cages, school children, tour buses and farmers with horses and hay. At the front of the traffic jam is an accident with people lying dead on the road.
On their way to various places Corrine and Roland observer some kind of car accident and there is constant horn honking on the road. There is much in the film that signifies class conflict and criticizes the icons of the bourgeoisie.
One car crash involves a farmer with his tractor and a woman whose rich young partner is killed who was driving a foreign sports car. She complains that the tractor doesn't even belong to the farmer but some stupid union or cooperative. Yet when Corrine and Roland refuse to help them the worker and the bourgeoisie unite, after which the French national anthem is played.
Later they are forced by gunpoint to pickup hitchhikers, Joseph Basalmo, the Son of God and Alexander Dumas, and the poet Emily Bronte.
When Corrine and Roland are themselves in an accident and the car is totaled she is most upset that her Hermès bag is burned up. They meet the French revolutionary leader Saint-Juste played by Jean-Pierre Leaud who preaches, "nowhere is liberty, which is the foundation of society". Along they way they try to steal a car where Leaud doubles as a singing man in a phone booth who won't get end his call.
Not only is there class conflict but a constant war between the sexes. The film is partly didactic with voice overs on for example US imperialism and the exploitation of Africa. There is also war between high and low culture for example when Roland sets fire to Emily Bronte and she burns to death. This is because is unable to give directions but only answers in poems. "We are in life, not in a book, but in a film. Film is life", says Corrine.
Corrine and Roland then hitch a ride with a concert pianist where he gives a recital on a farm while the woman playing Bronte in modern clothing looks on. The film is primarly shot in middle shot with the exception of a close tracking shot of Godards' girlfriend at the time Anne Wiazemsky who briefly walks on and off camera during this scene.
The film takes a dark twist when Corrine and Roland arrive at her parent's home. Her father has already died and they kill her mother for not helping them financially.
Afterwards Roland and Corrine meet a commune of cannibals who she later eats. The time frame of the weekend, which has been flashing in intertitles during the film, changes to more elliptical periods such as August, the week of four Thursdays, the fourth month of the French Republic calendar Pluviose and Vende Miaire, the grape harvest month and last chapter of the film.
Godard hadn't done well with his films at the time he made Weekend
and he decided to stop after this. The end credit is not only "End", but "End of Cinema". Yet he continued later with much more structured with politically dogmatic themes.
For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan, Stockholm SWEDEN
© 2009 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 5/13/09
Italy, France - 1967