Weekend (1967): Godard’s Anarchic Film

A scathing satire of modernist life from Jean-Luc Godard, Weekend is one of his most anarchic and anti-social works.  Godard goes way beyond Luis Bunuel in his satirical attack of bourgeois mores and manners, approximating cinema of cruelty and violence.

Weekend
Weekendflm.jpg

Theatrical release poster

I saw Weekend as a  high-school graduate, and it made such a strong impression on me that it reinforced my already-present inclination to become a film scholar and critic.

Determined to collect an inheritance from a dying relative, a bourgeois couple, Corinne (Mireille Darc) and Roland (Jean Yanne), travel in their red convertible across the French countryside, while civilization (and any form of norms, rules, and manners) literally crashes and burns around them, manifest in numerous stalled trucks, car accidents, fires, and human fatalities along the way.

Courtesy of the brilliant cinematographer and frequent Godard (and New Wave) collaborator Raoul Coutard, the movie contains a remarkable sequence, running a full reel and about ten-minute long which has become legendary in film history, in which the camera tracks along an endless traffic jam.  It’s a bumper-to-bumper carnivalesque festival of cars, honking, careening, crashing, overturning, and burning.

As with every Godard work, the film is an allegory rich with historical and political allusions and replete with references to literature, painting, and poetry.  The score combines new music by Antoine Duhamel along with Mozart’s Piano Sonata K.576).

Sometimes disturbing, often hilarious, this nearly-surreal picture depicts a society in which every small arguments leads to a major fight, depicting a society in which the modus  is sheer savagery—every man (and woman) for himself (and herself)

Ultimately, Weekend may be one of the strongest cinematic condemnation of Western capitalism, excessive consumerism, and sexual hypocrisy.  In the opening act, Corinne, in in panties and on a desk, describes in graphic detail a sexual encounter that involves an egg and orifice.

Made in 1967, the movie is one of Godard’s most ambitious and revolutionary works, made just before his career turned in what is known as his Dziga-Vertov era.

Credits:

Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
Produced by Raymond Danon
Screenplay by Jean-Luc Godard
Based on La autopista del Surn by Julio Cortázar
Music by Antoine Duhamel
Cinematography Raoul Coutard
Edited by Agnès Guillemot
Distributed by Athos Films

Release date: December 29, 1967

Running time: 105 minutes
Budget $250,000