Week End

The deeper I get into Godard’s filmography, the more research and re-watching I have to do in order to understand his films. I want to understand what the characters are talking about, who they are supposed to represent and what Godard is trying to say. Sometimes it can become exhausting. I have this (maybe unfounded) belief that once I finish Godard’s filmography, I will know him better than any other director. But will I really know him? Do I truly understand his films, or do I just understand other people’s interpretation of them? Godard makes me feel stupid.

Week end is one of those films that grab you intellectually and dares you to try to figure it out. Loosely plotted, the story becomes secondary to the individual encounters the couple has during the course of the film. They get stuck in an epic traffic jam that tells more about the people in the traffic jam, then the couple trying to cheat their way through it. Giving up all hope that they will ever move, people play chess with each other, toss a ball around and just lay about on the adjoining field. They express no desire to see what is holding them up, but these ideas don’t get in the way of attacking this couple as they try to sneak their way through the jam. They call them dirty names, grab their hair and fling things at them. They are more upset at these people trying to beat the system then the obviously horrific car crash that is holding them up. This is of course the famous epic tracking shot that has made this film famous.

The couple goes on a type of odyssey in order to inherit the money the girl’s dad left for her. They get hijacked, crash their car, stumble upon other films, kill revolutionary thinkers, casually get raped, listen to people spout worthless political rhetoric while they try to steal food from them, and finally get captured by hippie cannibals. All in their pursuit of cold hard cash.

The couple could care less about anyone who is not a direct help to them. One scene in particular illustrates that. Two people are in a wood dressed in period clothing. They are evidence of another film that Godard may have intended at one point in his career. These two people are spouting archaic philosophy and walking in a circle amongst the woods. The dangerous couple comes upon them after several days of traveling. They need to know where this one place is, but the people talking do not care to notice they are addressing them. Instead they continue to pass a rock back and forth and talk intellectual nothings. The couple gets angry and starts harassing this intellectual curiosity. It results in lighting the woman on fire and watching her burn. The insane selfishness of this couple is bewildering and obviously a critique of the “normal” (aka not political) society.

Saying that this film is a critique on consumerist and selfish society is stating the obvious. Godard is not subtle in his commentary even when he is not actually saying anything on the soundtrack. However saying this film is worth watching because of the insanity that this couple goes through and still keeps their money lust and selfish ways is saying something else. Godard is idealistic, and perhaps that is why I like him. Perhaps that is why you should like him too.

 

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