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An Outstanding Film--But Not for Everyone...
on July 24, 2000
The review on this page which claims that Weekend is one of the worst films ever missed the point and was not apparently, given the reviewer's qualms with the movie, the intended audience for the film.
Weekend marks Godard's nearly-formal break with "bourgeois film-making," i.e., film-making which has as its sole criteria to "entertain" (as in escapism), to engage in linear story-telling, and to reinforce film cliches, formulas, and all the trappings of popular western (and especially American) film-making.
In the movie, the audience witnesses the collapse of the narrative, the disintegration of formal film technique, and--more literally--the degeneration of western civilization. A ten-minute-long traffic jam, the barbarism of pig slaughters and corpses littering the countryside, and the unsympathetic characterizations of the bourgeois couple on whom the film centers (if it does indeed have a center) have not been filmed to entertain, to comfort, or to lull the audience, but to provoke thought, to engage actively, and--quite possibly--to enrage actively as well.
Arriving at a conclusion, being "pretty" or emotional, or arranging details tidily would defeat the purpose of Weekend, which is to illustrate incoherence, savagery, and decline. And, in this regard, perhaps no film has better tampered with the status quo of film-making than Godard's Weekend has.
Also, it must be remembered that Weekend is a reflection, to a great deal, of the turbulence of the sixties, and in particular the student protests in Paris in 1968. Marxism may seem to its modern audience to be passe and irrelevant, but at the time, it was still a viable "direction" for many countries--which does not of course imply Soviet communism or the communism of Mao, but a more orthodox marxism of Marx himself.
In short--and of course this review has been anything but short--Weekend is a powerful, decadent, and innovative piece of work which seeks (or sought) to elevate film itself to the level of progressiveness that other artistic media such as painting, music, and literature have pursued in the twentieth century under the banners of modernism and postmodernism. It has largely succeeded, but unfortunately, as evidenced by the glut of action films, bathroom-humor wallows, and awkward love stories increasingly popular today, he has inspired only a relative few film-makers to follow in his footsteps...