Weekend Review

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Unhappily married, cash-strapped bourgeois Corinne and Richard set off to visit her mother to borrow some money, only to find themselves caught in an endless traffic jam that soon turns out to be the least of their worries.

Jean-Luc Godard reached the cinematic crossroads with this audacious film, which sought to dispense with the paraphenalia of commercial movies in order to liberate the viewer from their conformist capitalist agenda. However, in decimating the illusion of screen reality, Godard managed only to replace it with an anti-structure that was every bit as politically driven and psychologically manipulative. He might have protested that he was not the author of Weekend, but it's impossible to escape his jaundiced views on the bourgeoisie and his contention that a brutalised society could only be purged by more extreme horrors. But, as failed polemics go, this one is a masterpiece.

   The vendetta against linear narrative that had been fermenting throughout Godard's earlier work finally erupted here in a cascade of New Wave iconoclasm. Having declared it to be `a film found on a rubbish tip', he proceeded to litter the action with captions that ranged from slogans to enigmatic pronouncements that opposed the purpose of screen calligraphy by confusing rather than clarifying the issue. Elsewhere he had characters speak directly to the camera, interview each other or launch into monologues, while others, like the French revolutionary St Just and the novelist Emily Brontë, were completely anachronistic.

   The action was also packed with allusions to such features as Mauritz Stiller's Gösta Berlings Saga, Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin, Nicholas Ray's Johnny Guitar, John Ford's  The Searchers and Luis Buñuel's The Exterminating Angel, while Arizona Jules was a reference to both Jean Renoir's Le Crime de Monsieur Lange and François Truffaut's Jules et Jim.

   Moreover, Godard constantly drew attention to the filmicness of the picture. Fades misfired, colours were forced and the sprocket holes even appeared after one of film's many car crashes. Camera angles also occasionally seemed askew, while at other times they were rigorously controlled, such as the 360° shot during the Mozart lecture and the famous track past the endless traffic jam, which treated mundane and bizarre behaviour with equal indifference.

      Scathingly satirical, recklessly poetic and bleakly surreal, this was a bloodcurdling howl of frustration at the state of both cinema and the world.

Another of Godard's New Wave triumphs