Thursday, March 8, 2012

Godard's Weekend


(A propos of Cosford Cinema presenting Godard's Weekend on February 24)

Few movies can be as "anti-movie" as Jean-Luc Godard's 1967 Weekend. This French version of an American apocalypse may seem excessive for our bland contemporary tastes, but the film appears authentic in its exploration of the limits of traditional narrative. Godard's famous 7-min uncut tracking-shot of a super-traffic jam brings to mind the gestures of Ophüls and Renoir, but this is definitely more Brechtian -in its didactic and unrepentant postulation.

How to represent a typical paradigm of American post-Capitalist dysfunction? How to convey the possibility of social paralysis and chaos? When cooperation and civility evaporate, people are ready to rape and kill. We've seen these Godardian images time and again, in Cambodia, Rwanda, Sarajevo, Darfur & Syria.

Weekend sums up the very idea of film revolution. At some point, the protagonist loudly protests the absurdity of the whole thing -an African garbage collector is interviewed by someone off-camera. Meanwhile, the music comes and goes, leaving untouched -Cageian- swaths of silence, like dense, sonic, existential voids of vertigo.

Seeing Weekend in 2012 is a proof of how much we've changed. How strange, as our society turns more self-righteous, insidious and bullying, we become more tame, anomic and complacent.