Great movies are often considered controversial on some level, whether in their direction, motives or cinematography.
Rarely does a highly celebrated film provoke controversy on all three levels.
Jean-Luc Godard’s 1967 film “Weekend” does precisely this. It has been nearly 40 years since the making of “Weekend,” yet arguments are still raging about its genius, or lack thereof.
In “Weekend,” a highly materialistic French couple embarks on a weekend trip to the countryside. However, what seems to be an idyllic trip to visit the wife’s parents is actually a plot to poison her father and steal his money.
As it happens, though, they have trouble reaching their destination, and their journey turns into a downward spiral of road rage, revolution, murder and cannibalism as their bourgeois values begin to disintegrate under the weight of their consumerism.
Godard used the film as a social commentary on the materialism of middle-class Gallic society and the perceived imperialism of the United States, promoting his leftist views.
In this dark comedy, Godard hints at the potential collapse of Western civilization, as the film concludes with, “End of cinema, end of the world.”
Godard’s direction of this film has earned its fair share of scathing criticism from reviewers. In “Weekend,” he creates a world that is self-knowingly a farce, an easily misunderstood tactic.
The idea that his characters know that they are in a movie is unsettling to some viewers, who see it as a mistake rather than a novel filmmaking concept. “Weekend” has also proven controversial in its eclectic cinematographic style. However, the extraordinary imagery and methodology – woven-together inter-titles, extended tracking shots and blaring music – have added a new vocabulary to film language and are still unsurpassed.
In fact, this film contains Godard’s most famous cinematic moment: an eight-minute traveling shot with the camera parallel to the line of cars in a traffic jam, which continues without interruption for about three-quarters of a mile. The satiric nature of this shot continues to challenge and shock contemporary audiences.
“Weekend” will be screened four times in the Connelly Center Cinema: Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 3:30 and 7 p.m. and Monday at 7 p.m. Admission is $3.50 for students with ID and $5 for everyone else. The Monday showing only will feature speaker John Carvalho, a professor from the philosophy department, who will provide an introduction to the film and lead a discussion afterward.
For more information, call the Communication Department at x9-4750 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., or consult the CFS web page: www.culturalfilms.villanova.edu