In 1967, Jean-Luc Godard officially ended “bourgeois” narrative filmmaking.
A man that was now dedicated in being the voice of the students, the workers, the voice of to rebel against the government, the world and even his fellow filmmakers.
While Godard had hints of rebelliousness through his previous films, the tension felt in France in 1967 and Godard’s work would be the predecessor of the May 1968 protests in France. The largest strike which literally brought the economy of any advanced industrial country to a standstill. For two weeks, 22% of the working force of France went on strike for two weeks, students were involved in violent clashes with the police and university administrators.
Suffice to say that French communists and socialists wanted President Charles de Gaulle to be replaced, anarchy reigned and for Jean-Luc Godard, he is a man who believed in Marxism and was sick of the bourgeoisie’s consumerism.
While it is known that a year later, Godard would embody Maoist ideology, in 1967, with his two films “La Cinoise” and “Weekend”, his feelings towards France and the bourgeoisie became apparent.
So, for one to watch “Weekend” and you are a Godard fan who loved “Breathless”, “Band of outsiders”, “Vivre sa vie”, “Pierrot le fou” to name a few of his films from 1960-1965, it’s best to not think of “Weekend” in the same context.
In fact, while watching this film, watch it as a film of rebellion, a film of revolution, a film that is cerebral and a film that must be appreciated at a different level.
Legendary film critic Andrew Sarris once wrote in his 1968 “Village Voice” review of “Weekend” and about Godard, “As much as Godard indulges in the rhetoric of rebellion, his deepest feelings seem to be situated before the revolution. He was born, he implies, too soon and too late, too soon to forget the sweetness of the past and too late to perpetuate that same sweetness, particularly in the remembered realm of movies with subjects not yet swallowed up by the subjective. Godard seems to want it both ways as the prime prophet of the first-person film and the lead mourner of the third-person movie”.
Another legendary film critic Pauline Kael wrote in 1967 in her review of “Weekend”, “Though deeply flawed, this film has more depth than any of Godard’s earlier work. It’s his vision of Hell and it ranks with the greatest. As a mystical movie, ‘Weekend’ is comparable to Berman’s ‘Seventh Seal’ and ‘Shame’ and Ichikawa’s ‘Fires on the Plain’ and the passages of Kurosawa, yet hardly aware of the magnitude of the writer-director’s conception until after we are caught up in the comedy of horror, which keeps going further and further and becoming more nearly inescapable, like ‘Journey to the End of the Night”.
Even in the visual essay by Kent Jones (included with The Criterion Collection release of “Weekend”), he also had his own interpretations of “Weekend”.
Watching “Weekend”, I can see why. The film is complex, it is cerebral, it is visual but it is a film which is audacious yet beguiling.