AS BAD AS REAL LIFE-A GODARD REVIEW!
First let’s have look at the summary of the film as it gets exhibited, before we seek to interconnect it with actual life today!
Jean Luc Godard is 87 years now and a living legend in cinema. 2017 marks the Golden Jubilee of his masterpiece “Weekend” –a film which he made when he was 37.
Year after year, Jean Luc Godard has been chipping away at the language of cinema—which has been unceasingly evolving over the years from the excessively florid and exaggerated down to Adam-at-Birth status.
Now in “Weekend” he has just about got down to bare bones.
This is his best film and his most inventive. It’s almost pure movie. It jolts you and me into thinking of the noir in the world around us—the motiveless malignancy and resident evil– and also makes us fear for our children.
It is sure to be ardently disliked by a lot of viewers, Godard fans among them.
A REVOLUTIONARY FILM ABOUT TODAY!
But revolutionary films always take some time for audiences to catch up with the vision transmitted through them.
Weekend is about violence, hatred, the end of ideology, and the approaching cataclysm that will destroy civilization. It’s also about the problem of how to make a movie about this. Movies about the Bomb are almost never effective. The subject is too large. So Godard abandons any attempt to show us real war or destruction. Instead he shows us its attitudes—the casual indifference to suffering that saturates our society today.
The film begins with motorists, perhaps because driving a car most quickly helps bring out the animal hidden within us.
We see people machine gunning one another off handedly, and without any provocation, over and across dented fenders, or using insect spray on many of them to put them at peace.
Then we see a wedded couple leaving for a weekend motoring holiday, and their journey will in fact be a tour through the horrors of consumer civilization.
But gradually we begin to understand that, when the couple gets on to the highway, the scene becomes extra ordinary.
POLITICS AS A STRETCHED METAPHOR!
There is a traffic jam-and an eye-opener traffic jam at that. It’s a 1 mile long traffic snarl and the protagonists pull onto the other lane to pass it. This begins the most famous single shot in Godard’s work. It’s a traveling shot, as you’d expect, with the camera parallel to the line of cars that continues without interruption for perhaps three quarters of a mile.
At some point, of a sudden, we realize that the subject of the shot is not the traffic jam but the fact that the shot is so artificially extended. [”Politics is a traveling shot”. said Godard a few years ago and now, in WEEKEND, we understand what he meant by that! The technique itself makes the point.
The traffic jam shows us a civilization that has gotten clogged up in its own artefacts.
[Take the case of Indian politics. Generations have disappeared in a 1-2-3 style without seeing their dreams of Free India fulfilled in any manner. Indians have behaved in an anti-Indian manner too on umpteen occasions. Innumerable and multifarious crimes have been committed by the elected human trash against those born and brought up more sensibly too. Isn’t it like a traffic jam where people get stagnated and pushed into intense undeserved discomfort against their will, and where some Smart Alecs seek to outmaneuver others?]
Finally abandoning their car, the motorists start out on their cross country journey on the most peculiar odyssey since Lemuel Gulliver’s voyages. They meet historical characters, they walk through scenes from other movies and classic novels.
They get casually nonchalantly amorally raped too. They see human bodies set afire. In a world b3reft of basic human values and where human rights are not even recognized, where Evil strides both home and street with impunity, all these and worse can happen anytime even in India and even today!]
This a radical bitter view of human society and Godard is at pains to dismiss any optimistic and liberal anodyne solutions to this deep seated jinx. [It used to be thought in the days of John Dewey that universal education would be the salvation of mankind].
So Godard provides a scene in which culture is brought down to the masses. A grand piano is set up in a vast barnyard—and the pianist begins to play. In a startling shot Godard places his camera in the Centre of the barnyard and moves it sweepingly through two complete 360 degree revolutions.
\Through the camera you and I get to see the entire barnyard –pianist, listeners, passerby and the camera crew twice in a fast sequence. WHY, Why Not?
There are some other strange things as well. Two long political speeches are seen delivered and we can’t understand why they are so stupid if meant to be taken seriously and why they are so serious if meant as a joke. This is the case one would say with about 95% of the rhetoric inspired by currently fashionable radicalism.
Godard also gives us an allegorical ending in which various animals and members of the cast are killed and eaten in a kind of ritualistic style. Eerie activities like pouring egg whites and yolks on the vaginas of stripped women before they get slaughtered and eaten –black magic?—can also be seen at this point.
By now you and I get totally lost in this incredible world of hallucinated oblivion –i.e. in the Godard universe.
Now everything makes sense but nothing holds together .Are people talking to one another or to us? What’s going on? It’s as bad as human life can beat its Gomorrah nadir!”
Think of what I have told you above before –BEFORE- you open out the pages of your family newspaper tomorrow morning! Remain prepared to see all kinds news reports of incidents and acts closely and often subtly linked or derived from Evil as Evil alone.
I shall regale you with another review later on!