Le Weekend was the sixth Godard film I’ve seen, and the most challenging. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it exactly but it was interesting. It shows a bourgeois French couple who set out for her parents place in the country to secure her inheritance – if necessary by murdering her father. This entails a chaotic car journey through a French countryside, with more and more violent car accidents as the film progresses (turning into murder, rape and cannibalism), interspersed by increasingly surreal vignettes, containing everything from delineations of the class struggle to artistic expression of all kinds, from Mozart to Mondrian. The couple are always either bored or even hostile to the art; when they come across Emily Bronte in the woods and she ignores their request for directions, telling them artistic conundrums instead, they burn her to death saying that she is only a fictional character.
Godard is even more reliant in this film on Brechtian alienation technique (Verfremdungseffekt), wherein a film should not cause the spectator to emotionally identify with the action before him or her, but should instead provoke rational self-reflection and a critical view of the actions on display. This is done by sudden intertitles which interrupt the action, like at the beginning: A Film Found on a Scrap Heap, long sequences of characters talking directly to the camera, and by the character’s own awareness of the film, for instance when they find Emily Bronte they say this isn’t a book, it’s a film! Film is life!
However, I found that I enjoyed this far less than I have enjoyed other Verfremdungseffekt pieces, although I think this was Godard’s intention. He described himself as a Maoist at the time as so was increasingly pissed off with his films, that heavily critised the bourgeoisie, actually gained the appreciation of the bourgeoisie, so this film was a way of rubbing their noses in the vicious, callous world they supported. Having said this, the film is far more complex than being simply Godard’s soapbox; it gives no obvious answers to the hellish world created on film. And given how hellish it is, the celebration of art in the film sits uncomfortably alongside.