Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 11th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: France, December 29th, 1967
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Writer: Jean-Luc Godard
Cast: Mireille Darc, Jean Yanne, Jean-Pierre Kalfon, Valérie Lagrange, Jean-Pierre Léaud
DVD released: February 28th, 2005
Approximate running time: 99 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
DVD Release: Artificial Eye
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: $31.95
Corinne (Mireille Darc) has been having an affair. She has planned with her lover the perfect way to dispose of her unwanted husband Roland (Jean Yanne) and father who they are going to pick up from a mental clinic. Roland also unsatisfied with the marriage with the help of his mistress comes up with his own sinister plan to end Corrine’s father’s life which will bring him closer to the family’s fortune. What starts out as a typical drive through the country soon becomes hell on earth as traffic jams, eccentric characters and bizarre events unfold which push them farther away from their ultimate goal?
Jean-Luc Godard is one of the 21st centuries greatest visual artists was one of the driving forces behind the Nouvelle Vague movement through out the 1960’s. His films help shape and redefine the way in which cinema is created. Weekend would mark an end of era for Godard as his film post Weekend would take on a more Avante Garde approach over the more commercial filmmaking the has engulfed us.
Weekend is a peculiar film. What starts out as a straight forward thriller loaded with devious schemes of murder and greed quickly transforms into the road movie from hell. One stylistic choice that I found interesting is Godard’s use of Blue and Red inter-titles cards that force us the viewer to read between the actions we are seeing. The use of music in Weekend also helps set the tone by heightening Godard’s iconic visuals. The non-linear flow to the narrative adds to the films chaotic structure and multiple viewings are recommended. The dialog starts off sexually charged and provocative before settling into a more socially driven mantra Godard is known for. Godard as a filmmaker is always willing to experiment and he rarely repeats himself. There is a breath taking dolly shot that follows the length of the traffic jam. Children play games while adults stand around and play chess or cards. The pacing of this shot and actions of the drivers make this shot feel like it would never end building up this sense tension before Godard reveals at the end of the shot the carnage of an car accident as bodies and cars lay mangled on the side of the road.
Music and sound perfectly complement Godard’s strong visual storytelling. One major theme in the movie Godard explores is road rage which now more then ever is relevant. What may seem at first as a beautiful drive through the country could soon turn into a living hell because of the ticking time bomb driving next or behind you. Godards use of a car is symbolic of our individualism and isolation as human beings. We often forget about others when they are suffering. For every action we take there must be a counter balance and the characters in Weekend due either to their selfishness or just plain ignorance fail to realize that are consequences to their careless actions. There are a few moments during the film when the actors acknowledge that they are in a movie and that what you are watching isn’t real which for its time was new. This film makes good use of location as virtually everything was shot on location and not a sound stage which gives the film a documentary like feel. Raoul Coutard’s contribution to Weekend and the films of Jean-Luc Godard during the 1960’s shouldn’t be overlooked. Through his vast knowledge and expertise Godard was able to craft the most experimental films of his career. The overall tone of Weekend is nastier and meaner then your typical Godard film.
Artificial Eye’s release presents Weekend in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. The colors look vibrant and lucid through out. The black levels remain constant and strong with natural looking flesh tones. There are no problems with edge enhancement of compression. Overall this DVD looks amazing and I would rank it right up there with Criterions work on Contempt and a Woman is a Woman. This release comes with only one audio option the films original French language track which is presented in its original Dolby Digital mono mix. There are no problems with hiss or distortion. Considering the age of the film and limitations of the mono source this sound mix is extremely pleasing and more then gets the job done. Removable English subtitles have been included that are easy to read and follow. The main extras for this release consist of two interviews. The first interview is with Cinematographer Raoul Coutard who primarily focuses on his work on Weekend and he does discuss his several collaborations with Jean-Luc Godard. The second interview is with filmmaker Mike Figgis who gives his opinions on Weekend and the cinema of Jean-Luc Godard. Both interviews are filled with incite that gives fans of Godard and Weekend a better understanding of the two. Rounding out the extras are bios for Jean-Luc Godard, Raoul Coutard, Mike Figgis and Colin MacCabe. Weekend is a fascinating look into the darker side of humanity and if you are not fan of the cinema of Jean-Luc Godard you will be after watching this film.