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(1967, Jean-Luc Godard)

- Inducted 2019 -

Weekend, Jean-Luc Godard's 1967 scathing black comedy, has lost none of its bite over the decades and perhaps has gained even more relevance in the current rancid political climate as 2020 draws near. It was a fin de siecle moment in Godard's career marking the end of his New Wave period, but as an avant-garde contemplation of society's descent into apocalyptic barbarism, it holds up a challenging mirror to society in any era.

“Opening with a bourgeois couple, Corrine (Mireille Darc) and Roland (Jean Yanne), each having an affair with someone else and each hoping and planning for the death of the other, Godard's bourgeoisie are neither discreet nor charming but rather creatures of their ids, powered by assumed privilege and lust for material wealth, an illusory soulless symbolism of success.

“Godard generates laughs at them and society through absurdist sight gags like a woman trying to fend off a man by hitting tennis balls at him or Corrine and Roland haplessly trying to steal a car. The dark comedy comes in the form of a casual mention from Corrine that she's been poisoning her father for 5 years or Roland getting out of the car to inspect a hitchhiker, staring at her legs, hiking up her skirt, before he decides to let her in. When a proletariat's words, ‘We're all brothers, as Marx said,’ bothers Corrine, Roland corrects her, ‘It wasn't Marx. Another communist said it. Jesus said it.’ Also Godard, as he is wont to do, breaks the fourth wall and has Roland claim, ‘What a rotten film, all we meet are crazy people,’ after they encounter Emily Bronte.

Weekend is made up of numerous memorable set pieces, the first of which is an intimately framed conversation with Corinne, half silhouetted, as the camera pans across her body only in bra and panties in front of white drapes. Corinne tells an intense erotic story of her engaging in a kinky menage a trois, perhaps Godard's response to Ingmar Bergman's Persona released the year before. The film's most famous set piece and one of the most famous in all of cinema is the audacious tracking shot of a traffic jam. It occurs in two unbroken takes, the first 2 minutes and 40 seconds, the second 5 minutes 10 seconds. This is Godard's version of a Hieronymus Bosch triptych with all of society is on display.

"’The Extermination Angel’ segment, named after the Luis Bunuel film, is perhaps the most hilarious in Weekend. Joseph Balsamo, named after the Alexandre Dumas character Cagliostro, kidnaps Roland and Corinne after they stop to pick up his hitchhiking companion, Marie Madeleine. Balsamo explains that he is the son of Dumas and God, an old queer. He proves his divinity by having Corrine pull a hare out of the glove box and tells them he can give them anything they desire if they drive him to London. Roland asks for a ‘big Mercedes sports car’ while Corinne requests ‘an Yves St. Laurent evening dress’ or to make her a natural blond. The comedy is all in Godard's deadpan delivery.

“The ‘Musical Action’ segment is, in its own way, as equally audacious as the traffic jam. A pianist plays Mozart's final piano sonata, K. 576, while delivering a tirade against post-war classical music, which he describes as the ‘biggest disaster in the history of art.’ He cites The Beatles and Rolling Stones as the true inheritors of Mozart's melodies while Roland yawns to the music. All of this is in a single 6 1/2 minute take while the camera pans around and around in circles culminating in one of the film's most memorable lines, ‘Mozart's too easy for beginners and children, too hard to virtuosi.’ The scene could be seen as an early bit of experimental formalism that would soon be practiced with greater rigor by the likes of Michael Snow.

“The movie is essentially a road trip delving into the hearts of darkness 12 years before Apocalypse Now with Weekend's forest dwelling revolutionary cannibals and animal slaughter. The latter portions of the film will divide most viewers as Godard foregrounds political polemics while becoming ever more abstract. The New Wave Godard finally disappears and the radical, militant Godard of his next period emerges. Though Arnaud and Jean-Marie Larrieu's underrated and far more apolitical Happy End has a few similarities, there's nothing else in cinema quite like Weekend. It's Godard's caustic outburst culminating eight of the most fruitful years by any creative force in film history. Before the film's final title card, ‘End of Cinema,’ Weekend displays a boldness rarely seen before or since.” ~ George Wu

Principal cast: Mireille Darc, Jean Yanne, Jean-Pierre Kalfon, and featuring Karl Marx as himself, with uncredited appearances by Juliet Berto, Michčle Breton, Jean Eustache, Paul Gégauff, Jean-Pierre Léaud, László Szabó, Anne Wiazemsky
Written by Jean-Luc Godard
Director of photography: Raoul Coutard
Film editing by: Agnčs Guillemot
Original music by Antoine Duhamel
Sound by René Levert
Assistant director: Claude Miller
Based on the short story “La Autopista del Sur” by Julio Cortázar (uncredited)

Duration: 105 minutes
Languages: French
Filmed in color (Eastmancolor)
Sound mix: Mono
Cinematographic process: Spherical
Aspect ratio: 1.66:1
Printed film format: 35mm

Produced by Comacico, Les Films Copernic, Lira Films, Cinecidi
Released in USA by Grove Press
Premiered in France on December 29, 1967
USA release date: September 27, 1968

Awards and honors:
- Berlin Film Festival, 1968 – Golden Bear (nominee)
- National Board of Review, 1968 – Best Film (nominee)
- National Board of Review, 1968 – Best Director: Jean-Luc Godard (nominee)

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