[Marxism] Godard masterpiece now available in DVD

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Aug 23 13:03:28 MDT 2005

NY Times, August 23, 2005
New DVD's


Released in France on Dec. 29, 1967, Jean-Luc Godard's "Weekend" seems an 
eerily accurate anticipation of the social upheaval that was to rock France 
(and a fair part of the Western world) just a few months later, in May 
1968. This bitterly aggressive, profoundly misanthropic film imagines the 
weekly exodus from Paris to the provinces (as the city dwellers rush to the 
countryside, to renew relations with family and nature) in apocalyptic 
terms, as a headlong rush from a failed, materialistic society into angry, 
violent anarchy - Boudu armed with a Little Red Book and an AK-47.

The last "commercial" film made by Mr. Godard before his radical tracts of 
the 1970's, "Weekend" (it's French title, by the way, is "Week-end") begins 
as a sour film noir, as a disaffected middle-class couple (Jean Yanne and 
Mireille Darc) head to the countryside with the hope of finally finishing 
off the wife's father, a miserly real estate magnate. Instead, they become 
embroiled in one of the most famous tracking shots in film history, as Mr. 
Godard's camera moves the length of a paralyzing traffic jam, an image of a 
stalled society fueled by an anger that, for the moment, takes the form of 
honking horns but will not long be satisfied by symbolic gestures.

Michael Haneke, Europe's current bash-the-bourgeois star director (his new 
film, "Caché," will close the New York Film Festival this year) seems as 
benign as Captain Kangaroo next to Godard at this difficult juncture in his 
career. The grisly violence of the final scenes, as the French Revolution 
is evoked in the form of a blood-splattered butcher, seems to anticipate 
the genuinely nihilistic horror films that Italian directors like Ruggero 
Deodato ("Cannibal Holocaust") and Lucio Fulci ("Zombie") would turn out 
during Italy's own coming decade of social upheaval.

With the addition of commentary by the film scholar David Sterritt, the New 
Yorker Video edition of "Weekend" is identical to the disc released last 
year by the British company Artificial Eye, complete with its subtitles 
full of imponderable Britishisms. ("You oik of a peasant," one character 
says about another.) The disc shows the usual defaults of material 
transferred from the European PAL standard to America's NTSC: a softened 
image, blurry movement and a speeded-up running time, caused by the 
difference in frame rates between the systems. $29.95; not rated.



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