[Marxism] Godard masterpiece now available in DVD
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Tue Aug 23 13:03:28 MDT 2005
NY Times, August 23, 2005
By DAVE KEHR
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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