As we all know, Jean-Luc Godard has stuffed his filmography with vehicles and Serge Bellu reminded him final evening. However the Franco-Swiss troublemaker who disappeared on Tuesday didn’t solely use the automobile as an ornamental factor, or to maneuver round. In his movies, he has made it a marker of society, from its carelessness to its dysfunction. And a single function movie alone symbolizes this humorous and curious relationship he had with the automobile. This movie is Weekend, and it dates from 1967.
At the moment, the director had simply chained some good successes, comparable to Breathless and Pierrot le Fou with Jean-Paul Belmondo, and even Contempt with Brigitte Bardot and Michel Piccoli. However 67 is the yr of his swap to a extra underground and extra political. The recklessness of his lunar and teenage characters, who use vehicles as a device for freedom, is over.
JLG has modified, however earlier than flying off to the 70s, a interval throughout which he’ll go as far as to refuse to signal the movies he directs, he desires to settle his account with an organization that has spoiled him. To attain this, he’ll use, in Weekendwhich for him greatest symbolizes the civilization of leisure, virility, violence and consumption: the car.
It should be stated that on this yr 1967, 13,500 folks died on French roads and these deaths, Godard desires to indicate them to us. By the use of comparability, 3,200 folks have been killed on the highway final yr. Particularly since there are 40 million vehicles in circulation in France immediately, whereas in 1967 there have been barely 13 million.
The script for this function movie? It’s clearly not straightforward to summarize, much less easy than Tenting de Fabien Onteniente in any case. It’s a couple of couple, on this case, the one performed by Jean Yanne and Mireille Darc. They resolve to depart for the weekend aboard their Facel Vega Facellia. She is frivolous and he’s pleased with his spouse, and his automobile.
A touring of 300 m on rails
However the highway on Friday night is a hell strewn with site visitors jams and accidents. In a now well-known scene, Godard units up what is going to stay as one of many longest monitoring pictures within the historical past of cinema: 300 m of rails which prolong over a small highway within the Yvelines. Its chief operator Raoul Coutard takes it as much as movie dozens of vehicles, damaged down or dented, whose drivers and passengers yell at one another, bicker or smile at one another, or youngsters play with out even worrying concerning the accident that has created this site visitors jam, and the accidents it brought on.
However the chaos continues. In a village they’re passing by way of, the 2 “heroes” come head to head with one other accident, between a automobile and a tractor. The motive force of the automobile is useless. Additional on, the Facel catches hearth. No large deal, the couple steals one other automobile and continues on its method, from accidents to disasters. The lady is raped by a tramp, underneath the detached gaze of her husband. All of a sudden, Saint Simply (Jean-Pierre Léaud) comes out of his grave and delivers a revolutionary speech throughout fields. Emily Bronté can also be there. Round her, wrecked vehicles flip into sheep.
When the couple arrives at their in-laws, from whom they intend to inherit, it is just to search out that the stepfather is useless. They subsequently assassinate the mother-in-law with a knife to speed up the succession, by simulating her demise in yet one more automobile accident. However they get caught, nevertheless it’s the FLSO (Seine and Oise Liberation Entrance) that stops them. They put Jean Yanne to demise whereas Mireille Darc rallies to their trigger. They’ll seal their new friendship in entrance of a feast made with the leftovers of the husband, rigorously roasted.
Week-end is subsequently a completely loopy movie, and Godard tends to throw out the car child with the bathwater of a violent and consumerist egocentric society. But when the parallel is simple, it isn’t at all times devoid of curiosity, a lot the automobile has formed the 20 th century with its good and unhealthy sides. And in his personal method, the filmmaker signaled the top of recess. A number of years later, the pace limits got here into drive and Godard went elsewhere, in the direction of much more obscure, extra political movies too.
He additionally, with Weekend, let fly as soon as once more this spirit of complete freedom. A freedom that was definitively extinguished, in Rolle in Switzerland, Tuesday afternoon. However the outdated genius of the Alpine pastures has nonetheless developed his final pirouette by demanding that, as an epitaph on his tomb, underneath his title, be inscribed “quite the opposite”. Du Godard within the textual content.