Week 6 – Screening and discussion of Jean-Luc Godard’s 1967 black comedy, “Weekend”
We started by considering how to analyse a film.
We must consider:
- form and content, the script, the genre, the acting, the soundtrack,
- the narrative, the voice, the perspective, the structure
- meta-text and meta-narrative – is the text or story part of something bigger? does it relate to other films/ stories?
- interpretation – how can we interpret it? what school of criticism do we use to do so? Freudian? feminist? queer theory? marxist?
- context – what was going on at the time of the film that would influence a) how the film was written and b) how the first audiences would interpret it
- technique: the lighting, composition, sets, performance, editing, camera movement, external information.
Film is a visual, time-based medium so we must keep an eye on what camera position and composition are trying to tell us.
French film magazine “Du Cinéma” was founded in 1951, and it reset the basic tenets of film criticism and theory. Writers included Truffaut and Godard himself; the magazine was centred on analysis. Truffaut wrote the ‘les politiques des Autuer’ manifesto in 1954, resulting in the re-evaluation of Hollywood films and directors, including Hawks, Ray, Aldrich, Hitchcock, Lang. By centring on mise-en-scene, directors could be compared and contrasted thus film dialogue develops. The magazine was essential to creation of Nouvelle Vague.
He had 3 films in the top 50 BFI list: 13 – Breathless (1960), 21 – Le Mepris (1963), 42 Pierrot Le fou (1965).
He revolutionised socialism in cinema, played with form and genre, and was quoted as saying “all you need for a movie is a gun and a girl.”
Director: Jean-Luc Godard. Cinematographer: Raoul Coutard. Edit: Agnès Guillemot. Music: Antoine Duhamel. Sound: René Levert.
Multiple cross-cultural references, remarkable camera work (camera movement as meaning), highly influential, ‘apocalyptic’, satire, anarchy, cinema, hollywood, revolution, location, socialism, style, ‘narrative’, polemic, Brecht’s theory of alienation
The film itself struck me immediately as extremely clever. One of the main things that struck me was the constant occurrence of terrible things, so frequent they become normal, which is reflected in the characters’ apathetic reactions to them.
The focus on the two main characters throughout gave an interesting perspective on the many weird and wonderful characters they meet on their journey, including the clan of anarchic hippies they both join at the end of the film.
Use of camera technique is extremely important. A scene where this is particularly important is one where we hear the cultural backgrounds/struggles of two working class young men. We hear their stories in one at a time, and each time the camera focuses on the first while the second recites the first’s story. Another is the scene where the pair reach the mother, hoping to secure her inheritance – there is a close-up of a rabbit carcass with the mother’s blood being spilled on it, accompanied by a monologue; extremely jarring to see.