• Godard uses both montage and long take duration as stylistic tools in his last great hurrah, Weekend. There are six or seven individual shots that take up about half of the overall running time (Cuaron’s Children of Men is the same way)—this is new for Godard. Godard’s approach is very different from Ophuls, Renoir, Hitchcock and Welles—but still a very important film when talking about the history of the tracking shot and long takes.
  • Godard’s 14th archiveable film, and at age 37, in a blaze of furious glory, he’s really done as a top auteur. He’d go on to be more of a didactic essayist after this- usually far away from the top 10 films of the year. His run from 1960 to 1967 may never be topped. That’s 15 total films, 14 archiveable, and I believe nine (9) will be on the top 100 of the 1960’s when I update that list. This meteoric rise and short yet prolific run sort of mirrors The Beatles (though I’m sure Godard would prefer Motzart!).
  • The prologue has several comic black and white titles- including the hilarious “a film found in a dump” – haha

The glorious full frame “Weekend” in red, white and blue – setting the tone for the primary color rush (though this is not the accomplishment in color Contempt, Pierrot or Made in U.S.A are)

A sustained long 10-minute take from the 4-minute to the 14-minute mark. The couple here Mirelle Daric as Corinne Durand and Jean Yanne as Roland Durand are talking in shadowy silhouette in front of the window. The music goes in and out, Godard’s camera slowly does the same and never really stops moving. I could watch an entire movie like this- so striking. The conversation is erotic yet banal and bourgeoise, to Godard, meaningless—and the duration and the uncomfortability of it is precisely the point

  • Weekend is a road trip, apocalyptic, nightmare comedy. Haha. This bourgeoise couple goes on a trip, the world is ending, and Jean becomes a cannibal (eating a English tourist).
  • Godard is dedicated to the Armageddon here in his world-building. It is clearly the end of civilization with countless traffic accidents, bodies lying around, upturned (and often burning) cars as part of the décor. The characters in the film are angry, car horns fill the audio mix constantly, there is shouting, fighting.
  • The most famous sequence in Godard’s career are the two left to right tracking shots of the traffic jam. It starts at the 16-minute mark and runs for three minutes at first. He cuts and then runs for another five minutes. It is about the absurdity of the shot. Yelling between the characters, animals, people playing chess, a big yellow and red Shell gasoline truck and ultimately grim death.

arguably Godard’s finest hour- the traffic jam tracking shot

The prolonged nature of the shot is partially about postmodern reflexivity— calling attention to itself and the artifice of being a movie– but is also about Godard holding your head underwater and making you uncomfortable

  • Throughout the journey for the Durands—Godard splices in blue titles and political messages as he bounces us from skit to skit. There’s the fight with the bourgeoise woman and farmer (onlookers in front of colorful advertising), the Lewis Carroll skit, with time and date titles on this Saturday reminding us that this is a weekend trip. A title for “The Exterminating Angel” which is Bunuel of course. At one point the Corinne character screams about a Hermes handbag while her car is up in flames.
  • Artifice- a ridiculous sheep jump cut flub– and at one point the frame seemingly gets caught between reels. A few times Godard makes the film seem it is stuck or caught in a brief loop that repeats itself.
  • Camoes from past stars of La Chinoise: Leaud and Anne Wiazemsky—if you want a piece of trivia- people forget that Godard actually used Leaud more often than Belmondo. Belmondo may have more overall screen time in his three films but Leaud (best known for working with Truffaut of course) is in six archiveable Godard films.

Weekend is remembered for the traffic jam long take— but there are many other noteworthy long takes (including the erotic silhouette scene mentioned above). Another is the Mozart 360-degree shot at the 54-minute mark with the onlookers at the farm. It is a six-minute shot- a stunner.

  • at the 61-minute mark Godard tracks to empty space and tracks back (a sort of version of Scorsese’s Taxi Driver hallway shot)—this is a four-minute take along the road as the couple attempts to hitchhike. It is like an absurd variation on It Happened One Night.
  • the film is not flawless- there is this awful segment of just Godard filming political speeches while we occasionally get a replay of the past portions of the film in like a highlight reel

Eventually when we’re free of that, and we’re in the woods for the final act of the film. Godard pans to the right to reveal the drummer playing what we thought was non-diegetic music – he’s pulling back the curtain

  • Part Warhol and part Bunuel
  • At the 94-minute Godard is tracking the camera along the pond, characters are bobbing their heads (wearing primary colors of course) to the drum music, a political soap-box diatribe is angrily filling the audio mix, the shot is sustained for four minutes—and then the camera elevates over the pond. Godard uses his favorite films as radio signals during the guerilla war scene “Johnny Guitar” “The Searchers”
  • Ebert – “Year after year, Jean-Luc Godard has been chipping away at the language of cinema. Now, in “Weekend,” he has just about got down to the bare bones. This is his best film, and his most inventive. It is almost pure movie. It is sure to be ardently disliked by a great many people, Godard fans among them. But revolutionary films always take some time for audiences to catch up” https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/weekend-1968
  • The silly shootout finale is part of Godard’s trademark. This is Godard mocking—but I do believe this is also the best he could do at a shootout. He’s not Kurosawa or Peckinpah as far as execution – it just isn’t who he is- I don’t think he’d have the technical skill or patience of a scene like that
  • A masterpiece – maybe a little closer to the must-see edge than some of Godard’s masterpieces like Pierrot Le Fou