Drivers’ Cinema: Weekend (1967)
To throw out a fair warning, Weekend (1967), directed by Jean-Luc Godard, is quite bizarre. However, it is bizarre in the most beautiful of ways. The film follows husband and wife, Corinne and Roland, on a road trip in their 1967 Facel Vaga Cabriolet. Throughout their journey they encounter the many facets of a crumbling bourgeois society. The varying episodic scenes provide a social critique on the Western ways of life that invaded France in the late 1960s. Godard exaggerated the detrimental effect of consumerism, portraying people who participated in corporate ways of life as savages.
The film offers a few powerful sequences that reflect on the idea of the automobile. The assertion seems to be that the car culture is turning the world into a violent disaster. One demonstrative scene in particular is the incredible eight-minute-long tracking shot of a gridlocked traffic jam. While Corinne and Roland slowly battle their way against oncoming traffic, different automobiles are used to provide commentary on a multitude of subjects. For example, Roland and Corinne pass by a large Shell Oil tanker that faces an automobile head on. The small sedan is clearly overpowered by the forcefully large tanker. This is a clear criticism of the corporate conglomerates disruption on the French ways of life.
Godard’s message is undoubtedly complex. Moreover, whether or not you agree with his political subtext is seemingly unimportant simply because there is a certain kind of enjoyment in identifying the countless number of quirky cars from the era. Among the many automobiles included in the film are a Citroën DS19, Fiat 850 Coupé, NSU Sport Prinz, and a Simca 1000. If you’re in the mood for some quality, thought-provoking material, run out and grab a copy of Godard’s Weekend.