There’s a new Weekend Criterion in town. My town, at least, as I am very slow to rent these movies.
Weekend is an explosive and creative work by the famed Jean-Luc Godard, a story of the apocalypse framed in an Alice in Wonderland-esque format. It follows a middle-class couple as they journey among other refugees, including a man who believes himself God, an isolated barnyard, and ultimately a camp of cannibalistic hippies.
I am not typically shocked by movies, but Weekend had certain elements, both thematic and visual, that were very disturbing. One of the opening scenes features the female protagonist describing a horrific sexual encounter, but with an indifferent tone juxtaposing the bizarre acts she is describing. There is also graphic footage of the killing of animals, which was effective but, in my opinion, unnecessary and cruel.
Weekend is also full of intriguing and engaging philosophical and political debate. There is a memorable moment when two men, an African and an Arab, discuss the exploitation and destruction done unto their people by Western culture. This profound, and unfortunately still-relevant debate, is bookended by consistent allusions to Marx, Rousseau, and other political thinkers.
Considered a cornerstone of French New Wave Cinema, Weekend is an entertaining and very thought-provoking existential look at middle-class culture and how easily one can succumb to terrible acts. Godard’s film shows that there is very little separating what we call civilization and the state of nature.