Saturday, December 6, 2008
Godard's Week End sidesteps the conventional mode of filmmaking and narrative. It works slightly through what would be called the "road film." This road film is a little bit different from most road films in that it deconstructs the "genre" to the point of complete disjunction. The paranoiac and erratic journey takes the characters through a wide range of non sequiturs all connecting in that they follow a path, or a journey. The hodological device of the road allows us to move and sequence ourselves according to given paths and routes. We are told what lines to follow to get to a given destination. This is about speed. How do we conquer any given distance in a timely fashion? With technology. With speed. Moving is money. The film makes this apparent. It is a deconstruction of technological currency. Godard, however, shows both ends of the spectrum. When it comes to the cannibal community life is moved off-road, it is somewhere in the woods. Does this suggest that where there is no path there is danger? Perhaps. Or, it explores the idea that without paths there is a (potentially) dangerous autonomy. Without laws or morals, perhaps, there is an any-thing-goes tendency, which propels people into irrational behavior to the point of selfish and inhumane killing. For the cannibal community could easily have become an agrarian community. So why portray the outside, the off-road, as being cruel, brutal, and bloodthirsty? This is not de Sade's mechanical move through irrational sexual tendencies, but it does work to expose the same principle. We are creatures of morals, creatures of paths, a "civilized" society. Yet, perhaps, our behaviors are merely accidental; our moral grounding falls in and out, changes from space to space, changes from time to time, picks up and puts down new connections that fall in the categories "right" and "wrong". Godard makes these changes and the susceptibility/possibility for change quite clear. The diatribes from the garbage-men make these varying perspectives and moral incompossibilities of the world more apparent. These things do not "gel," and yet they tend to flow through culture, through our behaviors; to, again, quote from one of Lang's lines in Contempt "the illogical borrows from the logical." Things do not make much sense in our world and yet some how we rationalize all of these irrationalities. Perhaps I am taking this too far, but this seems to be precisely what Godard is hinting at, what he is saying without directly addressing it. He could go on a diatribe, a bit like I have (above), but that would merely confuse, it would only speak (with language/logic) of these issues; instead, he visualizes these discontinuities, he takes us out of our element in order to turn the mirror on us, as the subjects of this irrational behavior. Take Week End for a (filmic) "comic-strip" if you will; it is the comic strip which displays the hyperreality of everyday life, slices out a moment of life and displays its discontinuities and banalities in order to allow a moment for reflection, it is a morbid humor (without all the gore and violence, which Godard uses, but with good reason; to shock, to startle!).