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88 THE FILMS OFJEAN-LUC GODARD (Amore ¢ Rabbia/Love and Rage). The other contributors to the film were Bernardo Bertolucci, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Carlo Lizzar, Marco Bellocchio, and Elda Tattoli. The 26-minute film was fin, ished by Godard in 1967, as per schedule, but production diffi culties involving the final choice of the title {at Bellocchio' insis. tence} pushed the final release up to 1969, when the completed film was screened at the Berlin Film Festival. The dialogue is in French and Italian, and traces the final break-up of a couple (he is ‘Arab, she is Jewish] who have decided to go their separate ways to pursue their individual destinies, The visual look of this brief sketch is almost Straubian in its minimalism. There is only one set, and only two speaking parts, each of which is interpreted by two “witnesses” who facilitate the disintegration of the rela. tionship. The resultant film is little more than a divertissement for Godard, who by this time had his mind on a project that ‘would become perhaps his most hotly contested and widely influ- ential work since his early days as a critic for Cahiers. In August 1967, Godard and Wiazemsky were married. In September and October of 1967, Godard finally tackled the revo- lutionary narrative of Le Week-end, his last major 35mm pro- duction to reach commercial audiences for more than a decade (although he could not know this at the time). The resultant film ‘would set Godard irrevocably on the path of a noncommercial, revolutionary cinema, and change the trajectory of his career as 4 cinéaste from that of an entertainer who wishes occasionally to instruct, to the stance of a teacher who brooks no interference when he lectures to his audience. Godard was moving away from cinema as commerce; as Walter Benjamin has argued, “by the absolute emphasis on its exhibition valuel,] the work of art becomes a creation with entirely new functions” (227), and Godard was growing tired of a life of box-office subservience. Le Week-end can be seen as a farewell to the cinema as an object of commerce, and a foretaste of his entirely anti-commercial work with the Dziga Vertov collective. This period of his work would last for more than a decade, and create some of the most com- pellingly pure political anti-narratives in the history of the mov- ing image. CHAPTER THREE a Jean-Pierre Gorin and the Dziga Vertov Group For Godard, Le Week-end is the beginning of the end, the jump- {ng-off point into an entirely new form of cinema, a cinema that would embrace political action above all other considerations, and lead directly to this work with Jean-Pierre Gorin and the ‘Dziga Vertov group. Godard in Le Week-end is often more inter- ested in language, spoken and/or written, than in visuals, and on ‘occasion what we see on the screen is distinctly subsidiary to the various texts we hear on the soundtrack. Godard still plays with large intertitles to set off various episodes in the film, and his linguistic puns are present throughout, both visually and aurally. There is still a fragment of plot in the film: a husband {Roland] and wife (Corinne| plan to kill each other, yet form an uneasy alliance to cross the post-apocalyptic French countryside in the hopes of claiming an inheritance. This slight narrative is little more than a frame for a series of sight gags, street theatre, and stylistic flourishes which both celebrate and mock the death of the conventional image production system of the contempo: rary commercial cinema. It is the unceasing replacement of one image with another, the tyranny of the visual, which most disturbs Godard in his films during this period. In contrast to the rapid cutting of A bout de souffle, and even the celebrated montage sequence in 89 JEAN-PIERRE GORIN AND THE DZIGA VERTOV GROUP 91 Made in U.S.A., Godard now constructs his films in large blocks “of;mages, held for long periods of time, requiring the audience to ‘neditate on the visuals he creates, As Walter Benjamin notes, ‘this is a possible solution to the imagistic ephemerality inherent jn the cinema to graphic apparatus. ‘The painting invites the spectator to contemplation; before it the spectator can abandon himself to his associations. Before the movie frame he cannot do so. No sooner has his eye grasped a scene than it is already changed. It cannot be arrested. Duhamel, who detests the film and knows nothing of its significance, though something of its structure, notes this circumstance as follows: “I can no longer think what I ‘want to think. My thoughts have been replaced by moving images” [Duhamel, 52}. The spectator's process of associa tion in view of these images is indeed interrupted by their constant, sudden change. (240) ‘When the image does not abruptly change—when, in fact, it Jingers languorously on the screen for many minutes at a time, ‘with only minor variations in framing and/or movement within the frame—we are forced to do that which we do when con- fronted with a painting in a museum or a gallery. We must scru- ‘tnize the image, deconstruct it, consider the margins and borders ‘of the frame, and “contemplate” the mimetic structure of the conic/representational strategies that informed the creation of, this image. It is the birth of the cinema as medium of spatial/temporal analysis, Yet Le Week-end’s most significant achievement is that it smarks the definitive arrival of the artist as polemicist, using his, ‘camera as a scalpel and a weapon, as his soundtrack creates a defiantly oppositional mix of language, natural sound, and scraps ‘of music. In Deleuze’s words, Godard in his later works creates a ‘series of dialectical “wanderings which have become analytic, instruments of an analysis of the sou!” (1986, 213}. But for all of ‘Godard's reliance on the variables of language, the most striking ssingle sequence in Le Week-end is a nearly ten-minute traffic jaur rendered entirely without dialogue in a single take (and a few intertitles), representing a triumph of the purely visual over {Corinne} and Jean Yanne (Roland) in Le Week-and (1967), FIGURE 20. Mireille Da (Courtesy New Yorker Fi 92 THE FILMS OF JEAN-LUC GODARD ‘oth narrative and linguistic syntactical structure. James Monaco ‘has written perhaps the best description of this landmark scene ‘unique in the cinema. He describes the traffic jam as: : a tour-de-force tracking shot that lasts almost a full reel ay Godard slowly moves down a country road jammed with stalled cars. There's an ear-splitting sympiony of horns to accompany the shot as we move with stately pace past men, playing cards on the hood of their car, someone playing catch with a boy standing in 4 sun-roof, a crashed car lying upside-down, a crowd of children running around, a travel ling circus, an empty bus, a horse and cart, some schoo] children, more ball players, a car that is smashed into a tre, a huge red and yellow gas truck, a Fiat couge, people playing chess, more card players, a man in oilskinsin his yacht on a trailer hauling up sails, a driver urinating, and then finally, the cause of the jam, a majestic multiple crash: a collage of color, crumpled steel, broken bodies, and blood. (1988, 397) Coming as it does in the first thirty minutes of the film, this magnificently choreographed sequence dominates our expec. tations for the rest of the film, but Godard willfully undercuts our implicit spectatorial wish for a series of arresting and apocalyptic tableaux. Most of Le Week-end is comprised of a series of func tional, almost drab visuals backed up with intensely complicated dialogue tracks, and the traffic jam sequence is the most memo- rable imagistic construct in the entire film. The rest is political theater. An accident between a tractor driver and a young woman ‘with her boyfriend in a sports car serves as the backdrop for a consideration of class privilege; bucolic picnics are interrupted by. groups of “guerrilla” hippies who massacre the guests and make off with their food and clothing. An angel appears and offers Corinne and Roland anything they desire, but is repelled by the. ‘banality of their requests and abruptly departs, cursing their stu- pidity, Corinne and Roland hitch a ride with a taavelling pianist, and must endure a piano recital in a farmyard before they can. continue their journey. The landscape of the French countryside, in full summer bloom, is littered with car wrecks and dead bod- ies, but no one seems to care. JEAN-PIERRE GORIN AND THE DZIGA VERTOV GROUP _ 93 TTS When Corinne’s mother refuses to share her inheritance with the couple, they kill her with a huge kitchen knife, and then burn the body by the side of the road after stuffing the compse jnto a particularly spectacular roadside wreck, involving a bright yellow airplane and a red Fiat. Often, Godard interrupts his Scenes with intertitles (“A FILM FOUND ON THE SCRAPHEAP,” “A FILM LOST IN THE COSMOS", ot shots of the odometer clicking away the miles on their useless voyage. At other times, Godard will conclude a scene with a staged grouping of all the protagonists standing against a wall, staring directly at the camera, in keeping with “post-modernism’s rejection of all depth notions of virtuality for the shine of simulacral effects” {olan 1989, 27). The end of the film seems designed to exhaust the spectator, involving as it does a series of “revolutionary” ‘monologues and/or voice-overs by members of the guerrilla band, ritual animal and human sacrifices, and indecipherable radio Communiqués. Several contemporary crities, in fact, complained that the film went on too long, particularly during the garbage truck monologues near the end of Le Week-end, in which an African and an Arab activist “speak for each other,” while the camera stares clinically at their impassive nonspeaking faces (all of their dialogue is delivered as a nonsynchronous voice-over track). But I would submit that Godard is more interested in the political diatribes, and the stripping away of sound from image that accompanies their presentation within the film, than he is in the huge traffic jam near the start of the film. Proof of this assertion can be found in the structural organi- zation of the films directly following Le Week-end: Le Gai Savoir {long dialogues in a television studio} shot in December 1967/Jan- uuary 1968; Godard’ cinetracts of May 1968 (a series of black-and- white silent three-minute political organizing films), Un Film comme les autres (a 1968 film in which the dialogue completely overshadows images of people sitting in a grassy field, listening to the asynchronous voices we hear on the soundtrack}; and One Plus One (a series of lengthy takes of the Rolling Stones rehearsing their song “Sympathy for the Devil” in a recording studio, intercut with random political skits, shot in June and August 1968} In each of these films, Godard is less interested in the exter- nal construction of his images than in the ideas that these images