Godard's Week-End: A film in which humor from absurd situations compensates for its lack of action.
On first impression, this film by French New Wave
director Jean-Luc Godard
might seem to be an amazing atrocity. Watching the car horns
blast while our protagonists Roland and Corrine get stuck in a traffic jam
for what seems like an eternity is probably even more annoying than actually experiencing this in real life. So why doesn't the story go anywhere and get stuck in traffic? Whenever watching a movie where nothing seems to happen, a viewer tends to wonder....
Why's there no action?
Godard's camera purposefully ignores real-time action but merely observes a scene's setting to point out its absurdity and to elicit laughter from the viewer. While a man plays Mozart on a piano set in the middle of a farm lawn
and talks about his life, the camera
doesn't show him but instead pans around the farm workers
who are listening to him in a milieu of delapidated buildings and tractors.
A viewer who is looking for plot
might be disappointed by these scenes. He might ask himself "What interest is there in observing farmers working while a man plays piano and talks about Mozart
?" B - O - R - I - N - G!!
But this scene does indeed serve a purpose. The juxtaposition
between poverty of the farmers and their surroundings and the sophistication of an educated pianist who waxes lyrical about the biography of Mozart would affect a humorous
response in a thoughtful viewer who can perceive the absurd
ity of the situation.
The presentation of an inconceivable classical music
audience with plain clothes and working hands would jar this viewer's expectations. According to social conventions, the lawns of a village with tractors, toolsheds, and farmhouses are considered to be no place for the classical pianists
from the big city to showcase their repertoire. Instead, as we all know, a big concert hall where audiences are well-coiffed and decked out in suits, ties, or fancy dresses is considered to be the proper place for the performance of classical music.
Note: This writeup is not intended to serve as a plot summary. Rather, it is an analysis of a scene intended to show why the aesthetic
of this film is very different from what a viewer might otherwise expect.