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A supposedly idyllic weekend trip to the countryside turns into a never-ending nightmare of traffic jams, revolution, cannibalism and murder as French bourgeois society starts to collapse under the weight of its own consumer preoccupations.
For more about Weekend and the Weekend Blu-ray release, see Weekend Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on October 21, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 5.0 out of 5.
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Writer: Jean-Luc Godard
Starring: Mireille Darc, Jean Yanne, Jean-Pierre Kalfon, Jean-Claude Guilbert, Jean-Pierre Léaud
» See full cast & crew
Weekend Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, October 21, 2012
Nominated for Golden Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival, Jean-Luc Godard's "Week End" a.k.a "Weekend" (1967) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include original trailers for the film; new video essay by writer and filmmaker Kent Jones; archival interviews with cinematographer Raoul Coutard, actors Mireille Darc and Jean Yanne, and assistant director Claude Miller; and excerpt from the French television program Seize millions de jeunes. The release also arrives with an illustrated booklet featuring an essay bu critic and novelist Gary Indiana. In French, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
Jean-Luc Godard's Weekend has a basic plot but paying attention to it isn't required. Paying attention to what the various characters in the film have to say, however, is crucial.
The film opens up with a strange sequence in which a young man and a young woman observe from the balcony of their apartment another man and a woman beating up a man with a chain. They have nice cars. One is blue, the other red. Next to them there is another, white car.
Later on, the young woman from the balcony carefully describes to her friend a casual encounter she had with a couple. The three made love and the woman liked the experience. She felt strange afterwards. Now she no longer thinks that she should have.
After the confession about her threesome experience the woman, Corinne (Mireille Darc, Man in the Trunk, The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe Collection), and her husband, Roland (Jean Yanne, Le Boucher, Indochine), head to the countryside with their fancy car to collect an inheritance from a seriously sick relative. But it just so happens that this is the beginning of the weekend and other couples and families are also trying to leave the city. Many of them also drive fancy cars.
On the outskirts of the city there is already a massive traffic jam. Many of the drivers have turned off their cars and started talking to each other. Some are fighting. The really bored ones have started playing games, while others have started drinking. Somehow Roland manages to find a way out of this mess, but not before various angry men threaten to end his life.
Later on, Corinne and Roland pass by plenty of crashed cars and corpses rotting on the side of the road. Then they pick up an amateur wizard and his kooky girlfriend who demands that they drive them to London. If they agree, the wizard would grant them their wishes. If they don't, he will be forced to use his gun. But Roland steals the gun and the wizard and his girlfriend are chased away.
Eventually, Corinne and Roland also crash their car. They decide to walk through the nearby forest where they meet all sorts of strange characters, including the great revolutionary leader Saint-Just (Jean-Pierre Leaud, The 400 Blows, The Pornographer) and the lovely Emily Bronte (Blandine Jeanson). Before they can get back to civilization, a gang of radical leftists kidnap them.
Weekend is loosely divided into two sections. The first has a slightly lighter and more casual tone. There are various quite hilarious episodes where Godard gently and not so gently satirizes the French middle class. This section is closer to what one would describe as political theater.
The second section has a strong surrealist flavor. It is also filled with numerous long statements promoting revolutionary action. There are references to endless literary works and films (ranging from Tom Thumb to Luis Bunuel's The Exterminating Angel), important historical figures, and social events.
Ultimately, Weekend feels like a giant test created to measure one's knowledge of history, literature, art, and politics. To appreciate its genius, one ought to be familiar with all of the events and works the film references. Otherwise, at times the viewing experience could be quite frustrating, even maddening.
Godard shot Weekend with the great cinematographer Raoul Coutard (Shoot the Piano Player, Le mépris, Z). Needless to say, the camera work and the use of color and light are all quite unique. There are a few particularly interesting long continuous shots, such as the one where the camera follows the long line of cars in the countryside, that have become legendary.
The great writer and director Claude Miller, who passed earlier this year, was the second unit director on Weekend. Two years after Weekend was completed, he shot his first short film. Some of Miller's best films are Mortelle randonnée (1983), Class Trip (1998), and La petite Lili (2003). Miller's final film, Thérèse Desqueyroux, was screened at this year's edition of the Cannes Film Festival.
Note: In 1968, Weekend was nominated for the prestigious Golden Bear Award for Best Film at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Weekend Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Jean-Luc Godard's Weekend arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray release:
"This new digital transfer was created on an ARRISCAN film scanner in 2K resolution from the original 35mm camera negative. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI's DRS and Pixel Farm's PFClean, while Digital Vision's Phoenix was used for small dirt, grain, and noise reduction.
Transfer supervisor: Ronald Boullet/Eclair Laboratories, Epinay-sur-Seine, France.
Colorist: Giovanni Zimolo/Eclair Laboratories, Epinay-sur-Seine, France."
Having owned multiple VHS and DVD releases of Weekend from various regions, I can categorically state that the film has never looked as healthy as it does on this Blu-ray release. Detail and especially depth are very impressive. Contrast levels are stable and clarity, particularly when there is plenty of natural light, is simply terrific. There are no traces of problematic lab corrections. Unsurprisingly, the film has a very consistent, very strong organic look. Some of the longer sequences from the first half -- such as the notorious sequence where the camera follows closely Corinne and Roland's car as it passes by the long line of angry drivers on their way to the countryside -- look especially good, allowing the viewer to get a terrific sense of what Godard and Raoul Coutard were trying to accomplish in a single continuous shot. Color reproduction is also enormously satisfying. There is a variety of lush, quite thick but warm and very natural colors that look mighty impressive (see screencaptures #4 and 5). There are absolutely no traces of problematic sharpening corrections. The film's grain structure is also fully intact. Finally, it appears that a thorough cleanup has been performed as the film is virtually spotless - there are no large scratches, damage marks, dirt, or cuts. All in all, I really could not be any happier with the solid presentation as Weekend looks absolutely magnificent. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Weekend Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray disc: French LPCM 1.0. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The lossless track opens up the film surprisingly well. There are sequences, such as the one where the camera follows the long line of cars and the drivers keep honking at each other, where the intensity is excellent. Elsewhere, the gunshots are also loud and crisp. The dialog is always stable and very easy to follow. Also, there are no sudden dropouts or audio distortions to report in this review. The English translation is also outstanding.
Weekend Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Weekend Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Hilarious, disturbing and enormously thought-provoking, Weekend is arguably the most effective of Jean-Luc Godard's radical films. Criterion's presentation of Weekend is fantastic. In fact, I would argue that it is easily one of the year's best releases. If you have only seen the film via the old New Yorker Video DVD release, I strongly encourage you to consider picking up the new Blu-ray release. It offers an entirely new, much more satisfying viewing experience. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Weekend Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Criterion Blu-ray in November: Godard, Pasolini, Kurosawa, Cimino - August 15, 2012
The Criterion Collection has announced four titles for Blu-ray release in November. On November 6th, the independent studio will release Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950). A week later, on November 13th, it will release Weekend (Jean-Luc Godard, 1967) and Trilogy ...
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