Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Yr3 Week 5 (Thurs 6 Nov - MDA3200 Film Theory - Political Cinema)

In today's screening, we watched the 1967 French film by maverick auteur Jean Luc Godard (Filme Socialisme), Weekend. Te film is certainly an odd affair, using the troubled journey of a married couple to visit relatives as a backdrop for an all round assault on French society vat the time: materialism, the bourgeois, intellectuals, social norms, taboos, sex, urban and country life, it all comes under fire in a rather oddball, often amusing way. Instances of which include a long take of several minutes in length as the couple tr to drive through a traffic jam, each time finding the other drivers doing odd things like playing chess, having a picnic, having marital debates etc. or them stumbling across a young couple in the woods who go in the guise of literary figures (Lewis Caroll and Emily Bronte) while spouting wax philosophical, and in return for their thoughts, get beaten and burnt by the couple.

Yes, it's an odd-'un, and one that very much was a product of the times, specifically France of the late 60s: this was a country in turmoil, as we discussed in the seminar. There were youth and student uprising against the government in May of 1968 that sent very firm shockwaves through the rather conservative French society of the time. At the same time, there was a film movement being birthed n the county, what is now known as the French New Wave, a group of film enthusiasts who saw the medium as a legitimate artform and means to communicate messages and ideas. Prominent figures included the likes of Godard. Francois Truffant and Alain Resnois, all famous French filmmakers who would influence the coming film world, with Truffant, in particular, giving birth to the notion of the director as 'auteur'.

After this, we quickly touched on the idea of 'deconstruction' (uncovering the real agenda/views/agencies/themes of a given work) and how that pertained to Weekend (which deconstructs French values of the time, especially the materialistic bourgeois, even if it can get a little on the nose at points and have characters literally spell out the message), and quickly revisited the notion of diegesis (what takes place/what is within the world of the film, which is certainly interesting, given how strange and surreal Weekend gets at points).


Once again, this session was recovering a lot ground from last year with regards to the French New Wave, but still served as a decent refresher and a fun introduction to the works of Godard. The major new information came really from looking further at the political context of the New Wave, which was interesting and perfectly parallels how the New Wave would change cinema, rocking a lot of the old boats and introducing new and more impactful ways to tell stories.

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