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Weekend [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: LPCM 1.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: NR
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Blu-ray Release Date: November 13, 2012
  • List Price: $39.95

Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:3/5]

The 1960’s saw the crest of the “nouvelle vague” or “new wave,” school of French cinema. New wave films were often sexually charged, sported oblique storylines with political overtones and featured ambiguous characters. Writer/Director Jean Luc Godard unleashed The Weekend, a 1967 “dark” comedy, opening appropriately enough in the shadows of an analyst’s office where a semi-clothed woman describes a recent ménage à trois. The woman is Corinne Durand (Mireille Darc) who with husband Roland (Jean Yanne) are each involved in torrid affairs and would like nothing better than to do in the other one. On the weekend in question, the Durands are en route to her parents to insinuate themselves into the inheritance of Corinne’s dying father. They get stuck in an apocalyptic traffic jam with every manner of motor vehicle, wrecked, abandoned and overturned, honking horns galore, and occasional dead bodies. The couple have already decided that they should murder Corrine’s father to ensure the success of their plan. Along the way, the Durands pick up a gun-toting couple, run folks off the road and eventually crash their car. Their odyssey continues through surprise encounters with fantasy characters like Saint-Just, Emily Bronte, and Tom Thumb, and is peppered with Marxist and anti-Semitic propaganda. By the time the Durands arrive at their destination, Corinne’s father has died, and when her mother refuses to cut them into the inheritance, they kill her. Ultimately, Roland and Corrine are captured by armed radicals who are camped out in the woods. Of course, the husband gets “his goose cooked,” and the wife “goes native,” joining the radicals in their new revolution.

Video Quality

[Rating:3/5]

Considering that this is a film nearly old enough for AARP membership, the picture is rather good.  However, there is still noticeable grain and occasional softening of the details. The restoration used an ARRISCAN scanner in 2K resolution. Most of the original noise was effectively removed and the occasional jerky frames by hand-held cameras were most likely intentional work of the cameramen.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3/5]

The mono soundtrack was remastered at 24 bits from a 35 mm print. While still a bit boxy, dialogue is clear and the music quite listenable.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3.5/5]

There is a nice package of extras:

  • Video essay by filmwriter Kent Jones
  • Interviews with Mireille Darc and Jean Yanne, cinematographer Raoul Coutard, and assistant director Claude Miller
  • Excerpt by from a French television program on Jean Luc Godard.
  • Trailers
  • Booklet with essays by critic Gary Indiana, Alain Bergala, and Jonathan Coot.

I would consider the Jones’ video essay as required viewing to understand the cinematic perspective that Godard brought to this and some of his other films.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3/5]

Weekend is a social diatribe delivered in the form of a picaresque journey taken by a middle class couple. This film’s political messages are rather relentless and heavy handed. For many viewers, Godard’s partisan musings will wear thin rather quickly. Perhaps 40-plus years ago, such a film would have enjoyed the cachet of a “cutting edge” production with penetrating insights into the foibles of the middle class. Seen through eyes of today’s audiences, Weekend can be a fatiguing and overwrought watch that will be appreciated best by those true believers who still worship at the altar of the “new wave.” As a survivor of the ‘60s, and a veteran of art house cinema, I understand how films can become virtual time capsules of their particular era. For Weekend, its era ended quite some time ago and, “Occupy Wall Street” notwithstanding, such societal angst may or not be reinstated by current worldwide economic doldrums. Still, for those unfamiliar with Godard’s work, Weekend pretty much sums up his personal points of view, whether we choose to like them or not. 

Additional Screen Captures

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Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]


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