Weekend has been interpreted as a satire on bourgeois materialism, and an expression of Godard's 'feeling of profound despair at the spectacle of man's inhumanity to man' (MacBean, 1975:47). The emotional nature of this comment seems to miss completely Godard's intention of creating a critical distance, both between the spectator and the characters, and the spectator and the themes. This intention is primarily achieved by extensive use of Brecht's Verfremsdungeffekt, or the alienation effect. Wollen has drawn attention to a number of ways Godard's more avant-garde work has employed these techniques, particularly by using picaresque narrative techniques, and the related effect of estrangement between the spectator and the characters within a film (see Wollen, 1982). However, much of the power of Weekend is due to the fact that Godard was still working, albeit loosely, within the conventions of classical narrative cinema, and therefore his transgressions still had the ability to shock.

An analysis of the first three scenes of Weekend will demonstrate how Godard establishes the alienating/ estranging techniques from the very beginning of the film. The first scene introduces the main characters, Roland and Corinne, and is set on the balcony and interior of an apartment. The second scene features an extended erotic monologue performed inside a room, while the third scene consists of a fight between the couple and their neighbours. I hope to show, with reference to standard definitions of such techniques as manipulation of mise-en-scene, cinematography, and diegetic and non-diegetic sound, how Godard uses Brechtian techniques to achieve a distanciation, after first appearing loosely to follow cinematic conventions.

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