Jean Luc Godard?s Weekend as Didactic Self-Reflexive Cinema Essay

Jean Luc Godard?s Weekend as Didactic Self-Reflexive Cinema Essay

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According to Stephen Prince in Movies and Meaning: an Introduction to Film,

Screen Reality is a concept that pertains to the principles of time, space, character behavior and audiovisual design that filmmakers systematically organize in a given film to create an ordered world on-screen in which characters may act and in which a narrative may unfold.(262)

One mode of cinematic screen reality is self-reflexivity. While the other three modes of screen reality seek to sway the audience into accepting the authenticity of the world and the story that are on screen, the self-reflexive style deliberately attempts to tear down the illusion of the cinema. In doing so, it reinforces the awareness that film is socially and culturally constructed and that at its core, film is art, not reality. There are two purposes in using self reflexive techniques, either for comedy or with the hope of addressing a social or cultural issue. (Prince 290)
The more familiar of the two modes of self-reflexive cinema make use of a comedic style, and what's more, many contemporary comedies embody comedic self-reflexivity (Prince 291). These comedies do so because it facilitates a more personal rapport between the characters and the audience, thus amplifying the humor that can be seen in the narrative. However, there are certain limitations to comic self reflexivity. By presupposing the audience’s familiarity with the humor or references in the narrative, the mode risks reaching an audience that does not relate to the material presented. Some films are unable to meet a large audience because their narratives are constructed from “inside” jokes that can not be understood by all who will see it. (Prince 290)
The other mode of self-reflexive cinema that addresses an issue of importance is commonly known as didactic self-reflexivity. Beginning in the 1920s with Bertolt Brecht, a playwright who wanted to craft plays that were reflective of society and that made sure the audience was aware of this. He wished that his work inform the public and impact social change, to share his perception without a screen. Seeing realism as an impediment that kept the audience from perceiving the message of the art, Brecht sought to devise theater that was uncompromisingly revolutionary and candid. This new style was characterized by the employment of titles to reveal the next action, in the way tha...


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...aken from a scene. For instance, a title passes on screen reading "World / 3", just before the African and Arab workers explain their optimism and their reasons for accepting the necessity for violence. As seen throughout the film, Godard uses these titles as a device to:
Introduce and set off a given scene from the surrounding context of the narrative, tell viewers what it is they are about to see, remind viewers of the filmmakers intrusion on the narrative, and emphasize the way the filmmaker has chosen to shape and organize the structure of the film.

Filmmakers like Jean Luc Godard employ the devices of the self-reflexive mode of screen reality because they do not value the mode of realism or expressionism to adequately convey some social truth or ideal. In choosing a didactic style of representational reality, he sought to guide and direct the viewer through the key representations and dialogues within the film. Godard believes that it is necessary for the audience to read the film as it must be without misinterpretation and as such has employed didactic self-reflexive devices which facilitate a clear reading of the film. The film is the message for Godard.

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