Arthur Penn's 1967 take on Bonnie and Clyde is one that is quite interesting. Instead of focusing on the violence that the duo committed on a daily basis, Penn chose to emphasize their obsessive desire to become household names. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were not bloodthirsty thieves and killers that they have been made out to be by some. Rather, they were portrayed in the film as a more romanticized couple that were more out for fame and recognition than getting rich. Throughout the film, Bonnie is seen writing and reciting her poems that she hope will make it out to the media eventually. The Barrow Gang is often excited by reading about their violent ventures in the newspaper as well. However, the real life couple was much more murderous than they appeared on film. The film is still a very effective narrative of their lives. The depiction of the two in this film appeals to audiences because of their charm and charisma. If they were depicted as ruthless murderers, I'm sure that some would still find them very appealing because of the popularity that villains in pop culture. But they still would not have the popularity and fame that they achieved because of their M.O. They truly were the first celebrity antiheroes.
After the film’s initial release, Godard stated in an interview that he saw his film not as one strictly about youth but “more a film about the idea of youth. A philosophical idea, but not a practical one—a way of reacting to things. It’s not a dissertation on youth or even an analysis. Let’s say that it speaks of youth but it’s a piece of music, a ‘concerto youth’” (Godard). Masculin, Féminin is a film that definitely puts the ‘children of Marx and Coca-Cola’ on display in their own element. The story follows Paul, played by Jean-Pierre Leaud, as he passively-aggressively pursues an up-and-coming pop singer, Madeleine, played by real-life singer Chantal Goya. Throughout the narrative, Paul is forced to overcome ‘obstacles’ on his way to Madeleine’s heart…and legs.
Sex is the major premise behind the film. As the story unfolds, the plot is filled with numerous notable instances of sexual activity in the film. In the beginning of the film, Paul and his friend both brush against a woman’s breasts after asking her for some sugar. From this point on, the sexuality of the film only becomes more vulgar with each minute. There are scenes in which a group of nude women is talking about sex in a locker room, Paul and Madeleine play the name game for penis and vagina one night in bed, and Paul even walks in on a homosexuality act involving two men in a public bathroom. However, there is one scene in particular sums up the entire message of the film.
As a polltaker, Paul interviews a young woman who is not only a friend of Madeleine’s but also who was chosen as ‘Miss 19.’ During this interview, Paul asks her various questions ranging from the advantages and disadvantages of being ‘Miss 19’ and the current state of birth control in France. The conversation also includes her thoughts, rather the lack thereof, on other issues such as the pop music, the Vietnam War and socialism. This is not the only mention of these issues in the film. Through dialogue and encounters between various characters, Godard brings attention to these important issues of the time. Madeleine’s occupation as a singer brings many allusions to the American music scene at the time with references to The Beatles and Bob Dylan. Ironically enough, both of which became musical legends in their own right.
He also makes no effort to hide his dislike of the American involvement in the Vietnam War using Paul as his spokesman. “Paul is anti-bourgeois and resents America's involvement in Vietnam, but his gripes aren't anti-American per se. Godard considers pop culture a dangerous American export and he questions the political apathy of images and music that don't incite people to revolution” (Gonzalez). While waiting outside of a hospital housing many American soldiers, Paul creates a diversion that allows an American military car to become vandalized with “Peace in Vietnam.” He even yells, “US go home” to the soldier who was riding in the car. Godard also makes it known that he does not want American pop culture to infiltrate French society by allowing trivial things to create big problems. Not only does a guy who is extra serious about his pinball game almost kill Paul, but the lifestyle that Madeleine lives due to her occupation also bothers Paul throughout the film even to the point where an argument indirectly causes his death.
Week End is a 100-minute-long acid trip that makes Deliverance look like a boy scout nature walk on a Sunday afternoon. Jean-Luc Godard definitely left his mark on this 1967 film that can easily be argued as his most notorious work. The film begins with the married couple discussing a very intense sexual encounter that involves the wife, another couple, eggs, milk, oral sex, oral-to-anal sex, anal sex, and mutual masturbation. Along with being an extremely crude conversation, the scoring of the scene also makes it stand out in the minds of the audience. The volume of the music that plays beneath the scene raises as she describes the more taboo things she did that night. This effect is very effective for one main reason: it forces the audience to listen harder, and as they listen harder they are forced to hear the more hardcore actions of that evening.
Followed by this scene is one of the longest tracking shots that has ever been filmed. This shot shows the couple attempting to drive around an extremely long traffic jam that is filled with boats, broken down cars, blown up cars, dead bodies, monkeys, lions, kids on a field trip, and a family picnic. After murdering the mother of the bride, the couples ultimately ends up captured by a group of cannibals that murder the husband and happily feed his remains to his wife. As crazy as the film seems, Godard does a number of different things with all the chaos he creates on film.
Throughout the film, the couple encounters many extremely odd people that range from a killer magician to a jester poet. However, he uses these characters to raise awareness to many different societal issues that were going on at the time. Or possibly he just wanted to shed light on his own anarchic thoughts. Regardless, he manages to gain peoples attention with all of these different societal problems. Each of these unique characters bring up issues of anti-corporations, race relations, class issues, literature and history. On the surface Week End almost looks like an over-budgeted snuff film. However, Godard manages to bring up more societal issues within this film than any of his others we've seen.