Godard’s films, however they start, often end up detailing the destruction of a human relationship. A woman who suddenly falls out of love with a man; La Chinoise (1968), Le Mépris (1963), We find out from Fritz Lang- although we know anyway- that ‘Man must suffer.’
Godard’s camera often pans back and forth, left to right, between sides of conversation. Paul and Camille, the group of filmmakers, softly distorting the way in which we see their interaction. Le Mépris, about film outside of and concerned with Hollywood, is filled with visual references to such films. In Week-end (196) Godard makes reference to his most lauded of Hollywood directors, Nicholas Ray, with the rebellious group who identify themselves as films; also Eisenstein, John Ford. More externally self-aware than Le Mépris, this film segments itself with intertitles, the final statement declairing (despairing?) ‘THE END OF CINEMA’.
In many of his films Godard does what has been said of Stan Brakhage (and Warhol, Jonas Mekas): that by ‘[c]ompounding this identificatory process, the triangulation of filmmaker, subject, and viewer makes possible the continued expansion of an otherwise introverted subculture’ (Paul Arthur in Lines of Sight: American Avant-Garde Film Since 1965, p35). While the American filmmakers did this through, as Arthur writes, cinema of portraiture, Godard uses light absurdity and an observation of (simulated) reality.
Both Week-end and Le Mépris begin with a focus shot on a woman’s naked body, post-coital, sexualised. The leading female in the latter (Brigitte Bardot) is killed in a road collision at its end; one that has an effect as horrific, although less drawn-out, than the ten-minute camera pan of a car build-up in Week-end. She suffered; she is dead. But Paul (Michel Piccoli) suffers too; eternally, as he finishes the film. He is alone, surrounded by scenic beauty but akin with none of it. The spectator is served such beauty of cinematic form, but we leave, often, wtih the knowledge that we can find it in nothing more that the cinema.