Tuesday, March 13, 2001

The good

"And do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law."
— Antoinine Artaud

Outside the "no rules, just right" campaign for Outback Steakhouse, anarchist utopias on film are hard to find. This is partly because utopias are boring, partly because society-hating filmmakers are more interested in mayhem than utopia. This has the odd effect of making anarchic films by society-haters look a lot like the films by society-lovers. In either case, anarchy is filled with rape, murder and destruction, though the society-haters try to show the mayhem from the point of view of the perpetrators, putting the "spree" back in crime spree with films like Natural Born Killers, The Doom Generation, etc., a bad selling point for potential crime victims. Topping the list of anarchic crime sprees:

The Weekend (1967) Directed by Jean-Luc Godard. "Mr. Hurlot's Vacation in Hell" as filmed by Jacques Tati on bad acid. The plot, to the extent I grasp it: A dysfunctional family (husband and wife both intent on murdering each other) goes on vacation, hitting the road after the odd bit of screwing, some dirty talk and a parking lot shootout or two. On the road, something bad seems to be happening. They keep passing violent accidents — bloody bodies strewn about like some French driver's ed film. This is either a spontaneous breakdown of civilization or the deliberate result of anarchist attacks. (One scene makes this incoherent movie worth viewing: a twistedly fascinating 15-minute pan of an endless traffic jam punctuated by weird vehicles and arty car wrecks.) Eventually, the couple is kidnapped by forest dwelling anarchists. More screwing, violence and car wrecks ensue. Throughout all this, everybody keeps talking; it's like secondary audio programming filled with pseudointellectual left-wing pontificating. (Ionesco's influence is the rhinocerous in the room; everything's disconnected, acausal, at cross-purposes. Where this illogic is funny in the hands of an apolitical Tati, Godard's political ax-grinding makes it merely boring, unless you hit the fast-forward button.) Eventually, the anarchists turn to cannibalism, yielding, perhaps, the origin of the phrase: "eat the rich."

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