Tuesday, 24 August 2010


In 1967, Jeann Luc Godard released Weekend, probably the most audacious and caustic critique of bourgeois society ever committed to film. It's darn near unwatchable, rejecting traditional notions of narrative, enjoyment, sense, and so on, to create an unending (or at least, that's how it feels) series haphazard encounters on the road, characterized by increasing incoherence and brutality. Only, that makes it sound more enjoyable than it actually is.

It's most infamous sequence is a staged traffic jam, filmed in one achingly monotonous take, only interrupted by intertitles exhorting us to analyse what we are seeing (1). It is perhaps the best metaphor for individualistic, consumer society one the edge of catastrophe ever filmed.

Only, once again, that makes it sound more enjoyable than it actually is.

Now, however, reality has surpassed Godard's vision of Hell-as-a-traffic-jam:
A 100km long traffic jam in China has entered its ninth day and drivers are being warned the bottleneck could continue for a month.

Hundreds of trucks heading for Beijing on the Beijing-Tibet Expressway have been at a standstill because of roadworks in the capital.

Small traffic accidents or broken-down cars are aggravating the congestion which started on August 14. (2)
Good, and indeed, grief.
1 - "Traffic scene from the film Weekend," posted on You tube by rfid4dna, 3rd of June 2007. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wC9d9rxjuhg)
2 - "Going Nowhere: Traffic Jam Enters Ninth Day," unattributed report. Published by Sky News, 23rd of August, 2010. (

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