- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The documentary “Black Gold,” about global-capitalist exploitation of Ethiopian coffee farmers, is supposed to make us Westerners feel, at the very least, overprivileged, preferably guilty, the next time we’re in Starbucks.

Whether or not you agree with the premise — Thomas Sowell has a tough-minded skewering of “Hollywood economics” here — it seems indisputable that filmmakers have gotten much better at these kinds of dramatic exposs in recent years.

Rent Jean-Luc Godard’s “Week End” (1967) to see what I mean. It’s probably not fair to compare today’s linear anti-globalist treatises to Godard, who, in ‘67, under the influence of Brecht and Bunuel, was well into a surrealist-absurdist phase.

Yet it’s clear that however bizarre its imagery, Godard intended for his audience to “get” the movie, which depicted a bourgeois Parisian couple as selfish, mercenary, and ultimately murderous. In “Week End’s” world, technological civilization leads to barbarism, and capitalism to cannibalism. At one point, Godard has a pair of sanitation workers - one Arab, the other black African — give anti-Western speeches on behalf each other. Solidarity!

According to DVD commentator David Sterritt, After “Week End,” Godard went strictly anti-commercial and overtly political. The closing credits of “Week End” declared the “end of cinema”; as much as French New Wavers like Godard loved classical Hollywood, he believed movies, as an art form, had been exhausted.

He was wrong, obviously.

Oddly enough, “Week End” forced me to appreciate movies like “The Constant Gardener.”

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