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Sympathy for the Devil (1968)

Godard's documentation of late 1960s Western counter-culture, examining the Black Panthers, referring to works by LeRoi Jones and Eldridge Cleaver. Other notable subjects are the role of ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sean Lynch ...
Commentary (voice)
...
Himself - The Rolling Stones
Brian Jones ...
Himself - The Rolling Stones
...
Himself - The Rolling Stones (as Keith Richard)
...
Himself - The Rolling Stones
...
Himself - The Rolling Stones
...
Eve Democracy
Iain Quarrier ...
Fascist porno book seller
Frankie Dymon ...
Black power militant (as Frankie Dymon Jnr.)
Danny Daniels ...
Black power militant
Illario Pedro
Roy Stewart ...
Black power militant
Linbert Spencer
Tommy Ansah ...
(as Tommy Ansar)
Michael McKay
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Storyline

Godard's documentation of late 1960s Western counter-culture, examining the Black Panthers, referring to works by LeRoi Jones and Eldridge Cleaver. Other notable subjects are the role of news media, the mediated image, a growing technocratic society, women's liberation, the May revolt in France and the power of language. Cutting between three major scenes, including the Rolling Stones in the studio, the film is visually intercut with Eve Democracy (Wiazemsky) using graffiti which amalgamates organisations, corporations and ideologies. Godard also examines the role of the revolutionary within Western culture. Although he believes Western culture needs to be destroyed, it can only be done so by the rejection of intellectualisation. "There is only one way to be an intellectual revolutionary, and that is to give up being an intellectual" Written by <gary.elshaw@vuw.ac.nz>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Jean-Luc Godard on Black Power, Rape, Murder, Fascism, Acid, Pornography, Sex, Revolution, Brutality and all the other things that make life worth living.

Genres:

Documentary | Music

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

22 April 1969 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

One Plus One  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Godard punched producer Iain Quarrier at the National Film Theatre in London, the manager of the building, Mike Wessens, interceded in an attempt to prevent any further violence, only for Godard to aim a punch at him as well. Wessens, a former army officer, defended himself vigorously, with the result that Godard fell off the NFT stage, to the great amusement of the 597 paying customers who observed the fisticuffs. Before leaving, Godard announced he would later be showing the proper version of the film outside, projecting the image onto the wall of a bridge. Despite their fist-fight, Mike Wessens lent him a projector (free of charge) so that he could do this. See more »

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User Reviews

 
SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL (Jean-Luc Godard, 1968) **
24 August 2006 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

This "meeting" of two of the finest artists of the 20th Century - Jean-Luc Godard and The Rolling Stones - is truly a missed opportunity. The footage of the band recording their landmark song (probably my favorite Stones track) is certainly fascinating, as we watch the initially slow musical accompaniment for the song taking shape and metamorphose into the energetic, percussion-heavy final version we're familiar with. Sadly, it's also quite apparent here that Brian Jones (who sits in his booth playing his acoustic guitar, rarely communicating with his bandmates except to ask for a cigarette and eventually disappearing altogether in the second half of the film) was slipping away fast.

Unfortunately for us viewers, Godard (in full-blown "political activist" mode) unwisely intersperses the recording sessions with lots of boring stuff featuring militant black people spouting "Black Power" philosophy in a junkyard, white political activists reading their "sacred" texts in a book shop while members of the general public are made to slap two of their comrades and give the Nazi salute and, most embarrassingly of all perhaps, Godard's current wife, Anne Wiazemsky (playing Eve Democracy!) is seen being followed by a camera crew in a field and asked the most obtuse "topical" questions imaginable to which she merely answers in the affirmative or the negative!

As if this wasn't enough, the film has undoubtedly the murkiest soundtrack I've ever had the misfortune to hear (so that I often had to rely on the forced Italian subtitles present on the VHS copy I was watching) and I'd bet that even Robert Altman would have objected to Godard's occasional overlapping on the soundtrack of the Stones recording, the Black Power spoutings, an anonymous narrator reading a (mercifully) hilarious pulp novel, etc. For some inexplicable reason then, the film ends on a beach where an unidentified film crew is filming a battle sequence!!

Godard's original intention was to not include the song "Sympathy For The Devil" in its entirety and when producer Iain Quarrier overruled him, he jumped up on London's National Film Theater stage following a screening of the film and knocked him out! Godard's version, entitled ONE PLUS ONE, is also available on a double-feature R2 DVD including both cuts of the film but it's highly unlikely that I'll be bothering with it any time soon...


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