The untranslatable French title is a play on words suggesting that revolution was in the air but not on the ground. The English title, "A Grin without a Cat", has a similar meaning. Director Chris Marker has given it the subtitle "Scenes from the Third World War 1967-1977". See more »
When he officially abandoned the New Wave, Godard said that he no longer wanted to make "political films" but instead wanted to "make films politically." In Grin Without a Cat, Chris Marker manages to do both by presenting a Weberian genealogical analysis of revolution, and in doing so creates a more perfect kind of documentary. Focusing on specific events and individuals in an overarching context, he attempts much more than most political documentaries. He doesn't ask the question "How was the revolution successful or unsuccessful?" (although this is addressed), but the main inquiry is instead "Where does revolution come from, and once it's here, what function does it serve?" The breadth of the film is incredible, chronicling popular revolts in France, Vietnam, Cuba, Prague, Chile, Bolivia, China and others, but as many who have seen the film note, it moves incredibly fluidly, and the time spent watching it never seems to drag. There is also no lack of the flair of style seen in Marker's most popular works, Sans Soleil and La Jetee. In short, anyone with an interest in the documentary form will tremendously enjoy this film, though it is a bit depressing. Like politics itself, there are no heroes presented, only victims, oppressors, and the idealistically misinformed.
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