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 »
I saw the English-language version, so I missed out on the wonderful voices of Yves Montand and Simone Signoret. Still, the film has provocative images (makes you think how difficult it really is to "make the revolution" in advanced capitalist countries) and my attention never flagged. But for someone who does not approach the film fully equipped with all of the political-cultural paraphernalia of the French left, the film is a bit bewildering. It's not at all clear what the director's point of view is, and this is unfortunate for a film that attempts to make sense of a relatively well-defined political phenomenon: the new left of 1968 and beyond. Is he simply trying to say that the movement strayed too far from its working class ally, and therefore was a superstructure without a base (hence, the title)? If so, the film is not organized in a sufficiently coherent way to bring that point home. And even so, one could hardly say that the French left really had a chance in '68 to "smash the bourgeois state," given that the violent instruments employed by the state to perpetuate in extremis the "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie"(the army and the police) never showed signs of cracking. And even if there had been a "revolutionary socialist breakthrough" in France, the country would have been crushed first by the economic sanctions imposed by the other capitalist countries (a la Chile) and then militarily (had the "revolutionary government" sought to align itself with the USSR). Very humorous interlude involving Fidel's obsessive massaging of microphones, but on the whole not very flattering towards him (but neither towards Guevara and Regis Debray, for that matter). Maybe I missed something, but I thought Georges Marchais (PCF) came off the best--judge for yourself.
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