6.4/10
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38 user 37 critic

Sympathy for the Devil (1968)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Music | 22 April 1969 (USA)
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 »

Director:

Jean-Luc Godard

Writer:

Jean-Luc Godard
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sean Lynch ... Commentary (voice)
Mick Jagger ... Himself - The Rolling Stones
Brian Jones ... Himself - The Rolling Stones
Keith Richards ... Himself - The Rolling Stones (as Keith Richard)
Charlie Watts ... Himself - The Rolling Stones
Bill Wyman ... Himself - The Rolling Stones
Anne Wiazemsky ... Eve Democracy
Iain Quarrier ... Fascist porno book seller
Frankie Dymon Frankie Dymon ... Black power militant (as Frankie Dymon Jnr.)
Danny Daniels ... Black power militant
Ilario Bisi-Pedro Ilario Bisi-Pedro
Roy Stewart ... Black power militant
Linbert Spencer Linbert Spencer
Tommy Ansah Tommy Ansah ... (as Tommy Ansar)
Michael McKay 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:

In Eastmancolor and English See more »

Genres:

Documentary | Music

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 April 1969 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

One Plus One See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Cupid Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jean-Luc Godard: In the final scene, Godard can be seen running on the beach in a blue raincoat and a white tennis hat. He pours red paint from a bottle onto Anne Wiazemsky, before she is lifted by the crane in the final shot. See more »

Alternate Versions

Jean-Luc Godard's original director's cut (titled "One Plus One") runs approximately 110 minutes and consists largely of additional footage of the black power militants. The film's producers were dissatisfied with this cut and deleted 11 minutes, changed the title to "Sympathy for the Devil" to underscore the Stones connection, and added the final version of the title song to the film's soundtrack, over a freeze-frame of the last shot. These changes were all made without Godard's knowledge; when he finally saw them at the film's London Film Festival premiere, he allgedly went berserk and physically attacked one of the producers. See more »

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User Reviews

Cynical, satirical collage of rock documentary and political commentary
23 January 2003 | by R. J.See all my reviews

One of Nouvelle Vague iconoclast Jean-Luc Godard's most engaging oddities, part music documentary of the Rolling Stones rehearsing and recording "Sympathy for the Devil", part a collage of sketches on modern-day revolution and the struggle of the minorities for freedom, punctuated by a number of double-entendre title cards. Generally ranged alongside Godard's political work of the late sixties, it's in fact a cynical and very twisted meditation on the politics of minorities, since the director equates women's lib, communism, fascism and the Black Panthers' radicalism at the same level, all while the Stones find a way to tell the Devil's take on the history of civilization. Mostly, it's questioning what real impact can theoretical concepts of revolution have in a world where language obscures as much as it shares, as is acutely pointed out in the Black Panther's interview where, once asked how are they going to communicate their aspirations to the white man, the black revolutionary replies he has no idea since black men and white men don't really speak the same language. Is music, then, the universal language that everyone speaks? Godard says nothing. He prefers to film, in very long and beautifully executed tracking one-takes, either the Stones rehearsing in a candid manner, or the various revolutionaries spouting their ideals out loud, while a cynical voiceover reads excerpts of pulp novels with the names replaced by those of post-war politicians. It is, in fact, "one plus one": one half rock documentary of interest to Stones fans, one half political satire and commentary. The beauty lies in mixing them together, but I'll admit that only a hardcore Godard fan can enjoy and make sense of the combination.


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