Sympathy for the Devil (1968)

Sympathy for the Devil (1968) movie poster

director Jean-Luc Godard
viewed: 12/14/2016

Jean-Luc Godard’s Sympathy for the Devil (or One Plus One as he originally titled it) mixes studio footage of the Rolling Stones recording and re-recording what would become one of their signature songs with weirdly staged political treatises.  What was Godard going for here?

The only real connecting piece is the fluid tracking camera following various staged scenes and equally roaming the studio as an eye and an ear.  The studio work might fascinate a fan, but the fact that all the work is on a single song could wear on anyone else.  The creative process isn’t really so much explored except more spied upon.  That the song turned out so well is perhaps a testament to their efforts.

The other sequences, which resemble aspects of Godard’s previous film, Weekend (1967) wind up feeling more a potential critique of the Marxists and revolutionaries that it seems Godard was actually trying to appreciate.  Though the camera prowls with studied care, the ham-fisted and poorly-spoken activists seem cartoonishly simple and lacking eloquence.  For the eloquence they lack, pretension they do not.

I think it was around this time that Godard decided that cinema shouldn’t be any fun if it’s going to be effective and political.

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