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One + One, Rolling Stones, Sympathy For The Devil [DVD]
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French director Jean-Luc Godard's deconstruction of the process of construction, both of film narrative and The Rolling Stones' song 'Sympathy for the Devil'. The film presents a collage for the viewer to engage with as they like. Interweaved is footage of the Stones in the studio, writing, rehearsing and recording the famous song, and footage of a group of Black Power protestors in a used car lot, brandishing guns and reading revolutionary tracts.
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One Plus One was not a success - Godard was in turmoil - his previous film "Weekend" had proclaimed "the end of cinema" in any conventional sense, his marriage to Anna Karina had finished & then of course the May 68 events exploded & Godard aligned himself with the Maoists & total cultural revolution. And, as the interesting accompanying 1968 documentary on the making of the film makes clear, Godard was out of his element working with an unfamiliar English cast, crew & locations as opposed to his old Parisian set up.
So One Plus One was made "on the run" from Paris May 68 & was the first of several flawed attempts to make a new type of experimental satire. Godard films the Stones not to create swinging sixties rock n'roll mythology but to demystify it, to show it as cultural production. The culture critique here puts Marx with Freud & attempts a kind of "deconstruction" influenced by Barthes, Derrida et al & it has to be said that Godard asks all the right taboo questions about sex, politics, gender & race but can't sustain any kind of meaningful analysis - and so it will probably seem an obscure & incomprehensible film to many viewers today.
Of course it is interesting to see how the Stones worked (Jagger in charge, Keef supportive, Brian Jones comatose) and predictably this DVD edition stresses the 60s rock n'roll mythology angle, precisely what the film was trying to undercut & the reason why Godard famously assaulted the producer at the NFT premier. Still, you get both versions of the film & a reversible sleeve so you can choose Godard or the Stones, revolution or nostalgia!
The Stones are good, but this should have been just about them.
Or perhaps that should be the review below now. Anyway, since writing this, I found One Plus One on DVD in Fopp and bought it, only to discover that it contained both versions of the film and, a little confusingly, a reversible cover, one side proffering 'Sympathy...' the other 'One...' (The 1+1 side's appropriately better graphically). Doesn't seem to be the same edition on sale here.
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