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Sympathy for the Devil

May 12, 2013

Sympathy for the Devil (1968)
Director: Jean-Luc Godard

Sympathy 4

Synopsis: The Rolling Stones recording “Sympathy for the Devil” interspersed with performance art pieces depicting black power politics, musings on celebrity and pornography.

Review: This is a work very much of its time – it was made in the year 1968, the classic year of ‘revolution’, and this film captures The Rolling Stones, the black power movement, and anti-war and feminist movements in their prime. Of course, some elements to the film are a touch dated, from the ‘coolness’ of its air of revolution, to the interiors and décor of the sets being very much of the late ’60s.

Godard gains a lot of mileage out of his techniques when documenting The Stones recording session. I love how his roving camerawork doesn’t necessarily prioritise the artist that is performing, but will often focus on an idle Mick Jagger or Keith Richard, while another member of the band is actually recording their piece. As for the performance art pieces that book-end The Stones’ recording sessions, well, they are very stagey, but, as ever with Godard, I think he casts a much more subversive and wry eye on proceedings than might initially be apparent. In particular, the sequence where a ‘guerrilla’ journalist quizzes Anne Wiazemsky’s character on any manner of topics is a great satire of the intellectual narcissism of a certain type of celebrity. (May 2013)

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