The Films of May ’68

Bernardo Bertolucci – The Dreamers (2003)

Quote:
Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Dreamers” is set in Paris in the spring of 1968, a tumultuous time of sexual experimentation and political revolt. The people have taken to the streets, but for attractive, enigmatic twins Isabelle and Theo and their American friend Matthew, the riotous events that will define their lives transpire inside–in the bath tub and on the hard kitchen floor, in bed and beneath the altar of a black and white pin-up of Marilyn Monroe tacked on to Theo’s bedroom wall.
The story of three young cinephiles and sexual neophytes coming of age in Paris is captivating material. Based on the novel by Gilbert Adair, Bertolucci tells the story through the eyes of the outsider. Matthew (Michael Pitt), first meets the twins at the locked gates of the Cinematheque Français, where Isabelle (Eva Green) strikes the pose of a movie star while Bertolucci adds documentary footage of Jean-Pierre Léaud with a bull-horn and François Truffaut protesting the forced resignation of Henri Langois. Read More »

Olivier Assayas – Après mai AKA Something in the Air (2012)

Quote:
In the months after the heady weeks of May ’68, a group of young Europeans search for a way to continue the revolution believed to be just beginning. Read More »

Philippe Garrel – La cicatrice intérieure AKA The Inner Scar (1972)

This is a highly experimental French film consisting of no more than 23 camera shots, total. It resembles nothing so much as one of Warhol’s earlier films, except that it is more episodic. Nico of the Velvet Underground portrays a different woman in each of the episodes. The first three concern her “rescues” from Death Valley, Egypt and Iceland by a young man to whom she eventually says “stay away from me.” Following that, she recites from various texts in German, French and English, makes various gnomic observations and encounters various men in various guises. All the men are played either by director Philippe Garrel or Pierre Clementi. Read More »

Guy Debord – La société du spectacle AKA Society of the Spectacle [English Version] (1974)

Guy Debord’s landmark cinematic analysis of consumer society is based on his influential sociological book “La société du spectacle” (1967). Debord was a leading member of the avant-garde art movement ‘Situationist International’. This cinematic essay uses their method of ‘détournement’ to decontextualize and rearrange preexisting audiovisual materials and texts to critizise them and create new meaning. The result is a subversive collage of ideological (moving) images from socialist and capitalist societies that are presented here as artefacts of a global media ‘spectacle’: Social relations between people are mediated by artificial images and false representations that transform humans into mere passive consumers and ‘spectators’ of their alienated existence. Guy Debord’s motivation was to create a radical social critique and a disruptive, anti-illusionist cinema as an antidote and revolutionary tool against the dominant cultural and sociopolitical forces of his time. Read More »

Guy Debord – The Society of the spectacle AKA La Société du spectacle (1973)

This film by Guy E. Debord is based on his 1967 book of the same title both of which convey ideas about the consumer capitalism’s mode of production and the effects on everyday life. Though both sources use a different means of communication they both powerfully convey the ideas of the situationists. I wont rant on about the ideas contain within this film which are quite profound and have influenced heavily on the Anti-Capitalist movement and post-structuralism through thinkers like Jean Baudrillard. The structure of the film itself is a series of shots from Hollywood films to soviet “collective hero” film experiments to soft-core porn(nothing past topless) to archival footage of historical events(e.g. May 68 revolt in France) and representations of everyday life. Read More »

Marin Karmitz – Coup pour coup AKA Blow for Blow (1972)

Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
Coup Pour Coup is a film about a worker’s strike at a textile plant, and is written and enacted by the actual striking workers. This film was a collaborative and collective effort. Videotapes of upcoming scenes were discussed by the workers, and camera angles as well as dramatic refinements were agreed on before any film was exposed. Given that the film presents the worker’s point of view and is a largely amateur effort, reviewers found it surprisingly effective as a dramatic piece. One interesting feature of the film, and of the strike itself, is that it was organized and led by women. While there had been male union leaders, they were bypassed or ousted for their lack of leadership, understanding, or negotiating skills. Read More »

Jean Eustache – La maman et la putain (1973)

A few days of a dandyish French intellectual in his late 20s named Alexandre (Jean-Pierre Leaud), who’s living with and supported by his lover, Marie (Bernadette Lafont); she’s in her mid-30s and runs a small boutique. In the first scene he borrows a neighbor’s car and tracks down a former girlfriend, Gilberte (Isabelle Weingarten), who’s just started a new semester at the Sorbonne, and tries to persuade her to marry him, only to discover that she’s just agreed to marry someone else. (We and Alexandre briefly glimpse Gilberte with her husband, played by Eustache, toward the end of the film, in the liquor section of a department store.) After hanging out with an equally idle friend (Jacques Renard) at the Deux Magots cafe, Alexandre follows a young woman after she leaves a nearby table, asks for her phone number, and scores; the remainder of the film is devoted to his courting of her. Read More »