Society of the Spectacle Summary

Society of the Spectacle Summary - GUY DEBORD'S"The Society...

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GUY DEBORD’S “The Society of the Spectacle” ____________________________________________________ 90 minutes. French videocopy with English subtitles by Keith Sanborn. ____________________________________________________ If we ever get out of this mess, future generations will look back on Guy Debord as the person who contributed to that liberation more than anyone else in this century. Guy Debord (1931-1994) was the most influential figure in the Situationist International, a small experimental group that played a key role in catalyzing the May 1968 revolt in France. The Society of the Spectacle (1973) is Debord‟s film adaptation of his own 1967 book . As passages from the book are read in voiceover the text is illuminated, via direct illustration or various types of ironic contrast, by clips from Russian and Hollywood features ( Potemkin, Ten Days That Shook the World, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Shanghai Gesture, Johnny Guitar, Mr. Arkadin, etc.), TV commercials, publicity shots, softcore porn, street scenes, and news and documentary footage, including glimpses of Spain 1936, Hungary ‟56, Watts ‟65, France ‟68, and other revolts of the past. Intertitle quotes from Marx, Machiavelli, Clausewitz or Tocqueville occasionally break the flow. Leaving aside the question of aesthetic merit (in which regard Debord‟s films are incidentally among the most brilliantly innovative works in the history of the cinema), The Society of the Spectacle is certainly the most important radical film ever made. Not just because it is based on the most important radical book of the twentieth century, but because it unfortunately has no real cinematic competition. Many films have provided a few insights into this or that aspect of modern society, but Debord‟s is the only one that presents a consistent critique of the whole global system. Many radical filmmakers have given lip service to Brecht‟s notion of encouraging spectators to think and act fo r themselves rather
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