Monday, January 26, 2009

Society of the Spectacle (1973)

Guy Debord's revolutionary 90 minute film took a year to make and incorporates footage from many famous films, Soviet and Polish films, industrial films, American Westerns, soft-core porn films, news footage, advertisements, and many still photographs. Events such as the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald (who assassinated U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1963), the revolutions in Spain in 1936, Hungary in 1956 and in Paris in 1968, and people such as Mao Tse Tung, Richard Nixon, and the Spanish Anarchist Durruti are represented. Throughout the movie, there is both a voiceover (of Debord) and inter-titles from "Society of the Spectacle" but also texts from the Committee of Occupation of the Sorbonne, Machiavelli, Marx, Tocqueville, Emile Pouget, and Soloviev. The innovative use of subtitles and intertitles is part of Debord´s goal to problematize reception and force the viewer to be active. The spectacle, as Debord reminds us, "is not a collection of images, but a relationship among people mediated by images."

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