Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sympathy for the Devil

Watched Sympathy for the Devil last night, Jean-Luc Godard’s film structured (very loosely) around The Rolling Stones recording their greatest song. I am not a great fan of The Stones but this song has a particular resonance as the track always played as the last record at The Venue in New Cross during many 1990s indie-nights, with hundreds of drunk people 'whoo whooing' in chorus for most of the song.

In musical terms the film demonstrates what a triumph the recorded version is in comparison with some of the dire earlier takes. Also noteable is that Keith Richards plays bass throughout with ostensible Stones bassist Bill Wyman relegated to Maracas.

But this is radical avant garde 'cinemarxism' circa 1968, so the music is only one element of a collage with elements including a narrator reading political porn (‘Foster Dulles went inside to order Princess Beatrice a Molotov Cocktail’) , staged scenes of armed Black Power activists in a car scrapyard down by the Thames and a parody of the banality of interviews with a young woman pursued through a wood answering in monosyllables to questions like 'Do you feel exploited from the moment you step into an interview?' and 'Do you think drugs are a spiritual form of gambling'. Meanwhile figures pop up in the London landscape painting graffiti about Viet Nam.

God knows what the later Sir Michael Jagger made of it all, though apparently even this version was too much of a compromise for Godard whose final take left out a complete version of 'Sympathy for the Devil' only for the film to be edited to include it at the end without his consent over images of fighting on the sand in a section entitled 'Under the Stones the Beach'.

No comments: