The Society of the Spectacle
The Society of the Spectacle
Keywords: 1970s situationism industrial society anarchy may 68
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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.—Anonymous
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March 18, 2023 at 12:30 PM
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Revolutionary in style and philosophy.
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. The way in which the scenes are manipulated work well with the voice over commentary reinforcing the ideas while hitting emotional notes. The Music also contributes well to the emotional sentiment which the director wants to be associated with different ideas and issues. The technique used reminds me of Wagner, how he used the structure of music to convey hopelessness and the philosophy of Schopenhauer in "The Ring" covering over the once socialists allegory for the contradiction of modernity. Debord and the situationists used their music to convey of the feeling of hope and the spirit negation (the negation of capitalism and the creation of a new 'totality' of 'situations'). Debord during this film highlights the influences of the 'situationits' in the agitation for May 68 (the largest general strike in history). Henri Lefebvre criticized Debord on this point expressing the view that the situationists greatly exaggerate their influence on events. Other then the self-pampering which is small fraction of the film it is a well done piece of radical documentary both in form and content (style and ideas, though this dichotomy is to come degree false) which is quite interesting just for those uninterested or hostile towards Revolutionary Anti-Capitalism.
This film can be hard to find being played at university film theater's and art festivals. But because the creators of this work are 'anti-commodity' you can find the film online from different locations with English subtitles.
The worst movie ever made
I think this was the worst movie I have ever seen, though I had a pretty low opinion of Last Year at Marienbad. It was so bad, I started to laugh. It consists of black and white footage of crowds, bullying soldiers and masses of people, punctuated everyone once in a while by topless women writhing and pawing at their bodies, and one scene of a young male pop singer silently writhing on the ground as if having an epileptic fit. The sound track is in French. I think the script was possibly composed by computer stringing together random abstract nouns. The effect is hypnotic and meaningless, though oddly depressing.
There is only the most tenuous thematic relationship between the narration and the video. I kept thinking the movie was over, and it would pick up again like some nightmare I could not wake from. It was amateurish and incredibly self indulgent and self important. The film could have been easily condensed to 60 seconds to put across its message, that civilisation imposes conformity and an empty pursuit of commodities.