Film Comment Selects: Guy Debord Retrospective
Film Comment Selects is presenting a complete retrospective of Guy Debord’s rarely shown and hard-to-find films. Debord, born 1931 in Paris was a writer, filmmaker, and founder of Situationist International, an experimental group functioning in art and politics to revolutionize the everyday. Theoretically founded in Marxism, the Situationists played a large role in the political movements of the sixties, notably in May ’68. Their primary goal was to critique the capitalist system and make apparent the detrimental influence it exerts over society as a whole. Mostly renown for his book, The Society of the Spectacle (1967), and later the film (1973), Debord opens the famous text, “In societies dominated by modern conditions of production, life is presented as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has receded into representation”. Debord holds capitalism responsible for an illusion of freedom and fulfillment caused by a culture dominated and mediated by images. He observed that social relations have been replaced by reverence to the spectacle, leading to the isolating condition of modern life. His films function to critique this appropriation of everyday life by altering found footage (including film historical heavyweights, Potemkin and Johnny Guitar) to exaggerate and subvert his subject of critique, a method he called détournement. All six of his films will be shown on Sunday March 1st: In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni (1978), The Society of the Spectacle (1973), Réfutation de tous les jugements (1975), Hurlements en faveur de Sade, (1952), On the Passage of a Few Persons Through a Rather Brief Unity of Time (1959), Critique de la separation (1961).