Previously at the ICA - Films

Jean-Luc Godard, Sympathy for the Devil, 1969

Sympathy for the Devil

4 Jun 2014

The penultimate date of Iain Sinclair's 70x70 film season - no. 69: Sympathy for the Devil by Jean-Luc Godard.

'Sympathy for the Devil was a 16mm polemic shot on 35mm. The contradictions begin there. At £150,000, it was Godard’s most expensive feature, made in a city he disliked and a language he pretended, when it suited him, not to speak. The sight of his new young wife, Anne Wiazemsky (fresh from her radiant debut, co-starring with a donkey in Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar), wandering about South London and West London, spraying slogans on corrugated fences, was profoundly depressing. The film became a documentary about futility, ugliness, poor light, the insolent rhetoric of scrapyards, gun-waving black freedom fighters (jobbing actors).

Swinging London: the psychedelic gibbet. A colour-supplement commission dressed up as a movie. Photographers shooting photographers. Antonioni’s BlowUp, made two years before Godard hit town, predicts riverside expansionism and the future location of the Thames Barrier. A city of moneyed immigrants. Russians with good English tailoring eating Italian food.

Godard’s more troubled raid tracks around a notable English monument, the Rolling Stones. More stone than roll: even then. Smoking defiantly, prematurely jaded musicians fiddle with a demon-summoning song, while the camera loops lethargically around them. A more unreal and therefore truer account of the psychosis of celebrity, of (simulated) Dionysiac madness, than Antonioni’s guitar-wrecking performance by the Yardbirds.'

- Iain Sinclair

Sympathy for the Devil, dir. Jean-Luc Godard, UK 1969, 100 mins

Please note that all films are 18+ unless otherwise stated. The feature will start approximately 15 minutes after the listed start time.

Go back in time

E.g., 2016-10-01
E.g., 2016-10-01

Media