Guy Debord: Complete Cinematic Works. Scripts, Stills, Documents

“They are the most important radical films ever made.”

Guy DeBord founded the Situationist Internationale–a subversive group that was a formidable contributing factor to the May 1968 revolt in Paris. Although Debord may be more famous for his ever-pertinent, radical book The Society of the Spectacle, Debord also wrote & directed six films that were withdrawn from circulation at his request in the 80s. Following Debord’s death from suicide in 1994, his widow, Alice Debord authorized a re-release of her husband’s work. The book, Guy Debord: Complete Cinematic Works is edited and translated by Ken Knabb, an acknowledged expert on Situationist theory and author of Public Secrets. Knabb’s introduction provides a brief–but solid overview of Debord’s philosophy–including “detournement”–“the diversion of already existing cultural elements to new subversive purposes.” Knabb’s introduction is then followed by the scripts with accompanying scene direction and voice over for Debord’s six films:

Howls for Sade (this film is all blank–with no screen images)
On the Passage of a Few Persons Through a Rather Brief Unity of Time
Critique of Separation
The Society of the Spectacle
Refutation of All Judgments, Pro or Con, Thus Far Rendered on the Film The Society of the Spectacle
In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni

Accompanying the film scripts are several black & white stills taken from the films, and then follows a number of articles about the films and Situationist theory. Finally, the book includes a section of notes on the films, a chronology of Debord’s life, a filmography, a list of “unrealized film projects”, an index, and an all-important bibliography for further reading. This bibliography very specifically recommends some books for Situationist information while referring to others as a poor source–this is extremely helpful. Debord’s films may never be accessible–we can hardly expect them to pop up on cable any day soon, so the scripts become a valuable tool in understanding Situationist theory, and the book’s layout ensures at least a representation of Debord’s films.

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Filed under Books about film, France, Political/social films

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