Archive for the ‘Subversive Cinema’ Category

Subversive Cinema: Tadanori Yokoo’s Animations

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

Tadanori Yokoo is an internationally known graphic designer and poster artist. His work heavily draws upon pop-culture and he is sometimes unjustly labeled the “Japanese Andy Warhol.”

In the 1960’s he became interested in mysticism and psychedelia, deepened by travels in India. His work shows it.

Below is his 1965 animated film, Kachi Kachi Yama. It makes use of may pop icons of the 1960s from Bridget Bardot to the Beatles.

For those interested, all 3 Yokoo animated films available (the above film and KISS KISS KISS (1964) & Tokuten Eizou Anthology NO. 1 (1964)) can be viewed/downloaded in one package at Ubuweb.

Besides that, I can’t offer much more information. Very little background in English is available on Yokoo’s films. Either way, enjoy the films – they are completely visually stimulating.

[Note: Experimental composer (and Yoko Ono’s first husband) Toshi Ichiyanagi’s work, “Opera from the Works of Tadanori Yokoo” was directly inspired by Yokoo’s artwork, who in a sense “Turned On” the composer. This multimedia box, a blend of musique concrete and psychedelic rock, is also definitely worth checking out]


Subversive Cinema: Godard’s Rolling Stones Film

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Sympathy For The Devil a.k.a. One Plus One (England/France, 1968)

On the eve of the May 1968 student revolts in Paris, Jean-Luc Godard would leave for London to make his first English film. Godard, who was increasingly becoming politically radical, claimed the film was his last “bourgeois film”.

Godard had originally agreed to make a fully-financed film about abortion in England; the plan fell through when abortion laws changed. Demandingly, Godard told the producers he would still make an English film if they could get either the Beatles or the Rolling Stones to participate. Eventually the producers provided Godard with 180,000 pounds and a Rolling Stones commitment.

The filming was plagued with problems: the Student revolts were going on in Paris, the Rolling Stones’ studio caught fire, and Brian Jones (who would die a year later) was arrested.

The film was originally supposed to tell a parallel story about creation and destruction. While the Rolling Stones were creating “Sympathy for the Devil” (from the 1968 LP, Beggars Banquet) in the studio, a love-triangle between a girl named Democracy, a Nazi Texan, and a militant black man would develop. Democracy’s eventual suicide would provide the destruction angle.

Not surprisingly, Godard threw the narrative out the window. The final product is an abstract mixture of the Rolling Stones recording sessions, Black Power, graffiti, and Marxist ideology.

To make the film more marketable, the producers added a completed version of “Sympathy for the Devil” to the soundtrack at the end of the film. Godard strongly disapproved. As Gary Elshaw explains, “throughout the film, the spectator is shown the process of the Rolling Stones recording the song, but part of Godard’s scenario for the film is a lack of any kind of closure for the issues represented in One Plus One. Therefore, to include the full version of the song is in contradiction with the meaning of the film.

This new version was titled Sympathy for the Devil, while Godard’s was titled One Plus One. To much confusion, both were released simultaneously. Personally, I can’t help but compare this film to the Beatles 1969 recording studio film, Let It Be.

My favorite part of the story:
“When the film premiered at the London Film Festival on November 30 1968, Godard asked the audience in attendance to ask for its money back…Godard also asked the audience to contribute their refunded money to the international committee for the defense of Eldridge Cleaver, who had gone underground two days previously. After many in the audience rejected Godard’s proposal he stormed from the cinema calling the audience “Fascists,””

Sympathy for the Devil is available on DVD from Abcko films.

Most of this blog entry was ripped off of Gary Elshaw’s M.A. thesis “The Depiction of late 1960’s Counter-Culture in the 1968 Films of Jean-Luc Godard”. The full text is available here.


Subversive Cinema: The Most Amazing Movie That Was Never Made…

Friday, February 8th, 2008

Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune

Jodorowsky has recently been getting a lot more (deserved) attention thanks to the release of a long-time-coming well produced DVD Boxset. For the first time his most well known movies (El Topo, The Holy Mountain) are available (legally) on home video (with included soundtracks!). I, along with a lot of other cinema lovers, can finally watch and re-watch the Jodorowsky weirdness. Additionally, new 35mm prints of these films were made and toured shortly last year.

So recently, I was completely floored when I heard out about his failed attempt to make Dune. [David Lynch would later make a Hollywood adaptation in 1984 to fund his next film, Blue Velvet]

The Wierd World of 70’s Cinema sums up this lost project best:
“In development from 1974 to 1977, the film was to have featured Orson Welles, David Carradine (hot off the Kung Fu series), Gloria Swanson, Amanda Lear and Salvador Dali as a mad emperor who sits upon a toilet throne. With art design by H.R. Giger and special effects by Dark Star’s Dan O’Bannon who both soon after worked together on Alien. Music was to be by Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream and French prog rockers Magma.”

According to Jodorowsky:
“The project was sabotaged in Hollywood. It was French and not American. Their message was ‘not Hollywood enough’. There was intrigue, plunder. The storyboard was circulated among all the big studios. Later, the visual aspect of Star Wars strangely resembled our style. To make Alien, they called Moebius [Giraud], Foss, Giger, O’Bannon, etc. The project signaled to Americans the possibility of making a big show of science-fiction films, outside of the scientific rigor of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The project of Dune changed our lives.”

Hoooollllllyyyy Shiiiiittttt.

For more information and concept sketches on this sadly uncompleted project see the following:
“The Film You Will Never See” at Dune Info
“Jodorowsky On His Unmade Dune” at WFMU Blog


Subversive Cinema: Devo’s Mongoloid (A Film By Bruce Conner)

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

Bruce Conner is most famous for his experimental “found film”, A Movie (1958). In A Movie, Conner edited together stock footage, news reels, Academy countdown leader, and B-Grade films (among other things) to create a “pessimistic comedy on the human condition”. The result is an entirely original film made from entirely unoriginal sources.

Similarly, in 1978, Conner collaborated with DEVO to create their second music video, “Mongoloid”. DEVO described it as, “a documentary film exploring the manner in which a determined young man overcame a basic mental defect and became a useful member of society. Insightful editing techniques reveal the dreams, ideals and problems that face a large segment of the American male population.” What results is a brilliant three and a half minute music video by the master of the “found film”.


Subversive Cinema: Steal This Film II

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

Just released (on the interweb), Steal This Film II.

The second part of this ongoing series, the film explores intellectual property and the struggles against p2p technology.

You are encouraged to download it (in several formats) here
or visit the film’s website at