Friday, November 14, 2008

Hurlements en faveur de Sade

Howls for Sade. FR 1952. D+SC: Guy Debord. Voice 1: Gil J Wolman. Voice 2: Guy Debord. Voice 3: Serge Berna. Voice 4: Barbara Rosenthal. Voice 5: Jean-Isidore Isou. Originally 35mm, B&W, 75 min. The only film print can no longer be screened, and no negative exists. Dvd projection with e-subtitles in English by Ken Knabb edited by Tommi Uschanov at Avanto Festival, Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 14 Nov 2008.
Guy Debord: "Howls for Sade, a feature-length film created in June 1952, contains no images whatsoever. The soundtrack is accompanied by a completely blank white screen during the spoken dialogues. These dialogues, which altogether total no more than twenty minutes, are broken up into short fragments amid passages of total silence totalling one hour (the final portion of the film consisting of an uninterrupted 24-minute period of silence). During the silences the screen, and thus the theatre remains totally dark."
"The film contains no other sound or accompaniment, with the exception of a solo lettrist improvisation by Wolman during the first white screen passage, immediately before the beginning of the dialogue. The first two statements comprise the only credits."
"The content of this film should be considered in the context of the lettrist avant-garde of the period, both on the most general level, where it represents a negation and supersession of Isou’s conception of “discrepant cinema,” and on the anecdotal level, from the mode of using double first names (Jean-Isidore, Guy-Ernest, Albert-Jules, etc.) or the reference to Berna, the organizer of the Easter 1950 scandal at Notre Dame, to the dedication to Wolman, creator of the preceding lettrist film, the admirable Anticoncept. Other aspects should be considered in the light of positions since developed by the situationists, particularly the use of detourned passages."
"The first showing of Howls for Sade — in Paris, June 30, 1952, at the Ciné-club d’Avant-Garde, then directed by A.-J. Cauliez, in the Musée de l’Homme building — was violently disrupted almost from the beginning by the audience and the film club managers. Several lettrists then dissociated themselves from such a crudely extremist film. The first complete showing took place October 13 of the same year at the Ciné-club du Quartier Latin in the Sociétés Savantes room, defended by a group of “left-lettrists” and a couple dozen additional supporters from Saint-Germain-des-Prés. A few months later the presence of these same people prevented the same film club from presenting a Sadistic Skeleton which had been announced and attributed to a certain “René-Guy Babord,” a joke which was seemingly intended to consist merely of turning out all the theater lights for a quarter of an hour." Guy Debord
A dadaistic anti-film with black and white passages only on screen, and dialogue and total silence on the soundtrack. Almost all stayed, only a few members of the audiences left.

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