Guy Debord: Complete Cinematic Works : Translated and edited by Ken Knabb By Mike

Sep 16, 2010

Guy Debord, best known for his writings such as The Society of the Spectacle, also made six films. He founded the Situationist International group of avant-garde artists, advocating all forms of art for everyone above the capitalistic work society, fighting alienation. The group was very influential in Europe, especially in the 1968 student revolt in France. This book on his movies gives a glimpse into what they were with complete scripts, description of the imagery, and some stills. Alas, after Debord’s producer was assassinated, he pulled the films from circulation. In 1994, at age sixty-two, Debord committed suicide. His widow re-released the films after his death, but they are still hard to find.



            Judging from the book, the films sound like a strong companion to French New Wave films – although Debord did not like Godard – and today’s conspiracy master Craig Baldwin (Tribulation 99, Sonic Outlaws). The text of the films comes from Debord’s famous writings on the destruction of human interaction and the worship of advertising image, as capitalism sells the idea that only by buying things can someone really be happy and successful. Actual human interaction and the creativity everyone has inside them are stifled. It’s a short leap to today’s cult of celebrity and war by television channel.



            Without the films available, it is hard to judge them and the book. In my mind it is a great thing, inspirational and intelligent, but the stills cannot convey the true feeling of the films, where editing and shot length were very controlled. Debord’s text is great, I assume serving as cliff notes to his longer writings. The film stills are interesting; all found from other sources, thus the comparison to Baldwin’s genius connections of found footage. Side text does a nice job of explaining the images on screen but it only hints at the possibility.



            The author, Ken Knabb, who first published The Situationist International Anthology in 1981, is probably the best writer possible for this book, since he is a respected voice on the history of the group. Any present day anarchist and DIY-er will obviously be into this book – so will anyone simply tired of being gagged by shitty Hollywood movies, TV politicians, and backyard billboards. Hopefully, the interest in the book will push a future release of the actual films. –Speedway Randy (AK Press, 674-A 23rd St., Oakland, CA94612-1163)