A Grin Without a Cat
History, Sociopolitical Documentary hosted by Jim Broadbent and Cyril Cusack, published by ISKRA Films in 1993 – English narration
— Original title “Le Fond de l’Air Est Rouge”–
A GRIN WITHOUT A CAT is Chris Marker’s epic film-essay on the worldwide political wars of the 60’s and 70’s: Vietnam, Bolivia, May ’68, Prague, Chile, and the fate of the New Left.
A GRIN WITHOUT A CAT (its title refers to Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat) is Marker’s magnum opus: a three-hour overview of the worldwide political upheavals during the Sixties and Seventies.
Marker interweaves footage from the Vietnam War and the antiwar protests in the U.S., May ’68 in Paris, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Salvador Allende and the coup in Chile, Che Guevara and Regis Debray in Bolivia, the Shah of Iran, Fidel Castro, et alia.
Through film is collage of recordings, it suggests that media is capable of totally capturing the sentiment of a moment, even when the filmmaker doesn’t necessarily intend it to, as one shaky cameraman’s jittery footage suggests. Marker, like Eisenstein (whose agitprop “Battleship Potemkin” is evoked throughout), also believes in its ability to create a sense of upheaval where there was none before. The fictional images that Eisenstein filmed in the twenties and the documentary images of riots from the sixties that Marker includes look startlingly similar. A feeling of global inertia emerges in the film, as Marker connects the world-spanning events that he opts to show, illustrating how the advance or defeat of one group of socialists usually prodded another to act, creating an extraordinary chain of events.
Chris Marker’s remarkable documentary about the rise and fall of the New Left in the 1960s and 1970s was originally released in 1977, but was reworked in 1993 in the wake of the Cold War’s end and the collapse of the Soviet Union. A Grin Without a Cat (the idiomatic French title, Le Fond de l’Air Est Rouge, can be literally translated as “The Essence of the Air is Red”) is divided into two parts. The first part, called “Fragile Hands,” focuses on the emergence of leftist movements circa 1967, the Vietnam War serving as the lightning rod for radicals of all stripes to come together to agitate for their utopian dreams. The second part, entitled “Severed Hands,” details the slow demise of the invigorated left, from forces within (the discord between different factions) and without (the role of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. in keeping the countries in their backyards in line). This three-hour epic offers a stunning assemblage of period footage. Official images, film clips, news coverage trims and neglected reels comprise the basic materials of this major fresco, which concludes with the following credit: “The true authors of this film are the countless cameramen, technical operators, witnesses and activists whose work is constantly pitted against that of governments, who would like us to have no memory.”
A Grin Without a Cat 1of2 Fragile Hands x264 AC3 MVGroup
Published on: Jul 18, 2016 @ 22:42