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Sympathy for the Devil
Sympathy for the Devil
Actors: Sean Lynch, Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Educational
NR     2003     1hr 40min

A documentary with scenes alternating between the Rolling Stones rehearsing the title track, and political skits focusing on western counter-culture. — Genre: Music Video - Pop/Rock — Rating: NR — Release Date: 21-OCT-2003 — ...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Sean Lynch, Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Creators: Iain Quarrier, Anthony B. Richmond, Jean-Luc Godard, Eleni Collard, Michael Pearson, Mick Gochanour, Robin Klein
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Educational
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Rock & Roll, Educational
Studio: Abkco
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 10/21/2003
Original Release Date: 04/26/1970
Theatrical Release Date: 04/26/1970
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 40min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 10
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Marx 'n' Roll
D. Hartley | Seattle, WA USA | 10/27/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)

"A rarely screened late 60's curio, "Sympathy For The Devil" looms larger as a legend in the minds of those who have namechecked it over the years than as a bonifide "classic". While it's great to have it available on DVD, 35 years passing have not been kind to the film's scattershot approach. Director Jean-Luc Goddard is not exactly famous for linear narrative, so it's not like I was expecting "ABBA: The Movie", but I found this film rough going all the same. The premise: Goddard was given permission to film the Stones working in the studio on thier classic "Sympathy For The Devil". He took this footage and intercut it with Black Panthers spouting political rhetoric and conducting "guerilla theater" vignettes about the "Revolution". While I think we "get" the analogy between the seeds of creativity (the Stones methodically building the song in the studio) and the seeds of Revolution (being sown in the streets), the repetitive nature of the dated rhetoric wears out its welcome quickly. This does leave one pondering as to whom, exactly, the film is for. Music fans will probably find the interruptions annoying; history buffs studying 60's politics will likely find the Stones superfluous. Personally, I found the beautifully shot Stones footage enough to warrant hanging on to my copy. If you're looking for a classic 60's MUSIC film with the Stones, check out "Gimme Shelter" instead. If you're looking for a time capsule of 60's POLITICS, try "Medium Cool" or "Putney Swope". Unfortunately, while "Sympathy" contains a good amount of both,it never successfully connects with either music OR politics."
The Creative Process (sort of) and Rock Icons In Their Youth
Clare Quilty | a little pad in hawaii | 12/29/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"In many ways, this film is as valuable an account of the Stones and their world and music as Stanley Booth's amazing memoir/biography "The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones." And Booth's book, despite the cheesy, alternate title (it was originally called "Dance With The Devil") is, in itself, a shrewd and articulate literary counterpart to "Gimme Shelter." But "Sympathy" is a more concentrated glimpse and its focus is on the progression and recording of the title song is, to a fan anyway, fascinating.One thing I find interesting is the many directions this song could've taken. One version is a chilled out, slowed down samba. Another has an ethereal Nicky Hopkins organ melody. And apparently, the line that originally went, "I shouted out 'who killed Kennedy'" had to be changed to "who killed the Kennedys" because Robert Kennedy was assassinated as they were working out the song.Other interesting aspects are the questions this film raises. How long a period does this session cover? A month? A week? Two days? Are we seeing the sessions in chronological order. Who are all the other people we see milling around while the Stones try to get something done. We're never told.Plus, it's just cool to see these guys when they were young, looking great and being as close to themselves as they can be with a camera in their face: Mick, waddling around and flubbing lines; Bill, looking like the boredest man in the world; Charlie focused and steady; Brian struggling to arrange a cigarette to smoke; and Keith, like a slim pirate, doing a jaunty step as he fiddles with what will eventually become "Sympathy's" razor-sharp solo.Many viewers take this film to task for the non-music related scenes that are interspersed with the studio sessions: short, verite riffs on celebrity, race, sex, literature, techonology. I actually liked these sections, though every single one of them goes on about twice as long as it should. However, these little glimpses outside the studio plant the movie in a particular zone (the end of swinging London as seen through Godard's lens) that give the entire piece a distinct, if consistently unreal, identity."
Utterly incomprehensible, but....
D. Hartley | 05/23/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Godard made "Sympathy for the Devil/One Plus One" shortly after the events of May '68, and is consequently one of his most oddball, revolutionary films ever. Fascinating footage of the Stones at work is cut with non-narrative scenes of black revolutionaries quoting Eldrige Cleaver, a porno bookstore owner reading from "Mein Kampf," an interview with a woman named Eve Democracy consisting entirely of yes/no questions, and a woman surreptitiously spray-painting slogans on parked cars, while voice-overs describing sexual situations involving Pope Paul, LBJ and other luminaries drone on the soundtrack. The film works best if you just shut your mind to reason and let it all wash over you. For die-hard Godard aficiandos or Stones fans proficient with the fast-forward button."
Godard in the revolutionary, anti-narrative phase...
Scott D. Cudmore | Toronto, Ontario Canada | 04/06/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I give this only 4 out of 5 stars only because this is not Godard's final cut of the film. I hate it when producers and studios feel they have the right to undermine what the director intended a film to be...so because of that, I can't give it a perfect rating. Anyhow, after Jean-Luc Godard made 'Weekend', he didn't really return to narrative until 1979. This is one of his early experimental works, and easily the most famous due to The Rolling Stones participation. But don't be fooled: this isn't a film about The Rolling Stones; not at all. This is a film for fans of the director, and perhaps Marxist left-wing politics. The typical Stones fan probably won't be too impressed by this film. I would recommend they pick up a different video on the band. The Rolling Stones place in this film serve mainly as metaphor, while Godard intercuts their recording session for the song 'Sympathy For the Devil' with several dramatic sequences involving a young revolutionary girl and a group of Black Panthers. The highlight of this picture for me is not the recording session with The Stones, but rather an incredible tracking shot around a garbage dump, while members of the Black Panther group read from various texts on different issues of colour, some of them completely absurd, while a group of young white women are escorted through the dump at gunpoint. This is incredibly wild, revolutionary filmmaking. More of a poem than a film. And always brilliant."