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(2011) May 68, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.

Performing the revolution

James Williams

pp. 281-298

During one of the passionate debates between directors and audience that led to the closure of the Cannes Film Festival on 18 May 1968, Jean-Luc Godard declared: "There's not a single film showing the problems of workers or students today — we"re late! We must show solidarity!" Godard believed this unique cultural forum should be used to screen militant films and documentary footage of the events taking place. It never happened. In fact, the film festival was already in the final stages of closing down, since directors like Alain Resnais and Claude Lelouch had withdrawn their films, and Louis Malle, Roman Polanski, Monica Vitti and Terence Young had resigned from the jury. The regret that cinema somehow "missed" the events and "arrived" too late for its moment of destiny with revolutionary history haunts cinematic thinking about the period. Already Marcel Hanoun's 1968 film, L"Été (Summer), a short poetic and psychological film made in June with footage of Paris street graffiti, relayed the in-comprehension and trauma of the events as experienced by a disturbed young woman who decides to leave the capital for the country and yet remains unable to articulate her condition, dreaming only of being reunited with her lost revolutionary boyfriend. Again, what was most desired never happened.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1057/9780230319561_20

Full citation:

Williams, J. (2011)., Performing the revolution, in J. Jackson, A. Milne & J. Williams (eds.), May 68, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 281-298.

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