Technical notes


Hurlements en faveur de Sade was completed in June 1952. It is a full-length film completely deprived of images, solely constituted by the support of the soundtrack. This support presents a uniformly blank screen during the projection of the dialogues. The dialogues, of which the total duration doesn't excede twenty minutes, are themselves dispersed, in short fragments, over the course of an hour of silence (of which twenty-four minutes of a single sequence constitutes the final sequence.) During the projection of silences, the screen (and, as a consequence, the theatre) remains absolutely black.

The completely inexpressive voices one hears are those of Gil J Wolman (voice 1), Guy Debord (voice 2), Serge Berna (voice 3), Barbara Rosenthal (voice 4), and Jean-Isidore Isou (voice 5).

The film has no accompaniment or sound-effects, with the exception of a solo, lettrist improvisation by Wolman, which coincides with the first appearance of the white screen. Immediately before the beginning of the dialogue, the first two replies constitute the only credits.

The contents of this film must first be connected to the atmosphere of the lettrist avant-garde of this epoch: at once on the most general level, where it presents itself as a negation and a supercession of the Isouian conception of "cinema discrepant," and, at the anecdotal level, the style of doubled first-names that characterizes this group (Jean-Isidore [Isou], Guy-Ernest [Debord], Albert-Jules, etc.); the reference to Berna, organiser of the Easter Scandal of 1950 at Notre-Dame in Paris; and the dedication to Wolman, author of the preceding lettrist film, the admirable Anticoncept. Other aspects are to be seen through the optic of the situationist positions that have been defined since then: first and foremost, detourned phrases. In dealing with all the strange phrases -- coming from newspapers, or from [James] Joyce, as well as the Civil Code -- that are mixed in the dialogue of this film, that is to say, in a manner of usage that is equally scornful of different styles of writing, this edition [of Contre le Cinema] by the Institute for Comparative Vandalism has only used quotation marks four times, in instances which must be considered conventional citations due to the fact that their difficulty probably prevents their recognition. It is a question of three quotations from Isou (from his Aesthetics of the Cinema, from a letter to Debord, and from [Isou's] Precisions concerning me and my poetry, respectively) and a copy of a Western by John Ford (Rio Grande).

The first presentation of Hurlements en faveur de Sade in Paris on 30 June 1952, at the "Avant-Garde Cine-Club," then run by A.J. Cauliez, in the neighborhood of the Museum of Man, was interrupted almost from the beginning, not without violence, by the audience and the leaders of the cine-club. Several lettrists disavowed such a maladroitly excessive film. The first complete projection took place on 13 October of the same year, at the "Latin Quarter Cine-Club" in the hall of the Scholarly Societies, defended by a group of "leftist Lettrists" and twenty auxiliaries from Saint-Germain-des-Pres. Several months later, at the same cine-club, their presence prevented a [film called] Sadistic Skeleton [Squelette sadique] that had been announced and attributed to a certain Rene-Guy Babord, which was a pleasantry that, it seems, only wanted to appease the audience for a quarter of an hour.


Sur le Passage de quelques personnes a travers une assez courte unite de temps is a short film of 600 meters (20 minutes), 35 millimeter, black and white. Produced by the Dansk-Fransk Experimentalfilmskompagni, it was shot in April 1959. The editing was completed in September 1959. Chief cameraman: Andre Mrugalski. Editing: Chantal Delattre. Assistant director: Ghislain de Marbaix. Laboratory: G.T.C.

The commentary is spoked by the voices, quite indifferent and tired, of Jean Harnois (voice 1, in the tone of a radio or news announcer), Guy Debord (voice 2, sadder and dull) and Claude Brabant (voice 3, very young woman).

The background sound, especially in French and German, during the opening credits is extracted from a recording of the debates in Munich at the Third Conference of the Situationist International. For the musical accompaniment, Handel's theme from the ballet Origin of the Design was taken, as well as two themes from Michel-Richard Delalande's Caprice #2, also called "The Great Piece."

The commentary includes a large number of detourned phrases, indifferently taken from classical thinkers, a science-fiction novel, or the worst sociologists of the moment. To take the opposite side of the documentary in matters of spectacular decor, each time that the camera risks sighting a monument, it has avoided doing so by filming from the reverse the point of view of the monument (in the sense that the young Abel Gance placed his camera in the point of view of the snowball). The first version of this documentary called for the extensive use of direct detournement of scenes from other films, favoring the most current (for example, in the sequence devoted to the failure of the revolutionary intentions of the 1950s, there are two scenes: a worried young woman in the luxurious decor of the police film, insisting on the telephone that her interlocutor wait; and the Russian general from For Whom the Bell Tolls watching the departing planes pass above his shelter, responding by telephone that it is unfortunately too late, that the offensive has already begun, that it will fail like the others).[1] These limiting-cases of quotation were finally hindered because several [film] distributors refused to sell the reproduction rights for half of the scenes requested, a refusal that destroyed the envisioned montage. It made, on the other hand, the greatest use of an advertising clip by Monsavon, the star of which will surely have a better future.

Andre Mrugalski took the photograph that is filmed in close-up during the detourned sequence on "the documentary of art."

One can consider this short film as notes on the origins of the situationist movement, notes that, from this fact, obviously contain reflections upon their own language.


Critique de la Separation: shot in September-October 1960; edited January-February 1961. Production: Dansk-Fransk Experimentalfilmskompagni. Short film of 20 minutes, 35 mm, black and white. Laboratory: G.T.C. Sound recording at Marignan Studios.

Chief camerman: Andre Mrugalski. Editing: Chantal Delatte. Assistant camerman: Bernard Davidson. Script: Claude Brabant. Machinist: Bernard Largemain.

The voice of Caroline Rittener is used to make the announcement that precedes the credits of Critique of Separation. In a mixture of unconvincing images, placards announce [that] Soon, on this screen -- One of the greatest anti-films of all time! -- Real people! A true story! -- A theme the cinema has never dared to treat before. There's a quote from Elements of General Linguistics by Andre Martinet: "When one imagines how it is natural and advantageous for man to identity his language and reality, one can guess what degree of sophistication one attains by disassociating them and making each an object of study. . . " The commentary of the film is entirely spoken by Guy Debord. Caroline Rittener also plays the on-screen role of the young woman. The music is by Francois Couperin and Bodin de Boismortier.

The images in Critique de la Separation are frequently from the comics [English in original], identification photographs, newspapers and other films. It isn't rare that they are subtitles, which are very difficult to follow at the same time as the commentary. To the extent that the characters have been filmed directly, they are almost always someone in the technical crew.

The relationship between the images, the commentary and the sub-titles is neither complementary nor indifferent. It is its own critique.

[1] Translator: This detournement is also used in Debord's 1973 film, La Societe du Spectacle.

(Unsigned; most likely written by Asger Jorn. In any case, reprinted as part of the "Contre le Cinema" booklet accompanying volume I of the three-DVD set Guy Debord, Oeuvres Cinematographiques Completes, which was released in November 2005. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! January 2006.)

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