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LD Music Video SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL: THE ROLLING STONES (1970) Mick Jagger Film Laserdisc [1002-1]

LD Music Video SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL: THE ROLLING STONES (1970) Mick Jagger Film Laserdisc [1002-1]

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Edition: Fullscreen Edition (Single-Disc)
Directed By: Jean-Luc Godard
Starring: Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman
Production / Year: 1970 Cupid Productions Ltd.
Running Time: 100 Minutes / Color
Audio Format: CX Encoded
Video Format: NTSC, CLV (Extended Play)
Miscellaneous Features: None
Distributed By: Abkco
Catalog / Spine Number: 1002-1

IMPORTANT: This is a 12-inch Diameter Laserdisc, which is NOT the same as DVD and cannot be played on a DVD player!

Cosmetic Condition:
Disc (s): Very Good - Some very light to very minor hairline surface swirls or very light fingerprint marks
Jacket: Very Good - Normal shelf wear, few creases, slightly worn-out corners or edges and small splits middle of top and bottom spines


This version of Jean-Luc Godard's 1968 One Plus One caused a legendary confrontation at a film festival when the director became infuriated at his producer's decision to attach the Rolling Stones' completed song "Sympathy for the Devil" at the film's end. Godard's own original plan had been to make a film of the Stones' construction of the tune in rehearsal, and intercut that with a story line about a white revolutionary who becomes suicidal when her lover embraces black separatism. Production problems caused Godard to give up that idea and just allow scenes to fall where they would, allowing viewers to construct the film in their own minds. Be that as it may, this slightly shorter and more commercial producer's cut does not lack in satisfaction by closing things out with the song as Stones fans know it. Overall, the film is a bewildering affair, and that's not at all a bad thing: one's orientation is whatever one makes of Godard's enthralling mess here. Even if a viewer is just interested in seeing the Stones at their peak and at work on their brilliant 1968 album Beggars Banquet, this is a highly rewarding experience. Astute watchers and listeners will note that in an early take of the song, Mick Jagger sings the lyric, "I shouted out, 'Who killed Kennedy?'/When after all, it was you and me." Later, with no mention of a particularly tragic 1968 event in American politics, Jagger has revised the line to "I shouted out, 'Who killed the Kennedys?'" Talk about a startling moment.

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.


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