ACMI Presents: Sympathy for the Devil
An agitprop doco and a trippy gangster flick provide a double-dose of The Rolling Stones on film.
The Australian Centre for the Moving Image will present a double-dose of Rolling Stones insurgence as part of its Long Play program. Featuring Jean-Luc Godard's music documentary Sympathy for the Devil alongside cult UK gangster flick Performance, the screenings will provide a look inside both the recording studio of the Stones' now-classic track and the hedonistic lifestyle of the band's charismatic frontman.
Sympathy for the Devil (1968)
French New Wave director Godard shot this agitprop music doco against the backdrop of the May '68 riots in Paris. Exploring the limits of language as a revolutionary force, militant black activists spout ideological rhetoric and a neophyte feminist provides yes/no answers to a film crew while luxuriant tracking shots observe the Stones' recording the classic Beggars Banquet track 'Sympathy for the Devil'.
This is a film involving lesbians, love triangles, and hallucinogenic drug-spiked violence. Let's break it down: It's Mick Jagger's debut acting role, in which he plays a reclusive former rock star living with his girlfriend and her girlfriend. A sadistic thug played by James Fox turns up on his doorstep and gets not just a roof over his head but plenty of drugs and homoerotic extras. Warner Brother originally threatened to destroy the negative, but it finally had a theatrical release in 1970.
Sympathy for the Devil will screen from 12 May to 30 May, and Performance on 19, 26 and 27 May.
Words: Hannah Ongley