The Depiction of Late 1960’s Counter Culture in Jean-Luc Godard’s One Plus One/Sympathy for the Devil


Part Two


Copyright 1998

Gary Elshaw


Outside Black Novel

Inside Black Syntax–It in Black



Shot in a Battersea junk-yard the scene depicts a group of black militants. A heavy use of ideological rhetoric and literary quotation is used throughout the scene. The opening of the scene focuses in long shot on an individual reading  about the theft of 'black music' by white musicians, and the popularisation of its form for white consumption. It is difficult to source the quotation, but it is possibly from the work of LeRoi Jones or Eldridge Cleaver's autobiographical 'Soul on Ice,' a work that is heavily quoted from in this scene. "A well-known example of the white necessity to deny due credit to blacks is in the realm of music. White musicians were famous for going to Harlem and other Negro cultural centers literally to steal the black man's music, carrying it back across the color line into the Great White World and passing off the watered-down loot as their own original creations. Blacks, meanwhile, were ridiculed as Negro  musicians playing inferior coon music."[i]


The irony of these words are not lost when compared with the previous scene of the Rolling Stones in the studio. The Rolling Stones music is heavily derived from black music. Initially beginning their musical career as a skiffle band with the rather unfortunate name of 'Little Boy Blue and The Blue Boys' the Rolling Stones adopted traditional blues music and fused it with white popular music.  Skiffle's origins were found in " parties that used to be given in poor, Negro quarters to raise rent money–the blacks of New Orleans called them skiffle parties."[ii] White popular music had increasingly borrowed from what had been called 'Black Music' since the 1950's. The most well known exponent of course being Elvis Presley; but by the early 1960's Groups such as The Rolling Stones and The Beatles were beginning their careers with Skiffle bands, blatantly using what had been traditionally 'Black Music'. Godard intentionally sets up this conflict in to show the political nature of art, and in the context of One Plus One, the derivation of art, its political transformation, and importantly, the ramifications of imperialism co-opting art. To reinforce this point Godard intrudes upon the scene cutting away back to the Rolling Stones in the studio.


Eldridge Cleaver's novel, his association with the Black Panthers, and his theory of the 'Omnipotent Administrator' are used extensively throughout the film as a reference point for black militant activity. With its use of the long take, the scene is shot almost identically to the previous scene of the rolling stones in the studio. The camera pans from a static position to the right and back again in a long take which has a  duration of approximately eight or nine minutes. Shot in natural light, the junk-yard is extremely dreary and is a vivid metaphor of a disintegrating modern urban society that represents a technological and human scrap-heap.


The scene illustrates the marginalisation of blacks within white culture and their revolutionary stance against white imperialism. Godard does this principally with the use of quotation from politicised texts and the use of graffiti throughout the scenes. By Godard's use of graffitied text and read quotation the viewer is given an introduction to a lineage of U.S. black counter-cultural figures.  Writers such as LeRoi Jones and Eldridge Cleaver; political figures such as Malcolm X and Patrice Lamumba are represented as icons of past black revolutionary leaders. Godard also carries over from the previous scene a utilisation of the tri-colours of western imperialism-Red, White and Blue, using coloured objects and clothing.


Godard's use of binary is extensive here. Individuals read aloud quoting from varying literary sources, each individual trying to be heard over the other. This works both metaphorically and literally as each strains to be heard over an environment that chaotically drowns them out. Godard manipulates industrial sounds of trains, a tug-boat's horn and aeroplanes at high volume to disrupt and effectively squash his characters orations.


When a vehicle containing a group of white woman arrives they are escorted and randomly left with small clusters of the armed militants scattered around the junk-yard. One of the militants reads extensively from Cleaver's book 'Soul on Ice' from a chapter entitled 'White Women, Black Man.' The text is read in the first person and is edited in such a way that the monologue omits key concepts  from the passage. The section quoted relates to the story of a black prison inmate and his hatred of black women and sexual desire of white women. However the chapter from the novel reflects a larger context about the use of sexual relations between races as a key example of white oppression. The chapter also conveys a social context of the division between the genders, and whites and blacks in an oppressive white power structure. "The myth of the strong black woman is the other side of the coin of the myth of the beautiful dumb blonde. The white man turned the white woman into a weak-minded, weak-bodied, delicate freak, a sex pot, and placed her on a pedestal; he turned the black woman into a strong self-reliant Amazon and deposited her in his kitchen..."[iii]


Godard manipulates prejudice and stereotypes to both superficially illustrate the monologue from Cleaver's novel, but also to provocatively illustrate a stereotypical, mediated perspective of black militancy. When the women are led from the car they are dressed in immaculately white robes. The black men are positioned within the junk-yard from the beginning of the scene and all are armed with rifles, instantly creating anxiety in the viewer. Certainly the images of sacrifice are to be both provocative and to illustrate LeRoi Jones' changing political ideology.


"[Jones] a racial activist, apparently believing that only through hatred, bloodshed, and violence can the negro achieve equality, if not supremacy."[iv]


Although the viewer sees the dead bodies of the women, the viewer does not witness the murder. In her review of One Plus One  Jan Dawson claims this is attributable to the film's staleness and "the absence of any real action."[v] However Godard had used the technique as early as Le Mepris  where the viewer is never shown the death of the characters in the automobile accident. What Godard desires to illustrate is the revolutionary potential of black militancy and their aims of politicising the black communities within the U.S. and, politically, not the spectacle itself.


The black militants depicted are a direct reference to the Black Panther organisation. Established in 1966 the Black Panthers led a new wave of black political consciousness. Their ten point plan provided a guide for politicised black self defence. The Panther movement leaders Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, based their organisation upon an ideology that attempted to project a 'universal love and acceptance of all races'.

"..we live in the spirit of Nat Turner, Patrice Lamumba and Malcolm X. And Malcolm denounced every kind of racism in his last days."[vi] 


The black panthers began to arm themselves in 1966 as a means for self-defence against police brutality. In 1967 taking the late speeches and writings of Malcolm X's "By any means necessary"[vii] for inspiration, Cleaver, Newton and Seale publicly presented 'Executive Mandate Number One'. Revealing the Panthers ideology and aims; critically indicting the United States for its imperialist activities both domestically and abroad in Vietnam.


The Black Panthers challenged the very basis of constitutional law in their resolve to carry guns. Armed and uniformed, the image of the panthers threatened the white status quo.  Cleaver joined the panthers as their information minister. An author and ex-felon whose mediated image was black, subversive, armed, and who had supposedly advocated the rape of white women, he appeared to be the white status quo's worst nightmare. He appropriately played up to this devil incarnate role. In Bobby Seale's novel 'Seize the Time' he explains the black panther's rejection of the Black nationalist movement. "Cultural nationalism will never educate people. It makes racists of them. Cultural nationalism is trying to popularize Dashikis, the natural, the wearing of sandals, and african dress...but power for the people doesn't grow out of the sleeve of a Dashiki."[viii]


By illustrating both movements in the scene, Godard illustrates the conflict of ideology and the chaos of the rhetoric that both espouse. "Power for the people" was to be achieved by contesting the power of the minority ruling-class by educating the "lumpen proletarian". Seale points out that in order to recognise the possibility for change there was a need to "unbrainwash our people by telling them the true history. One must tell the true history in terms of the class struggle, the small, minority ruling-class dominating and oppressing the massive, proletarian working-class."[ix] The oppression of the working class at an intellectual or ideological level was also on a purely fiscal level. The majority of the black population were living below subsistence.


In a 1964 speech given by Malcolm X  he revealed that the average annual family income in Harlem was $3723. The New York mayoral committee estimated it cost $6000 per family to exist at survival level.[x] Through Godard's involvement in the May student revolt in France there is a linking here of ideological objectives in their rejection of the bourgeois ruling classes.  However Godard presents these ideas within the scene in a concentrated, somewhat cryptic form that directs the viewer to seek answers outside of the context of the film. By the setting of visual and aural clues the viewer is prompted to ask questions whose answers may not lie within the film's text, but may come from investigating the names and ideas illustrated by the film.


Key to the scene is Godard's use of the title 'Outside Black Novel' intertextually pointing the viewer to the sources of the information and, paradoxically, not to the mediated image. The conflict of image and sound is a critical examination of real world concepts of understanding and believing what is said, and seen. Godard prompts the viewer to question the truth of the image and to contest what may be verbally told. One such example is the extremely humourous cutting back to the Rolling Stones in the studio. If 'Rock and Roll' is about excitement and spontaneity, it has nothing to do with the recording environment. Jagger sings in to his microphone a last vocal phrase before the solo: "Get on down to it!" He says this in a vaguely animated way, whereupon he instantly reaches for his cigarette and looks incredibly bored. What the recipient of the final product hears and imagines has little to do with the manufacturing, or production of the product. Godard compels the viewer to contest information by mixing and fusing normative cinematic forms. The viewer is presented with traditional documentary and fictional forms within the 'Outside Black Novel' scene that represents a teleological view of black militant activity over the 1960's. Malcolm X and the assassinated Patrice Lamumba represented by the graffiti illustrate a changing force in black militant history that precedes, but has led to the present black consciousness movement.


Godard's desire to "destroy culture" is illustrated by Cleaver's own desire to destroy the dominant culture, a culture that is led in the form of the 'Omnipotent Administrator'. The 'Omnipotent Administrator' represents white male patriarchal power, a power which often manifested itself as governmental and repressive. In a televised CBS report on the Fifteenth of July 1969, ironically on the eve of the first space mission to the moon, F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover proclaimed the Black Panthers to be 'The worst internal threat to the nation.'[xi]




All about Eve


"did you ever consider that lsd and color tv arrived for our consumption about the same time? here comes all this explorative color pounding, and what do we do? we outlaw one and fuck up the other."


­Charles Bukowski –'A Bad Trip' from ''Tales of Ordinary Madness'



Taking the scene's title from a 1950 Joseph Mankiewicz film Godard contrasts the dreary urban junkyard and establishes the scene in a sunny, synthesised Prelapsarian environment. The main figure in the scene is the Eve Democracy character that Godard originally intended Wiazemsky to be playing in the original scenario of the film. However Wiazemsky's role is redefined. When asked political, religious and ideological questions about revolution, her responses are kept defined by the media interviewer into binary answers of 'yes' or 'no'. As Eve moves randomly around, distracted, and obviously bored by the interviewer's questions, she represents a counterpoint to the majority of the predominantly static characters of previous scenes. Her personal speech is restricted unlike the characters from the previous scene. It is the media's questions which are the content of her answers. The placing of the media's camera illustrates the objectification of Eve's image. Godard purposely does not use close-ups, but manipulates and reveals the camera crew baring the mode of production, inherently criticising them.


Although some of the questioning includes tenuous references to the lyrics of 'Sympathy for the Devil' in a quasi-religious manner questioning whether 'The Devil is God in Exile' or if Eve has a 'theory as to who may have killed Kennedy', the true target of the interview is an examination of the media and western youth culture. 1968 represents a watershed of events within the western world.

In the United States, 1968 was a noteworthy year with the Chicago convention, the 'Summer of Love', the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. In the international arena: the Tet offensive in Vietnam, Indonesia, Che Guevara in Bolivia, France's near revolution and the crushing of the Prague Spring. Godard expands the focus of his target into a global one by illustrating Wiazemsky's reluctance to be pinned down by cultural nationality. She is asked by the interviewer details of her place of birth, Christian name and surname, as if these will reveal her ideology.


Godard's use of the 'natural looking' environment leads the viewer into woodlands replete with electronic, amplified false bird noises, the sound of a nearby passing car and a camera-crew and interviewer who appear completely out of context in their fashionable city attire. In contrast Democracy appears to be dressed in traditional clothing that could reflect iconic literary figures such as Heidi or Lewis Carroll's Alice. To have literary characters 'show up' in Godard's films is not inconceivable when examining earlier films such as Weekend  where Tom Thumb is seen having a conversation with Emily Bronte.


Like Weekend  the viewer is presented with the contrasting images of technology in a natural environment.[xii] Like the use of the tape recorder in the 'Outside Black Novel' scene the environment is suffused with technology with its use of the telephone, the crew's sound equipment and camera. This reflects Godard's use of the influence of technology and the media upon society. A society where ideology and information are broadcast or disseminated at increasingly faster rates, amalgamated with a changing western ideology. Jean-Francois Revel illustrates that with the increase and speed of information, a critical re-examination of values had happened in the United States of the 1960's. The result, he believed, was the possibility of successful revolution in the U.S.

"This spirit of criticism of values, which is still more emotional than intellectual, is made possible by a freedom of information such as no civilisation has ever tolerated before..."[xiii]


Abbie Hoffman's book "Revolution For The Hell Of It" reflects on, not the importance of information as a revolutionary, but its necessity for personal survival. "I had a lot of information. Information is the key to survival. Information is what the struggle is all about. As long as I knew what I was doing better than the people I encountered knew what they were doing, I would survive. If not, I would die."[xiv]

If it was information that created the possibility of revolution, Godard was all too aware that it was also information that had the potential to immobilise or destroy the possibility of revolution. Rhetoric is used within One Plus One  as a source of 'inspiration' to the majority of the characters who have become immobilised by it. True revolution, Godard offers, can only be derived from action, not rhetoric.


As is well documented, Western ideology reached a changing focus in the 1960's particularly amongst the youth of the United States, England and France. However the student population of France in the mid to late 60's, partially under the influence of a burgeoning U.S. youth culture, was having a tremendous impact upon the politics of the state. Cohn-Bendit places the beginnings of the international student unrest in 1964 with the students of Berkeley who were prompted into action " the administration to ban all fund-raising and propaganda for any political or social ideas of which they did not approve."[xv] The students did not accept the decision of the administration and correctly perceived the administration's decision as a breach of constitutional rights. The university administration was attempting to squash student unrest over the Vietnam war. Their attempts had the reverse reaction and galvanised the students into direct political action.


The French students were receiving similar treatment from their own university's administration and the media. In November of 1966 after a student demonstration protesting the war in Vietnam the L'Aurore newspaper reported that these students " insult their professors. They should be locked up....for the moment this illegal agitation is being closely watched by the Ministry of the Interior."[xvi] Students began to become politicised as the role of the state and the role of the universities became inseparable and acted repressively against them. The former belief that the university was somehow above the state's governance was being overshadowed by "the dawning realisation that their own universities were nothing but cogs in the capitalist machine."[xvii]


Like Cleaver's representation of the 'Omnipotent Administrator's governance over sexual freedom, the universities in both the U.S. and France increasingly forced their own sexual moral codes onto their students prohibiting men and women from living together, or meeting in gendered dormitories.[xviii] Eve is asked "when sex becomes problematic in walks totalitarianism" to which she answers "yes". Using Eve Democracy's answers as a mouthpiece partially for his own opinion, Godard addresses the viewer on issues of culture, religion and technology in industrialised society. The answers reflect a clearer guide as to Godard's intent and the instructional purpose of One Plus One. The interviewer states "When the novel is dead then the technological society will be totally upon us." Eve answers "yes" directing the viewer back to the previous scene. The issues Godard addresses reflect Cohn-Bendit's assertions about the educational system and its place within society. The educational system that Cohn-Bendit indicts is merely a reflection of a society's culture that needs to be either destroyed or recreated.

"The university has, in fact, become a sausage-machine which turns out people without any real culture, and incapable of thinking for themselves, but trained to fit into the economic system of a highly industrialised society. The student may glory in the renown of his university status, but in fact he is being fed 'culture' as a goose is fed grain- to be sacrificed on the altar of bourgeois appetites."[xix]


In February of 1968 French students marched in protest of the U.S. in Vietnam. Cohn-Bendit states this was a demonstration that illustrated that "repressive societies can only be challenged by revolutionary means...the response was world-wide."[xx] The target of the challenge was not to fascism, but against 'bourgeois authoritarianism' and the knowledge that "culture itself had become a marketable commodity." The resulting student protests were a desire to destroy culture and dismantle the hierarchies which enforced a commodified bourgeois culture. Cohn-Bendit analyses the situation as not being about "the impatience of the young to step into the shoes of the old. [But]  In the current revolt of youth, however, very much more is being questioned The distaste is for the system itself. Modern youth is not so much envious of, as disgusted with, the dead, empty lives of their parents."[xxi] This is echoed by Revel's perception of the youth of the United States. "American Revolutionaries do not want merely to cut the cake into equal pieces; they want a whole new cake."[xxii]


Wiazemsky asserts that 'culture is order', and perhaps as an unhappy acceptance of the unsuccessful attempted revolution in France, she acknowledges culture survives revolution. Ironically, according to Revel, the greatest threat to democracy was from Western imperialism's most aggressive proponent- the United States. Revel believed "The revolution of the twentieth century will take place in the United States. It is only there that it can happen. And it has already begun. Whether or not that revolution spreads to the rest of the world depends on whether or not it succeeds first in America"[xxiii]


In 1963 Malcolm X advocated political change through either "the bullet or the ballot."

By 1968 activists such as Cohn-Bendit believed the only chance of real change in society was potentially only possible by violent revolutionary means. "Our protest only turns into violent action because the structure of society cannot be smashed by talk or ballot papers."[xxiv] In the Wiazemsky interview she reveals a changing focus of Godard's own revolutionary ideology. The belief that "there is only one way to be an intellectual revolutionary and that is to give up being an intellectual" rejects passive involvement and asserts action. As a precursor to the following scene Wiazemsky is questioned about the Occident organisation. The Occident were a French militant 'semi-fascist group' who opposed the student activists. In early May of 1968 Occident had threatened to disrupt a university based day of protest. Instead, the students had to "see to our defences, and arm ourselves with stones and other improvised weapons."[xxv] The 'All About Eve' scene presents the Occident as "Faustian" for its fighting of communism and ironically in its fight turning society into the "absolute equivalent" of communism. Conceptually, 'The Heart of Occident' examines an opposing view to Democracy and is illustrative of the right fighting the leftist ideals by fusing propaganda with politics and pornography.



The Heart of Occident



The opening of the scene uses a close-up, long take of pornographic magazine covers to reinforce the political/sexual equation that has developed throughout the film. The majority of the magazine covers reflect blatant sexual images that are often accompanied by either political images or textual accompaniment. These reflect sexist/right wing ideological comments. All of the covers reflect the narrator's voice-over of celebrity, politics and sex. Below is a list of some of these magazine covers and their content.


    A bikini-clad woman next to a man  with a gun "G.I. King of Vietnam's murder 

       cavern". "Doctors call them women who can't say no."

    A close-up of a woman's face with "Free Party" next to it.

    A swimsuited woman "His gang says hippie virgins are losers"

      "He wants me to try Marijuana so we can have loose loving"

    "Drama, Suspense, Action"

    A cinema scandal magazine featuring Liz Taylor/Sophia Loren

    A cartoon depiction of a semi-naked woman being subjected to torture by a Nazi figure.


Contrasted with the previous scene the use of close-ups and the dominance of the images immediately grasp the viewer's attention. In the background can be heard a voice and a typewriter. The images of males are representative of macho stereotypes. Sex is often mixed with hobbyist car magazines creating a link between the mechanical and sex. To emphasise this, the narrator reading from Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' accompanies these images by quoting an extract about Hitler's desire for man to become like the machine. Each of the customers in the book store appears to represent a different age-group and gender, critically denoting that neither age or gender is reflective of ideology.


Making a pejorative statement, Godard uses the Grandfather figure who appears in the store with his grandchild to illustrate the right's fear and contempt of the symbolic 'hippies' who are imprisoned in the corner of the store. Although his Grandchild is witness to the pornography, it is not allowed to communicate with the two figures. In fact, the child is left to hold the pornography and witness its Grandfather violently strike them.


Godard's use of 'Mein Kampf' and the ideology of the right by the central character in the scene is a striking visual metaphor. In an attempt to educate the audience of the political techniques of the right against the left he harshly exposes the pornographic image. The two figures who are beaten are an example of left wing ideals and culture whom the right uses as a cultural scape-goat. A parallel is drawn between the new right and Hitler's Nazis, as they both produce and consume the problem they hypocritically blame and victimise the left for. The use of Hitler's sloganeering is countered by the revolutionary hippie figures' "Long live Mao" and anti-Vietnam slogans. Consequently Godard reveals the sloganeering as robotically programmed epithets, revealing the danger of ideological rhetoric. The warning he issues dismisses the uncreativity of regurgitated statements, and directs the viewer to a desire for a creative revolutionary means. A means which could be evidenced by the burgeoning youth culture.


The trial of the Chicago 8[xxvi] whose high profile trial resulted after the 1968 Democratic Convention, revealed the hypocrisy of the American legal system in administering a constitutionally protected justice system.[xxvii] Perhaps what is more important than the trial itself, Revel revealed the extent to which the public of the United States was divided as a consequence. Describing 3 co-existing nations within the United States, Revel revealed "a black nation; a Woodstock nation;[xxviii] and a Wallace nation. The first is self explanatory. The second takes its name from the great political and musical convention held at Woodstock, New York, in 1969.. It includes the hippies and the radicals. The third nation is embodied in Mr George Wallace of Alabama, and is composed of 'lower middle-class whites'. Each of these nations has its own language, its own art forms, and its own customs. And each has a combat arm: the Black Panthers for the blacks; the Weathermen for Woodstock; and the Ku Klux Klan, and various civil organisations, for Wallace."[xxix]


In contrast to the previous scene of 'All About Eve' the political message we see the Occcident figure employing within the scene is the text medium. The Occidental figure dictates his message which is being typed. Godard therefore provides a comparison to the 'Outside Black Novel' scene contrasting and recontextualising sexuality and violence within a white, conservative, male perspective. He provides a revaluation of the print medium and its power to convey what has been the traditional past means of spreading political and ideological thought. It is possibly through a post-war experience that Godard directs the viewer to Hitler's use and success using other mediums in the second world war. The manipulation of medium and message for propagandised uses was able to be spread faster in an increasingly evolved technologically based world in the late 1960's. "For electric light and power are separate from their uses, yet they eliminate time and space factors in human association exactly as do radio, telegraph, telephone, and TV, creating involvement in depth."[xxx] Without wanting to open the McLuhan can of worms to an insurmountable extent, Godard illustrates that who owns or controls the medium, controls the message. Media involvement in sex, politics, and corruption within England had become a major determinant of public perception during the sixties with cases such as Christine Keillor. The opening intertitle: 'The Art of CID' may also be related to this form of exposure of state corruption. Several high level police officers were charged with accepting bribes from known pornographers in a time when pornography was under extreme censorship in England. The scene therefore provides an indictment, and, somewhat sardonically, a parallel between the fascist right-wing and the police.






Offering the viewer an insight and documentation of western counter-culture as Godard perceives it in 1968 challenges the viewer and the conventional mediated sources they have been informed by. In the Rolling Stones quest for a final perfection in sound, Godard contests what needs to be shown or heard in both content and its mediated form. Creating a dialectic of sound and image he is able to contrast and contest political ideology and the means with which it is communicated. Both 'Outside Black Novel' and its antecedent 'Inside Black Syntax' highlights the uses of sound recording, the mechanics and devices of recording, and the problems inherent in voice and language.


Bobby Seale, whose novel 'Seize the Time' is derived entirely from sound recordings dedicates a section of the novel to explaining black syntax, highlighting the cultural barrier and need for translation to be able to sufficiently communicate between all peoples.[xxxi] One Plus One  raises these questions as a quest for which there is no discernible simple answer or solution, but offers the viewer an articulation of the problems inherent in the mediated forms available to us. The technique of the interview has been fully explored by Godard in previous work. In Masculin Feminin characters interview each other and Godard's conclusion that the true purpose is "the observation of behaviour" However the purpose is insidiously corrupted by 'substituting value judgments for research'.


The film has been called a failure for a number of reasons. The obvious reason was its limited release under the auspices of the producers who changed the ending, and the renaming of the film to emphasise and market the film as a 'Rolling Stones Film'. The history of the initial premise not being fulfilled has filled critics with what appears to be a bemused attitude  and false logic of 'Since the original premise was abandoned, then it's only a half-hearted Godard film'. Godard's work on Masculin Feminin  was initially conceived to be based upon Maupassant's 'Paul's Mistress'. However he uses the story to examine contemporary French youth of 1965 bearing little resemblance to the story it is based upon. Instead, Godard likens any premise for his films to be analogous to a "wall". "And in the end things went off course as they always do when I use a "wall" to hoist myself up on. Then I discover something else and I forget the wall I used."[xxxii] Godard humorously extends and recreates this analogy to briefly describe what is needed to persuade producers to fund his films. "I always need a canvas, a trampoline. Then you look and see where you're heading, but you forget, you take off from the trampoline."[xxxiii]


Masculin Feminin  marked a departure for Godard in his discovery and questioning of where precisely he felt he was within cinema. His exploration of youth and politics between 1965 and 1968 was a means of examining a new cultural departure and a new audience. In an interview in 1965 he describes the problems of the new generation finding their means of communication. "It's young people who go to the movies, and they haven't found their   films, their   television broadcasts. They have found their music, but if they have already found a certain sound, they haven't really found the image that goes with it yet."[xxxiv] Godard attempts to guide and politicise the youth by giving them a means to better understand communication in "modern life, in which one is condemned, abandoned, twenty four hours a day to limitless authority..Because the military system co-exists perfectly with the industrial system, the logic of money with that of the establishment."[xxxv]


Godard's central edict for One Plus One  "There is only one way to be an intellectual revolutionary, and that is to give up being an intellectual" is indicative of his changing stance on both cinema and the appropriate ideology of the revolutionary. By the time he had made Vent d'Est  (1969) Godard had revised this position, believing the only path was by being both an intellectual and a revolutionary.[xxxvi]


Wiazemsky's 'Eve' character is one of the only characters who moves within the gaze of the camera. It is by her action, contrasted with the static, intellectualising revolutionaries that she is judged to be a true revolutionary.  The vision is representative of the shift Godard made between 1968 and the beginnings of his work with the Dziga-Vertov group. The flying of the two flags at the end of One Plus One suggests a split allegiance by Godard, and with the destruction of 'Democracy' between the two, it is not difficult to see that Godard's revolutionary aesthetic was still split both politically, and cinematically. His revealing of the cinematic apparatus'in the closing minutes of the film suggests this division. Later work such as British Sounds  (1969) and Pravda  (1969) address this division, also flying flags, 'but only one flag: the red one'.[xxxvii]

Godard internationalises the focus of revolution in One Plus One  by his examination of both youth culture and what Revel perceived as the ten issues which illustrate the possibility of a revolution in the United States. A new approach to moral values; the black revolt; women's liberation; rejection of economic and social goals; advocacy of non-coercion in education; poverty; social equality; rejection of authoritarian culture; rejection of American power politics; and concern with the natural environment.


It is these issues which Godard most closely identifies with and wishes to address in One Plus One. Youth in 1968 held the promise for Godard of successfully causing a revolution. Increasingly the issues of revolution were fought not only in a unified way, but also under the knowledge that 'the personal is political'. Battles were often fought between the individual and the evolving technocratic 'industrial system'. Godard's sympathies obviously lie with the revolutionaries, however his perceived enemy is still the language each uses to employ their ideology.


Technology, its uses, and availability were bringing about new methods of communication. But what is more important, it bought new methods of examining communication. Marshall McLuhan's extremely influential book 'Understanding Media' had been published in 1964. Its popularity was immense amongst U.S. revolutionaries such as Abbie Hoffman and provided not only a key to understanding the media, but, more importantly for Hoffman, lessons in how to influence and get what you want from the media.

Eminently quotable, McLuhan's "The medium is the message" appears almost trite or tired in today's media saturated environment, but now in a decade that may be remembered as a revisionist renaissance, the book still reminds the reader how susceptible a media watching public is. Godard's One Plus One  reorganises many of McLuhan's principles into visual form, reinterpreting the visual and sound mediums into ill-fitting and incompetent forms of expression that are limited in their effect to communicate on a basic human level. Godard's cautious warning appears to be the medium is insufficient, remain sceptical of its message.


'Cinema is not one image after another, it is one image plus another, out of

which is formed a third, the latter being formed in addition by the viewer

the moment he or she makes contact with the film . . .'[xxxviii]



Back to Part One






[i] Eldridge Cleaver Soul on Ice Dell Publishing Company Inc., 1968, p. 81-2

[ii] A.E. Hotchner, 'Blown Away' Fireside, 1990, p. 53

[iii] Eldridge Cleaver 'Soul on Ice' Dell Publishing Company Inc., 1968, p. 160

[iv] John Gruen, 'The New Bohemia' Chicago Review Press, 1990, p. 171

[v] Jan Dawson 'One Plus One' Sight and Sound, B.F.I., Vol. 38, No. 1-4, 1969, p. 32-33

[vi] Bobby Seale 'Seize the Time', Arrow Books Limited, 1970, p. 250

[vii] In June 1964 Malcolm X held the founding rally of the Organisation of Afro-American Unity.  "This is our motto. We want Freedom by any means necessary. We want justice by any means necessary. We want equality by any means necessary."

Malcolm X By Any Means Necessary Ed. George Breitman, Pathfinder Press, 1970, p. 11

[viii] pp. 291

[ix] pp. 298

[x] Malcolm X By Any Means Necessary Ed. George Breitman, Pathfinder Press, 1970, p. 96



[xii] In Godard's Weekend he uses a young man (Jean-Pierre Leaud) in a telephone box to contrast the use of technology in a naturalised environment.

[xiii] Jean-Francois Revel Without Marx Or Jesus Paladin, 1972, p. 126

[xiv] Abbie Hoffman Revolution For The Hell Of It The Dial Press, 1968, p. 116

[xv] pp. 23

[xvi] pp. 24

[xvii] pp. 24

[xviii] Mitchell Goodman The Movement Toward A New America The Beginnings Of A Long Revolution, Pilgrim Press, Philadelphia/Alfred A. Knopf 1970, p. 41 Also Daniel Cohn-Bendit & Gabriel Cohn-Bendit Obsolete Communism The Left Wing Alternative, Trans. Arnold Pomerans, Andre Deutsch, 1968, p. 29

[xix]Daniel Cohn-Bendit & Gabriel Cohn-Bendit Obsolete Communism The Left Wing Alternative, Trans. Arnold Pomerans, Andre Deutsch, 1968, p. 27

[xx] pp. 33

[xxi] pp. 44

[xxii] Jean-Francois Revel Without Marx Or Jesus Paladin, 1972, p. 126

[xxiii] pp. 9

[xxiv]Daniel Cohn-Bendit & Gabriel Cohn-Bendit Obsolete Communism The Left Wing Alternative, Trans. Arnold Pomerans, Andre Deutsch, 1968, p. 48

[xxv] pp. 53

[xxvi] Also known as the Chicago 7 after Booby Seale was bound and gagged in the courtroom.

[xxvii] For a full account of the breaches perpetrated against Bobby Seale see 'Seize The Time' pages 361-402

[xxviii] Perhaps in recognition of Abbie Hoffman's work about Woodstock. Hoffman published a book entitled  'Woodstock Nation' in 1969

[xxix] Jean-Francois Revel Without Marx Or Jesus Paladin, 1972, p. 127

[xxx] Marshall McLuhan Understanding The Media-The Extensions Of Man, MIT Press Edition, 1995, p. 9

[xxxi] Bobby Seale 'Seize the Time' Arrow Books Limited, 1970, p. 447

[xxxii] Jean-Luc Godard Masculine Feminin, Ed. Pierre Billard, Grove Press, 1969, p. 237

[xxxiii] pp. 238

[xxxiv] pp. 249

[xxxv] pp. 14

[xxxvi] Richard Roud, 'Godard is Dead-Long Live Godard/Gorin', Sight and Sound, B.F.I, Vol. 41, No. 3, 1972, p.   123

[xxxvii] Richard Roud, 'A Terrible Duty Is Born', Sight and Sound, B.F.I., Vol. 40, No. 1-4, 1971, p. 82

[xxxviii] Jean-Luc Godard, Interview in _Framework_, no. 13, 1980, p.10.