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The Swine Free DVD Collection Club
By Danny Evans
Helping you build your collection of weekend newspaper DVD giveaways pilfered from piles of same found in the front rooms of parents, friends or the parents of friends. Philip French for scavs.
Part One: Sympathy For The Devil
Dir: Jean Luc Godard
Free With: The Times
Source: Colin’s dad’s house.
It’s a good job this was free because it has the kind of synopsis that would normally twitch my visa antennae when bored in work and perilously few clicks away from Amazon: the Rolling Stones filmed during the evolution of Sympathy For The Devil from meandering Dylan-esque psychedelia to triumphant satanic samba intercut with Black Panthers and foxy French lefty lasses. Unfortunately it’s desperately half-arsed and tedious.
The bits with the Stones aren’t too bad; Jagger’s pointers on how the song should go are funny: ‘It should start off very cool’ and ‘Try and make it a bit more life. It’s a bit, dead, you know?’ The different versions the song goes through are quite striking; there’s an excellent organ-led one with no guitar. It would be good to see the way these ideas develop; who decides to get extra percussion on, when does Jagger add the lupine shrieks at the start of the song, when do they decide to change ‘Who killed Kennedy’ to ‘Who killed the Kennedies?’ on hearing of Bobby’s assassination. Surely it would great to see the first time that Jagger puts that in, the smirking danger of risky rock ‘n roll? But all of this would make the film more coherent, which obviously isn’t the point.
Instead after each Stones performance you get a ‘chapter’ titled things like ‘Inside Black Syntax’ and ‘Please Sir, Can I Have Some Mao?’ (well I made that one up but it’s that kind of thing). In these parts of the film hipsters read Mein Kampf aloud in comic shops, a French girl gets filmed answering nauseating ‘leftist’ questions with one word answers in a park, and Black Panthers give dreadfully scripted interviews.
Of interest to Stones completists is the obvious if unspoken breakdown in the relationship with Brian Jones, who makes no contribution to the song. The film begins with Jagger explaining the song to Jones; King Prawn teaching an errant page boy how it goes in the cocktail. Brian looks lost throughout, either through drugs or being creatively and imaginatively left behind. Godard’s clumsy associations are a million space miles away from his spoilt child dream of the perfect suburban blues band.
If you’re not a Stones completist it’s not worth adding even to your free dvd collection; it’s inclusion in the Swine Free DVD Collection Club is intended as a warning to you. Sympathy For The Devil is a period piece, but that’s no excuse.
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