Against Cinema
Guy Debord Retrospective

Blinding the Spectacle   Kinoshita Makoto

Co-Presented by: L’Institut franco-japonais de Tokyo   Supported by: Fondation Franco-Japonaise Sasakawa
In Cooperation with: L’Ambassade de France au Japon

“When the projection was about to begin, Guy-Ernest Debord was supposed to step onto the stage and make a few introductory remarks. Had he done so, he would have simply said, ‘There is no film. The cinema is dead. No more films are possible. We can move on to a discussion if you wish.’” (From Howls for Sade, 1952)

How are we to take these provocative remarks Guy Debord makes in his first film? Some will not be able to conceal their annoyance, and others may simply sigh with a sense of bitter resignation. Aside from being the cherished object of some dilettantes, cinema has lost its social function and become commodified. No longer is it capable of creating new stories or critically observing reality. When the relationship, mediated by images, between individuals and society becomes a spectacle, cinema is reduced to a mere symbol of material fetishism. Both stereotypical images and language are immediately consumed. Insofar as the cinema can no longer give rise to “novelty,” its history has come to an end.

Debord’s statements, which can only make prospective filmmakers or us who have gathered at this film festival restless and even nervous, loom large over those of us who examine the realities of our society through cinema, or who continue to make films. Debord renounced everything in order to transcend the “death of cinema,” whether fictional or real. By rejecting any image, he claimed the abolition of representation itself. While criticizing the spectacle through the cinema, he refused to become a spectacle himself. These experiments of Debord’s, which may appear contradictory, suggest a critical point of the cinema as a medium. The black and white images constitute the ground zero of imagery.

Presenting Debord’s oeuvre for the first time in Asia, the “Against Cinema: Guy Debord Retrospective” aims to examine both his thoughts on the cinema and the presence of film after the end of its history. Jean-Isidore Isou’s Traité de bave et d’éternité, Gil J. Wolman’s L’Anticoncept, René Viénet’s Les Filles de Kamaré—films made by Debord’s avant-garde comrades. John Ford’s Rio Grande, Raoul Walsh’s They Died with Their Boots On, Suzuki Noribumi’s Lynch Law Classroom, Andy Warhol’s Lonesome Cowboys, Jean-Luc Godard’s La Chinoise—the films that Debord’s works bring to mind. Condemning these films as “anti-cinema,” in Debord’s conception, will never suffice. Equally cinema, but against cinema—we would like to think about subverting the cinema as an institution. Debord responded to its historical impasse in the negative. Can we still believe in the possibilities of the image and thought as we advance into the wilderness?

Tsuchida Tamaki