One Plus One

One Plus One

While The Rolling Stones rehearse ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ in the studio, Godard reflects on 1968 society, politics and culture through five different vignettes.


“Godard’s documentation of late 1960s Western counter-culture, examining the Black Panthers, referring to works by LeRoi Jones and Eldridge Cleaver. Other notable subjects are the role of news media, the mediated image, a growing technocratic society, women's liberation, the May revolt in France and the power of language. Cutting between three major scenes, including the Rolling Stones in the studio, the film is visually intercut with Eve Democracy (Wiazemsky) using graffiti which amalgamates organisations, corporations and ideologies. Godard also examines the role of the revolutionary within Western culture. Although he believes Western culture needs to be destroyed, it can only be done so by the rejection of intellectualisation. ‘There is only one way to be an intellectual revolutionary, and that is to give up being an intellectual.’”

Gary Elshaw1


« Il s’installe à l’hôtel Hilton, le 30 mai, accompagné de Gérard Fromanger, rencontré entre-temps pour la confection du film-tract Rouge. Ce dernier, qui travaille sur un projet avec l’Institute of Contemporary Arts, se souvient d’un Godard en pleine déprime post-Mai 68, fuyant les journalistes et peu intéressé par son travail avec les Rolling Stones. « Dans les ascenseurs, il me prenait la main et me serrait. Il était totalement coincé, angoissé, tellement seul. Avec moi, il était bouleversant, enfantin. C’était une belle amitié, chaste et émouvante. Je n’avais rien à lui demander, rien à lui offrir d’autre que ma présence. Il était terrorisé, à ce moment, de devoir quelque chose à quelqu’un, ou de devoir donner des gages, tant sur sa condition d’artiste que sur le plan politique. » »

Antoine de Baecque2


“An English-language movie by Jean-Luc Godard, opened theatrically yesterday at the Murray Hill. If you go on Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Sunday, you will see Godard’s film, which is properly known as 1 + 1. On other days, you will see a film popularly advertised as Sympathy for the Devil, which exactly resembles 1 + 1 except that in the latter part of the last reel a complete version of the song ‘Sympathy for the Devil,’ which the Rolling Stones have been rehearsing and recording in cuts throughout the film, is played on the soundtrack. Several monochromatic stills of the film's last shot are added to fill out the song's time. The changes and additions are the work of the producer, Iain Quarrier.Why anyone, given the choice, would prefer a producer's version of a movie to a director's escapes me. The movie to see at the Murray Hill is 1 + 1.”

Roger Greenspun3


“The 1960s also saw one of the London Film Festival’s most notorious moments when, in 1968, it showed Godard’s first English-language film, One Plus One, as a London Choice. When producer Iain Quarrier took to the stage to explain why he had tinkered with the ending, the director launched across the stage and punched him in the face.”

Nikki Baughan4


"The one of One Plus One is a Rolling Stones rehearsal session: a cool, mesmerising, circling camera, pale blubbery faces, and the nagging, broken, repeated phrases of a pop song. It clearly fascinated Godard; and perhaps it doesn't quite so much fascinate us. The plus (maybe) is a Black Power encounter on a Battersea scrap- heap—slogans, texts, guns passed from hand to hand and back again over the corpses of crushed cars and white girls in whiter nightdresses. Other fragments – a pornographic bookshop with Hitlerian quotations; a marvellous, tantalising interview in a sunlit glade with Anne Wiazemski as the speechless spirit of democracy – fulfil their exact, elliptical Godardian function. But this time the slogans seem to remain word games, the images cut-outs without shadows; Black Power is a black, bland game for a sunny day in Battersea, pop music a trip through a labyrinth of recording booths. The impression the film leaves is of a bleak, tinroofed hangar, echoing faintly to the sound of switched-off engines: the dilemma perhaps of a born filmmaker confronted by lack of real impetus behind what he wants to film, of an intellectual (the dispassionate, long-take style is very cerebral) arguing the toss against intellect. Godard has got nearer than most people ever do to recording history with a camera. This chapter reads like the record of a hiatus, a dictatorial dialogue with futility.”

Penelope Houston5


« Dans le studio où ils répètent, les Rolling Stones sont filmés plusieurs jours (ou nuits, il n’y a pas de fenêtre) de suite. D’une séquence à l’autre nous observons le changement des vêtements, des humeurs, des postures, des instruments choisis par les musiciens et nous entendons la chanson se transformer. Une continuité forte est installée par le travail collectif, par le lieu clos où il se déroule et par l’enregistrement cinématographique qui rejette toujours la coupure aux limites de la séquence. La caméra balaie l’espace en de longs panoramiques qui s’immobilisent parfois, suivent l’échange des regards, reviennent sur leurs pas, changent de focale ou se métamorphosent en travellings, mais elle ne cligne jamais sous nos yeux. Si la caméra s’arrête, c’est par-devers elle, hors champ. Pour préserver l’intensité que donne au regard la continuité du plan, intensité grâce à laquelle il est en phase avec le son et l’apparition progressive de la chanson, chaque interruption forme une rupture franche qui entraîne un changement complet de décor, d’action et de personnages. »

Hélène Raymond6


“For 1 + 1 is a heavily didactic, even instructional, film, like much recent Godard, and it builds upon repetition, or, if you will, addition. The Rolling Stones’ repeated assays upon ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ in their recording studio, the rote repetitions of passages and slogans passed back and forth among black-power revolutionaries in their river-side automobile junkyard, the mere adding up of questions and answers in the interview sequences, juxtaposing words to make new combinations (such as “So-Viet Cong”) and finding new words in old combinations (such as SDS in Sight and Sound; LOVE in All About Eve) – all suggest a concern with ways of putting things together, to the film seems determined to be the prospective text of some ultimate, infinitely complex collectivism.”

Roger Greenspun7

UPDATED ON 25.04.2021