Un(der)seen Cinema: Grin Without a Cat

A history of the long sixties and seventies, a history of the defeats of socialism as a popular movement, a history of street battles won and civil wars lost, a history of police violence, US imperialism and internecine squabbling, a history of The Left in the 20th century, a history of the emptiness of revolutionary image, a history of ideas whose time has come, a history of ideas whose time has gone, a history of May 68, a history of movements, a history of movement. This remarkably non-polemic film-essay, Chris Marker’s Grin Without A Cat, traces hope and despair, defeat and victory, through Europe and Latin America from 1963-1977.

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“This kind of situation can lead to a double confusion. At once the state reveals its oppressive side. The one that stays more-or-less hidden in everyday life. But now it has to show its strength. And, to do so, it allows the police to use equipment that nobody even knew existed. Perfect. For the demonstrator the state appeared like a vision, like the Virgin of Lourdes. It is a revelation. In extreme cases someone has the power to decide by which side of the road you can walk. And, if you choose the wrong side, they’ll kick you out to the right one. Thus, that thing which forbids you to cross the road is the state. But if you cross it, and force that something to retreat, it is the state that retreats.”