Cinema: Collision of Ideas

Jean-Luc Godard faces off with rock, drugs and the black revolution in Sympathy for the Devil; the result is pretty much a stalemate. The film is fragmented, delirious and didactic, sometimes to the point of stupor. But it displays the incontestable energy and stylistic daring that have made Godard the cinema's foremost pop essayist.

Sympathy for the Devil,* filmed in London in 1968, is rather formally divided into sections: Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones performing the title tune over and over again in a recording studio; a group of black guerrillas bloodying white girls and reading excerpts from black writers in...

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