Against Cinema
Guy Debord Retrospective
  • Howls for Sade
  • On the Passage of a Few Persons Through a Rather Brief Unity of Time
  • Critique of Separation
  • The Society of the Spectacle
  • Refutation of All Judgments, Whether in Praise or Hostile, Thus Far Rendered on the Film The Society of the Spectacle
  • In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni (We Spin Around the Night Consumed by the Fire)
  • [1961]

    Critique of Separation

    Critique de la séparation

    - FRANCE / 1961 / French and others / B&W / 35mm (1:1.37) / 19 min

    Director, Script: Guy Debord
    Photography: André Mrugalski
    Editing: Chantal Delattre
    Continuity: Claude Brabant
    Production Company: Dansk-Fransk Experimentalfilmskompagni
    Music: François Couperin, Bodin de Boismortier
    Voices: Caroline Rittener, Guy Debord
    Appearance: Caroline Rittener
    International Distribution: Love Streams Production agnès b.
    Source: Carlotta Films

    This film consists almost entirely of quotations from comic strips, newspaper or magazine clippings, ID photos, and newsreel footage, as well as Debord’s voice-over. Yet there is no expository or complementary relationship among the images, narration, and text frames. Instead, what he intends in this film is to differentiate rather than equate language, film, and reality, and by examining each on its own terms, to criticize our passive reception of film imagery in daily life. For the situationists, Critique of Separation is therefore an anti-film, as opposed to feature films supported by narrative or commercial films simply meant for consumption. As Debord has written, “The function of the cinema, whether dramatic or documentary, is to present a false and isolated coherence as a substitute for a communication and activity that are absent. I found myself in a dark forest . . . where the right way was lost. To demystify documentary cinema it is necessary to dissolve its ‘subject matter.’”