Watch the Rolling Stones Write “Sympathy for the Devil”: A Highlight in Godard’s ’68 Film One Plus One


After the Rolling Stones’ partly misguided, partly inspired attempt at psychedelia, Their Satanic Majesties Request, the band found its footing again in the familiar territory of the Delta Blues. But with the 1968 recording of Beggar’s Banquet, they also retained some of the previous album’s experimentation, taken in a more sinister direction on the infamous “Sympathy for the Devil.” In the studio, with the band during those recording sessions, was none other than radical French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard, who brought his own experimental sensibilities to a project he would call One Plus One, a document of the Stones’ late sixties incarnation—including an increasingly reclusive Brian Jones. Godard punctuates the fascinating studio scenes of the Stones with what Andrew Hussey of The Guardian calls “a series of set pieces—an incoherent stew of Situationism and other Sixties stuff”:

Black Panthers in a disused car park execute white virgins; a bookseller reads aloud from Mein Kampf to Maoist hippies; in the final scene the bloodied corpse of a female urban guerrilla is raised to the Stones’ soundtrack as Godard himself darts about like a demented Jacques Tati waving Red and Black flags. You just don’t find this sort of thing at the local multiplex anymore.

For all of its heavy use of leftist Sixties iconography, its anarchic attempt to fuse “art, power and revolution,” and its fascinating portraiture of rock and roll genius at work, the film crash landed in France, earning the contempt of arch Situationist theorist Guy Debord, who called it “the work of cretins.” Critics and audiences apparently expected more from Godard in the wake of the abortive May ‘68 student uprising in Paris, and the general neglect of the film meant that Godard missed his chance to, as he put it, “subvert, ruin and destroy all civilised values.”

The film’s producer, Iain Quarrier, also found it disappointing. Without the director’s permission, Quarrier decided to retitle One Plus One with the more commercially-minded Sympathy for the Devil and tack a completed version of that song to the last reel, a move that provoked Godard to punch Quarrier in the face. But not everyone found Godard’s effort off-putting. In a 1970 review, the New York Times’ Roger Greenspun called it “heavily didactic, even instructional…. [T]he prospective text of some ultimate, infinitely complex collectivism.” Greenspun also decried Quarrier’s unauthorized interventions.

In his retrospective take, Andrew Hussey admits that Godard’s political posturing is “bollocks,” but then concludes that One Plus One is “great stuff: a snapshot of a far-off, lost world where rock music is still a redemptive and revolutionary force.” And it’s both—ridiculous and sublime, a powerful crystallization of a moment in time when all the Western world seemed poised to crack open and release something strange and new. Watch Godard’s original film, One Plus One here (with Spanish subtitles); the trailer for the recast Quarrier version directly above; and the scenes where Godard captured the Stones’ giving birth to “Sympathy for the Devil” at the top. It may be perfect viewing on “Black Friday,” that most absurd celebration of mindless consumerism.

Related Content:

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Jean-Luc Godard’s After-Shave Commercial for Schick

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness



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  1. alanweinkrantz says . . . | November 30, 2013 / 7:24 am

    One small error… at 11:28, the credits roll, citing Keith Richard. Should have been Keith Richards….

  2. madisontruth says . . . | November 30, 2013 / 10:09 am

    Outstanding footage.

  3. Josh Jones says . . . | November 30, 2013 / 11:50 am

    He went by “Keith Richard” for a short time. From his Wikipedia page: “After the Rolling Stones signed to Decca Records in 1963 their band manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, dropped the s from Richards’ surname believing “Keith Richard” in his words “looked more pop.” In the early 1970s Richards re-established the s in his surname.”

  4. Victor Hart says . . . | December 1, 2013 / 1:19 am
  5. Victor Hart says . . . | December 1, 2013 / 1:19 am
  6. arkman201 says . . . | December 1, 2013 / 7:39 am

    Heathen devil worshippers…

  7. geofly says . . . | December 1, 2013 / 7:52 am

    tiny brained bible thumpers

  8. Peradam says . . . | December 1, 2013 / 8:34 am

    There’s a pretty cool story behind the origin of this tune. Marianne Faithfull gave her boyfriend Mick Jagger a copy of Mikhail Bulgakov’s utterly genius masterpiece The Master and Margarita, and Mick dug it so much he decided to pen a song about it. Sympathy For The Devil was the born. Of course, it would have been impossible to really do justice to that book with a pop/r&r song, but still, both the novel and the song are fun as hell!

  9. Peradam says . . . | December 1, 2013 / 8:34 am

    There’s a pretty cool story behind the origin of this tune. Marianne Faithfull gave her boyfriend Mick Jagger a copy of Mikhail Bulgakov’s utterly genius masterpiece The Master and Margarita, and Mick dug it so much he decided to pen a song about it. Sympathy For The Devil was the born. Of course, it would have been impossible to really do justice to that book with a pop/r&r song, but still, both the novel and the song are fun as hell!

  10. Peradam says . . . | December 1, 2013 / 10:03 am

    Actually it should have been Keef Richards. That’s what he was goin’ by at the time.

  11. arksis56 says . . . | December 1, 2013 / 7:33 pm

    I’m related to arkman…I can say unequivocally that he said that in jest.

  12. arksis56 says . . . | December 1, 2013 / 7:34 pm

    Also, one of the most knowledgeable music addicts that I’ve ever known.

  13. geofly says . . . | December 2, 2013 / 6:21 am

    my bad then

  14. Mercyneal says . . . | December 2, 2013 / 9:22 am

    Mick can’t really play the guitar. Brian Jones was the musical genius of the group and Mick and Keith wre jealous of him.

  15. munch says . . . | December 2, 2013 / 11:30 am

    Where do you think the very idea of satan came from Einstein? if it weren’t for the Bible most rock songs wouldnt be, beings its satans forum..

  16. BiteMyJihad says . . . | December 2, 2013 / 5:11 pm

    Why does the Lord have such lame music in contrast to Satan? One would think the Almighty would have better tunes.

  17. rayray says . . . | December 4, 2013 / 1:51 pm

    obnoxious ads

  18. Nils Arne says . . . | December 4, 2013 / 1:58 pm

    Lol. The depiction of Satan, at least an evil creature, as an opposite to (a) God does definately not come from the Bible..

  19. Nils Arne says . . . | December 4, 2013 / 1:59 pm

    Good thing he decided to focus on rhythm-instruments and the harmonica then. Which he plays pretty much better than anyone.

  20. Dale says . . . | December 5, 2013 / 3:54 am

    Wow Daily Motion SUCKS. I didnt watch it through to the end. I agree with rayray – obnoxious ads. Now when I see that brand I am going to switch off. ahhhhh

  21. gordobass says . . . | December 6, 2013 / 9:04 am

    the film soundtrack is sped up a half-step. Mick’s voice sounds whack.

  22. marti-grecia Odalyz says . . . | December 10, 2013 / 12:27 pm

    Jagger is an artist. artists are differently wired from others. I believe the reason is-their great involuntary need to transcend all concepts-then manifest these through what medium is theirs-Jagger I believe is speaking, not of the “devil” as a real personage-he is speaking about the evil in our own selves-which we take little or no responsibility for. that is why-there is a line in this song about the death of the Kennedy brothers-”when after ALL, it was you and me.” I am Buddhist-not theist-I believe that “God” and the “Devil” are simply both halves of our own very confused, rather lazy dichotomy. We are for most a very irresponsible gang-we humans. therefore both good and evil-OUR OWN, THOUGH wreaks havoc-or does great good. Other than that, I do not believe in any devil.
    we have created such a figure to be responsible for what harm we OURSELVES can cause.

  23. G BURNS XXXXX says . . . | January 7, 2014 / 7:01 am

    Here ,here

  24. samanta says . . . | March 13, 2014 / 10:01 am

    Hello, where can I see the whole film? thanks

  25. Caio Fusaro says . . . | March 30, 2014 / 10:16 am

    Keith playing the bass… I loved it in Live With Me.

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