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On Venom and Eternity

Traité de bave et d’éternité

The return of one of the legendary archetypes of radical cinema: Isidore Isou’s Lettrist manifesto screens in a newly restored print.

Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.

On Venom and Eternity

  • Director-Screenwriter Isidore Isou
  • Producer Marc’O
  • With Jean-Louis Barrault, Blanchette Brunoy, Marcel Achard
  • France 1951
  • 120 mins
  • UK distribution New print courtesy of Re:Voir

The first and only film by the founder of the French Lettrist movement begins with a warning: ‘Dear spectators, you are about to see a discrepant film. No refunds will be given.’ Advocating for the rupture of language and photography, Isou expects the spectator to ‘leave the cinema blind, his ears crushed, both torn asunder by the disjunction of word and image’. At the 1951 Cannes Festival, where Traité received its first pubic screening, it won the admiration of Guy Debord and Jean Cocteau, who wondered if it would take 50 years before its radical aesthetics could be understood. The Lettrists believed the development of cinema had been stalled by the domination of the studio system. In order for a new cinema to emerge, it had first to be destroyed – symbolically and physically – by bleaching and scratching the images, and by replacing soundtracks with abrasive concrete poetry and enraged tirades.

Mark Webber

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