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Film / One Plus One

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One Plus One, released in altered form as Sympathy for the Devil, is a 1968 sort-of Documentary, directed by Jean-Luc Godard, mostly about The Rolling Stones recording the titular song, "Sympathy for the Devil" from their album Beggars Banquet.

Godard originally intended to make a film about abortion, but on arriving in London he found that it had been legalised and nobody cared much about it any more. He then said that he wanted to make a films about either The Beatles or the Stones, but Beatles weren't interested, so he obtained the permission of the Stones to film them rehearsing and recording the song in Olympic Studios in the summer of 1968, and shot a number of other scenes in and around London, depicting the Black Panthers reading from revolutionary writings, and his then-wife Anne Wiazemsky being followed around by an interviewer asking her questions, to which she only replies either "Yes" or "No".

Godard delivered the film, and its producer Iain Quarrier was annoyed to discover that it didn't contain a single performance of the finished song, so Quarrier tacked that onto the end and retitled the film Sympathy for the Devil. Godard was highly annoyed about this, to the point that he punched Quarrier in the face at one of the first screenings of the film. Many DVD editions of it contain both versions.

It's watched today mostly by either hardcore Godard fans, or people interested in the Stones' working methods—of which there is plenty of footage, thanks to Godard's habit of doing very long takes.

The film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Demoted to Extra: Brian Jones says nothing in the film, and the few shots of him depict him strumming an acoustic guitar, isolated by sound screens.
  • Funny Background Event: At one point, Godard's camera roves across the studio and there's what appears to be a little old lady sitting in a corner, wearing a hat and coat
  • Lighter and Softer: The earliest versions of the song are like a folk ballad, then it becomes a lounge number before morphing into its final form as a full-on samba.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: In the earlier versions of the song, Jagger sings "I shouted out 'Who killed Kennedy?', when after all, it was you and me." In later versions, he sings "I shouted out 'Who killed the Kennedys?', when after all, it was you and me." This is because Robert F. Kennedy had been assassinated in the meantime.