February 14, 2009

“Click here to unsubscribe” (2008)

Filed under: 2008 - click here to unsubscribe — ABRAXAS @ 8:17 am


“Click here to unsubscribe”, Aryan Kaganof’s latest short film, commemorates the revolutionary values of May ’68, 40 years on. This outstanding film had its world premiere in Johannesburg on March 15th 2008, a few days after its author settled in Sweden. We were very proud to see our name in the acknowledgements at the end as we’ve always emphasised the cinematographic legacy of Guy Debord, one of this resurrection’s spiritual leaders, in Kaganof’s work. The film starts with a quotation from Debord dating back to 1956 about cinematographic cut-ups, which were also essential to our latest film. Kaganof has re-invented the cut-up technique for this film, transforming the “random” aspect of the editing into an area of reflection and synthesis.


It’s hard to give an overall presentation and analysis of the film “Click here to unsubscribe” – above all, it’s a lesson in editing and metaphorical suggestion. After the quotation from Debord, there are images of Hitler and his ministers during a huge military parade. The famous spaceship carrying the first astronauts to walk on the moon in 1969 also appears. The astronauts and their pictures of the event recur several times during the film, always brief snapshots, like all the film’s shots. Half-naked dancers sway to the festive sounds of the era. The French police from May ’68 are beating-up demonstrators while fictional images of October 1917 are added to those of the Parisian uprising. The lively music grows slightly high-pitched and experimental and the scene is constantly changing – we’re transported from Paris to a fictitious concentration camp as real inserts of sailors from Eisenstein’s classic films appear sporadically. The film is entirely in black and white, underlining the authentic aspect of these retro cinematographic images from various famous old films. At the end of the first part the title reappears, not to change the tone, but to continue in an even more metaphorical vein, for the enigmatic title is also metaphorical.


The second part of the film opens with “Party Girl”, the jubilant song from the 1960s, and vivacious scenes of dancing interspersed with images of the Parisian uprising of May 68, war films and scenes from documentaries of soviet military parades. There are wounded people in all of the scenes – the young people of May ’68, passers-by and soldiers. The song, however, is as cheerful and charming as it was at the beginning. Both the song and the dialectic editing with political connotations that goes with it bring to mind a classic film about the general public’s manipulation with misleading images of fashion and luxury goods – Peter Whitehead’s “Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London”, one of the earliest examples of political film-happenings arising from the anti-authority spirit of the 1960s. There’s a quotation in the film’s closing credits saying “Cinema, too, must be destroyed – Guy Debord 1959” and the voice of Lydia Lunch singing adds a musical counterpoint to other phrases written by the same author. This is a metaphorical argument suggesting that the subversive spirit of May ‘68 and Debord lives on in a more modern context in the cinema of transgression (of which Kern was the charismatic leader and Lunch the star) or even today, in the work of crucial directors – their spiritual sons – such as Kaganof.

Written by Dionysos ANDRONIS, Translated by Lucy Lyall Grant

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