Uprising! Spirit of ‘68
Image: The Battle of Algiers

May ’68: Film and the Revolution


Please note: this season finished in May 2018

1968 was a time of tremendous social and political upheaval. From the Prague spring to the Paris riots, from the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam war to the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy in America, the year saw momentous global events whose repercussions still resonate to this day.

In the UK student protests flared up on campuses across the country with rising tensions in the wake of Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech whilst the opposition to the Vietnam war led to protests and riots outside the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square in London. Add into the mix the hangover from the previous year’s “summer of love” and you had a heady cocktail of radicalism, opposition to the establishment, the mainstream and convention.

This spirit of radicalism impacted on culture in general and the film world in particular, no more so than in France where May ’68 became a flashpoint for revolution across all parts of society. Famously, the Cannes Film Festival that month was brought to a halt mid-flow by the likes of François Truffaut and Jean Luc Godard who forced the festival organisers and audiences to choose between the reality outside the cinema or the fiction on the screen. The young film radicals won and closed down Cannes.

In this season we'll be presenting a snapshot of those times: from Gillo Pontecorvo’s ground breaking Battle of Algiers which presented to French audiences the impact of their colonial rule; to Jean Luc Godard’s Weekend, an apocalyptic vision of capitalism and lacerating assault on the bourgeoisie. And wider afield, Peter Lennon’s controversial reflection on Ireland’s independence The Rocky Road to Dublin which premiered at the infamous ’68 Cannes; and maverick Lindsay Anderson’s If…, a very British class revolution set in an English boarding school.

Presented in partnership with Bristol Festival of Ideas.

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Previous screenings in this season

If…  15   May ’68: Film and the Revolution

Please note: This was screened in May 2018
A daringly anarchic vision of 1960’s class-ridden British society, Lindsay Anderson’s striking tale of schoolboy revolt perfectly captured the atmosphere and absurdities of public school life and delivered its satire with a healthy dose of revolutionary venom.

Weekend  18  S  May ’68: Film and the Revolution

Please note: This was screened in May 2018
Jean-Luc Godard’s scathing satire about a bourgeois couple who travel across the French countryside to collect an inheritance from a dying relative while civilization crashes and burns around them, is one of cinema’s great anarchic works.

Rocky Road to Dublin  12A   May ’68: Film and the Revolution

Rocky Road to Dublin
Please note: This was screened in May 2018
Virtually unseen and banned for many years in Ireland following its entry into the 1968 Cannes Film Festival, Peter Lennon’s controversial documentary about the state of the Irish republic in the late 1960s, argued lucidly and surreptitiously for the extinction of the country’s outmoded state of affairs.

The Battle of Algiers  15  S  May ’68: Film and the Revolution

The Battle of Algiers
Please note: This was screened in May 2018
One of the most influential political films in history, Gillo Pontecorvo’s masterful study of revolt vividly recreates a key year in the tumultuous Algerian struggle for independence from the occupying French in the 1950s.