Thursday, December 27, 2012
203. REVOLUTION (1968)
The footage is credited to a dozen or more independent documentarists, but the film was organized by director Jack O'Connell and sold to Lopert Pictures, which means it's now one of the neglected vault holdings of Metro Goldwyn Mayer. While the film is understandably unfocused, it does appear to occupy that short period of time before experimentation led to addiction for so many and before the area became overrun, trampled down and commercialized. We meet the managers and habitués of a free store, a coffee shop (more of a meeting place, taken to task by some broke kids objecting to their introduction of a 50-cent cover charge), an India goods store, a free clinic, etc -- that were experimenting with more socialized and aware approaches to business. If you look close, you can spot people like Daria Halprin (ZABRISKIE POINT), Dan Hicks and (I think) Marty Balin flashing by in the colorful scenery, but the film's protagonist, if any, is a personality among the common folk -- a hippie girl who, to remind herself of the opportunities that come with each day, has adopted the name "Today" Malone. The film shows her at the beach, visiting friends, selling underground papers, tripping and walking against a tide of other rubberneckers asking for spare change. (Haven't heard that phrase in awhile.) For a 1968 film preceding the arrival of the MPAA ratings system, there is also a surprising amount for frontal nudity by men and women, particularly during a choreographed performance art piece staged under the aforementioned Headlights light show and fraught with beautiful bodies.
REVOLUTION appears at first to be very locked into its own time, but there is more here than an opportunity to mock yesterday's quixotic values. In the clips it assembles of conservative and fence-sitting adults, in medical and religious spokespeople spreading fear and (sometimes worse) concern, and also in its proliferating pot use, it's surprising how much of this time mirrors tendencies stirring in our own. I find this somewhat reassuring, because it suggests, as this country becomes more disenchanted with the failure of capitalism, that another renaissance time like this may not be entirely impossible and might even work out better the next time. I miss hippie girls.
Viewed on Netflix.
at 7:11 PM