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Themesicon: navigation pathArt and Cinematographyicon: navigation pathDebord
Geheul für Sade (Debord, Guy), 1952

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was a televisual one raises the important question—the detailed treatment of which I cannot undertake here—as to how all his films, and especially the later ones, must be understood at some level in terms of their agonistic relationship to television, the mourning of the cine-fils at the (first) death of cinema in the age of televisuality, which is to say the end of what Raymond Bellour has so aptly called the «magical parenthesis» of a specific «classical» cinematic dispositif. The various new instances of televisual dispositifs catalogued in some of the later Debord films—in the metro, in the police traffic control center—stand in dramatic tension with the cinephilic catalogue, listed in the opening credits, of films which are then cited—often at some length—later on: John Ford, Nicholas Ray, Josef von Sternberg, Raoul Walsh, Orson Welles, Sam Wood—all of them classics of an economy of the image which, as such, was already then becoming increasingly anachronistic in the wake of its displacement by the omnipresence of the televisual and its particular syntactic and semantic logics. In a sense one could say that this anachronism was already implicit in the meta-cinematic gesture,


which was the practice of ciné-detournement, the citation of images from the history of cinema. It could also explain why in his televisual testament Debord chose to present the totality of his cinematic ouevre simply in terms of the basic formal gesture of «Hurlements» (see the «Hurlements en faveur de Sade»)—because it is here, in the anti-image politics of his Lettrist success de scandal that the essentially cinematic character of his fascination (literally, the black and white of the celluloid strip) is manifest as such.

Given Debord’s deep suspicion of the televisual, why then would his films suddenly reappear after his death on TV? In his letter to me in 1987 he had explained that one of the reasons why he felt he could no longer risk having his films in circulation was due to «structural changes» in the film industry having to do with the pressures of television. Unwilling to risk having his films simply inserted into the banalizing continuum of what Raymond Williams called the televisual «flow,» by withdrawing his films he effectively guaranteed for himself the ability to control their rigorous refusal of the televisual dispositif, at least until that time when

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