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La Chute

The Fall

Peter Whitehead

1969United Kingdom116 minColour and B&W


New York in full effervescence. At Columbia University, the students are shocked by the repression against anti-Vietnam war protesters and occupy their university… 

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On location in New York, a filmmaker is searching for a meaning to his life, as political events move fast (the assassinations of Kennedy and Luther King). He tries to find it in the “protest art” scene, and took part in the student occupation of Columbia University.

“I had the desire to make a fiction with documentary material… On 4 April 1968, I found myself in Washington for a screening of Tonite, and suddenly we learn of Martin Luther King’s assassination. The movie theatre closed as it isn’t far from the ghettos, riots are breaking out, I’m filming everything, I can’t stop filming. Later, I spent the day filming Bob Kennedy on his campaign, then the art world in New York: Rauschenberg, Rafael Montañez-Ortiz… I learn that Columbia is occupied, I manage to get in because someone inside has seen my films at the New York Film Festival, and I spend five days filming the students, Tom Hayden, the future members of Weathermen, the red flag on the maths faculty building, the police assault. I know the cops are going to break the cameras so I throw the recorded film into the bushes, I leave, then come back for them. It’s only on the second occupation, a week later, that I filmed the manoeuvres and repression outside the buildings. I go back to London and, on landing, I learn that Bobby Kennedy has been assassinated. The film had to take all these events into account and link them together.

– Peter Whitehead (Cahiers du cinéma, March 2010)

  • PRODUCTION : Lorrimer Films
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