“À la Bastille!”

Once again, with apologies to Pierre Ranger… [It’s a tradition, we know… – Ed]  Indeed!  Play La Marseillaise!

Adds  And a French winner on Le Tour on Bastille Day!

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  • Croiteir

    The glorification of mass murder, one of the worst episodes in western European history, one of the worst decisions happened about a week before the Bastille was stormed, a man who I would regard as the father of modern degeneracy and its most notorious prisoner and the father of modern degeneracy was moved. Naturally the Revolution saw him released.

  • Karl

    Dont think the french revolution even gets into the top 10 of historical calamities that have befallen western Europe. Any particularreason you rate it so ‘highly’?

  • Croiteir

    Mass murder

  • James Livesey

    And what better advice for the political travails that we face than “de l’audace, encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace”.

  • SeaanUiNeill


    “Ah ! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira Ah !
    Le peuple en ce jour sans cesse répète,
    Ah ! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira Ah !
    Malgré les mutins tout réussira.
    Nos ennemis confus en restent là
    Et nous allons chanter ‘Alléluia !’
    Ah ! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira…”

  • Korhomme

    The marquis may not have been entirely sane. Then again, perhaps it takes someone with an ‘outside’ view who can look in to see how people might really be under the gloss and polish of ‘civilisation’.

  • This is a better version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIxOl1EraXA

    It even has subtitles in French. Apologies to the monolingual opponents of learning multiple languages.

  • SDLP supporter

    Down with this sort of thing, David Newman. You’ll blow the blood pressure of Croiteir. He’d never get his head around the fact that this brilliant and passionate rendition of the greatest of all national anthems is sung by Mme Mathieu, a devout and practising Catholic.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

  • runnymede

    Agreed. God knows why this continues to be glorified by decent people. That IRA supporters might glorify it is less surprising.

  • Sean Danaher

    blocked in your country on copyright grounds. Northumberland, England, UK so a bit bemused?

  • Korhomme

    A ‘better’ version? Perhaps, though I’d like Edith Piaf instead.

    But that’s to miss the points; it’s a turning point in the film for poor Rick. And even if it was blood thirsty propaganda, it’s still glorious — it must be the best national anthem of any country.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    All of the revolutions of history have been bloody affairs. The Three Kingdoms Civil War of 1641-1660 was every bit as bloody, and its successor in 1688 had innumerable victims across all three Kingdoms, and despite the London-centric attempts to characterise i as “bloodless”, lives were lost, Catholics murdered, one third of the regular army went into exile and poverty with their king, another half was dismissed as “unreliable”, and many many lives were utterly ruined by the actions of the jubilant victors. Ireland’s economy was destroyed for decades and in Ireland and Scotland, lives lost and q whole families ruined on a terrible scale.

    And, Runny, only a few days ago all of this was being “glorified” by great numbers of people who would entirely see themselves as perfectly “decent people.”

  • babyface finlayson

    I thought I told you never to play that in here!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “It’s the ‘unreasonable’ man who drives progress, isn’t it?”

    Funny you should say that:

    I had the good luck to have an invitation to the first showing at “the Empire”, Leicester Square in 1980, when it was the first Silent to be performed with a full I’ve orchestra since 1929, or so Carl Davis tells me. During the first break the audience was straining to return to see the next part, and at the end the applause continued for a quarter of an hour until Kevin Brownlow came on with a telephone with Abel Gance himself at the other end. Many in the audience were in tears.

  • Korhomme

    I was thinking of GBS, but still…

  • Korhomme

    “All of the revolutions of history have been bloody affairs.”

    I learned never to be quite so dogmatic; words such as ‘always’ and ‘never’ ought to be expunged from the dictionary.

    Of course not only political revolutions were bloody; scientific ones could be so, metaphorically. Planck’s quantum ideas didn’t meet with general acceptance until the 1920s; when asked why, Planck supposed said, ‘They all died’, referring to the reactionaries.

    And, what of the ‘Velvet Revolution’ in what was then Czechoslovakia, after which the proud boast was that not a single window had been smashed?

  • Aodh Morrison

    Blocked here for me in NI too. Perhaps the link was posted from overseas?

  • runnymede

    Quite. Dogmatic is exactly what it is. We used to hear the same stuff about what Stalin and Mao did as well i.e. ‘some regrettable loss of life essential to build socialism…’ Ghastly individuals like Eric Hobsbawm were sticking to this line into the 1990s.

    Better to take a contemporary view I think. The extreme violence and excesses of the revolution shocked the whole of Europe at the time and for many years after, as they went far beyond what was considered normal even by the rough standards of the time.

  • Karl

    They havent gone away you know

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Ah, Korhomme, political revolutions was what Runny was referring to, and it was to his problem with the French Revolution in particular as some stand alone atrocity I was referring, and illustrating my point with another “revolution” which some of our own fellow citizens in NI are rather inclined to sentimentalise. And of course, as you say, even revolutions in the intellectual sphere may find careers diminished and even destroyed as the certainties of the past are unpicked by scientific scrutiny and new better buttressed hypotheses. The scientific method of constant examination and re-examination has never sat easy with any form of canonic dogmatism!!!!

    Some of my New York friends have been familiar with people and events in the “Velvet Revolution” which certainly had its own victims in plenty, from the older status quo, even if there were no defenestrations such as occurred notably in the earlier Bohemian revolt of 1618, and in that earlier attempt by another central European country too cast off Moscow’s shadow in 1956.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Runny, you’ve simply reacted to the first few words in what Korhomme has said and not to the rounded sense of what he’s saying, which is very particular.

    It appears you are simplifying a very complex event by insisting on back-projecting a highly mediated and rather lurid version unto a very thin sheet of two dimensional paper! I’m reminded of a story where when Wyndham Lewis once mocked someone for only reading detective fiction, his victim replied “your friend W.B. Yeats reads detective fiction too.” Lewis laughed and told him, “you’re aware that it’s not the only literature he reads, I imagine.” Similarly, you really need to get a more rounded picture by looking more openly at what else was going on in the unfolding of the Great French Revolution over and above the simplistic Baroness Orczy story of piles of Aristocrat’s heads!!! Even in the Terror itself (which only lasted for a few months of the revolution) the greater number of those executed were spivs, criminals and illicit black market profiteers rather than innocent people with plummy accents like mine. This dogmatic ideologically motivated rejection of the revolution which you are championing may be throwing out a few drops of rather grimy bathwater, but it is throwing away a lot of living babies at the same time.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh I recognised the great Dubliner’s quote, but I could not resist an opportunity to post this little video of the greatest film of all time.

    Lloyd George, who claimed to have learnt his social policy from Shaw’s Fabian pamphlets apparently tried on Napoleon’s hat while attending the Versailles Treaty negotiations. I would love to have seen the event!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    NO, and like the Devil himself, they seem to have all the best tunes!

  • Korhomme

    Oh, Seann! The greatest film of all time is the one from which the clip at the head of this post is taken! 😉

    Now, the Welsh wizard trying on Boney’s hat, that’s something else!

  • Korhomme

    I got the reference. I’ve been reading about the US Constitution, as you do; the Framers, I read, were Deists, that is followers or acceptors of ‘rational religion’; it was the Age of Reason, after all. The Constitution, no matter what we hear today, was very carefully designed to say that the US wasn’t a specifically ‘Christian’ country. Of course, they were severely discomforted by that revolution, and in particular what happened in the Terror. One effect was a ‘Great Awakening’ or revival of religious belief in what might have been a secular country; and there have been similar waves of religious awakening ever since.

    I was in Prague Castle some years ago; the guide pointed to the ribbed ceilings, indicating that the ribs were fake. As for the window, it seemed very substantial; I saw neither angels nor ordure heaps.

    I remember the 1956 events only by a number of dissidents or emigrants who arrived here; the politics were beyond me. And again, in 1968 the flowering of Spring was ruthlessly crushed.

  • Korhomme

    It wasn’t just the Baroness; the boul Charlie did tell us that it was all ‘a far, far better thing than I have ever done’. But then, perhaps he was obliquely referring to Ms Ternan.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    We’ll have to disagree about films Korhomme, and I’ll not “pull rank” with my thirty year career in film and media because I consider such things to be always a personal aesthetic judgement. But Abel Gance (“the Master”) still knocks spots of Michael Curtiz, as Curtz would be the very first to admit! And for myself, despite its slightly “Orange tint”, my favourite Curtz would be “Captain Blood” (1935) with Errol Flynn.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I have an old photo of myself standing beside the speaker (with megaphone) in a Demo in front of the City Hall, Belfast, protesting against the Russian crushing of the Prague Spring taking place on 24th August 1968. A few hours later we all piled into a few cars and drove to Coalisland to join the march to Dungannon that evening. And the rest is history………

    My first wife was, as a child, a refugee from the events of 1956 in Hungary whose family made it to Britain.

  • Korhomme

    I was going to say that The Wicker Man comes a close second, but then I guess you and I have rather differing ideas about films!

  • Korhomme

    My father was an NHS consultant at the time. He invited the juniors for drinkies just before Christmas — I guess, it was an invitation that could not be refused. I remember an Australian describing their national sport — ‘shooting a few Abos before breakfast’ — and a very unhappy Greek Cypriot whose fifth daughter had just been born. He could not see how he would afford the dowries for all; I guess vineyards in Cyprus don’t come cheap. And in the corner, rather aloof from it all, a tall and gangly Hungarian who didn’t say much.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Ah, Nelly!!!

    One of my favourite “French Revolution” stories would be of the great-niece of Anthony St Just, described by the historian J.M Thompson whom he found still living at Blérancourt. She would show to the visitors a few relics of her ‘poor Uncle Anthony.’ Its what history, no matter how significant, how profound, seems to always get reduced to. That, and Charlie’s utterly contrived “noble gesture…” sitting precariously on the back of Carlisle’s triple decker “French Revolution” of twenty years earlier which created the English language myth of the “truly evil Jacobins”, to my mind.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    There used to be an old “war survivor” Polish cafe in South Kensington when I started in film. all those blocks of flats in the area were full of exile film makers, quite a few of the animators employed by the Hungarian John Halas with whom I had my own first post art college job. Halas made “Animal Farm” in the late 1940s and thereafter precariously kept his company afloat as “H&B” (Halas and Batchelor). The London film world of the 1960s/70s was still very shadowed by the war and a lot of painters exhibiting in 1960s London had had links with film animation at some point.

  • Korhomme

    “The revolution has no need of geniuses” said the presiding officer, as the tax gatherer was sent off to be detached from his head. A man who, with the Unitarian minister, had demolished the phlogiston theory.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I used to know Anthony Shaffer (through family) and his wife Diane Cilento. We met a lot at dinner parties and shared late night cabs when they were over from Australia. I think we can agree on “The Wicker Man” which always reminds my English relatives of July in Northern Ireland.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Poor Antoine Lavoisier! “La République n’a pas besoin de savants ni de chemists…” That will have taught him to be cleverer than the poor Sans Coulottes…………….

    I’m obliquely reminded of Wyndham Lewis’s amused observation that the philosopher T.E.Hume’s being vaporised by a direct shell hit in 1917 must have been an interesting experience for an immaterialist. Off now to pile up the peat for tonight’s fire……..

  • Korhomme

    We have moved in very different circles, Seaan; I much regret that too much of my life was given over to ‘living to work’ rather than the reverse. But isn’t that what ‘dedication to the NHS’ is supposed to be about?

    I first saw The Wicker Man on its release; it must have been in Dublin, and would have been the ‘theatrical’ release rather than the modern ‘director’s cut’. The cinematic release really mangled the action in an effort to reduce the showing time.

    What has perturbed me since is a ‘memory’ I have of a scene that isn’t in any version: I see Sgt Howie and his Lordship, who is on the right, in front of the pub, on the green. In the distance, Willow is leading a young lad ‘into the bushes’ for his initiation. This would fit well with the general themes. Except that I have asked around on forums where the film is discussed by those that know, and what I ‘remember’ is entirely imaginary.

    Memory isn’t a video that we can endlessly replay; it’s an active construction, a narrative based on what we’ve seen and heard with a generous helping of imagination. Here, I have to accept that my memory is an imagination; it simply didn’t happen. And I find it disturbing; how many other memories are distortions of reality?

  • ElamLayor

    Craggy Island is over the sea

  • Croiteir

    I can assure you I have no problem with the “Chant de guerre pour l’Armée du Rhin”

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    It certainly was.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’ve always believed that life should be about service to others rather than simply about one’s self. Not as ready a precept after near on forty years of the Thatcherblair “self first/greed is good” shift in public morality. My own version was to attempt to run my films fairly and honestly, even when working for rogues, as this would create a positive and happy work environment, which is essential to creativity, no matter what romantics will say.

    Memory is a most interesting area of study and it is one of my wife’s anthropological disciplines. Our unconscious will “insist” on things which only happened in our response to something, but before entirely dismissing your memory, I can suggest that there was so much variation in the versions put out to different countries fifty years ago, that it may have been a scene that was actually there! Its worth looking at the patch of offcuts in any “de-lux” version of the DVD just in case it shows up. On a similar theme, but with a rather trashier film, I’d remembered seeing a lift full of burnt corpses in “The Towering Inferno”, from its cinema release. In fact, its there, but only for a few frames. In animation, one flicks the drawings to see movement, and trains the eye to spot individual faults in line tests so that they may be righted before going on to colour. So I often see a lot of flash frames when watching any film (I also find myself automatically analysing the pattern of shot constriction, but that is force of habit). You may have caught a flash image of a few frames left accidentally from the cutting copy and corrected in later prints. No one talks about such things outside of the business, certainly not the critics who are seldom as close to the “engineering” aspect of film production as an insider inevitably is.

  • Korhomme

    I have ranted so much about Hayek and his followers, and about Thatcherism and Reaganomics…

    I don’t know how familiar you are with The Wicker Man. Everything about it is odd, except for the quality of the script, though it takes a couple of viewings to really understand it. It’s supposed to be set in May, but was shot on location in November; it may be entirely usual for fake apple trees to have fake blossom added, and then be moved around to give the appearance of acres of them…it may be usual for a scent to be shot in two entirely different places…it may be usual to have a director who’d never directed a film before…it may be usual for the story, originally set over two days to be compressed into one day at the cutting stage…and it may be usual for the amount of politicking around its release…and it may be usual for the original clips to end up as landfill for a motorway…and it may be usual for the modern ‘director’s cut’ to be back produced from stuff sent to the US…

    Anyhow, I’ve tried to do what you suggest. There is, of course, a nerdy fan club, but the chap who runs it was unaware of ‘my memory clip’; it’s not in any of the versions now available. I’m pretty certain I first saw it in Dublin when it was released; this was presumably the ‘theatrical cut’. Whether there were different versions for the UK and the Republic is unknown.

    And my ‘memory’ clip wouldn’t fit that well into the story line of either of the versions now available — the scene would have taken a minute or two, not just a flash. I can only conclude, unhappily, that it is my imagination, no matter how strong the memory is.

    And then there are those ‘memories’ which have been produced under suggestive questioning and which reveal all sorts of horrors, usually of abuse. These are ‘constructed memories’ of events that simply didn’t happen, but have often been the basis of ‘moral panics’ in the past.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The problem with “false memory syndrome” for me is that it has been employed unscrupulously in recent decades to discredit those who have genuinely suffered serious and destructive abuse. Working in the media I’ve encountered quite a few instances of what is unquestionably the real thing. Such survivors would regularly bringing up the names of particular people in the public eye, some of whom have since been “outed” in the wake of the exposures of Jimmy Saville and Cyril Smith. Others so accused have successfully managed contacts and defamation orders to continue to block such exposure. The burden of proof in such situations is always gnu to be highly problematic, and the police rely almost entirely on separate challenges where collusion clearly has not been possible.But at all times the suggestion that the sufferer might have been exaggerating or inventing something which, as anyone who knew them could clearly see, was gnawing at their very sense of self, such “face on” disbelief was dramatically corrosive to even the faintest possibility of a restored equilibrium in such sufferers.

    I’ve trained for a while as a Jungian therapist with a group working out of the Philadelphia Association in London and am not in any way starry eyed about the ability of human beings to fantasise or invent things, but the very generalised understanding of “false memory syndrome” by the broad mass of non-professionals has had a most mendacious influence on the ability of those with sometimes life-long internalised traumas to even begin to trust others enough to start any systematic unpicking their experiences.

  • Korhomme

    I don’t disagree, Seaan, even if there now follows a ‘but’. What you describe are individuals who have been disbelieved, people with no obvious connection to others who have been found to be in a similar position. (And I quite agree, the rich and powerful can avail themselves of ‘superinjunctions’.)

    I was thinking of rather different events. There was supposed to be a ‘Satanic Cult’ in the Orkneys some years ago. The judge at the eventual trial thought that there had been ‘coaching’:


    I wrote a piece a while ago here on Torture:


    One of the points was that, in the ‘right’ circumstances any of us will confess to a crime. I referred to the ‘Kerry Babies’, a still unresolved mystery, but one in which an entirely innocent woman ‘confessed’ to killing a baby.

    I also wrote about Patricia Cullen:


    in which a man against whom there was no real evidence ‘confessed’ to a murder. As he was found to be ‘guilty but insane’ — a legal device so that he didn’t hang — he was referred to a mental hospital; there, as he wasn’t ‘insane’ he received no treatment. (This case is one of several —many? — in which the influence of the ‘Establishment’ can be felt.)

    I can — I think — distinguish between these instances. In the cases you refer to, an individual has presented and volunteered a story, usually of abuse. This story comes ‘out of the blue’. This person hasn’t apparently been ‘coached’ or even been one in a group. Only when the story is made public do others volunteer, people who have stayed silent for years. The first volunteer isn’t typically believed, usually because the person accused is someone whose public persona is seen to be unimpeachable. (It’s also very apparent that such accused people have no self-awareness, no realisation of their actions.)

    I describe where unfortunates have been interrogated, and I’d say coerced — and tortured isn’t too strong a word — into believing that they really could have done something they had not done and could not have done.

    The ‘Satanic Cult’ is an example of a ‘moral panic’, not dissimilar to the Salem Witch Trials; it’s almost as it people sort of wished it to be true to reinforce their (moral) opinion. Today’s exemplar seems to be ‘sex trafficking’ where countless young women are transported around to be ‘used’ by unthinking and degenerate men. Apparently, some 40,000 are transported to the ‘Super Bowl’ in the US; this is a sporting event of some sort in which I have no interest. But I do wonder just how many jumbo jet fulls of people this represents, where they actually stay, and whether for a couple of days it’s ‘financially viable’. The coerced trafficking of people for gain is to be absolutely abhorred; and while the evidence shows that such people are used in agriculture in the broadest sense — the Morcambe Bay Cocklers — you can be sure that if it involves the ‘wrong type of sex’ our politicians will foam at the mouth. And so are our laws made.

    PS: how did we get here from Bastille Day?

  • 05OCT68

    “Britain has had enough of experts” said a recent revolutionary.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’m not surprised to find that with a little unpacking we are very much in agreement here. One of my other concerns would follow your own concern here, regarding an issue which many survivors of abuse would call “gas lighting” (from the film “Gaslight”), where they are coached or coerced into believing that their experience was either imagined or negligible, the very mirror image of what you are describing in your context. So rather than a conflictual perception, we are discussing a rather complex cross-over.

    The reaction to such things and the consequent legislation appears to be all too often driven by something far more generalised, sensationalised and certainly far less complex.

    And regarding the slow de-rail, any discussion of film always appears to lead to this. I have no idea why!

  • Korhomme

    And beyond ‘gas lighting’ we have ‘Stockholm syndrome’ Remarkable, just how powerful suggestion can be.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    And of course Mme Roland en route to the scaffold, “Ah liberté, que de crimes on commet en ton nom”
    Or Danton to Desmoulins, again in the tumbril, the latter fretting over the genius of his as yet unpublished verses being lost to posterity: “pense aux jolis vers que tu feras demain”
    Vers is both worms and verses. Gallows humour at its best.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    My own favourite “full close” would be St Just, whose twenty-four hour silence before the blade fell was the eloquence of the Classicist and the Aesthete. St Just was played by Abel Gance himself in the film I’ve posted above.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Of course Donatien Alphonse François himself was re-arrested a few years later because, ironically, the violence of the Terror appalled him.

  • Croiteir

    How often do they turn on themselves in a search for purity?

  • Devil Éire

    Memory isn’t a video that we can endlessly replay; it’s an active construction…

    Indeed…memories are also rewritten and re-contextualised every time we access them. The only way to ensure the purity of a memory is to never actually remember it!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And how often do our politicians today do much the same, but without a Comité de Salut Public to bring their political disagreements to the sharp edge, literally?

    Its inherent in the nature of oppositional politics. Myself, I’d blame the “Revolution” of 1688 just as much for the degeneration of our lives, and that, if you were lucky enough not to be in Ireland or Scotland could be thought of as “bloodless”. Although I for now would seriously question the evasions which that description covers over, even in England.