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In the months after the heady weeks of May ’68, a group of young Europeans search for a way to continue the revolution believed to be just beginning.
Director: Olivier Assayas
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In 1968 in Paris, France, the something in the air was revolution. In March of that year, a single spark began a revolt when a small group of students at Nanterre University took to the streets to protest conditions at the University. By July, workers had shut down Paris with a general strike in which ten million workers took part, occupying factories and marching in solidarity with students, who occupied the Sorbonne. The objectives were self-management by workers, a decentralization of economic and political power and participatory democracy in the factories and universities. By the end of July, the government of the autocratic Charles de Gaulle was teetering on the brink of collapse.
The impact of the 1968 near revolution is still being felt three years later in February, 1971 when Olivier Assayas’ semi-autobiographical Something in the Air opens. A demonstration is held at the Place de Clichy in Paris as a teacher in a high school class reads a passage from Pascal, “Between us and Heaven or Hell there is only life, which is the frailest thing in the world.” At the same time, the brutal police repression of a young protester, Richard Deshayes, takes place in nearby streets demonstrating the immediacy of Pascal’s words. Deshaves loses an eye after being hit in the face by a smoke grenade, and the poster of his bloody head is shown as a symbol of resistance throughout the film.
Something in the Air is about coming-of-age and the awakening of conscience, and Assayas has the courage to remind us of the need to align our actions in life with our beliefs and conscience. Events are shown from the perspective of Gilles (Cl
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