He! Viva Dada (ASV 6)

We’ve been focusing on the “spirit of the sixties” a fair amount of late. We’d remind you, in case you missed it, of Antonello Branca’s What’s Happening? (1967) of Angus MacLise and The Velvet Underground , of recent postings on Peter Whitehead and Wholly Communion – and now here’s another! – a brief extract from Jean-Michel Humeau’s 1966 film, “He! Viva Dada!” (“Hey! Long Live Dada!’), his filmed documentary-record of the second “Festival de la Libre Expression” (Festival of Free Expression), organized by Jean-Jacques Lebel at the American Center, Boulevard Raspail, May 1965. We’ve featured it before (in the context of Allen’s fluidity in speaking French) but here it is again in the context of our “Annotated Streaming Videos”.

Humeau’s film features, alongside Lebel and this short (minute-and-a-half) interview with Allen, major figures of the contemporary avant-garde – Fernando Arrabal, Roland Topor , Alejandro Jodorowsky , Charlotte Moorman , all participants in a legendary ‘sixties ” Happening “. None of that is seen here. What we see here is Allen seated against a backdrop of books (with a curiously nervous Gregory Corso, standing beside him), responding, (candidly, sincerely, occasionally gleefully), to an interviewer’s questions about poetry, poetic composition, and his use of, and experimentation with, drugs .
What drugs have you tried?, the interviewer asks. All of them, Allen replies – marijuana, psychedelics, laughing gas (nitreous oxide)…and, (Gregory, ever the joker, chimes in), chateauneuf du pape ! – alcohol, red wine. Yes, (of course!), alcohol, socially-acceptable alcohol, it shouldn’t be forgotten, is also (be always mindful of the terminology here) a pretty potent “drug”.

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