French director Marker ("La Jetee") compiles many hours of archival news footage into an extensive, probing document of social unrest. Using interviews with world leaders, revolutionaries, activists and Marxist idealists, Marker delves into the political and social upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s. With voice-over narration and remarkable footage, he explores Che Guevara's legacy and how he inspired revolution in South America. Covering the 1968 student riots in Paris, the anti-war protests in the US, the cultural revolution in China, the Soviet Union's invasion of Czechoslovakia and Chilean Salvador Allende’s presidency, Marker tracks the rise of the New Left, and its eventual demise in the face of global capitalism.
Marker's video essay is both cinematic art and historical documentary. Originally finished in 1977, the director reworked the material in 1993 to include the demise of the Soviet Union. It's a paean to intelligent, engaged reformists who declare that the struggle continues despite Socialism's evident failings. In a film rich with illuminating footage, an interview with a young Fidel Castro stands out, along with several scenes capturing his most passionate speeches. Marker skillfully evokes the pervasive political unrest of the time: no wonder he subtitled the film "Scenes from a Third World War 1967-77." While "Grin" won't make you smile, it will make you think.