Venom and Eternity (1951) by Jean Isidore Isou

Thursday, May 29, 1986, 8:00 pm

Venom and Eternity

By Jean Isidore Isou


758 Valencia Street

San Francisco, CA 94110

Before the Lower East Side’s “Cinema of Transgression,” before the student revolts of 1968 Paris, were the original bad boys of post-war France, the Letterists. Perpetrating hoaxes and generally scandalizing an outraged bourgeoisie, “Pope” Isou and “Archangel” Gabriel Pomerand led attacks on the authority of the church, the state, and the Academie Francaise with equal fervor. Isou’s 1953 Venom and Eternity (Traite de bave et d’eternite) is an extraordinary, rarely seen film that combines visual and narrative elements with non-synchronous sound and letters scratched directly onto the film in an attack on the actual existence of narrative cinema. Didactic, antagonistic, nihilistic, the Letterists bridge the gap between the Bohemian assaults of Baudelaire and the end-of-Imperialism of the 1980s Punks.