HISTORY OF IDEAS: Jean Paul Sartre on Freedom and Existentialism (BBC)


HISTORY OF IDEAS: Jean Paul Sartre on Freedom and Existentialism (BBC)
by Darius Kadivar

Equally Praised for his innovative ideas and criticized for his contradictions, Jean Paul Sartre remains a major figure in the history of ideas that shaped the 20th century. Yet as one of the Founding father of Existentialism and the quentessentially Politically "engage"  philosopher was also to be heavily criticized by many likeminds of his generation notably British George Orwell ( author of 1984), or fellow French colleagues Albert Camus and Raymond Aron for overlooking the true totalitarian nature of some of the major upheavels of the 20th Century notably in such countries like Cuba, China or the Soviet Union. His controversial endorsement of Palestinian terrorism particularly during the Massacre of Israeli Sportsmen at the Munich Olympics in 1972 was to tarnish his image in the Western Intelligenstia.

Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir an Intimate Portrait in 1970's:

Sartre nevertheless leaves a major bulk of ideas that cannot be reduced to his human or political shortcomings and remains a major thinker of the 20th Century. The French Magazine Marianne has released a Very interesting special Issue on Sartre for the 30th anniversary of his death.

From the Series Human, All Too Human (BBC)

Part I:

Part II:

Part III:

Part IV:

Part V:

Part VI:

Although a Constitutional Monarchist yet Influenced by Sartre's "Engagement" ( political activism) Philosophy Iranian Expat and Political activist Fereydoun Farrokhzad speaks about the Artist and his Political responsability (1980's):

On a Lighter Note: Mrs. Premise and Mrs. Conclusion visit Jean Paul Sartre ( Monty Python's John Clease and the late Graham Chapman):

On Simone de Beauvoir:

Simone de Beauvoir NUE ;0) by DK

Poetess and "Simon de Beauvoir Laureate" Simin Behbahani Stopped at Tehran Airport (RTL Info)


Saint-Germain-des-Prés - Juliette Greco ( 1950's):

Francoise Sagan:

Although of a different generation French Author Francoise Sagan was greatly influenced by Sartre's Existentionalism

Scene from Film inspired by Sagan's Novel Bonjour Tristesse (1958) starring New Wave Star Jean Seberg and David Niven:

French Star Singer Yves Montand ( L'engagement Contre Les Dictature Gauche Et Droite ):

Les Feuilles Mortes:

Montand was a "compagnon de Route" of Sartre and the Communist Party without ever being a member before becoming one of his staunchest Critics notably after the events of Tchekoslovakia and other crushed upheavels of the Easter Bloc Revolts:

Costa Gavras' Opening of The Confession:

The Confession(L'Aveu) by Costa-Gavras: Laughing Scene:

Montand as an FBI Agent kidnapped by Revolutionaries in South America In Costa Gavras' State of Siege:

With Subtitles:

Costa Gavras' Z:


Montand and Mikis Theodorakis Music Score, Highlights of Costa Gavras - Z (1969):

Recommended Reading ( On "L'Engagement" From an Iranian Political perspective) :

Simin Behbahani Accepting Simone de Beauvoir Prize (Iranian.com)

Prisoner of Conscience: Akbar Ganji and Costa Gavras' Confession BY Darius KADIVAR

REZA's CALL: An Iranian Solidarnosc... by Darius KADIVAR

RESPONDING TO REZA's CALL: An Iranian Solidarnosc in the Making ... by Darius KADIVAR

We Refuse to Die: This is a new kind of Revolution by Setareh Sabety

Twitter Revolution by Setareh Sabety

Unite Under Ten Demands: A call to unity by the Reformist Think Tank by Setareh Sabety

Related Blogs:

HISTORY OF IDEAS: Montaigne's Guide To Happiness,Wisdom and Self-Esteem (BBC Documentary)

HISTORY OF IDEAS:Socrates on Self-Confidence and Non Conformist Thought (BBC Documentary)

On Greece Democracy/Coup:

RESTORATION: Greek Constitutional Monarchy Toppled by Military Coup (April 21st, 1967)

pictory: Soraya and Richard Harris in Greece For Movie Promotion (1964)

TITANS MEET: Shahbanou of Iran Greets Ex-King Constantine of Greece (Roudaki-Opera House, 1971)

EMPIRE OF THE MIND: The Greeks - Crucible of Civilization narrated by Liam Neeson (PBS-1999)





more from Darius Kadivar

i can't say solidarity, must say soldarnosc to sound smart

by i_support_khamenie on

Summary of video:

Audience of 3000 english speakers in audotorium, speaker talks in French and insists on doing so--to convey that he is far smarter than everyone else in the audience....no one in audience understands him...but they know that just as he insists in talking in French, his beliefs are just as irrelevant....this continues until a 14 yr girl stand up and say"we didn't understand jack"...."boro varjeen...een maskhareh bazehara...yekam aaghel sho...khejalat nemikeshe be een sen wa salet..." The audience is shocked and then starts applauding the girl...then a street sweeper drives in with his vehicle and sweeps the irrelevnce away to a museum..


jean sartre speaks out

by i_support_khamenie on

Ain't it funny, when French folks always resort to citing British and US sources....sounds like they feel let out...wawawa

Darius Kadivar

humanbeing & Rea & Arash_1970 Many Thanks ;0)

by Darius Kadivar on

GLad you enjoyed it.

I prefer Albert Camus too. As you know they were both intellectual rivals and yet friends. The irony is that Sartre came from a bourgeois background and revolted against it all his life whereas Camus came from a much more modest background in a "Pied Noir" Family and climbed the social ladder through hard work and personal merits. It did not stop Camus to denounce Colonialism and Terrorism at the same time which drew critics from the Far Left including after he Won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Camus never understood Sartre's Far Left sympathies particularly his Stalinist loyalties.

Interestingly Camus seems to be much more appreciated today than Sartre in many circles equally right wing and left wing. Probably because he was more of a Centrist and Moderate than an extremist. Not surprising that Camus appealed to people like Yves Montand and Simone Signoret who were both Very Alert when it came to denouncing Human Rights Violations equally in countries equally Right Wing like Chili during the Pinochet Years or Left Wing like in Poland or Tchekoslovakia.

Montand and Signoret were one of the first Artists to publically Stand in Support for Poland's Solidarnosc and Lech Walesa:


Which pissed off many in the French Communist Party at the time because they were considered as Left Wing Socialists at best.

As for Films well I always write about this for payvand and other websites whenever a new film comes out or if there is something to say about films or film related subjects and to be honest I prefer this to Politics by large.

CANNES: Binoche, Kiarostami, Shirine and the English Patient

UNITED ARTISTS : Manoocher Vossough and Googoosh Re-United in London For The First Time in 30 Years

But even films today particularly Iranian are all politically tainted so it is difficult to speak about Iranian films in particular without mentioning politics.

BERLIN FILM FESTIVAL: Press Conference for director Rafi Pitts and Cast of "The Hunter" (2010) by DK

Eye of the Tiger: Marjane Satrapi and the Persepolis generation by Darius KADIVAR

Banned Hollywood Dream: Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani troubled over a Body of Lies By Darius KADIVAR

BRAVO MESDAMES!: Aghdashloo, Neshat, Reza and Farahani Shined Through 2009 Summer Season's International Awards by DK

Pour Un Instant: LA LIBERTE! By DK

PARTNERS ON LOLITA: Deepa Mehta and Azar Nafisi Team Up for Screen adaptation of reading Lolita in Tehran  By Darius KADIVAR

IMAGINE TEHRAN !:Brian Grazer and Ron Howard option Richard Regen's spec script on Love Amidst Iranian Revolution by Darius KADIVAR

George Clooney's Great Escape! by Darius KADIVAR

I look forward to a day when  I could write or interview the next Iranian Spielberg or Tim Burton or with an Imagination that is not limited to political issues or "Nombrilistically" Experimental ( too many Kiarostami Wannabees abound in Iranian cinema) but more Creative.

But for the time being I have not come across any Golden Boy in Iranian Cinema. Many Individual talents Yes but Not one that makes a Major difference from all that I have seen to date.

But I am hopeful that we will at some point in the future because there is a great deal of enthusiasm and passion who will certainly walk in the steps of the likes of Reza Badiyi:

LIFE IN PICTURES: Reza S. Badiyi The Last TV Tycoon by DK

I try to report on ANY Film I come across even if they don't necessarily reflect my own political or artistic perspective. Films like History belong to EVERYONE regardless of opinion or background. I try to share my view and up to everyone to draw their own conclusions.

And contrary to what some may think I am not trying to be a Teacher in anything for I am myself in a learning process each time I see a new film or documentary or historical Item of interest. People are even free to use these items or posts to oppose my views in return if they wish too as long as they respect copy right ethics in terms of intellectual property. I don't mind ...

I just can't help myself to share my interests or curiostity whenever I have that opportunity. And blogging helps me personally to put things in perspective including in upcoming debates if they occur. It leaves a track record which I hope at best is rich in content and coherent. Others are free to do otherwise ...

If people appreciate it then it is my biggest reward ! ;0)

If they don't well then I am afraid that is another debate ... over which I have no control nor particular interest to contradict or waste my energy on proving them wrong.

Thank you both for your interesting feedbacks and support !

Truly Appreciated,




DK, you always give us a lot of homework ;o)

by Rea on

As for Sartre, as much as I admire him, "overlooking" Cuba, China or the Soviet Union is un understatement.  Or, maybe, in my case it's just personal.


loved the clips

by humanbeing on

loved all the clips. i think i can cancel my cable subscription. the john cleese et al was fun, and never saw the one of beauvoir nue. as a literary artist i prefer camus, but sartre had more complex interesting women; for us discerning women a man's romantic choices sometimes influence our assessment of him. unfair i know.

but seriously., how about doing a 'corner' on this site about cinema, iranian cinema or universal. educate us a bit. some not necessarily political discourse will be good therapy for many. 

Darius Kadivar

SPink Very Funny But Rather a Self Portrait of Your Pedigree

by Darius Kadivar on

Than Mine ...


But After all That is not Not surprising given your Pedigree's Understanding of the Word "Loyalty" ...



But No Hard Feelings ... ;0)

After all Ignorance in Not a Crime ... LOL

As You may know Eligibility to Knighthood does not require Blue Blood running in one's veins.

Since you betrayed Yours ... I can always take you as my Squire if you behave. But for that you will have to make an Effort on That Pink Fouragere otherwise I cannot vouch for your credentials ...



Thank you For sharing

by Arash_1970 on

Thanks for sharing ,what a fantastic collection of clips.Sartre is my favorite philosopher to read.

Nous ne sommes pas libre de ne l'etre pas ... :-)

Marjan Zahed Kindersley

To my Subject, Darius K

by Marjan Zahed Kindersley on

(Sartre's sounds)

"No collies are fish.

No dogs are fish.


no dogs are collies."


yours (wondering if it's monarchy in marxism next ...)

Empress Marjan The Soliptic

Sargord Pirouz

DK, I was watching Spongebob

by Sargord Pirouz on

DK, I was watching Spongebob with the kids today, and this episode reminded me of you. (I don't know if you have a good sense of humor, but it's really funny)



Sartre against Shah

by آشنا on

 As Sartre says,

 “Remember that context. The shah [of Iran] comes to Berlin and the students protest peacefully. They are severely beaten by the shah’s security[ guards] and the German police who shoot and kill one student. Benno Ohnesorg.  The pro-US press then yells that the real responsible onewas Rudi Dutschke [leader of the student protesters] and he is shot in the head. From a moral and a revolutionary point of view, the groups rampage of murders of German industrialists are absolutely justified. But…you see my problem–all ethics depend on circumstances.” 




Very illuminating.

by Raoul1955 on

Thank you Darius for posting such wonderful and thought provoking material.

Jean Paul Sartre’s material is just very enlightening.  I read some of his works almost 38 years ago while I was in my teen years.