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“The French know that when a Parisian crowd makes an appointment with the police – they’ll keep it. And so one discovers that violence is met with violence” – British Pathé, 1968

The press association announced this afternoon that a ‘turning point’ has been reached in the French demonstrations against pension reforms[1], a nationwide riot that is currently costing the French economy more than £350 million a day.

The British Pathé archive has a maelstrom of films about French demonstrations and riots in Paris over the last century. It seems protesting is almost part of France’s livelihood, with uprisings, demonstrations and student-driven drama dotted throughout the archive.

[Shortcut to the French Demonstration collection here]

Without disrespecting the sincerity and hard-hitting reality of these events, we’ve compiled a collection of gripping and action-packed French riot footage. There are some unforgettable scenes in and amongst this collection.

This footage of the 1968 Paris riots includes extensive colour footage of activity around Sorbonne University, police dragging away rioters, fights and fires at night, tear gas bombs being thrown and cars getting overturned. At one part students throw missiles from the roof of the university building.

The shots of students being beaten with rifles and clubs are hard to watch, especially when accompanied by dramatic and hysterical strings arrangement from Pathé!

Yet it’s worth re-watching these gruesome scenes if only to catch the moving and inspired narrations: “The Paris mob are incensed, they’re on the war path. Students are using petro-filled bottles which they shower on the police”.

1968 Paris Riots:

CLIP ONE http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=45291

CLIP TWO http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=45201

CLIP THREE http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=83615

CLIP FOUR http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=83614

CLIP FIVE http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=73964

Whiter France (1934)

http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=4874

This 1930s newsreel has “terrific street fighting” and a wonderful narration. Compared helpfully by British Pathé to the revolution of 1789!

See more French riot footage in the archives here.
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