How do we learn? What do we know? Night after night, not long before dawn, two young adults, Patricia and Emile, meet on a sound stage to discuss learning, discourse, and the path to revolution. Scenes of Paris's student revolt, the Vietnam War, and other events of the late 1960s, along with posters, photographs, and cartoons, are backdrops to their words.
The philosophy reflects the director's most radical thoughts about making films. When not discussing films, the two play word-association games. Though named Le Gai Savoir, this film is not based on the book of the same title by Friedrich Nietzsche but, very loosely, on Jean Jacques Rousseau's Emile.