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Avant-Garde Cinema (Sept. 17)

Man Ray, The Return to Reason (La Retour a la Raison), 1923 (2 min.)

The most intriguing aspect of The Return to Reason is the scene of the nude female body.  In previous films, directors would often cast shadows of objects onto blank walls.    May Ray casted shadows of different designs and patterns onto the nude body of the woman.  I am not too sure how to accurately define this tactic, but I do not think it along the lines of a rayograph or shadow play.

Man Ray, The Starfish (L’Etoile de Mer), 1928 (15 min.)

While viewing The Starfish, I noticed that most of the scenes were shot through frosted glass.  It appeared as though Man Ray was attempting to blur out certain images, which was predominately the images of a couple walking outside.  I didn’t really understand the concept of the starfish, but the usage of blurring out images made sense in the scene when another man was introduced into the film.  In one of the final scenes of the film, the word “belle” was written on a piece of glass with a clear shot of the woman on the other side of it.  The glass with broke shortly after the woman walked away with the other man.

Fernand Leger & Dudley Murphy, Ballet Mecanique, 1924 (11min.)

In Ballet Mecanique, the directors filmed scenes both upright and upside down.  This aspect in particular separated Ballet Mecanique from the other short films in class.  It added a more dramatic twist to the film.  Leger and Dudley also incorporated a lot of same shots, but in different sequences and for a different amount of times.  For instance, there a a single shot of a hat between certain scenes.  At other times, they would show the same shot but repetitively, so it appeared as though that it was in motion.  A final aspect of the film worth noting, was the usage of mirrors.  The mirrors were another aspect that provided the sense of motion.

Marcel Duchamp, Anemic Cinema, 1926 (6 min.)

The film Anemic Cinema was one of the more difficult short films to understand.  The scenes in the film were of an ever-changing spiral.  The only things the audience could gain and understanding of the film for were the quotations.

Sergey Eisenstein & Grigory Alexandrov, Sentimental Romance (Romance Sentimentale), 1930 (16 min.)

In the beginning of Sentimental Romance, the themes of “autumn, sadness, and dead love” were introduced.  Since the themes of the film were provided from the beginning, it was easier to understand the overall concept of the film.  Sentimental Romance was another film that included upside down shots of particular scenes, but it differed from the other short films because it included sound effects in these scenes.

Lous Bunuel & Salvador Dali, An Andalusian Dog (Un Chien Andalou), 1929 (16 min.)

Since the eye slicing scene was shown early on in An Andalusian Dog, my interpretation for the duration of the film was that of a horror story.  In my opinion, the slicing of the eye closely resembled a gore scene.  Although this is an older film, I was amazed at the props and special effects used in that particular scene.  To be honest, I had to watch it a few more times to make sure it wasn’t real.

Henri Chomette, Five Minutes of Pure Cinema (Cinque Minutes de Cinema Pur), 1926 (5 min.)

The placement of the objects and lighting used throughout Five Minutes of Pure Cinema  is what sets this film apart from most others.  It appears to be almost like an instruction manual to basic lighting and set production.  Each object had light hitting it from all appropriate angles, and the lighting effects acted a the transition from scene to scene.

Rene Clair, Entr’acte, 1942 (20 min.)

Entr’acte was the first film in class I believe to have adequately depicted slow motion.  There were two scenes in this film where this effect was highlighted the best.  The first scene was early in the film, when the two men were jumping near railroad tracks.  The second scene, was the ground shot or underneath shot of the ballerina dancing.  The usage of slow motion was very appropriate for these particular scenes because it captured the energy of the film as a whole.


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