FILM NOTES


FILM NOTES INDEX


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Ballet Mecanique

(French, 1924, 15 min, b&w, silent, 16mm)

Directed by Dudley Murphy and Fernand Leger

Ballet Mecanique, produced and directed by French modernist painter Fernand Leger, and photographed by Dudley Murphy (and, possibly, Man Ray) was begun in 1923 and completed in November 1924. Kiki, the famous Parisian model and subject of many of Ray’s photographs appears in the film, as does Dudley Murphy. A classic of experimental, avant-garde filmmaking (including one of the first known examples of loop-printing), the film originally was accompanied by the music of George Anthiel. Accompanying this screening is the music of Erik Satie. As described by Edward S. Small, Ballet mecanique is “a brief, non-narrative exploration of cubist form, black and white tonalities, and various vectors through its constant, rapidly cut movements and compositions. Many of the film’s forms and compositions are reflected in--or themselves reflect--forms and compositions in Leger’s famous cubist paintings from the period.

“The film flashes through over 300 shorts in less than 15 silent minutes. The subjects of these fleeting images are diverse and difficult to quickly catalog: bottles, hats, triangles, a woman’s smile, reflections of the camera in a swinging sphere, prismatically crafted abstractions of light and line, gears, numbers, chrome machine (or kitchen) hardware, carnival rides, shop mannequin parts, hats, shoes, etc. All interweave a complex cinematic metaphor which bonds man and machine.”

 

— Donald Faulkner, NYS Writers Institute

 

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.