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Title Unseen cinema. 3, Light rhythms. Ballet mechanique / by Fernand Léger, Dudley Murphy
Published [United States] : Filmmakers Showcase, 1924


Description 1 online resource (17 minutes)
Summary LIGHT RHYTHMS is part of the film retrospective UNSEEN CINEMA that explores long-forgotten American experimental cinema. Music originally composed for it, the film's aggressive Dada spirit also becomes clear. The original score, full of player pianos and mechanical sounds, was so radical it could not be performed. A later concert version was never synchronized with the film. Only modern technology and Paul Lehrman's 1999 reconstruction of the initial score made it possible to recapture the makers' original intentions. --DEKE DUSINBERRE The music is scored for eight percussionists, two pianists, bells, siren, airplane propellers, and sixteen player pianos. It eschews conventional forms, instead creating a unique "soundscape." Due to technical limitations related to synchronization, this complex composition was never played in its original instrumentation, alone or with the film. --PAUL D. LEHRMAN A pioneer of cubism and abstract art, Fernand Léger emerged from the First World War enamored of the so-called machine aesthetic wherein the visual spectacle of modern life was the essential subject for modern painting. He also wrote about cinema, and in "Ballet mécanique", used rapid editing and the close-up to find visual drama and formal beauty in machine parts and functional objects. --MATTHEW AFFRON Boston-born Dudley Murphy was an engineering student, World War I pilot, and movie set decorator before launching his directing career with a series of evocative short films including the first American avant-garde film to be screened in New York City, "The Song of the Cypress" (1921). These musically driven experiments culminated in the jazz-infused Ballet Mecanique, and influenced his later Hollywood and independent features, including "The Emperor Jones" (1933). --SUSAN DELSON American composer-performer George Antheil went to Europe from New Jersey in 1922. His outrageous piano concerts featuring his avant-garde compositions made him "the toast of Paris." However, a failed New York performance of "Ballet mécanique" in 1927 ruined his reputation. After 1935, he emerged as a respected composer for Hollywood films. --PAUL D. LEHRMAN Alternate titles: "Ballet mécanique", "Images Mobiles". 35mm 1.33:1 black and white color tints silent with music 20fps 17 minutes. Camera: Dudley Murphy, Man Ray, Ezra Pound
Notes "Music and abstraction"
Title from resource description page (viewed June 11, 2020)
Credits Music by George Antheil ; adapated & arranged by Paul D. Lehrman
Notes Silent with music
Subject Surrealism in motion pictures.
Motion pictures -- United States.
Experimental films -- United States
Experimental films
Motion pictures
Surrealism in motion pictures
United States
Genre/Form Abstract films
Experimental films
Short films
Silent films
Surrealist films
Abstract films.
Silent films.
Short films.
Experimental films.
Surrealist films.
Films muets.
Courts métrages.
Films expérimentaux.
Form Streaming video
Author Léger, Fernand, 1881-1955, director.
Murphy, Dudley, 1897-1968, director.
Other Titles Unseen cinema : early American avant-garde film, 1893-1941
Light rhythms : music and abstraction
Images mobiles
Ballet mécanique
Ballet mechanique