Tom Verlaine: Music For Films

The Film Program[Mon 11 Oct 99]

FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (1928) Directed and photographed by Dr. James Sibley Watson. Written and designed by Melville Webber. Based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe. 12 minutes. B&W. 35/16MM

"Dr. James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber were the first truly avant-garde American filmmakers...They reduce the story to its essentials, the impact being largely transmitted through the careful use of silhouette, multiple exposure and rhythm, which successfully evoke the disembodied atmosphere of the piece...Sets are suggested by light and by the patterns made by folded paper rather than by painted or three-dimensional props."
- David Curtis, Experimental Cinema

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF 9413 - A HOLLYWOOD EXTRA (1927) Written, produced and directed by Robert Florey and Slavko Vorkapich. Photographed by Slavko Vorkapich and Gregg Toland. Edited and designed by Slavko Vorkapich. Starring Jules Raucort and Georges Voya. 11 minutes. B&W. 35/16MM

One of the first American films to show the influence of German Expressionism and the French avant-garde films of the Twenties, this is a satiric fantasy about a man who wants to become a Hollywood movie star. Reportedly shot for $96.00, this film was largely shot in Slavko Vorkapich's kitchen using cut-out miniatures.

EMAK BAKIA (1926) Directed by Man Ray. 13 minutes. B&W. 35/16MM

According to Man Ray, this film was made in strict conformity with Surrealist principles.

"It opens with a series of apparently unrelated shots: grain on film; flowers moving; drawing pins in negative; points of light-out of focus-which order themselves into lines; a signwriter spelling out incomplete sentences; a prism, reflecting bars of light, rotating at different speeds; car headlights, with a huge single eye superimposed over the radiator between them. As the film progresses the car theme becomes dominant...Individual images are striking for their humor and originality, but Ray still apparently felt it necessary to impose a conventionally readable theme - the car ride - to hold the film together." - David Curtis, Experimental Cinema

ETOILE DE MER/STAR OF THE SEA (1928) Directed by Man Ray. Starring Kiki. 12 minutes. B&W. 35/16MM.

"A more integrated and consciously 'surrealistic' work inspired by Robert Desnos' poem, a love affair thematically unites the whole film. The images are more obviously linked by (sexual) association" - David Curtis, Experimental Cinema

BRUMES D'AUTOMNE/AUTUMN MIST (1928) Directed by Dimitri Kirsanoff. Starring Nadia Sibirskaya. 12 minutes. B&W. 35/16MM

Almost a poem dedicated to Sibirskaya's face, the film conveys a single mood throughout. A women recalls her past. As she burns some old letters, her memories are shown on the screen. The delicate photography makes a subtle essay in atmosphere.

BALLET MECANIQUE (1924) Directed by Fernand Leger. Photography by Dudley Murphy. 10 minutes. B&W. 35/16MM

Called one of the most influential works in the history of experimental film by the American Film Institute, this is Cubist painter Leger's only film. It's connection to his two-dimensional work can be seen in the fragmentation and multiplication of images, along with a certain obsession with mechanical objects.

DE NAEDE FAERGEN/THEY CAUGHT THE FERRY (1943) Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. 10 minutes. B&W. 35/16MM.

The Danish government commissioned Dreyer to make this short film during World War II to call attention to the number of lives being lost needlessly through careless driving. In Dreyer's hands, what could have been a pedantic safety film becomes an impressionist tale following a young couple's race with Death.

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