Entr'acte (film)

Last updated

Entr'acte
Satie & Picabia, Clair & Biorlin (prologue de Relache).jpg
Directed by René Clair
Written byRené Clair
Francis Picabia
Produced by Rolf de Maré
Starring Jean Börlin
Inger Frïis
Marcel Duchamp
Man Ray
Francis Picabia
Erik Satie
CinematographyJimmy Berliet
Music by Erik Satie
Distributed bySociété Nouvelle des Acacias
Release date
  • 4 December 1924 (1924-12-04)
Running time
22 minutes
CountryFrance
LanguageFrench

Entr'acte is a silent French Dada short film directed by René Clair. It premiered on 4 December 1924 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris as a prologue and entr'acte for the Ballets Suédois production of Relâche , [1] based on a book by Francis Picabia, [2] which had settings by Picabia, was produced by Rolf de Maré, and was choreographed by Jean Börlin. The music for both the ballet and the film was composed by Erik Satie.

Contents

Summary

Prologue

On a rooftop, a cannon, via stop motion photography, rolls itself back and forth. In slow motion, two men (Francis Picabia and Erik Satie), jump into the frame and jump up and down. They discuss the cannon and, after smelling a projectile, load it before jumping up and down and jumping out of frame in reverse. The projectile slowly comes out of the cannon toward the camera lens.

Entr'acte

Images are intercut of Parisian rooftops filmed with the camera tilted at various angles, three dolls with balloons-heads that are inflated and deflated, and a ballet dancer dancing on glass seen from below. Two pairs of white boxing gloves spar over daytime and nighttime images of a city square. Matchsticks arrange themselves on a man's head and ignite, causing him to scratch.

Intercut with images of a rooftop and the city, two men (Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray) play chess on a rooftop until they are blasted away by water. A toy folded-paper boat bobs up and down over bobbing images of rooftops.

More footage of the ballet dancer (Inger Frïis), who is eventually revealed to be wearing pince-nez and a fake beard. Some multiple exposures of male faces.

On a rooftop, a hunter in antiquated clothing (Jean Börlin) points a double-barreled shotgun at an egg-shaped target suspended by string and jostled from below by a stream of water. He shoots the egg, releasing a pigeon, which flies around before landing on his hat. Picabia sees the hunter from another rooftop and shoots him. The hunter falls off the roof.

A group of mourners line up behind a hearse pulled by a dromedary camel. In slow motion, the procession sets off, the well-dressed attendees jumping and skipping along. More footage of the ballet dancer and busy Parisian intersections. The coach becomes separated from the camel and rolls off on its own. The mourners, women and the elderly among them, chase after it as it goes faster and faster. Footage is intercut of automobile traffic and a bicycle race and then a roller coaster ride.

After a frenetic, multiple-exposure montage, the hearse reaches the countryside. The coffin falls off and comes to rest in some grass. The mourners, who have been joined by a man who was out for a run, gradually arrive. They gather around and witness the lid of the coffin open. The hunter, now dressed as a magician, jumps up. Using his magic wand, he makes the coffin, each member of the crowd, and then himself disappear.

A man pokes a hole through the end title card ("Fin") and then jumps through, landing flat on the ground. A foot kicks him in the face, propelling him back through the title card, which, as the footage is reversed, appears to repair itself.

Production and release

For this production, the Dadaists collaborating on the project invented a new mode of production: instantanéisme. The complete film runs for about 20 minutes and uses such techniques as watching people run in slow motion, watching things happen in reverse, looking at a ballet dancer from underneath, watching an egg over a fountain of water get shot and instantly become a bird, and watching people disappear. The cast included cameo appearances by Francis Picabia, Erik Satie, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Jean Börlin (artistic director of the Ballets Suédois), Georges Auric, and Clair himself. The conductor of the orchestra at the premiere was Roger Désormière.

The "Prologue" section runs about 90 seconds (though time indications are approximate, as film and music techniques at the time of the premiere did not allow accurate timing). It was played at the beginning of the ballet, right after the "little overture" ("Ouverturette"), and before the curtain was raised ("Rideau"). The music to this part of the film is called "Projectionnette", and is included as the 2nd item in the Relâche partition. There appears to have been no real effort to synchronize music and action in this part of the film. Probably, the "Projectionnette" music was played two or three times before proceeding to "Rideau".

The "Entr'acte" section runs about 18 minutes and 40 seconds. It was played between the two acts of the ballet. The score for this part of the film is not included in the Relâche partition, but was written down by Satie in a separate score, titled "Cinéma". This part of the music contains "expandable" repeat zones in order to match the start of a new melody with certain events in the film, and, thus, was one of the earliest examples of music to film synchronization. In the score, Satie names 10 sections that are associated with scenes in the film.

In 1974, the film was shown at the Cannes Film Festival. [3]

DVD

The film was included on the Criterion Collection DVD of Clair's À Nous la Liberté (1931).

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Erik Satie</span> French composer and pianist (1866–1925)

Eric Alfred Leslie Satie, who signed his name Erik Satie after 1884, was a French composer and pianist. He was the son of a French father and a British mother. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire, but was an undistinguished student and obtained no diploma. In the 1880s he worked as a pianist in café-cabaret in Montmartre, Paris, and began composing works, mostly for solo piano, such as his Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes. He also wrote music for a Rosicrucian sect to which he was briefly attached.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Marcel Duchamp</span> French painter, sculptor, and chess player (1887–1968)

Henri-Robert-Marcel Duchamp was a French painter, sculptor, chess player, and writer whose work is associated with Cubism, Dada, and conceptual art. He is commonly regarded, along with Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, as one of the three artists who helped to define the revolutionary developments in the plastic arts in the opening decades of the 20th century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture. He has had an immense impact on 20th- and 21st-century art, and a seminal influence on the development of conceptual art. By the time of World War I, he had rejected the work of many of his fellow artists as "retinal", intended only to please the eye. Instead, he wanted to use art to serve the mind.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Man Ray</span> American visual artist and photographer (1890–1976)

Man Ray was an American visual artist who spent most of his career in Paris. He was a significant contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements, although his ties to each were informal. He produced major works in a variety of media but considered himself a painter above all. He was best known for his pioneering photography, and was a renowned fashion and portrait photographer. He is also noted for his work with photograms, which he called "rayographs" in reference to himself.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Francis Picabia</span> French painter and writer (1879–1953)

Francis Picabia was a French avant-garde painter, writer, filmmaker, magazine publisher, poet, and typographist closely associated with Dada.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roger Désormière</span> French conductor

Roger Désormière was a French conductor. He was an enthusiastic champion of contemporary composers, but also conducted performances of early eighteenth century French music.

Entr'acte means 'between the acts'. It can mean a pause between two parts of a stage production, synonymous to an intermission, but it more often indicates a piece of music performed between acts of a theatrical production.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">René Clair</span> French filmmaker and writer (1898–1981)

René Clair, born René-Lucien Chomette, was a French filmmaker and writer. He first established his reputation in the 1920s as a director of silent films in which comedy was often mingled with fantasy. He went on to make some of the most innovative early sound films in France, before going abroad to work in the UK and USA for more than a decade. Returning to France after World War II, he continued to make films that were characterised by their elegance and wit, often presenting a nostalgic view of French life in earlier years. He was elected to the Académie Française in 1960. Clair's best known films include Un chapeau de paille d'Italie, Sous les toits de Paris, Le Million (1931), À nous la liberté (1931), I Married a Witch (1942), and And Then There Were None (1945).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Experimental film</span> Cinematic works that are experimental form or content

Experimental film or avant-garde cinema is a mode of filmmaking that rigorously re-evaluates cinematic conventions and explores non-narrative forms or alternatives to traditional narratives or methods of working. Many experimental films, particularly early ones, relate to arts in other disciplines: painting, dance, literature and poetry, or arise from research and development of new technical resources.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Théâtre des Champs-Élysées</span> Theatre in Paris, France

The Théâtre des Champs-Élysées is an entertainment venue standing at 15 avenue Montaigne in Paris. It is situated near Avenue des Champs-Élysées, from which it takes its name. Its eponymous main hall may seat up to 1,905 people, while the smaller Comédie and Studio des Champs-Élysées above the latter may seat 601 and 230 people respectively.

Surrealist music is music which uses unexpected juxtapositions and other surrealist techniques. Discussing Theodor W. Adorno, Max Paddison defines surrealist music as that which "juxtaposes its historically devalued fragments in a montage-like manner which enables them to yield up new meanings within a new aesthetic unity", though Lloyd Whitesell says this is Paddison's gloss of the term. Anne LeBaron cites automatism, including improvisation, and collage as the primary techniques of musical surrealism. According to Whitesell, Paddison quotes Adorno's 1930 essay "Reaktion und Fortschritt" as saying "Insofar as surrealist composing makes use of devalued means, it uses these as devalued means, and wins its form from the 'scandal' produced when the dead suddenly spring up among the living."

<i>Aria</i> (1987 film) 1987 film

Aria is a 1987 British anthology film produced by Don Boyd that consists of ten short films by ten different directors, each showing the director's choice of visual accompaniment to one or more operatic arias. There is little or no dialogue from the actors, with most words coming from the libretto of the operas in Italian, French, or German.

Surrealist cinema is a modernist approach to film theory, criticism, and production, with origins in Paris in the 1920s. The Surrealist movement used shocking, irrational, or absurd imagery and Freudian dream symbolism to challenge the traditional function of art to represent reality. Related to Dada cinema, Surrealist cinema is characterized by juxtapositions, the rejection of dramatic psychology, and a frequent use of shocking imagery. Philippe Soupault and André Breton’s 1920 book collaboration Les Champs magnétiques is often considered to be the first Surrealist work, but it was only once Breton had completed his Surrealist Manifesto in 1924 that ‘Surrealism drafted itself an official birth certificate.’

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ballets suédois</span> Swedish dance ensemble based in Paris

The Ballets Suédois was a predominantly Swedish dance ensemble based in Paris that, under the direction of Rolf de Maré (1888–1964), performed throughout Europe and the United States between 1920 and 1925, rightfully earning the reputation as a "synthesis of modern art".

<i>The Gas Heart</i> Play written by Tristan Tzara

The Gas Heart or The Gas-Operated Heart is a French-language play by Romanian-born author Tristan Tzara. It was written as a series of non sequiturs and a parody of classical drama—it has three acts despite being short enough to qualify as a one-act play. A part-musical performance that features ballet numbers, it is one of the most recognizable plays inspired by the anti-establishment trend known as Dadaism. The Gas Heart was first staged in Paris, as part of the 1921 "Dada Salon" at the Galerie Montaigne.

<i>Relâche</i> (ballet) 1924 ballet by Francis Picabia

[[file:Satie & Picabia, Clair & Biorlin .jpg|alt=four people in suits stand on a Parisian rooftop; the Eiffel Tower is visible in the background|thumb|Eric Satie, Francis Picabia, Rene Clair and Jean Biorlin prepare for a November 1924 performance]]

Non-narrative film is an aesthetic of cinematic film that does not narrate, or relate "an event, whether real or imaginary". It is usually a form of art film or experimental film, not made for mass entertainment.

<i>Mercure</i> (ballet)

Mercure is a 1924 ballet with music by Erik Satie. The original décor and costumes were designed by Pablo Picasso and the choreography was by Léonide Massine, who also danced the title role. Subtitled "Plastic Poses in Three Tableaux", it was an important link between Picasso's Neoclassical and Surrealist phases and has been described as a "painter's ballet."

<i>Années folles</i> Socio-economic period of French history

The Années folles was the decade of the 1920s in France. It was coined to describe the social, artistic, and cultural collaborations of the period. The same period is also referred to as the Roaring Twenties or the Jazz Age in the United States. In Germany, it is sometimes referred to as the Golden Twenties because of the economic boom that followed World War I.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jacques Hébertot</span>

Jacques Hébertot was the pseudonym of André Daviel. He was a French theater director, poet, journalist and publisher. The Théâtre Hébertot in Paris has been named after him since 1940.

Jean Börlin was a Swedish dancer and choreographer, who was born in Härnösand on March 13, 1893 and who died in New York on December 6, 1930. He worked with Michel Fokine, who was his teacher in Stockholm.

References

  1. Oxford Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art, Oxford University, p. 553
  2. Oxford Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art, Oxford University, p. 552
  3. "Festival de Cannes: Entr'acte". festival-cannes.com. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 27 April 2009.