“It was the distinction of Jean Arp to have at a certain moment discovered the true problem in the craft itself. This allowed him to feed it with a new, spiritual imagination. He was no longer interested in improving, formulation, specifying an aesthetic system. He wanted immediate and direct production, like a stone breaking away from a cliff, a bud bursting, an animal reproducing. He wanted objects impregnated with imagination and not museum pieces, he wanted animalesque objects with wild intensities and colors, he wanted a new body among us which would suffice onto itself, an object which would be just as well of squatting on the corners of tables as nestling in the depths of the garden or staring at us from the wall…To him the frame and later the pedestal seemed to be useless crutches…”
Ballet Mécanique is a Dadaist post-Cubist art film conceived, written, and co-directed by the artist Fernand Léger in collaboration with the filmmaker Dudley Murphy.
Notes from screening at Anthology Film Archives:
beautiful entrancing rhythms camera work - jump cuts - pull you in and repel you simultaneously magnetic pulls great cubist rendering of the body - lips, eyes, framed in sections against post industrial machine movement organic - in-organic in sync and out of sync barrage of imagery landscape overlays lost in time and space images of mind, memory floating, transposed - creating pattern revealing pattern - commonality of gestures double meanings collage - simultaneity - variety (variety of Keaton, vaudeville) beautiful collage rendering of paper Chaplin puppet at end - eccentric dance via animation cut and paste puppetry language of symbols, images slapstick of camera and movement
“Hardy walked a thin line between playing heavy and playing fatty. Laurel adopted a retarded squint, with suggestions of idiot savant. Their characters were at sea, clinging to each other as industrial capitalism was breaking up and sinking. Beautiful losers, they kept it funny, buoying our spirits. Laurel and Hardy… forever.” (from Ontic Antics: by filmmaker Ken Jacobs)
Laurel is a slow slow slow clown - very innocent, naive - keeps his cool - little tension - great movement of eyes, eyebrows, mouth - signature faces - in moments of pause. Body language of ridiculous absurdity - slow to register disruptions.