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Avant-Garde Experimental Cinema of 1920s and '30s

Director(s): various

Theatrical Release: 1921-1937


Genre(s): Avant-Garde, shorts, cinema


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Raymond Rohauer is often associated with his work preserving and promoting the films of Buster Keaton. But he was also one of the biggest supporters of experimental and avant-garde filmmaking during the latter half of the 20th Century, and this collection presents some of the highlights of his archive. The 24 titles by highly influential artists and filmmakers represent many of of the movements and innovations emerging at the time, which remain influential within the art world. Marcel Duchamp, whose readymade sculptures and theories of art and spectatorship were truly revolutionary, made ANEMIC CIMEMA in 1926, as an experiment in tricks of both the eye and word. Fernand Leger's BALLET MECANIQUE is a stunning dance of mechanical parts at work, an example of modernism's interest in the aesthetics of the machine, and Viking Eggeling's objective SYMPHONIE DIAGONAL displays many of those concerns as well. MANHATTA, by photographer Paul Strand and painter/ photographer Charles Sheerer, is sometimes described as the first American avant-garde film, and takes as its subject a day in the life of New York City. The multiple films by American Dadaist and Surrealist Man Ray include EMAK-BAKIA, L'ETOILE DE MER, LE RETOUR A LA RAISON, AND LES MYSTERES DU CHATEAU DU DE. Each is an example of the remarkable scope and innovation of this Brooklynite who spent many of his working years in Paris. Hans Richter, Germaine Dulac, Jean Epstein, and Sergei Eisenstein all have work in the collection as well, making this an outstanding record of the fulminating creativity and cross-pollination in art and film in the 1920s and '30s. (


* Le Retour à la raison (Man Ray, France, 1923, 2 min.)

* Emak-Bakia (Man Ray, France, 1926, 16 min.)

* L'Étoile de mer (Man Ray, France, 1928, 15.5 min.)

* Les Mystères du château du Dé (Man Ray, France, 1929, 20 min.)

* The Life and Death of 9413, a Hollywood Extra (Slavko Vorkapich, Robert Florey, U.S., 1928, 13 min.)

* Ménilmontant (Dimitri Kirsanoff, France, 1926, 37 min.)

* Brumes d'automne (Dimitri Kirsanoff, France, 1928, 12 min.)

* Lot in Sodom (James Sibley Watson, Melville Webber, U.S., 1933, 27 min.)

* Rhythmus 21 (Hans Richter, Germany, 1921, 3 min.)

* Vormittagsspuk (Ghosts Before Breakfast) (Hans Richter, Germany, 1928, 9 min.)

* Anémic cinéma (Marcel Duchamp, France, 1926, 6.5 min.)

* Ballet mécanique (Fernand Léger, France, 1924, 11 min.)

* Symphonie diagonale (Viking Eggeling, France, 1924, 7 min.)

* Le Vampire (Jean Painlevé, France, 1939, 8.5 min.)

* The Hearts of Age (Orson Welles, William Vance, U.S., 1934, 8 min.)


* Überfall (Ernö Metzner, Germany, 1928, 22 min.)

* La glace à trois faces (Jean Epstein, France, 1927, 33 min.)

* Le Tempestaire (Jean Epstein, France, 1947, 22.5 min.)

* Romance sentimentale (Sergei Eisenstein, Grigori V. Alexandrov, France, 1930, 20 min.)

* Autumn Fire (Herman G. Weinberg, U.S., 1931, 15 min.)

* Manhattan (Paul Strand, Charles Sheeler, U.S., 1921, 10 min.)

* La Coquille et le clergyman (Germaine Dulac, France, 1926, 31.5 min.)

* Regen (Rain) (Joris Ivens, the Netherlands, 1929, 14 min.)

* H2O (Ralph Steiner, U.S., 1929, 12 min.)

* Even -- As You and I (Roger Barlow, Harry Hay, LeRoy Robbins, U.S., 1937, 12 min.)

DVD Extras:

+ Film notes by film critic/historian Elliott Stein

+ Optional English subtitles (on selected films)

+ Dual-layer RSDL edition for optimal image quality