Music and Abstraction
The rhythmic elements of cinema are explored by artists
and filmmakers fascinated by the abstract qualities of light. The American
authors of avant-garde classics Le Retour á la raison (1923),
Ballet mécanique (1923-24), Anémic cinéma
(1926), and Une Nuit sur le Mont Chauve (1934), are finally acknowledged
for their seminal artistic achievements made in Europe. Pioneer abstract
films by Ralph Steiner, Mary Ellen Bute, Douglass Crockwell, Dwinnell
Grant, and George Morris are compared and contrasted with Hollywood montages
created by Ernst Lubitsch, Slavko Vorkapich, and Busby Berkeley. For the
first time on video, composer George Antheil's original 1924 score accompanies
Fernand Léger and Dudley Murphy's film Ballet mécanique,
a truly avant-garde cacophony of image and sound.
Le Retour à la raison (1923)—Man
Ballet mécanique (1923-24)—Fernand Léger &
Anémic cinéma (1924-26)—Rrose Sélavy
Looney Lens: Anamorphic People (1927)—Al Brick
Out of the Melting Pot (1927)—W.J. Ganz Studio
Surf and Seaweed (1929-30)—Ralph Steiner
7 Vorkapich Montage Sequences (1928-37)—Slavko Vorkapich
The Furies (1934)
Skyline Dance (1928)
Money Machine (1929)
The Firefly— Vorkapich edit (1937)
The Firefly—MGM release version (1937)
So This Is Paris (1926)—Ernst Lubitsch (excerpt)
Light Rhythms (1930)—Francis Bruguière & Oswell
Une Nuit sur le Mont Chauve (Night on Bald Mountain) (1934)—Alexandre
Alexeieff & Claire Parker
Rhythm in Light (1934)—Mary Ellen Bute, Ted Nemeth &
Synchromy No. 2 (1936)—Mary Ellen Bute & Ted Nemeth
Parabola (1937)—Mary Ellen Bute & Ted Nemeth
Footlight Parade - "By a Waterfall" (1933)—Busby
Glen Falls Sequence (1937-46)—Douglass Crockwell
Simple Destiny Abstractions (1937-40)—Douglass Crockwell
Abstract Movies (1937-47)—George L.K. Morris
Scherzo (1939)—Norman McLaren
Themis (1940)—Dwinell Grant
Contrathemis (1941)—Dwinell Grant
1941 (1941)—Francis Lee
Moods of the Sea (1940-42)—Slavko Vorkapich & John Hoffman
Running time: 168 minutes
Contents: 29 Films
Format: B/W & Color;
Sound & Silent
Available as part of 7-disc box set
"The percussive jangling of Antheil’s
pounding piano and occasional siren blast accentuate Ballet Mécanique’s
piston-gear motion and make this venerable avant-garde piece seem nearly
—The Village Voice
UNSEEN CINEMA: LIGHT RHYTHMS is one of a seven-DVD series exploring
American avant-garde cinema from 1894-1941. Presented by Anthology Film
Archives in association with the British Film Institute, Cineric, Film Preservation
Associates, Deutsches Filmmuseum, George Eastman House, The Library of Congress,
and The Museum of Modern Art.
"Labels prove inadequate when moviemakers are motivated not by financial
profit or high-culture ambition, but by sheer love of moving pictures—and
driving curiosity about all things this versatile medium can accomplish."
—The Christian Science Monitor
"Unseen Cinema offers viewers a rare look at the work of one of
the first American abstract animators and one of the first woman to enter
a filed dominated by male artists."
—Los Angeles Times on Mary Ellen Bute
Films preserved by
Anthology Film Archives
Centre National du Cinéma
Det Danske Filminstitut
Film Preservation Associates
George Eastman House
The Museum of Modern Art
National Film Board of Canada
Turner Entertainment Co.
University of South Carolina Newsfilm Archive
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.
Paul D. Lehrman
R. Bruce Elder
Gregory Jay Galligan
Paul D. Lehrman
Curated by Bruce Posner
Produced for DVD by David Shepard
Released by Image Entertainment
Sponsored by Anthology Film Archives, New York, and Deutsches Filmmuseum,
Frankfurt am Main.
Made possible in part by Cineric, Inc., Eastman Kodak Company, and Film
Preservation Associates, Inc.
The Firefly © 1937
Footlight Parade © 1933 Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Maytime © 1937 Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Corp.
Scherzo © National Film Board of Canada
So This Is Paris © 1926 Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Special Contents of this Edition © 2005 by Anthology Film Archives