Man Ray’s “The Return of Reason” (1923)


Watched Man Ray’s first short, “The Return to Reason”. It’s just 2 minutes, but still worth commenting on… though, frankly, I usually struggle with actually putting together thoughts on experimental cinema. This film is essentially a collection of images and “lights”, that seem to be evoking some sort of child-like impression of the world. It’s not particularly evocative, but the imagery is used and organized in an aesthetically pleasing way. The most beautiful sequence is simply a nude woman bathing in sunshine that has been “shattered” by some kind of curtain. She sways back and forth, and her body, abstracted from her head takes on a sort of Grecian reverance. It’s really this sequence, devoid of any real sexual connotation, played against that of an amusement park that gives the impression of a child’s world view. There is a sort of reverance for the body that’s both curious and filled with awe. I’m not a huge fan of most experimental film actually, mostly because it rarely holds much emotional value, and I feel a lot of it does not offer the same kind of insight into form or theme as in other mediums. This is above middle tier for me in this regard, it just lacks an emotional punch I get from the very “best”, if that makes sense.

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