Entr’acte (Clair, 1924)

An absurdist, experimental short. Rene Clair proves himself very early in his career as having a unique talent for both music and cityscapes. Though a silent film (accompanied by a score), the sense of movement created through action as ell as editing parallels that of well orchestrated music.

Entr’acte, means “between acts” or “intermission” in French. The focus supposedly on the ballet from Russia, Clair prefers to focus to focus on the ballet of the city. In one sequence, using slow motion (or asking from his actors to move at a slow pace, I’m frankly unsure), he captures the mood and movement of Paris through it’s people and actions. He would later reprise this idea in Paris qui dort, but robbing the city of it’s “wakefulness”, creating effectively a ghost town. The beauty of Paris lies therefore as much in it’s people as it does in it’s monuments, a synthesis of mind and body.

The ballet in principle, is the drama and artistry of movement. The action and drama of this film is inspired and driven by the running and chasing. It’s not acrobatic per say, but Clair manages to unnerve a grace in the everyday. A trust that the ballet of life is as interesting as the ballet of the stage. Is this an early reflection on cinema? The ability to exaggerate and project the movements of life to create a marriage of action and emotion without the gross need for grandiose movements or performance. The camera itself working as the choreography, the editing the dancers, and the players…. are the players?

The film is absurd in the most delightful way, obviously rooted in Dadaism, the basic “plot” involves an out of control coffin that has the town in pursuit. Brief cuts of the ballet are interjected, and then subverted them. Unlike something like Un Chien Andalou (which is more surreal than dada, and yes there is a difference), this film is pure whimsy. It’s not rooted in horrific or even subversive fantasy, but a whimsical comedy. This film is, for lack of a better word, delightful. It’s fun, it’s light and it’ll put a smile on your face.

2 responses to “Entr’acte (Clair, 1924)

  1. Love that film, saw half of it on the last Nuit Blanche and then watched it on Ubu as soon as I got back. What is it, Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray playing chess? So fucking awesome.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s