Short Film Saturday: La Retour à la Raison (1923)

The Avant Garde was a movement in all artforms and cinema was especially included in this. Man Ray may have been best known as a photographer but he made his presence known cinematically also.

This is a quick short introduction to his work. For bit more about it here is the write-up from Open Culture on this short:

Man Ray was one of the leading artists of the avant garde of 1920s and 1930s Paris. A key figure in the Dada and Surrealist movements, his works spanned various media, including film. He was a leading exponent of the Cinéma Pur, or “Pure Cinema,” which rejected such “bourgeois” conceits as character, setting and plot. Today we present Man Ray’s four influential films of the 1920s.

Le Retour à la Raison (below) was completed in 1923. The title means “Return to Reason,” and it’s basically a kinetic extension of Man Ray’s still photography. Many of the images in Le Retour… are animated photograms, a technique in which opaque, or partially opaque, objects are arranged directly on top of a sheet of photographic paper and exposed to light. The technique is as old as photography itself, but Man Ray had a gift for self-promotion, so he called them “rayographs.” For Le Retour…, Man Ray sprinkled objects like salt and pepper and pins onto the photographic paper. He also filmed live-action sequences of an amusement park carousel and other subjects, including the nude torso of his model and lover, Kiki of Montparnasse.