Search - Avant Garde - Experimental Cinema of the 1920s & 1930s on DVD

Avant Garde - Experimental Cinema of the 1920s & 1930s
Avant Garde - Experimental Cinema of the 1920s 1930s
Actors: Kiki of Montparnasse, André de la Rivière, Robert Desnos, Roger Barlow, Harry Hay
Directors: Roger Barlow, Harry Hay, LeRoy Robbins, Man Ray
Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Documentary
NR     2005     6hr 0min

Studio: Kino International Release Date: 08/02/2005


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Movie Details

Actors: Kiki of Montparnasse, André de la Rivière, Robert Desnos, Roger Barlow, Harry Hay
Directors: Roger Barlow, Harry Hay, LeRoy Robbins, Man Ray
Creators: Robert Desnos, Hy Hirsh, Man Ray
Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Silent Films, Film History & Film Making
Studio: Kino Video
Format: DVD - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 08/02/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 6hr 0min
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 12
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: French, German, Swedish
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

A good collection, if you're into short art films
Donald Rogers | Seattle, WA United States | 09/02/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This features a number of directors better known as painters (Fernand Leger, Marcel Duchamp) or photographers (Man Ray). For the curious, there is a short Orson Welles film from 1934, fully seven years before Citizen Kane. "The Life and Death of 9413, A Hollywood Extra" is on the Library of Congress's National Film Registry of significant American films, as is "H²O". Ménilmontant, at 37 minutes the longest film in this collection, is considered a masterpiece by some.

Worth exploring, if you like this sort of stuff. You know who you are.


It drives me nuts that Amazon doesn't include the bare-bones information about the films in this sort of collection, so I will:

Le Retour à la raison (The Return to Reason)
Directed by Man Ray
France 1923
2 Min.

Emak-Bakia (Leave Me Alone)
Directed by Man Ray
France 1926
16 Min.

L'Étoile de mer (The Starfish)
Directed by Man Ray
France 1928
15 Min.

Les Mystères du Château du Dé (The Mysteries of the Château of Dice)
Directed by Man Ray
France 1929
20 Min.

Directed by Dimitri Kirsanoff
France 1926
37 Min.

Brumes d'Automne (Autumn Mists)
Directed by Dimitri Kirsanoff
France 1928
12 Min.

The Life and Death of 9413, A Hollywood Extra
Directed by Robert Florey and Slavko Vorkapich
US 1928
13 Min.

Lot in Sodom
Directed by James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber
US 1933
27 Min.

Rhythmus 21 (Film Is Rhythm)
Directed by Hans Richter
Germany 1921
3 Min.

Vormittagsspuk (Ghosts Before Breakfast)
Directed by Hans Richter
Germany 1928
9 Min.

Anémic Cinéma
Directed by Marcel Duchamp
France 1926
6 Min.

Ballet Mécanique
Directed by Fernand Léger
France 1924
11 Min.

Symphonie Diagonale (Diagonal Symphony)
Directed by Viking Eggeling
Germany 1924
7 Min.

Le Vampire
Directed by Jean Painlevé
France 1939-45
9 Min.

The Hearts of Age
Directed by Orson Welles and William Vance
US 1934
8 Min.

Überfall (Assault)
Directed by Ernö Metzner
Germany 1928
22 Min.

La Glace à trois faces (The Three-Sided Mirror)
Directed by Jean Epstein
France 1927
33 Min.

Le Tempestaire (The Tempest)
Directed by Jean Epstein
France 1947
22 Min.

Romance Sentimentale (Sentimental Romance)
Directed by Sergei Eisenstein and Grigori V. Alexandrov
France 1930
16 Min.

Autumn Fire
Directed by Herman G. Weinberg
US 1931
15 Min.

Directed by Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler
US 1921
10 Min.

La Coquille et le Clergyman (The Seashell and the Clergyman)
Directed by Germaine Dulac
France 1926
31 Min.

Regen (Rain)
Directed by Joris Ivens
Netherlands 1929
14 Min.

Directed by Ralph Steiner
US 1929
12 Min.

Even -- As You And I
Directed by Roger Barlow, Harry Hay and LeRoy Robbins
US 1937
12 Min."
Kino's scores suck
A. Peterson | 11/04/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"The musical accompaniment for most of these seminal avant-garde films is very bad. A previous reviewer mentioned that it was done by "the best in the business." Well, I am of the opinion that, unfortunately, there are not enough interesting minds in that business (silent film scoring), or at least not enough employed by Kino Video, to make for a competent collection.

There is electric guitar (Creed-style riffing!!!). There is arbitrary "Frenchy" sounding music. And yes, there is even some dreaded Casio keyboard "vox" effect.

Who could possibly think that keyboard "vox" was a good idea? Not me.

These films, like all those Kino releases, are rare and under-appreciated, and worth owning on DVD because this is the only way you'll get them. I only wish Kino appreciated them enough to pair the films with either a) historically accurate or b) competent scores."
Cinema without experiment is not worth watching
Michael Tencer | NY, USA | 12/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"First, I recommend the majority of these films wholeheartedly. While the present-day soundtracks may in some cases be inappropriate, I find this is often the case with releases of silent films, & we are of course free to mute it & enjoy the visual elements on their own. The picture quality is good, & in purchasing a collection of silent films that's really the best one would hope for.

With regards to the review of Jmark2001, I think it's worth pointing out how important these films - & the avant-garde in general - really are in these times. Overlooking the inherent limitations of technology during that era, & the superficial stylistic idiosyncrasies that mark the films as a product of their time, the films of the Dadaists, Surrealists, & Constructivists have a great deal to offer anyone less than satisfied with the status quo. Far from the high art pretentiousness Jmark2001 accuses them of, these filmmakers were essentially concerned with rebellion, with creating a valid alternative to the decadent, insular consciousness of the middle class. This manifested itself in experiments with the physical material of film (thus the "erratic cuts" & "non-linear" style), as well as in the subject matter (including the - Dear God! - "anti-clerical" approach). While certain techniques have been overused since then by uninspired academic followers, here they are largely employed intelligently & - particularly in the films of Eisenstein, Man Ray, & Duchamp - with the utmost care toward their effects on the overall film. Few of these have been deemed "classics," but few have been easily available for viewing until fairly recently, so I certainly don't see that as any judge of quality.

Jmark2001 also displays the most basic misunderstanding of Dadaism & its revolt on bourgeois values. The "sea of random and nihilistic violence, disconnection, and rudeness (!)" Jmark2001 cites as characterising modern public life is in fact the direct result of craving the trappings of "bourgious living" [sic]. Jmark seems to equate Dada (& presumably any experimental, avant-garde art) with terrorism, & suggests that passive consumption of daily horrors in the comforts of a coffee shop is just as effective as Dada's shocks to consciousness. Well, do I really need to state that the 9/11 terrorists weren't Dadaists? There is nothing avant-garde about the methods or beliefs of the terrorists; & by the same token, anyone who is satisfied with the "security, comfort, reassurance, civility, and stability" our modern society has provided us with, post-9/11, is simply kidding himself.

We require more than ever a vision of life which neither insulates us from the world nor forces us to comply with an imposed set of ideals; which encourages active participation rather than passive consumption; & which gives the viewer's intelligence the benefit of the doubt by working in turn towards radical innovation. Without experiment, cinema is not worth watching.

& for the record, if, like Jmark2001, all you could derive from Un Chien Andalou was that it was "memorable," I would strongly recommend watching it again, WITH EYES WIDE OPEN."
Something to discuss over coffee...
Andreas Halskov | Copenhagen, Denmark | 07/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If no adjective appropriately suit this vivid collection of avant-garde films from the 20s and 30s, one reviewer came close in his chosen nomenclature: this one-of-a-kind-combilation, indeed, is "indespensable"!

For anyone interested in or in some way connected to film and film studies this box set is a true gem as well as an overwhelming visceral experience. One dare even call it "edenic".

Packed with cinematic treats - ranging from early classics as Joris Ivens' "Regen", through film historical curiosities as Marcel Duchamps' "Cinema Anémic" and Richter's "Rhytmus 21" to absolute rarities such as Kirsanoff's "Ménilmontant" - this impressive collection of short experimental films guides you through all main avant-garde genres of the 1920s and 1930s. From impressionist masterpieces ("Ménilmontant", "La glace a trois faces" [Epstein]), through dadaist art-films (Duchamps), French and German cinéma pur/Absolut Film ("Symphonie Diagonale" [Eggeling], "Rhytmus 21" [Richter]), futuristic statements ("Ballét mecanique" [Leger]), dazzling city symphonies ("Regen") to such seminal early sound experiments as "Romance Sentimentale" (Eisenstein & Alexandrov) and "Le tempestaire" (Epstein).

While some films may, indeed, only be labled "curiosities" others are sheer strokes of genius - my personal favorites being Kirsanoff's rare impressionistic gem "Ménilmontant" (with its impressive - in every sense of the word - use of constant P.O.V.-shots, concealing the first person) and Jean Epsteins masterpiece "Le tempestaire" whose use of suspense-generating musique concrète (or "Slow-Motion Sound", as it were) and vividly, picturesque imagery make for a unique cinematic experience. - As visceral as it is beautiful to behold.

If only for its lack of a few early classics (notably, René Clair's "Entr'act" [1924] and Luis Buñuel's "Un chien andalou" [1929] and "L'Âge d'or" [1930]) this combilation of early experimental films may not be labeled "perfect".

However, I am still to experience any other collection of its kind. For anyone studying film (whether by themselves or in University,) this box set may, indeed, only be ascribed the adjective "indespensible", as done also by a previous reviewer."