Ballet mécanique (1924)

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A pulsing, kaleidoscope of images set to an energetic soundtrack. A young women swings in a garden; a woman's face smiles. The rest is spinning cylinders, pistons, gears and turbines, ... See full summary »


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Credited cast:
Fernand Léger
Dudley Murphy
Katherine Murphy
Katrin Murphy ...
Girl with a flower


A pulsing, kaleidoscope of images set to an energetic soundtrack. A young women swings in a garden; a woman's face smiles. The rest is spinning cylinders, pistons, gears and turbines, kitchen objects in concentric circles or rows - pots, pan lids, and funnels, cars passing overhead, a spinning carnival ride. Over and over, a heavy-set woman climbs stairs carrying a large bag on her shoulder. An Art Deco cartoon figure appears, dancing. This is a world in motion, dominated by mechanical and repetitive images, with a few moments of solitude in a garden. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis






Release Date:

24 September 1924 (Austria)  »

Also Known As:

Balet mechaniczny  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (Kiesler)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


George Antheil wrote the score for this film, but due to various disagreements - including that Antheil's original version of the music ran 30 minutes while the film was only 16 minutes - the film was premiered without the original music. The film and music were first shown together on 25 August 2000 in Antwerp, Belgium, at the Cultuurmarkt van Vlaanderen. The film print with music was created by Paul Lehrman. See more »


Referenced in The Lesson of Polish Cinema (2002) See more »


Ballet Mecanique
by George Antheil
See more »

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User Reviews

Surreal Symphony Of Motion

Since the beginning of the invention of cinema, Europe was a good place for the most innovative filmmakers to do their work, crazed youngsters who weren't satisfied with conventional film narratives, so they needed to try new and avant-garde film experiments full of images too bizarre and incomprehensible for a conservative German count. Many times these films were influenced or had connections with other Arts, as is the case with "Ballet Mécanique" (1924), a milestone in avant-garde silent film which is influenced by cubism and directed by a painter, Herr Fernand Léger.

The film is an unconventional and unique film experience, a kind of an essay about movement, in which whirling, dazzling galleries of machines images ( pistons, gears ) and deconstructing humans ( female cubist portraits, syncopated images of different persons ) are intertwined , composing together a bizarre, surreal symphony of motion, an extravagant and experimental kaleidoscope. Such avant-garde madness wasn't exclusive to Europe because Herr Léger had the help of two Amerikan madmen, the technical assistance of Herr Dudley Murphy, director and producer and the founder of the New York Dada movement and Herr Man Ray photographer, painter and avant-garde filmmaker, who did the cinematography.

Obviously this German count is accustomed to watch classical and conventional ballets as for example Herr Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" full of elegant movements as "pas de deux", "plié", "sautés"… so the first time that this Herr Graf watched Herr Léger's "Ballet Mécanique" with its organized and meaningless symphonic chaos, the soirée at the Schloss theatre was left in a state of absolute shock. Fortunately many years have passed since then and this Herr Von had the chance to know and watch more bizarre avant-garde silent films, varied and unclassifiable oeuvres that belonged to strange and different cultural movements of the last century so the second time that "Ballet Mécanique" was shown in the Schloss theatre and with such background information digested, this German count still couldn't understand the damn thing… the same thing happened the third, the forth, the fifth time…

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must dance a•"pas de deux" with the Schloss' boiler.

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