The title '8x8' refers to a chessboard: an order-8 square grid. The cast list of this film will look very appetising indeed to anyone who is interested in art of the mid-20th century, as several important artists participated in this movie and appear on screen. But it pains me to report that '8x8' is basically a home movie. Several people who made significant achievements in painting (Arp), sculpture (Calder) or collage (Ernst) decided to lark about with a movie camera, and this short film is the result. Sadly, the talents these people exhibited in other media do not translate to this amateurish film.
There is ostensibly a theme relating to chess, but you'd barely know it from most of what's going on here. Max Ernst follows his wife Dorothea through the streets of lower Manhattan: apparently the Ernsts are meant to be chessmen, and the grid of the city streets is a chessboard, or some such. Jean Cocteau, whose sexual ambiguity has shown up more intelligently elsewhere in his work, essays here the role of a pawn who (we all saw it coming) turns into a queen. We also see some footage of Alexander Calder assembling a mobile and setting it in motion: this would be useful footage for a documentary on Calder, but here its meaning is uncertain.
The participants really do seem to be making this up as they go along ... which wouldn't be so bad, if it actually got somewhere. A chess match has an objective and an endgame, but this movie lacks any meaning. At one point, we see two people chasing some pieces of paper along a windswept beach. I couldn't help thinking that those pages were this movie's script, which the actors are desperately trying to retrieve. Elsewhere, some guy pretends to be a minotaur; I'm sure that the only reason he was included in this movie was so he could strip off and show his muscular physique. Stop drooling, Cocteau!
There's some avant-gardish music by John Latoche and Oscar Brand, which I found pleasant. All in all, I'll rate this melange about 4 out of 10. Several people in this film created brilliant art, but you wouldn't know it from what's on evidence here. This very amateurish home movie is stale, mate.
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