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, ...
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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, 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
George Antheil was largely supported by the American expatriate writer and publisher Robert McAlmon while he composed the "Ballet Mecanique." McAlmon also provided the piano. See more »
There are various existing versions of this film. However, the one thought to be closest to the version premiered in Vienna in 1924 is a print found in 1975 by Lillian Kiesler, widow of Frederick Kiesler, who arranged the premiere. This version has been preserved by Anthology Film Archives of New York. See more »
This one is available online bearing various running-times (the longest being 18 minutes); for the record, the print on Kino's DVD edition within their 2-Disc collection AVANT-GARDE: EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA OF THE 1920s AND '30s is a mere 11 minutes, with the one I eventually settled on for this review clocking at 16!
It is among the more famous efforts in that set and one which boasts the approval (as per the opening scrolling text) of none other than Sergei M. Eisenstein as among the rare(?!) masterpieces of French cinema, while "Charlot" (i.e. Charles Chaplin as he was known in France) is given an early "presents" credit! In retrospect, the Russian master of film montage must have surely appreciated its rapid-fire cutting and industrial aptitude (in keeping with his Communist beliefs). That said, the most lasting image here depicts a chubby woman being repeatedly made to go up and down the stairs.
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