Friday, February 24, 2012

Ballet Mécanique (1924).



This is an edit of the original surrealist film by Fernand Leger and Dudley Murphy with cinematography by Man Ray.  You can see glorious French scene muse Kiki Du Montparnasse in kaleidoscopic close up here along with a host of other striking surrealist images.   


The visuals are crisper than other videos posted to Youtube, but the groundbreaking original soundtrack has been replaced with a more modern-sounding piece.  I like this edit as an interesting revision but it begs a viewing in full length with the original sounds.   You can watch it in its brilliant original state with experimental soundtrack by American composer George Antheil starting with Part 1 HERE.  


On the original music :  
"In concert performance, the "ballet" is not a show of human dancers but of mechanical instruments. Among these, player pianosairplane propellers, and electric bells stand prominently onstage, moving as machines do, and providing the visual side of the ballet. As the bizarre instrumentation may suggest, this was no ordinary piece of music. It was loud and percussive –- a medley of noises, much as the Italian Futurists envisioned new music of the 20th century....  The original orchestration called for 16 player pianos (or pianolas) in four parts, 2 regular pianos, 3 xylophones, at least 7 electric bells, 3 propellerssiren, 4 bass drums, and 1 tam-tam. As it turned out, there was no way to keep so many pianolas synchronized, so early performances combined the four parts into a single set of pianola rolls and augmented the two human-played pianos with 6 or more additional instruments."  VIA Wikipedia



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