La Marche des Machines / Les Nuits Eléctriques / Montparnasse

Description: Born out of the Czech and French avant-garde movements of the ’20s, Eugène Deslaw’s silent documentaries all share a certain meditative drift to their montage, at once emphasizing strong and abstract rhythms in photography that make for almost hypnotically smooth and fascinating transitions. His second film, La Marche des Machines (March of the Machines), […]

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Western Deep

Description: In light of director Steve McQueen’s recent surge in popularity with the release of increasingly mainstream films like Hunger and Shame, it’s worth considering McQueen’s humble yet promising beginnings as something of a documentarian with an avant-garde sensibility. Western Deep, shot in 2002, is documentary in form, but experimental in terms of its aesthetic […]

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Film

Description: “To be is to be perceived,” wrote the 18th-century Irish philosopher George Berkeley. Some years later, modernist playwright/poet/novelist Samuel Beckett adapted this idea into a six-page script for a film entitled, of all things, Film. Perceiver and perceived are represented by two “characters,” the object (O) and the eye (E). Buster Keaton stars as […]

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The Actor’s Children

Description: The Thanhouser saga begins here. On March 15h, 1910, The Actor’s Children was released to the public, initiating a seven-year run of silent film productions. While later works would draw upon classic plays and novels for their stories, this one stays within territory that was closer to the creators’ own experiences: in this case, […]

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The Vicar of Wakefield

Description: Here’s another early one-reel silent feature from the Thanhouser archives, completed during the same year as The Winter’s Tale (in addition to a bunch of other movies from this most prolific enterprise.) Once again, Thanhouser turns to “the classics” for its source material, adapting (and greatly simplifying) Oliver Goldsmith’s 1776 novel The Vicar’s Tale.

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The Winter’s Tale

Description: With his finger squarely on the pulse of the burgeoning motion picture industry, Edwin Thanhouser founded the Thanhouser Company in 1909, setting up shop in the city of New Rochelle, New York. Thanhouser’s earliest productions rarely exceeded the 12-15 minute range, as the era of multiple-reel films was yet to come. The Winter’s Tale […]

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Un Chien Andalou

Description: Based on an exchange of dreams between the Spanish duo of Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali, this jolting tale of desire contains one of the most notorious and potently metaphoric sequences in film history: a razor severing a woman’s eyeball in extreme close-up. Drawing from the vivid lives of their subconsciouses, Bunuel and Dali’s […]

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