Man Ray

Anemic Cinema (1926, Marcel Duchamp)

I’m not sure how Anemic Cinema cinema is surrealist. Obviously for the time, but today the most surreal thing about it is the copyright notice. Director Duchamp slaps a copyright notice on the end.

It feels completely out of place with Anemic, which is otherwise a direct communication with the viewer.

Duchamp alternates between his Rotoreliefs–think carnival spinning wheels (though sometimes not very motional)–and these little spinning disks with sayings on them. Some of the sayings are funnier than the others, some are more bewildering, most directly engage the viewer. Anemic is often second person.

It makes for an interesting experience. The more outlandish the text disks, the less movement in the carnival wheels.

Only a few of the carnival wheels disrupt the experience; these wheels are so fantastic, one has to wonder how Duchamp created them.

Anemic transfixes until that jarring, baffling finish with the copyright notice.



Directed by Marcel Duchamp; director of photography, Man Ray.

The Return to Reason (1923, Man Ray)

The Return to Reason doesn’t so much study movement as exhibit experiments in movement. Whether they’re photographic tricks or recognizable objects–or unrecognizable ones until you watch carefully–director Ray isn’t putting them together to solve a puzzle.

Unless, of course, the titular Reason is the nude woman at the end and then Ray would just be painfully witty.

Still, Reason only runs about two minutes and Ray can’t top the ferris wheel shot thirty seconds into it. Only the lights of the ferris wheel are in focus and they loop endlessly through the darkness. It’s an exceptionally stunning sequence and, watching it, I wondered if or how he could top it for the finish.

The nude woman doesn’t do it. I really hope he wasn’t trying to top it with her.

Reason provides a decent viewing, has those fantastic lights, but it’s not deep. Ray keeps it intentionally shallow.

1/3Not Recommended


Edited, produced and directed by Man Ray.

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