Anémic cinéma

  • 7'
  • France
  • 1926
This characteristically Dada film by Marcel Duchamp consists of a series of visual and verbal puns with nonsense phrases inscribed around rotating spiral patterns, creating an almost hypnotic effect. Various versions were made in 1920, 1923 and, finally, in 1926.
Duchamp's film minimizes the element of silent films: words, then images. He sharply bifurcates the film viewing activity into two: reading words on a screen and viewing images, in this case moving spirals, whose motion produces the play of depth and flatness that is a given of cinematic illusion.
The film, shot in Man Ray's studio with the help of cinematographer Marc Allégret, is a seven-minute animation of nine phrases. These had been pasted, letter by letter, in a spiral pattern on round black discs that were then glued to phonograph records; the slowly revolving texts alternate with shots of Duchamp's Discs Bearing Spirals, ten abstract designs whose turning makes them appear to move backward and forward in an erotic rhythm. The Disks Bearing Spirals were preliminary studies for Duchamp's attempt to produce a three-dimensional film.
The texts, which we read from the outside inwards, involve complex word plays that may, on certain if always unstable readings, suggest to us a set of erotic scenarios. (Thanks to Bart Testa)
Marcel Duchamp
Country of production
Production Year
Festival Edition
IFFR 2008
Man Ray