April 21, 2012

anemic cinema (1926)




Anemic Cinema or Anémic Cinéma (1926) is a Dadaist, surrealist, or experimental film make by Marcel Duchamp. The film depicts whirling animated drawing -- which Duchamp called Rotoreliefs -- alternated with puns in French. 

Duchamp signed the film with his alter egp name of Rrose Selavy.

Rotoreliefs were a phase of Duchamp's spinning works. To make the optical "play toys" he painted designs on flat cardboard circles and spun them on a phonograph turntable that when spinning the flat disks appeared 3-dimensional. He had a printer run off 500 sets of six of the designs and set up a booth at a 1935 Paris inventors' show to sell them. The venture was a financial disaster, but some optical scientists thought they might be of use in restoring 3-dimensional sight to people with one eye.

In collaboration with Man Ray and Marc Allegret, Duchamp filmed early versions of the Rotoreliefs and they named the first film version Anémic Cinéma.

The Rotoreliefs are alternated with revolving disks with spinning phrases of French puns. 
In order they are:

"Bains de gros thé pour grains de beauté sans trop de bengué." ("Baths in course tea for beauty marks without too much Ben-Gay.")

"L'enfant qui tète est un souffleur de chair chaude et n'aime pas le chou-fleur de serre-chaude." ("The child who suckles is a hot-flesh blower and doesn't like hot-house cauliflower.")

"Si je te donne un sou, me donneras-tu une paire de ciseaux?" ("If I give you a penny will you give me a pair of scissors?")

"On demande des moustiques domestiques (demi-stock) pour la cure d'azote sur la côte d'azur." ("One demands domestic mosquitos (half-stock) for the nitrogen cure on the Azur.")
"Inceste ou passion de famille, à coups trop tirés." ("Incest or family passion, with too many drawn blows.")

"Esquivons les ecchymoses des Esquimaux aux mots exquis." ("Let us dodge the bruises of Eskimos in exquisite words.")

"Avez-vous déjà mis la moëlle de l'épée dans le poêle de l'aimée?" ("Have you already put the marrow of the sword in the stove of the beloved?")

The video edits out the sequence with the line: "Parmi nos articles de quincaillerie par essence, nous recommandons le robinet qui s'arrête de couler quand on ne l'écoute pas." ("Among our articles of lazy hardware, we recommend the faucet which stops dripping when no one is listening to it.")

"L'aspirant habite Javel et moi j'avais l'habite en spirale." ("The aspirant lives in Javel and me I lived in a spiral-shaped abode.")

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