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Avant Garde - Experimental Cinema of the 1920s & 1930s

4.1 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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(Aug 02, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In the latter half of the 20th Century, Raymond Rohauer was one of the nation's foremost proponents of experimental cinema. Programming diverse films at the Coronet Theatre in Los Angeles, and making the films in his personal archive available for commercial distribution, he helped preserve and promote avant-garde cinema. This two-DVD collection assembles some of the most influential and eclectic short films in the Rohauer Collection, including works by Man Ray, Hans Richter, Marcel Duchamp, Watson & Weber, Fernand Leger, Joris Ivens, Dimitri Kirsanoff, Jean Epstein and Orson Welles.

From the Back Cover

In the latter half of the 20th century, Raymond Rohauer was one of the nation's foremost proponents of experimental cinema. Programming diverse films at the Coronet Theatre in Los Angeles, and making the films in his personal archive available for commercial distribution, he helped preserve and promote avant-garde cinema. This two-DVD collection assembles some of the most influential and eclectic short films in the Rohauer Collection, including works by Man Ray, Hans Richter, Marcel Duchamp, Watson & Webber, Fernand Leger, Joris Ivens, Dimitri Kirsanoff, Jean Epstein, and Orson Welles.

Special Features

  • Film notes by film critic/historian Elliott Stein
  • Optional English subtitles (on selected films)
  • Dual-layer RSDL edition for optimal image quality

Product Details

  • Actors: Kiki of Montparnasse, André de la Rivière, Robert Desnos, Roger Barlow, Harry Hay
  • Directors: Roger Barlow, Harry Hay, LeRoy Robbins, Man Ray
  • Writers: Robert Desnos
  • Producers: Man Ray
  • Format: NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: French, German, Swedish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Kino Video
  • DVD Release Date: August 2, 2005
  • Run Time: 360 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009PW450
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,255 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Avant Garde - Experimental Cinema of the 1920s & 1930s" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Donald Rogers on September 1, 2005
This features a number of directors better known as painters (Fernand Leger, Marcel Duchamp) or photographers (Man Ray). For the curious, there is a short Orson Welles film from 1934, fully seven years before Citizen Kane. "The Life and Death of 9413, A Hollywood Extra" is on the Library of Congress's National Film Registry of significant American films, as is "H²O". Ménilmontant, at 37 minutes the longest film in this collection, is considered a masterpiece by some.

Worth exploring, if you like this sort of stuff. You know who you are.

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It drives me nuts that Amazon doesn't include the bare-bones information about the films in this sort of collection, so I will:

Le Retour à la raison (The Return to Reason)
Directed by Man Ray
France 1923
2 Min.

Emak-Bakia (Leave Me Alone)
Directed by Man Ray
France 1926
16 Min.

L'Étoile de mer (The Starfish)
Directed by Man Ray
France 1928
15 Min.

Les Mystères du Château du Dé (The Mysteries of the Château of Dice)
Directed by Man Ray
France 1929
20 Min.

Ménilmontant
Directed by Dimitri Kirsanoff
France 1926
37 Min.

Brumes d'Automne (Autumn Mists)
Directed by Dimitri Kirsanoff
France 1928
12 Min.

The Life and Death of 9413, A Hollywood Extra
Directed by Robert Florey and Slavko Vorkapich
US 1928
13 Min.

Lot in Sodom
Directed by James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber
US 1933
27 Min.

Rhythmus 21 (Film Is Rhythm)
Directed by Hans Richter
Germany 1921
3 Min.
Read more ›
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As the title suggests, this is a collection of 24 short films of the artistic and experimental genre, ranging from about 10 to 35 minutes in length, and each one quite different from the other. Some of them have a story that you can follow, while others are meant to be visual expressions of moods and feelings, but all of them are of a high standard and quality, and there is bound to be something to suit most tastes in this eclectic collection. My first impression was that these short films - most of them silent - have a powerful effect on the senses, not in the least due to the exceptionally good musical accompaniment by the best composers in the business. Overall, watching these films had a calming and almost hypnotic effect on me, which no doubt was often intended. Some of the highlights for me were the longer, more complex films such as "The Life and Death of 9413 - a Hollywood Extra", "Lot in Sodom" (which has been previously released by Image Entertainment with Oscar Wilde's "Salome") and "La Glace a Trois Faces" (The three-sided mirror) which contain a definite message as well as being poignantly expressive visually. Then there are themes and subjects focussing on nature, weather, architecture, and a few experiments with tricks and animation. In other words; never a dull moment - unless you are looking for the usual story film with customary action and editing, in which case this collection might not be your cup of tea. But for anyone interested in artistic expression in films, the history and development of film, or just for something entirely different, this is an excellent set.Read more ›
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The musical accompaniment for most of these seminal avant-garde films is very bad. A previous reviewer mentioned that it was done by "the best in the business." Well, I am of the opinion that, unfortunately, there are not enough interesting minds in that business (silent film scoring), or at least not enough employed by Kino Video, to make for a competent collection.

There is electric guitar (Creed-style riffing!!!). There is arbitrary "Frenchy" sounding music. And yes, there is even some dreaded Casio keyboard "vox" effect.

Who could possibly think that keyboard "vox" was a good idea? Not me.

These films, like all those Kino releases, are rare and under-appreciated, and worth owning on DVD because this is the only way you'll get them. I only wish Kino appreciated them enough to pair the films with either a) historically accurate or b) competent scores.
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these films are extremely high quality time capsules of cinema art. combining documentary footage with fictional situations in some. paris in the 30's. hollywood in the 30's. these are unique and wonderful. Film as poetry, experimental uses of film. these films especially menilmontant and les mysteres du chateau du de are imaginative and mysterious art works. they are beautifully photographed, Non narrative cinema the films are hypnotic and powerful. some more than others. Beautiful black and white photography done by the likes of Man Ray, Kirsonov etc.

I cannot recommend these films high enough to the lover of great photography, painting and film.
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