From the Archives: Where Movement Comes From

Union Cinema, Milwaukee WI

February 28, 2017



Where the Movement Comes From: A Study in Choreography


The Great Pumpkin Race Emil Cohl 1910, BW, silent, 5
In this film, very large flat-shaped pumpkins roll off a cart and around the streets. The rolling pumpkins are chased by a group of men and women (men in drag?), including a man pulling the donkey from the cart, through an inconceivable obstacle course throughout the city.


Bridges Go ‘Round Shirley Clarke 1958, color, sound, 8
The stark elegance of the New York City bridge system, paired with an evocative period jazz soundtrack, creates a set of intricate sound-image relationships.


Annabelle Dances The Edison Company 1897, BW with hand-tinting, silent, 5
Female dancers dressed with butterfly wings; a dancer with voluminous skirts.


Awake, But Dreaming Kerry Laitala 2000, color, sound, 10
An empty arcing hallway shot from different angles, with repetitions from the optical printer that seem to serve as a metaphor for tunnels of the mind.


A Study in Choreography for the Camera Maya Deren 1945, BW, silent, 3
A dance film so related to the camera that it can exist only in this film. Of this title Deren wrote, “The movement of the dancer creates a geography that never was. With a turn of the foot, Beatty makes neighbors of distant places.”


The Awful Backlash Robert Nelson and Wiliam Allan 1967, BW, sound, 14
“Probably the ‘purest’ movie ever made. A pair of hands patiently disentangles a knotted fishing reel. Little triumphs, little setbacks, a drama of human endurance. Some remarks on the track.” -Anon


Latina Contortionist American Mutoscope & Biograph Co. 1905, BW, silent, 1
A woman in tights attempts to maneuver her body through a hoop that seems too small. She is able to do it because her body is double-jointed.


Rainbow Dance Len Lye 1936, color, sound, 6
Experimentation with BW footage colored by manipulating the three matrices of the Gasparclor 3-color separation system. Dancer Rupert Doone appears as a silhouette performing various actions against stylized backgrounds. Music by Rico’s Creole Band.