James Travers (Films de France) writes about René Clair's 1924 film Entr'acte: "This extraordinary early film from director René Clair was originally made to fill an interval between two acts of Francis Picabia’s new ballet, Relâche, at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris in 1924. Picabia famously wrote a synopsis for the film on one sheet of note paper headed Maxim’s (the famous Parisian restaurant), which he sent to René Clair. This formed the basis for what ultimately appeared on screen, with some additional improvisations. Music for the film was composed by the famous avant-garde composer Erik Satie, who appears in the film, along side its originator, Francis Picabia. The surrealist photographer Man Ray also puts in an appearance, in a film which curiously resembles his own experimental films of this era. Entr'acte is a surrealistic concoction of unrelated images, reflecting Clair’s interest in Dada, a fashionable radical approach to visual art which relied on experimentation and surreal expressionism. Clair’s imagery is both captivating and disturbing, giving life to inanimate objects (most notably the rifle range dummies), whilst attacking conventions, even the sobriety of a funeral march. When the first performance of Relâche was cancelled because of the ill-health of one of is stars, the public were outraged. There was a belief that Picabia had staged the ultimate Dada stunt – as Relâche is the French word used on posters to indicate that a show is canceled, or the theater is closed. The controversy was laid to rest when the show opened, a few days later than planned. For its part, Clair’s Entr'acte won widespread praise, although the response from the paying public was divided. As to what the film actually means, well that’s anyone’s guess. Like all good surrealist art there are an infinite number of possible interpretations, and one’s appreciation and understanding of this film is very much a subjective experience. Themes which appear to dominate the work are death, mortality and the hastening pace of technology. Hence, one possible interpretation is that the film is mocking mankind’s attempts to cope with the brevity of his existence. As progress is made, man has to run faster and faster to cram more and more into a fixed duration, his limited lifespan. Could the Entr'acte of the film’s title represent that short period of what we call 'life', that too brief an interval between two acts of an eternal duration?" Watch René Clair's Entr'acte with music by Erik Satie . . . it's our PYTHEAS SIGHTING for the week.
Pawel Lukaszewski is one of the younger generation of Polish composers specialising in sacred and choral music. He studied composition with Marian Borkowski and cello with Andrzej Wrobel at the Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw and in 2000 and 2007 he received a Ph.D and Ph.D Hab. respectively in composition. His works have been performed throughout Europe, as well as in Argentine, Chile, China, Israel, Cuba, Canada, South Korea, Peru, Uruguay and the United States. In addition, his works have been recorded on more than fifty CDs. Hear a performance of Pawel Lukaszewski's choral work Hommage a Edith Stein (2002) . . . this week's FROM THE PYTHEAS ARCHIVES.
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Pytheas Center for Contemporary Music