Cinéma pur  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Cinéma Pur (French for Pure Cinema) was an avant-garde film movement born in Paris in the 1920s and 30s. The term was first coined by Henri Chomette to define a cinema that focused on the pure elements of film like form, visual composition, and rhythm, something he accomplished in his shorts "Reflets de lumiere et de vitesse"(1925) and "Cinq minutes de cinema pur"(1926). The movement included many Dada artists, such as Man Ray (Emak-Bakia, Return to Reason), René Clair (Entr'acte), Fernand Leger (Ballet Mécanique), Marc Allegret, Jean Gremillion, Dudley Murphy, and Marcel Duchamp (Anemic Cinema).

The movement also encompasses the work of the feminist critic/filmmaker Germaine Dulac, particularly "The Seashell and the Clergyman", "La Souriante Madame Beudet", "Disque 957", and "Cinegraphic Study of an Arabesque" - in these as well as in her theoretical writing, her goal was "pure" cinema, free from any influence from literature, the stage, or even the other visual arts.

These artists formed clubs and typically exhibited their films at cafes and art houses in Paris during this time period.

The Dadaists saw in film an opportunity to assault traditional narrative verities, to ridicule “character,” “setting,” and “plot” as bourgeois conventions, to slaughter causality by using the innate dynamism of the film medium to overturn conventional Aristotelian notions of time and space.

Critics and artists used terms such as Absolute Film, Pure Cinema, and Integral Cinema (Germaine Dulac's term which might better be translated "Self -Sufficient" or "Complete" cinema) to stress that these works - all of them - functioned only as cinema art: that they could not exist in any other medium because their essential effect arose from the unique potentials of the cinematic mechanism, such as flexible montage of time and space, measured pacing and control of gaze, exact repetition, single-frame diversity and continuity, superimposition and its related split-screen imagery.

Pure Cinema was influenced by such German "absolute" filmmakers as Hans Richter, Walter Ruttmann, and Viking Eggeling.

See also


  • "Abstract Films of the 1920s" by Dr. Moritz, William(International Experimental Film Congress, 1989).
  • "The Complete Film Dictionary" entry by Konigsberg, Ira(Penguin Reference book, 1987).

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