L'Étoile de mer  

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

L'Étoile de Mer (English: The Starfish) is a 1928 film directed by Man Ray and Jacques-André Boiffard. The film is based on a script by Robert Desnos and depicts a couple (Alice Prin and André de la Rivière) acting through scenes that are shot out of focus.


After opening to the couple walking along a road, the scene cuts to a caption

Les dents des femmes sont des objets si charmants... (Women's teeth are objects so charming...)

A short scene where the female alters her stocking.

... qu' on ne devrait les voir qu' en rêve ou à l'instant de l'amour. (... that one ought to see them only in a dream or in the instant of love.)

From this point the couple retire to the upper bedroom of a house and the female undresses and retires, at which point the male bids her farewell.

Si belle! Cybèle? (So beautiful! Cybele?)

The male leaves the house.

Nous sommes à jamais perdus dans le désert de l'éternèbre. (We are forever lost in the desert of eternal darkness.)

The film cuts to a female selling newspapers in the street, this is André de la Rivière in drag.

Qu'elle est belle (How beautiful she is)

A man is shown purchasing a starfish in a jar, returning it home to examine further.

"Après tout" ("After all")

The film then changes focus, following newspapers being blown in the wind while a man attempts to pick them up. Scenes from a railway journey appear briefly, tugboats docking at a wharfside followed by a panning city scape.

Si les fleurs etaient en verre (if the flowers were in glass)

Followed by a montage of various rotating objects, including the starfish in a jar. A few still lifes appear, again featuring the starfish.

belle, belle comme une fleur de verre (beautiful, beautiful like a flower of glass)
belle comme une fleur de chair (beautiful like a flower of flesh)
Il faut battre les morts quand ils sont froids. (One must beat the dead while they are cold.)

We rejoin the male as he ascends the staircase to the upper bedroom in the house, leaving the starfish at the foot of the stairs. The film cuts to the female brandishing a large knife superimposed with the starfish.

Les murs de la Santé (The walls of the Sante)
Et si tu trouves sur cette terre une femme à l'amour sincère... (And if you find on this earth a woman of sincere love...
belle comme une fleur de feu (beautiful like a flower of fire)
Le soleil, un pied à l'étrier, niche un rossignol dans un voile de crêpe. (The sun, one foot in the stirrup, nestles a nightingale in a veil of crepe.)

We return to the female reclining in the bedroom.

Vous ne rêvez pas (You are not dreaming)

The film then reveals a short end to the characters love triangle.

qu'elle était belle (how beautiful she was)
qu'ekke est belle (how beautiful she is)

The female appears in a mirror with the word 'belle', which shatters. The affair is over, and the film brings to a close.


Originally a silent film, recent copies have been dubbed using music taken from Man Ray's personal record collection of the time. The musical reconstruction was by Jacques Guillot.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "L'Étoile de mer" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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