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Paperback | $16.95 Trade | £11.95 | ISBN: 9780262525114 | 232 pp. | 7 x 9 in | 88 b&w illus.| September 2013
 

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The Filming of Modern Life

European Avant-Garde Film of the 1920s

Overview

In the 1920s, the European avant-garde embraced the cinema, experimenting with the medium in radical ways. Painters including Hans Richter and Fernand Leger as well as filmmakers belonging to such avant-garde movements as Dada and surrealism made some of the most enduring and fascinating films in the history of cinema. In The Filming of Modern Life, Malcolm Turvey examines five films from the avant-garde canon and the complex, sometimes contradictory, attitudes toward modernity they express: Rhythm 21 (Hans Richter, 1921), Ballet mecanique (Dudley Murphy and Fernand Léger, 1924), Entr'acte (Francis Picabia and René Clair, 1924), Un chien Andalou (Salvador Dali and Luis Buñuel, 1929), and Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929). All exemplify major trends within European avant-garde cinema of the time, from abstract animation to "cinema pur."

Turvey argues that these films share a concern with modernization and the rapid, dislocating changes it was bringing about. He critically addresses major theories of the avant-garde and its relation to modern life, including the claim that film is “distracting” in the same way as a modern environment, and he challenges the standard view of the avant-garde as implacably opposed to bourgeois modernity. In fact, he writes, not only was there considerable disagreement among avant-garde movements about what aspects of modern life needed transformation, but the positions of individual avant-garde artists toward modernization were complex, even contradictory. All five films that Turvey analyzes embrace and resist, in their own ways, different aspects of modernity.

Although much has been written about each of these films, The Filming of Modern Life is the first book to examine them together, illuminating their shared concern with modernization and its consequences.

About the Author

Malcolm Turvey is Professor of Film History at Sarah Lawrence College and an editor of October. He is the author of Doubting Vision: Film and the Revelationist Tradition.

Table of Contents

  • The Filming of Modern Life
  • October Books
  • George Baker, Yve-Alain Bois, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Leah Dickerman, Hal Foster, Denis Hollier, David Joselit, Rosalind Krauss, Carrie Lambert-Beatty, Annette Michelson, Mignon Nixon, and Malcolm Turvey, editors
  • Broodthaers
  • ,
  • edited by Benjamin H. D. Buchloh
  • AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism
  • ,
  • edited by Douglas Crimp
  • Aberrations: An Essay on the Legend of Forms
  • ,
  • by Jurgis Baltrušaitis
  • Against Architecture: The Writings of Georges Bataille
  • ,
  • by Denis Hollier
  • Painting as Model
  • ,
  • by Yve-Alain Bois
  • The Destruction of Tilted Arc: Documents
  • ,
  • edited by Clara Weyergraf-Serra and Martha Buskirk
  • The Woman in Question
  • ,
  • edited by Parveen Adams and Elizabeth Cowie
  • Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century
  • ,
  • by Jonathan Crary
  • The Subjectivity Effect in Western Literary Tradition: Essays toward the Release of Shakespeare’s Will
  • ,
  • by Joel Fineman
  • Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture
  • ,
  • by Slavoj Žižek
  • Cinema, Censorship, and the State: The Writings of Nagisa Oshima
  • ,
  • by Nagisa Oshima
  • The Optical Unconscious
  • ,
  • by Rosalind E. Krauss
  • Gesture and Speech
  • ,
  • by André Leroi-Gourhan
  • Compulsive Beauty
  • ,
  • by Hal Foster
  • Continuous Project Altered Daily: The Writings of Robert Morris
  • ,
  • by Robert Morris
  • Read My Desire: Lacan against the Historicists
  • ,
  • by Joan Copjec
  • Fast Cars, Clean Bodies: Decolonization and the Reordering of French Culture
  • ,
  • by Kristin Ross
  • Kant after Duchamp
  • ,
  • by Thierry de Duve
  • The Duchamp Effect
  • ,
  • edited by Martha Buskirk and Mignon Nixon
  • The Return of the Real: The Avant-Garde at the End of the Century
  • ,
  • by Hal Foster
  • October: The Second Decade, 1986–1996
  • ,
  • edited by Rosalind Krauss, Annette Michelson, Yve-Alain Bois, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Hal Foster, Denis Hollier, and Silvia Kolbowski
  • Infinite Regress: Marcel Duchamp 1910–1941
  • ,
  • by David Joselit
  • Caravaggio’s Secrets
  • ,
  • by Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit
  • Scenes in a Library: Reading the Photograph in the Book, 1843–1875
  • ,
  • by Carol Armstrong
  • Bachelors
  • ,
  • by Rosalind Krauss
  • Neo-Avantgarde and Culture Industry: Essays on European and American Art from 1955 to 1975
  • ,
  • by Benjamin H. D. Buchloh
  • Suspensions of Perception: Attention, Spectacle, and Modern Culture
  • ,
  • by Jonathan Crary
  • Leave Any Information at the Signal: Writings, Interviews, Bits, Pages
  • ,
  • by Ed Ruscha
  • Guy Debord and the Situationist International: Texts and Documents
  • ,
  • edited by Tom McDonough
  • Random Order: Robert Rauschenberg and the Neo-Avant-Garde
  • ,
  • by Branden W. Joseph
  • Decoys and Disruptions: Selected Writings, 1975–2001
  • ,
  • by Martha Rosler
  • Prosthetic Gods
  • ,
  • by Hal Foster
  • Fantastic Reality: Louise Bourgeois and a Story of Modern Art
  • ,
  • by Mignon Nixon
  • Women Artists at the Millennium
  • ,
  • edited by Carol Armstrong and Catherine de Zegher
  • “The Beautiful Language of My Century”: Reinventing the Language of Contestation in Postwar France, 1945–1968
  • ,
  • by Tom McDonough
  • The Artwork Caught by the Tail: Francis Picabia and Dada in Paris
  • ,
  • by George Baker
  • Being Watched: Yvonne Rainer and the 1960s
  • ,
  • by Carrie Lambert-Beatty
  • Robert Ryman: Used Paint
  • ,
  • by Suzanne P. Hudson
  • Hall of Mirrors: Roy Lichtenstein and the Face of Painting in the 1960s
  • ,
  • by Graham Bader
  • Perpetual Inventory
  • ,
  • by Rosalind Krauss
  • The Absence of Work: Marcel Broodthaers 1964–1976
  • ,
  • by Rachel Haidu
  • The Filming of Modern Life: European Avant-Garde Film of the 1920s
  • ,
  • by Malcolm Turvey
  • The Filming of Modern Life
  • European Avant-Garde Film of the 1920s
  • Malcolm Turvey
  • An OCTOBER Book
  • The MIT Press
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • London, England
  • © 2011
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
  • MIT Press books may be purchased at special quantity discounts for business or sales promotional use. For information, please email special_sales@mitpress.mit.edu or write to Special Sales Department, The MIT Press, 55 Hayward Street, Cambridge, MA 02142.
  • This book was set in Bembo by Graphic Composition, Inc. Printed and bound in the United States of America.
  • Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
  • Turvey, Malcolm, 1969–.
  • The filming of modern life : European avant-garde film of the 1920s / Malcolm Turvey.
  •  p. cm.—(October books)
  • “An October book.”
  • Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • ISBN 978-0-262-01518-9 (hardcover : alk. paper)
  • 1. Experimental films—Europe—History and criticism. 2. Art and motion pictures—Europe. 3. Art and society—Europe—History—20th century. 4. Modernism (Art)—Europe. I. Title. II. Title: European avant-garde film of the 1920s.
  • PN1995.9.E96T88 2011
  • 791.43'61109409042—dc22
  • 2010020908
  • 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
  • For Lisa
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • xi
  • Introduction
  • 1
  • 1 Abstraction and
  • Rhythm 21
  • 17
  • 2 “Cinema pur” and
  • Ballet mécanique
  • 47
  • 3 Dada,
  • Entr’acte
  • , and
  • Paris qui dort
  • 77
  • 4 Surrealism and
  • Un chien Andalou
  • 105
  • 5 City Symphony and
  • Man with a Movie Camera
  • 135
  • 6 Film, Distraction, and Modernity
  • 163
  • Notes
  • 183
  • Index
  • 207

Endorsements

"Combining lucid readings of five central avant-garde films from the 1920s, Malcolm Turvey's The Filming of Modern Life cogently challenges the clich

"The Filming of Modern Life incisively challenges conventional accounts of avant-garde film theory and practice in the 1920s. In readings both subtle and historically astute, Malcolm Turvey unpacks conceptual ambivalences that animate five canonical films in individual essays, each a model of lucid critical writing and perfectly gauged for seminar discussions. He raises provocative questions that will reignite consequential debates even as they reaffirm the complex ethos informing classical modernist cinema."
Stuart Liebman, Queens College and CUNY Graduate Center