UNSEEN CINEMA

UNSEEN CINEMA

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UNSEEN CINEMA
  • ABSTRONIC

    "Beautiful Lissajous curves [curved lines that pass through a pair of harmonic motions in perpendicular directions] can be put through a choreography that inspires—and startles—the imagination," writes Mary Ellen Bute of her quest to visualize invisible rhythms. In ABSTRONIC, she uses a cathode r...

  • ANÉMIC CINÉMA

    Thought-provoking and offensive are possible ways to interpret the ten optical discs and corresponding puns displayed in the film. The word play of French syllogisms gleefully collides with the protruding-receding optical illusions of the rotating spheres. Julien Levy called the film SPIRALS and ...

  • BALLET MÉCANIQUE

    Fernand Léger's BALLET MÉCANIQUE occupies a preeminent place in modern art. There is no other film quite like it. One reason is the collective effort of the Americans who participated in its creation, including Ezra Pound, Alvin Langdon Colburn, Man Ray and especially co-director Dudley Murphy an...

  • COLOR RHAPSODIE

    Produced by a pioneer film designer to create moods through the eye as music creates moods through the ear. Do you see anything like this when seeing sound?

    "[Mary Ellen] Bute transcends her influences; her visual imaginations triumphs. I like the romantic flair of COLOR RHAPSODIE, its visual de...

  • THE CONQUERING CROSS

    Never completed by famed Russian director Sergei Eisenstein, the footage for his proposed feature QUÉ VIVA MÉXICO! was financed and preserved by husband-and-wife team Mary and Upton Sinclair. A series of Filmosound travelogues were constructed later by film editors William Kruse and Egon Mauthner...

  • THE COUNTRY DOCTOR

    A doctor in a small town leaves his ill daughter to attend to another patient. His wife seeks his return before the health of the condition of their daughter deteriorates.

    "The subject is one of impressive realism and sure to strike deep into the hearts of the spectators." — Biograph Films adver...

  • DADA

    One of the liveliest of Mary Ellen Bute's abstract films. DADA was intended to be part of a Universal Newsreel segment, showing Bute and her partner Ted Nemeth at work in their tiny New York studio. No copies of the newsreel itself are known to exist at this time. — Cecile Starr

  • EAUX D'ARTIFICE

    The Villa d'Este sculpture gardens frame the nocturnal exploits of a Baroquely-dressed masked figure darting about a waterworks of gushing fountains. Jets of water form a mesmerizing erotic fantasy paying homage to abstract visual music, early silent cinema and Sergei Eisenstein's spectacular "cr...

  • ESCAPE

    Based upon mathematical calculations proposed by Joseph Schillinger and meticulously drawn-out by Mary Ellen Bute on animation cels, ESCAPE [SYNCHROMY NO.4] reveals Johann Sebastian Bach's TOCCATA (transcribed by Leopold Stokowski from the TOCCATA AND FUGUE IN D MINOR) as a series of pulsating li...

  • THE FILM THAT RISES TO THE SURFACE OF CLARIFIED BUTTER

    "I wanted to do a film which dealt with drawings which somehow had a life of their own, which existed in the same space as real objects and yet still had their own two-dimensional space... imagery that didn't refer to anything in our visual vocabulary, and also was so non-objective that it didn't...

  • FOUR IN THE AFTERNOON

    Four short films adapted from the poetry of James Broughton: GAME LITTLE GLADYS; THE GARDENER'S SON; PRINCESS PRINTEMPS; and THE AGING BALLETOMANE. Delightful and sentimental, the interludes recall silent cinema, full of playful mime and dreamy reverie. As such, the vignettes offer a welcome anti...

  • H2O

    "H2O depicts water under a variety of forms, increasingly focusing on its ability to create a multileveled reality of surface and reflection. Ultimately, the film reduces a phantasmagoria of light and shadow that render its simple title almost ludicrous." — Scott MacDonald

    Featuring a score comp...

  • HANDS

    HANDS is an ingenious piece of propaganda that communicated not only through its content but through the very unconventionality of its "experimental structure." The film suggests that the government that produced it is imaginative and inventive, open to new possibilities and supportive of forms o...

  • THE HEARTS OF AGE

    "It's nothing at all. Absolutely nothing. It was a joke. I wanted to make a parody of Jean Cocteau's first film [THE BLOOD OF A POET]. That's all. We shot it in two hours, for fun, on Sunday afternoon. It has no sort of meaning." - Orson Welles

  • THE HOUSE WITH CLOSED SHUTTERS

    Photographed at Biograph's New York studio and in Fort Lee, New Jersey, from 25-June to 2-July and released 11-August, 1910, this is D.W. Griffith's two-hundred-forty-fourth film and of eighty-six he directed that year. It is daring in its attempt to cover many years in only one reel and shows sk...

  • IDOL OF HOPE

    Never completed by famed Russian director Sergei Eisenstein, the footage for his proposed feature QUÉ VIVA MÉXICO! was financed and preserved by husband-and-wife team Mary and Upton Sinclair. A series of Filmosound travelogues were constructed later by film editors William Kruse and Egon Mauthner...

  • LOOK PARK

    LOOK PARK presents close-up shots of a country stream viewed in bright sunlight. The film opens with wide shots of the park to establish the location, then focuses on the abstract selections and shadows. The music—initially a piece by Jacques Offenbach which segues midway into an electronic recor...

  • MECHANICAL PRINCIPLES

    Round-and-round go the gears in this extraordinary study. The follow-up to H2O from photographer / filmmaker Ralph Steiner is mesmerizing in its attention to concentric, repetitive mechanized motions. Far from being pedantic or boring, the movements fascinate and titillate. The comedic is equally...

  • MEDITATION ON VIOLENCE

    MEDITATION ON VIOLENCE pivots on the precise movements of Chao-Li Chi, a solitary Chinese martial artist, performing a ritualized dance set against white and black backgrounds. It reaches an epiphany when he abruptly moves outside, jumps and freezes in mid-air, then resumes the dance in reverse o...

  • MESHES OF THE AFTERNOON

    With MESHES OF THE AFTERNOON, the wife-and-husband team of Maya Deren and Alexander Hackenschmied created one of the keystone achievements of American avant-garde cinema in their Hollywood home. During its first decade of release, this captivating psychodrama was presented silent (with no soundtr...

  • UNE NUIT SUR LE MONT CHAUVE

    Alexandre Alexeieff and Claire Parker made UNE NUIT SUR LE MONT CHAUVE [NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN] using a pinscreen animation technique, arranging and rearranging thousands of pins so that, when illuminated, they produced variations in shadow from black to white. The effect resembles a mezzotint. T...

  • PARABOLA

    "Sculptor Rutherford Boyd worked in collaboration with Mary Ellen Bute and Ted Nemeth [under the banner of Expanding Cinema], whose New York City production facilities were placed at his disposal. Filmed frame-by-frame in a sequence of stills that varied the arrangement of sculptural pieces under...

  • PIPPA PASSES

    PIPPA PASSES or THE SONG OF CONSCIENCE, adapted from the poem-of-the-same-name by Robert Browning. Preserved from the paper-print (and presented without musical accompaniment).

    "A most artistic subject handles in a manner never before excelled, with keen appreciation of its poetic and dramatic v...

  • POLKA GRAPH

    One of the favorites of the filmmaker, Mary Ellen Bute stated that POLKA GRAPH "uses the graph pattern of the music as a springboard for the visual interpretation" of the Polka (Allegretto) movement from Dmitri Shostakovich's ZOLOTOI VEK [THE AGE OF GOLD / THE GOLDEN AGE] suite. — Kit Basquin / B...