On Screen/Sound: No. 4
Marcel L'Herbier / Robert Nelson
The fourth screening in On Screen/Sound brings together painting, architecture, fashion, dance, and music for an evening of modernist and surreal cinema.
In Robert Nelson's 1963 short film Plastic Haircut, two actors perform absurd actions in sets composed of geometric shapes, followed by two experts who attempt to explain what it all means. The audio track features sound by American composer Steve Reich, his earliest complete electronic piece.
The 1924 ultramodernist masterpiece L'Inhumaine ("the inhuman woman") was considered by its director, Marcel L'Herbier, to be "a fairy story of modern decorative art." Using "experimental" camera techniques and hallucinatory imagery, with sets by Fernand Léger, and costumes by Paul Poiret, L'Inhumaine tells the story of the life, death, and rebirth of a cold-hearted opera singer who learns to love. The musical score, originally by French composer Darius Milhaud, was lost to time—but has been reimagined by Aidje Tafial. Recently restored in its original tints by the French Cinémathèque and Lobster Films, this new print and soundtrack was premiered this year at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.
Courtesy the artists, Canyon Cinema (San Francisco), and Lobster Films (Paris).