1 Feb: Research into the avant garde

I have spent some time reflecting on the work I have produced so far and it was pointed out that I need to pare it down considerably, or my 3 minute video would be about 30 minutes in total.  I also realised that it needs to become less of a documentary but more of an artistic interpretation.  This is similar to how the Surrealists expounded on a theme and took it beyond the original, by delving into the subconscious and taking the viewer into different realms.

I began by looking at two films by Jean Cocteau, The Blood of a Poet (1930)


and The Testament of Orpheus (1959).


Whilst I do not want to emulate this this style of work, I used them to enable me to think beyond the expected and predictable. I was also interested to see how the work of Cocteau had developed over the intervening 29 years since the first film had been made.  Both are black and white, apart from a brief introduction of colour towards the end of The Testament of Orpheus.  

I originally saw these films previously as a student in the early 1970s and thought they would be more meaningful today, but they still leave the viewer feeling uneasy and not sure exactly of what is taking place. There is an almost constant expectation that something gruesome is about to occur, but even when it does it is very tame compared with what the public sees today.  The other drawback was the fact that the subtitles did not fit on to the TV screen, so much was lose in translation. The films are however strong in symbolism and the influence of the surrealists.  Both possess a dream-like quality, the suggestion of an alternative reality and the fight between life and death.

Today we are used to films with more explicit story lines and computer generated effects and the steps which film makers take to maintain the interest of the viewer.  With this in mind I watched both to see how the effects were created, and whilst rather disjointed at times Cocteau managed to produce instances of dramatic effect by the reversal of frames in the film.

I now need to look at the work of photographers who have also worked with film to see how photography has influenced their work.  I also need to look at other short films about the same length as my end result will be, to see the best way to depict what I am trying to say within my film.

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