Ballet Mécanique (1924)
Fernand Léger, 12 min. Silent. B&W
Considered one of experimental cinema’s masterpieces, Ballet Méchanique is the only film that artist Fernand Léger made directly. Dudley Murphy also directed and artist Man Ray directed cinematography. The film’s focus on the mechanical world reveals modern artists’ fascination, and disillusionment with science and technology. In the “ballet,” mechanical instruments including player pianos, airplane propellers, electric bells, wire whisks and funnels, copper pots, and lids assume the place of dancers. Presented in a series of movements and repetitions, these multiple images eloquently express the structure and repetition of daily life, one of modernism’s distinctive conditions.