Surrealist art great, Man Ray, made this film in 1929. It follows a pair of indecisive travelers who base all their action on chance. They head out to a fabulous chateau in the hills and wander around inside and out. They run into four odd persons who enjoy swimming and running about as if the place is their private gym. But what is Man Ray doing here? Why all these shots of windows, lamps, sculptures? He is finding the abnormal in the normal. Wherever he happens to be with a camera he can make the surreal. He’s functioning as an artist, looking for odd angles, shadows, contrasts. He is also diving into the great current of his culture. The house is a castle filled with fine objects and great art. Man Ray is expressing his enthusiasm. This is an extremely childish film. I mean that as a compliment, though I really see nothing exceptional in works for children. But for an artist to function as a child for a certain amount of time is extraordinary and beneficial I think. But that kind of thinking must end and lead to its own destruction. In other words, I do not think any children’s author or illustrator should ever continue to work in that way for more than a few years. Then it is time to think about serious things and to make things that upset people. Perhaps that is my main criticism for most of the things I have seen by Man Ray. He seems a little bit too pleasant. I might be wrong about that. I have to look a little more.
Inspired by a Hans Richter film posted by Dangerous Minds, I went looking for more. I found this extraordinary gem, Dreams that Money Can Buy, which is a low-budget feature film produced and directed by Richter with some of his incredible friends in 1947. They shot the film in a New York loft. It’s essentially an underground experimental film about a guy who gets an apartment and worries about how to pay the rent. When he discovers that he has the power to see into his mind through the reflection of his eye, he seizes upon an idea to create a business selling dreams to people who are unhappy with their lives. So of course the film features seven surrealist dream sequences!
Brilliant! Some of the people involved with this fantastic film were Max Ernst, Paul Bowles, Marcel Duchamp, Alexander Calder, John Cage, Fernand Leger, and Man Ray.
You can watch the film in its 8 YouTube parts right here or you can go download it from Archive.org.
Parts 3 – 8 after the jump!