Man Ray’s Films: From Dada to Surrealism

In: Avant-Garde Film
Rudolf E. Kuenzli
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In focusing on Man Ray’s contributions to avant-garde cinema, I analyze his first three films, Retour à la raison (1923), Emak Bakia (1926), and Étoile de mer (1928), in order to establish criteria that allow us to distinguish between Dada and Surrealist films. In Man Ray’s first two films the anarchic, spontaneous, playful, illogical, and non-narrative Dada spirit dominates, although he tried to create a Surrealist film with Emak Bakia. Having not succeeded, he relied on Robert Desnos, the foremost Surrealist dreamer, to furnish him with a Surrealist script in order to create his first Surrealist film, Étoile de mer.

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