René Clair. Entr'acte. 1924

René Clair Entr'acte 1924

  • Not on view

A classic of avant-garde cinema, Entr'acte was made as an intermission piece for the Ballets Suédois production of Relâche, a Dada theater work that premiered in Paris in December of 1924. The ballet's director, Francis Picabia, gave René Clair a short scenario around which to build the film, and Erik Satie composed an original score to accompany it, but the finished work is "pure" cinema—the individual shots and the connections between them resulting in what Clair described as "visual babblings." Key figures of the contemporary Parisian art world appear in the film in absurd comic cameos, including Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Jean Borlin (director of the Ballets Suédois), Georges Auric, Picabia, and Clair himself. As Picabia declared, Entr'acte "respects nothing except the right to roar with laughter."

Publication excerpt from In Still Moving: The Film and Media Collections of the Museum of Modern Art by Steven Higgins, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2006, p. 104.

Still one of the best-known avant-garde films of the 1920s, Entr’acte was immediately heralded as a “cinematic masterpiece.” It stages a series of zany, disconnected scenes, including a chess match between Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray that is swept away by a jet of water, a dizzying roller coaster course, a hearse pulled by a camel, and a high-speed chase through Paris’s Luna Park. During its first public projection, this silent film was accompanied by an orchestra. The composer, Erik Satie, carefully pegged the music to each filmic sequence, thereby creating what the film’s director, René Clair, would later call “the first composition written for the cinema ‘shot by shot.’”

Gallery label from Francis Picabia: Our Head Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction, 2016.

Entr'acte is a veritable encyclopedia of the cinema of magic: the image plastic and kinetic, the sensibility comic, inventive, charming and absurd. Made as intermission entertainment for the Ballet Suédois, from an impromptu scenario by Francis Picabia and accompanied originally by an orchestral score by Erik Satie, the film stars a who's who of the Dada movement of Paris at the time. The plot, a series of improbable adventures, is inconsequential except as an excuse for Clair to explore the limits of the medium: the camera is run forward and in reverse, tipped side to side and upside down; the film is single-framed, undercranked, and run at high speed; the resulting action is animated, sped up, slowed down; the visuals are superimposed and transformed through various matte frames; the viewer is caught up and assaulted by the frenetic pace of the recorded and edited image. The sum of these parts is a charming but challenging vision of Paris as a world of the imagination and the Dadaist intellectual conceit.

Publication excerpt from Circulating Film Library Catalogue, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1984, p. 167.
Production
France
Medium
35mm film (black and white, silent)
Duration
17 min. at 22 fps
Credit
Acquired from the Artist, through the courtesy of Rolf de Mare and Fernand Léger
Object number
1196
Department
Film

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at firenze@scalarchives.com. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA's Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email text_permissions@moma.org. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to archives@moma.org.

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.