At Oddball Films on Saturday night, guest curator Hannah Airriess introduced her genre-mixing program, which she succinctly summarized as being about how the camera reinvents the human body. In hallucinagenic excerpts from Busby Berkeley musicals, hundreds of dancers become oscillating sculptures & kinetic spectacles. It made me wonder if flash mobs are a modern equivalent.
Study in Choreography for Camera (1945) is a brief, unconvincing avant-garde film which shows a male ballet dancer in a variety of unconnected settings. The athletic fitness of Swedish high school girls is an explicit expression of the wholesomeness of a nation in the 1950s documentary The Sofia Girls. The imagery disturbingly recalls Leni Reifenstahl's Olympia, an excerpt of which was also in the program. In its masterful diving sequence, divers are transformed into flying bodies.
Charlie Chaplin turns roller skating into ballet in The Rink. Unfortunately the version we saw had no music, which drained a lot of life out of the film, but Chaplin still made the audience laugh. The 1970s educational film Gymnastics Flashbacks is a history of gymnastics as a spectator sport. It mixes modern Olympic routines with archival footage going back to 1912 & features the human body at extremes of performance.
The show ended with Parade, Parade (1973), a cinéma vérité look at a suburban Fourth of July parade. It's a snapshot of the nation, including American Indians in full regalia, acrobatic motorcyclists & Sesame Street characters.
The show started almost a half-hour late, as people continued to trickle in. It's close quarters here, & late arrivals resorted to climbing over chairs to get to empty seats. Though intending to take Muni, I ended up taking a cab to Oddball Films. The 22-Fillmore was unusable the whole day, the buses being dispatched in groups of three at 45 minute intervals.
§ Ecstatic Bodies: Human Form on Film
Curated by Hannah Airriess
Saturday, August 27th, 2011 at 8:00pm.
Musical Sequence "I Only Have Eyes for You" from Dames (1934), Busby Berkeley
Study in Choreography for Camera (1945), Maya Deren
The Sofia Girls: Rhythmic Gymnastics in Sweden (1950s)
The Rink (1916), Charlie Chaplin
Diving Sequences from Olympia (1936), Leni Reifenstahl
Gymnastics Flashbacks (1970s)
Calling All Girls (1942), Busby Berkeley
Parade, Parade (1973)