Fernand L?©ger, Dudley Murphy
‚ÄúBallet M?©canique dates from the period when architects talked about the machine civilization‚Ä¶ This film is above all proof that machines and fragments of them, that ordinary manufactured objects, have plastic possibilities‚Äù (L?©ger c.1924).
Structured by a rhythm, the visual material of Ballet M?©canique is arranged like the sections of an orchestra. Only the machinery moves with an autonomous force, an automatic conductor with everything else appearing to follow its lead.
Ballet m?©canique premiered on 24 September 1924 at the Internationale Ausstellung neuer Theatertechnik (International Exposition for New Theater Technique) in Vienna.
Dudley Murphy began making films in the early 1920s after working as a journalist. His first short film, Soul of the Cypress (1920), was a variation on the Orpheus myth. Ballet m?©canique, codirected with Fernand L?©ger was Murphy's eighth film. Other films include St. Louis Blues (1929) with Bessie Smith, Black and Tan Fantasy (1929) with Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, and The Emperor Jones (1933), starring Paul Robeson.
Fernand L?©ger & Dudley Murphy, Ballet M?©canique 1924, ¬© courtesy of Anthology Film Archives