THE STARFISH (21’, France, 1928)

 

“Desnos’s poem was like a scenario for a film, consisting of fifteen or twenty lines, each line presenting a clear, detached image of a place or of a man and a woman. There was no dramatic action, yet all the elements for a possible action", says MAN RAY about the poem which inspired his film. Following the ambiguous redwire of a "possible action", THE STARFISH reunites all those precisely defined characteristics of MAN RAY's filmography, such as the use of repetitive images, as well as many camera effects, like low angle shots and distortion of the camera focus.

Director: MAN RAY

With the support of:

 

Cast: KIKI DE MONTPARNASSE, ROBERT DESNOS, ANDRE DE LA RIVIERE

Screenplay: ROBERT DESNOS

Cinematography: MAN RAY

Producer: MAN RAY



 

 

MAN RAY (1890-1976) was an American modernist artist who spent most of his career in Paris. He was a significant contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements, although his ties to each were informal. He was best known in the art world for his avant-garde photography, and he was a renowned fashion and portrait photographer. MAN RAY is also noted for his “photograms” (photographs realized without a photo camera, directly on light sensitive photographic paper), which he called "rayographs" in reference to himself. In 1999, ARTnews magazine named RAY one of the 25 most influential artists of the 20th century, citing his groundbreaking photography, “his explorations of film, painting, sculpture and collage. (…) MAN RAY offered artists in all media an example of a creative intelligence that, in its 'pursuit of pleasure and liberty', unlocked every door it came to and walked freely through.”

 

 

“Inspired by a lost poem by Robert Desnos, THE STARFISH, based on polysemic games and on the interrelationship between words and images, is undoubtedly the purest example of surrealist cinematic adaptation. A man meets a woman (Kiki de Montparnasse, MAN RAY's muse) who sells newspapers on the street. This meeting is followed by several scenes where each one of them is on his/her own. The man took from the woman a glass paper weight with a sea star/starfish inside. At the end of the film, they find themselves in a scene almost identical to their initial meeting, but this time another man (played by Desnos) suddenly arrives and takes the woman with him. In his film, MAN RAY uses intermittently some special lenses which distort the images, as if they would be seen through a thick glass, a choice which particularly enhances the subjective and oneiric nature of his vision.” (Philippe-Alain Michaud)

 

DOCUMENTARY ON MAN RAY

ARTICLE

MAN RAY: "LE RETOUR A LA RAISON"