(20/12/06) – (Dir: René Clair, France, 1924, 21′) – One of the absolute classics of Dada cinema (starring no one less than Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp, playing themselves), Entr’acte is available to stream from Ubu (see link on the left). Originally shown between two acts of Relache, an pera by Francis Picabia, Entr’Acte was a product of the Dadaist movement raging through Paris at the time, a loose collective dedicated to iconoclastic satire and experimentation, which many of today’s artists are indebted to. Director René Clair was looking for what he called ‘pure cinema,’ at a time when more progressist minds wanted to find a language that was specific to the medium, an idea shared by many of his contemporaries who saw the potential of the then new medium of cinema.
Entr’Acte bears many of the Dada hallmarks: playfulness, disregard for plot and a penchant for the nonsensical. The action starts with Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray playing chess. Then a cannon is fired by Erik Satie and Picabia and everyone goes to a funeral procession. But behind this seemingly random chain of segments and absurd situations and transformations lies an absolute desire to free art from having to serve any type of ideology or from being useful at all. Entr’Acte defies classification and the idea of temporal and spacial linearity, and although these Dada ideas did not win the battle against convention, which has become the norm of cinematic narrative ever since, it has stood the test of time and still challenges the viewer’s perception of what cinema is about.