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Saturday, 28 September 2013

Sur un air de Charleston (Charleston Parade) (1927) - Director of the month... Jean Renoir

'Sur un air de Charleston' (aka: Charleston Parade) is a surreal 1927 silent short sci-fi film directed by French director Jean Renoir, and starring Catherine Hessling and Johnny Hudgins. 

The film is set in post-apocalyptic France in 2028, where a flying sphere lands on earth. An explorer emerges from the sphere and encounters a scantily dressed wild girl and her monkey-man companion, who teaches him how to do the Charleston.

Did you know...

  • This film was short over three days at a very low budget, using remaining film stock from Renoir's previous film 'Nana' (1927)
  • Blink and you'll miss director Jean Renoir as one of the angels
  • The film's leading lady Catherine Hessling was the wife of director Jean Renoir

Watch the film on YouTube:

Closing remarks

An unusual experimental film and very different to the rest of Jean Renoir's work. I personally enjoyed this film, although it may not make a lot of sense to most viewers.

What I enjoy most about watching this film in 2013 (almost 90 years after it was filmed), is how it encapsulates and fuses together both elements the past and future for the contemporary audience (although I highly doubt this was Renoir's intention). The past is represented by the use of the Charleston dance as a key plot device, and the future is represented by the post-apocalyptic France. 

I love watching people from the 1920s doing the Charleston. It is such an vibrant and energetic dance with it's hops, kicks and jumps... (it would make a fun cardio workout). Through Renoir's use of slow motion, the spectator can carefully observe the Charleston and how it is done. There are also some good use of early special effects.

Although the film runs only 17 minutes, I would consider this as an exemplary example of experimental futuristic cinema.

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