Alphaville Videoteca
Archivo audiovisual de cine clásico, independiente, experimental y de culto

Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Film

EE.UU.| Experimental / Cortometraje| 1894-1941|1140 minutos
Título original: Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Film
Dirección: Edwin S. Porter, James Cruze, Joseph Cornell, David W. Griffith, Douglas Fairbanks & Victor Fleming, Man Ray, Fernand Léger, Charles Vidor, Mary Ellen Bute, Robert K. Bonine, Leo Hurwitz, Jay Leyda, Lewis Jacobs, Rudy Burckhardt, Frederick Armitage, Dudley Murphy, Wallace McCutcheon, Busby Berkeley, Douglass Crockwell, Norman McLaren, J.S. Watson Jr. & Melville Webber, Ernst Lubitsch, Slavko Vorkapich, Ralph Steiner, James White, Elia Kazan, Ralph Steiner, Irving Lerner, Walker Evans, M.G. MacPherson & Jean Michelson, Frederick Armitage, A.E. Weed, Emlen Etting, Paul Burnford, Henwar Rodakiewicz, Robert Florey & Slavko Vorkapich, Robert Florey & William Cameron Menzies, Charles Klein, J.S. Watson, Jr. & Alec Wilder, William Vance & Orson Welles, Theodore Case & Earl Sponable, Elizabeth Woodman Wright, Lynn Riggs & James Hughes, Archie Stewart, Rudy Burckhardt, Frank Stauffacher, W.K.L. Dickson, Frederick Armitage, Charles Allen & Francis Trevelyan Miller, Dudley Murphy, Al Brick, Stella Simon & Miklos Bandy, Sergei Eisenstein, Norman Bel Geddes, Ted Nemeth, Oskar Fischinger, Sara Kathryn Arledge
Idioma: Silente Subtítulos: No necesita
Formato: DVD-R [7 discos]

Esta colección, curada por Bruce Posner del Anthology Film Archive, nos presenta una gran cantidad de películas experimentales del período 1894-1941, y la gran mayoría de ellas nunca antes estuvieron disponibles en formato digital. Si bien estas películas difieren enormemente entre sí, tienen una cosa en común: todas son experimentos de una forma u otra, destinadas a ampliar la concepción de lo que el cine puede ser o hacer.

Unseen Cinema contiene un asombroso total de más de 155 películas (y una duración total de casi 19 horas) que se distribuyen en 7 discos.

Anthology Film Archives, en colaboración con 60 de las colecciones de archivos cinematográficos más importantes del mundo, incluido el British Film Institute, George Eastman House, The Library of Congress y The Museum of Modern Art, entre muchos otros, preparó masters de conservación y restauración de estas raras películas artísticas.

Muchas de las películas no han estado disponibles desde su creación hace más de un siglo, algunas nunca se han proyectado en público y casi todas no han estado disponibles en copias restauradas hasta ahora.


Experiments in Technique and Form

The dynamic qualities of motion pictures are explored by cameramen and filmmakers through novel experiments in technique and form. Early cinematographers James White, "Billy" Bitzer, and Frederick Armitage display experimental shooting styles that wowed audiences. Other independent companies further image manipulation through creative staging, editing, and printing, such as a stunning three-screen film that predates Gance's Napoleon. Experiments by photographer Walker Evans, painter Emlen Etting, musician Jerome Hill, and the film collectives Nykino and Artkino record the world in a continual process of flux. A most extreme approach is realized by Henwar Rodakiewicz with Portrait of a Young Man (1925-31), a monumental study of natural and abstract motions.


  • 5 Paris Exposition Films (1900)-James White
  • Eiffel Tower from Trocadero Palace (1900)
  • Palace of Electricity (1900)
  • Champs de Mars (1900)
  • Panorama of Eiffel Tower (1900)
  • Scene from Elevator Ascending Eiffel Tower (1900)
  • Captain Nissen Going through Whirpool Rapids, Niagra Falls (1901)-creators unknown
  • Down the Hudson (1903)-Frederick Armitage & A.E. Weed
  • The Ghost Train (1903)-creators unknown
  • Westinghouse Works, Panorama View Street Car Motor Room (1904)-G.W. "Billy" Bitzer
  • In Youth, Beside the Lonely Sea (c. 1924-25)-creators unknown
  • Melody on Parade (c. 1936)-creators unknown
  • La Cartomancienne (The Fortune Teller) (1932)-Jerome Hill
  • Pie in the Sky (1934-35)-Nykino: Elia Kazan, Ralph Steiner & Irving Lerner
  • Travel Notes (1932)-Walker Evans
  • Oil: A Symphony in Motion (1930-33)-Artkino: M.G. MacPherson & Jean Michelson
  • Poem 8 (1932-33)-Emlen Etting
  • Storm (1941-43)-Paul Burnford
  • Portrait of a Young Man (1925-31)-Henwar Rodakiewicz

American Surrealism

Edwin S. Porter and other early filmmakers used bizarre sets, fantastic costumes, and magic lantern tricks to illuminate their fantasy films. American parody supplied Douglas Fairbanks with enough unusual material to produce the truly surreal When the Clouds Roll By (1919). The expressionistic Cabinet of Dr. Calagari (1919) influenced American sensibilities throughout the 1920s as seen in Beggar of Horseback (1925), The Life and Death of 9413-A Hollywood Extra (1927) and The Telltale Heart (1928). The emphasis shifted when amateurs J.S. Watson, Jr., Joseph Cornell, and Orson Welles crafted a unique variety of American surrealism on film unfettered by European concerns.


  • Jack and the Beanstalk (1902)-Edwin S. Porter
  • Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (1906)-Edwin S. Porter
  • The Thieving Hand (1907)-creator unknown, Vitagraph
  • Impossible Convicts (1905)-G.W. "Billy" Bitzer
  • When the Clouds Roll By (1919)-Douglas Fairbanks & Victor Fleming (excerpt)
  • Beggar on Horseback (1925)-James Cruze (excerpt)
  • The Fall of the House of Usher (1926-27)-J.S. Watson, Jr. & Melville Webber
  • The Life and Death of 9413: A Hollywood Extra (1927)- Robert Florey & Slavko Vorkapich
  • The Love of Zero (1928)-Robert Florey & William Cameron Menzies
  • The Telltale Heart (1928)-Charles Klein
  • Tomatos Another Day (1930/1933)-J.S. Watson, Jr. & Alec Wilder
  • The Hearts of Age (1934)- William Vance & Orson Welles
  • Unreal News Reels (c. 1926)-Weiss Artclass Comedies (excerpt)
  • The Children's Jury (c. 1938)-attributed Joseph Cornell
  • Thimble Theater (c. 1938)-Joseph Cornell
  • Carousel: Animal Opera (c. 1938)-Joseph Cornell
  • Jack's Dream (c. 1938)-Joseph Cornell

Music and Abstraction

The rhythmic elements of cinema are explored by artists and filmmakers fascinated by the abstract qualities of light. The American authors of avant-garde classics Le Retour á la raison (1923), Ballet mécanique (1923-24), Anémic cinéma (1926), and Une Nuit sur le Mont Chauve (1934), are finally acknowledged for their seminal artistic achievements made in Europe. Pioneer abstract films by Ralph Steiner, Mary Ellen Bute, Douglass Crockwell, Dwinnell Grant, and George Morris are compared and contrasted with Hollywood montages created by Ernst Lubitsch, Slavko Vorkapich, and Busby Berkeley. For the first time on video, composer George Antheil's original 1924 score accompanies Fernand Léger and Dudley Murphy's film Ballet mécanique, a truly avant-garde cacophony of image and sound.


  • Le Retour à la raison (1923)-Man Ray
  • Ballet mécanique (1923-24)-Fernand Léger & Dudley Murphy
  • Anémic cinéma (1924-26)-Rrose Sélavy (Marcel Duchamp)
  • Looney Lens: Anamorphic People (1927)-Al Brick
  • Out of the Melting Pot (1927)-W.J. Ganz Studio
  • H20 (1929)-Ralph Steiner
  • Surf and Seaweed (1929-30)-Ralph Steiner
  • 7 Vorkapich Montage Sequences (1928-37)-Slavko Vorkapich
  • The Furies (1934)
  • Skyline Dance (1928)
  • Money Machine (1929)
  • Prohibition (1929)
  • The Firefly- Vorkapich edit (1937)
  • The Firefly-MGM release version (1937)
  • Maytime (1937)
  • So This Is Paris (1926)-Ernst Lubitsch (excerpt)
  • Light Rhythms (1930)-Francis Bruguière & Oswell Blakeston
  • Une Nuit sur le Mont Chauve (Night on Bald Mountain) (1934)-Alexandre Alexeieff & Claire Parker
  • Rhythm in Light (1934)-Mary Ellen Bute, Ted Nemeth & Melville Webber
  • Synchromy No. 2 (1936)-Mary Ellen Bute & Ted Nemeth
  • Parabola (1937)-Mary Ellen Bute & Ted Nemeth
  • Footlight Parade - "By a Waterfall" (1933)-Busby Berkeley
  • Glen Falls Sequence (1937-46)-Douglass Crockwell
  • Simple Destiny Abstractions (1937-40)-Douglass Crockwell
  • Abstract Movies (1937-47)-George L.K. Morris
  • Scherzo (1939)-Norman McLaren
  • Themis (1940)-Dwinell Grant
  • Contrathemis (1941)-Dwinell Grant
  • 1941 (1941)-Francis Lee
  • Moods of the Sea (1940-42)-Slavko Vorkapich & John Hoffman

New Directions in Story-Telling

Early directors D.W. Griffith and Lois Weber develop the radical language of cinema narrative through audience-friendly melodramas made for nickelodeon theaters. Experimental fantasies are depicted in such independent productions as Moonland (c. 1926), Lullaby (1929), and The Bridge (1929-30). Depression era films by socially-conscious filmmakers reshape drama as demonstrated in Josef Berne's brooding Black Dawn (1933) and Strand and Hurwitz's biting Native Land (1937-41): each pictures a raw reality. Parody and satire find their mark in Theodore Huff's Little Geezer (1932) and Barlow, Hay and Le Roy's Even as You and I (1937). David Bradley's Sredni Vashtar by Saki (1940-43) boasts an inadvertent post-modern attitude.


  • The House with Closed Shutters (1910)-D.W. Griffith & G.W. "Billy" Bitzer
  • Suspense (1913)-Lois Weber & Philips Smalley
  • Moonland (c. 1926)-Neil McQuire & William A. O'Connor
  • Lullaby (1929)-Boris Deutsch
  • The Bridge (1929-30)-Charles Vidor
  • Little Geezer (1932)-Theodore Huff
  • Black Dawn (1933)-Josef Berne & Seymour Stern
  • Native Land (1937-41)-Frontier Films: Leo Hurwitz & Paul Strand (excerpt)
  • Black Legion (1936-7)-Nykino: Ralph Steiner & Willard Van Dyke
  • Even As You and I (1937)-Roger Barlow, Harry Hay & Le Roy Robbins
  • Object Lesson (1941)-Christoher Young
  • "Sredni Vashtar" by Saki (1940-43)-David Bradley

New York City Unveiled

The DVD depicts dynamic images of New York City and scenes of New Yorkers among the skyscrapers, streets, and night life of America's greatest city during a half century of progress, while at the same time showing changes in film style and the history of cinema experiments. Avant-garde moments pop up in the most unlikely of places including turn-of-the-twentieth-century actualities, commercial and radical newsreels, and Busby Berkeley's "Lullaby of Broadway" from Gold Diggers of 1935. Included are spectacular prints of Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand's Manhatta (1921), Robert Flaherty's Twenty-four-Dollar Island (c. 1926), Robert Florey's Skyscraper Symphony (1929), Jay Leyda's A Bronx Morning (1931), and Rudy Burckhardt's Pursuit of Happiness (1940).


  • The Blizzard (1899)-creators unknown
  • Lower Broadway (1902)-Robert K. Bonine
  • Beginning of a Skyscraper (1902)-Robert K. Bonine
  • Panorama from Times Building, New York (1905)-Wallace McCutcheon
  • Skyscrapers of NYC from North River (1903)-J.B. Smith
  • Panorama from Tower of the Brooklyn Bridge (1903)-G.W. "Billy" Bitzer
  • Building Up and Demolishing the Star Theatre (1902)-Frederick Armitage
  • Coney Island at Night (1905)-Edwin S. Porter
  • Interior New York Subway 14th Street to 42nd Street (1905)-G.W. "Billy" Bitzer
  • Seeing New York by Yacht (1902)-Frederick Armitage & A.E. Weed
  • 2 Looney Lens: Split Skyscrapers (1924) and Tenth Avenue, NYC (1924)-Al Brick
  • 4 Scenes from Ford Educational Weekly (1916-24)-creators unknown
  • Manhatta (1921)-Charles Sheeler & Paul Strand
  • Twentyfour-Dollar Island (c. 1926)-Robert Flaherty
  • Skyscraper Symphony (1929)-Robert Florey
  • Manhattan Medley (1931)-Bonney Powell
  • A Bronx Morning (1931)-Jay Leyda
  • Footnote to Fact (1933)-Lewis Jacobs
  • Seeing the World (1937)-Rudy Burckhardt
  • Pursuit of Hapiness (1940)-Rudy Burckhardt
  • Gold Diggers of 1935 - "Lullaby of Broadway" (1935)-Busby Berkeley (excerpt)
  • Autumn Fire (1930-33)-Herman Weinberg

Discovering Paradise in Pictures

These home-made films incorporate avant-garde strategies and techniques to achieve a true sense of cinematic intimacy. Glimpses of life caught unawares are found in the home movies of Elizabeth Woodman Wright, Archie Stewart, Frank Stauffacher, and John C. Hecker. Poetic lyricism finds a voice in city symphonies: Lynn Riggs and James Hughes' A Day in Santa Fe (1931) and Rudy Burckhardt's Haiti (1938). Professionally minded films, like Theodore Case's sound tests (c. 1925) and Lewis Jacobs' Tree Trunk to Head (1938), operate from a similar home-spun perspective of sincerity. Joseph Cornell offers an enigmatic but lovely homage to childhood with Children's Trilogy (c. 1938).


  • 7 Case Sound Tests (c. 1924-25)-Theodore Case & Earl Sponable
  • Windy Ledge Farm (c. 1929-34)-Elizabeth Woodman Wright
  • A Day in Santa Fe (1931)-Lynn Riggs & James Hughes
  • 4 Stewart Family Home Movies (c. 1935-39)-Archie Stewart
  • Children's Party (c. 1938)-Joseph Cornell
  • Cotillion (c. 1938)-Joseph Cornell
  • The Midnight Party (c. 1938)-Joseph Cornell
  • Haiti (1938)-Rudy Burckhardt
  • Tree Trunk to Head (1938)-Lewis Jacobs
  • Bicycle Polo at San Mateo (1940-42)-Frank Stauffacher
  • 1126 Dewey Avenue, Apt. 207 (1939)-John C. Hecker

The Beginnings of Ciné-Dance

Dance and film have shared the aspiration to creatively sculpt motion and time. Some of the first films ever made featured Annabelle's skirt dance, hand-painted in glowing colors. Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis' innovations found their way into Diana the Huntress (1916) and The Soul of the Cypress (1920). Highly cinematic renditions of dance evolved in Stella Simon's Hände (1928), Hector Hoppin's Joie de vivre (1934), and Busby Berkeley's "Don't Say Goodnight" from Wonder Bar (1934). In counterpoint, ciné-dances by Mary Ellen Bute, Douglass Crockwell, Oskar Fischinger, Norman McLaren, Ralph Steiner, and Slavko Vorkapich dispensed with actual dancers in favor of color, shape, line, and form choreographed into abstract light-play.


  • 7 Annabelle Dances and Dances (1894-1897)-W.K.L. Dickson, William Heise & James White
  • Davy Jones' Locker (1900)-Frederick Armitage
  • Neptune's Daughters (1900)-Frederick Armitage
  • A Nymph of the Waves (1900)-Frederick Armitage
  • Diana the Huntress (1916)-Charles Allen & Francis Trevelyan Miller (excerpt)
  • The Soul of the Cypress (1920)-Dudley Murphy
  • Looney Lens: Pas de deux (1924)-Al Brick
  • Hände: Das Leben und die Liebe eines Zärtlichen Geschlechts (Hands: The Life and Loves of the Gentler Sex) (1928)-Stella Simon & Miklos Bandy
  • Mechanical Principles (1930)-Ralph Steiner
  • Tilly Losch in Her Dance of the Hands (c. 1930-33)-Norman Bel Geddes
  • 2 Eisenstein's Mexican Footage (1931)-Sergei Eisenstein (excerpts)
  • Oramunde (1933)-Emlen Etting
  • Hands (1934)-Ralph Steiner & Willard Van Dyke
  • Joie de vivre (1934)-Anthony Gross & Hector Hoppin
  • Wonder Bar: "Don't Say Goodnight" (1934)-Busby Berkeley (excerpt)
  • Dada (1936)-Mary Ellen Bute & Ted Nemeth
  • Escape (1938)-Mary Ellen Bute & Ted Nemeth
  • An Optical Poem (1938)-Oskar Fischinger
  • Abstract Experiment in Kodachrome (c. 1940s)-Slavko Vorpapich
  • NBC Valentine Greeting (1939-40)-Norman McLaren
  • Stars and Stripes (1940)-Norman McLaren
  • Tarantella (1940)-Mary Ellen Bute, Ted Nemeth & Norman McLaren
  • Spook Sport (1940)-Mary Ellen Bute, Ted Nemeth & Norman McLaren
  • Danse Macabre (1922)-Dudley Murphy
  • Peer Gynt (1941)-David Bradley, starring Charlton Heston (excerpt)
  • Introspection (1941/46)-Sara Kathryn Arledge