Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Monkeys' Moon

GB 1929. PC: Pool. D: Kenneth Macpherson; 750 ft /20 fps/ 10 min; from: La Cineteca del Friuli, Gemona / The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT. No intertitles. Grand piano and violin: Günter Buchwald. Viewed at Teatro Verdi, Pordenone, 6 Oct 2009. - From the GCM Catalogue: "Until recently, Borderline (1930) was thought to be the only work from experimental filmmaker Kenneth Macpherson known to survive, together with a few fragments from his first two films, the shorts Wing Beat (1927) and Foothills (1928). His third film – also a short – has now resurfaced, a lavishly photographed nocturnal elegy involving two little monkeys in a moonlit garden before the rain, and a jazz musician. Arts patron Annie Winifred Ellerman (nom de plume, Bryher) and Macpherson had monkeys in their home in Switzerland; those featured in this tiny cinematic jewel are two cute dourocoulis, commonly known as night monkeys. – Paolo Cherchi Usai. -A painter with a passion for film, Kenneth Macpherson (1903-1971) made up a curious ménage à trois with the American poet “H.D.” (Hilda Doolittle, 1886-1961) and the British heiress “Bryher” (Annie Winifred Ellerman, 1894-1983). Outside their bewilderingly entangled sexual relationships (Macpherson and Bryher were homosexual, H.D. bisexual; and despite a variety of outside relationships and marriages, H.D. and Bryher’s friendship lasted till the older woman’s death), they made a brief but startling impact on cinema with the establishment of “Pool”. Between 1927 and 1933 Pool published its progressive and opinionated magazine Close Up, which lauded the new and avant-garde and lambasted the commercial cinema, especially British films. Pool also produced Macpherson’s four films. His departure from the ménage seems to have coincided with the end of Close Up, after which he moved to the U.S., where for a time he lived with Peggy Guggenheim, and in 1947 co-produced Hans Richter’s Dreams that Money Can Buy. – David Robinson". - A fine avantgarde discovery in a brilliant print. Atmospheric imagery in a nocturnal garden with the monkeys.

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