Themes and variations

Thèmes et variations
Director: Germaine Dulac

France, experimental, 1928, 10 min

The film greets us with a contrast: the rhythmical motions of a dancer and what seem to be rough mechanisms. A harmony between the woman’s movements and the dancing of the mechanical machine is gradually revealed: visual music is shown on the screen. “Themes and variations” (Thèmes et variations) – is a movie-paradox. It’s an attempt to tell what music is coming from the time when cinema was still black and white and silent.

About the director:

Germaine Dulac (1882–1942) was a French cinema pioneer, journalist and critic. After writing feminist articles for years, Dulac found the art of cinema during World War I. Eventually cinema became her biggest passion which stimulated the director to reach for untrodden paths and undiscovered ideas. After creating several commercial works, Dulac became the gonfalonier of the French Impressionist cinema movement – “The Smiling madame Beaudet” (La souriante Madame Beaudet, 1923) is now considered an avant-garde classic. Her most famous work is “The Seashell and the Clergyman” (La coquille et le Clergyman, 1927) – an astonishing surrealistic tale. After the introduction of colours and sound into films, Germaine Dulac’s film director career gradually ended, but she continued to write articles about cinema and participate in art organisations for the rest of her life.

Section: Special Screenings: Avantgarde women programme curated by Jonas Mekas