Painlevé: Revisited

Posted by Mike Rollo on 20/05/2011 in Film
I have been watching a number works lately about films and nature – complimented with the observations from  Scott MacDonald in his chapter Up Close and Political: Three Short Ruminations on Nature Film from Adventures in Perception. I am currently enamoured by  the films of Jean Painlevé who was the son of Paul Painlevé the mathematician and French Prime Minister (1917 and 1925). Jean Painlevé’s films have a poetic and magical sensibility where he is able to capture undersea creatures in their natural habitat. The films have a clear scientific presence (Painlevé studied math and biology when he was a student) but are constructed with a passion for aesthetic principals, logically influenced from his contact with the surrealist artists of the 1920s. He would later star in Un Chien Andalou (1929) and provide the text for Georges Franju’s The Blood of Beasts (1949) (MacDonald p.165).