Directors: Fernand Léger & Dudley Murphy
Time: 17 mins
Eye of Sound: It's difficult to make a brief description of such a historically charged film, so I'll just mention a few facts about the version presented here. Ballet Mécanique was jointly conceived by Dadaist painter and filmmaker Fernand Léger and Futurist composer George Antheil. Legend has it that Antheil's score was technically impossible to execute at the time: among other "oddities", it demanded sixteen synchronized pianos when there was no technology available to synchronize so many instruments at a time. Antheil rearranged it and added live piano players, but its American première turned out to be a disaster, with riots and all. The score was abandoned and for many decades every attempt to perform it bumped into the problem of synchronizing the pianos. Finally, in the 90s, after the discovery of the complete cut for Ballet Mécanique, Paul Lehrmann used modern MIDI technology to synchronize the piano section, thus "restoring" the score and allowing today's viewers to watch Ballet Mécanique as it was conceived. As far as I know, this is the only version which included the original George Antheil score.