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5 pages/≈1375 words
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Visual & Performing Arts
Research Paper
English (U.S.)
MS Word
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Research Paper Assignment & Rubric Mechanical Ballet (Research Paper Sample)


Short research paper focusing on a time-based artwork of your choosing. The paper will discuss your single time-based artwork using a central critical point generated from the prompt below:


Mechanical Ballet
Created in 1924, Mechanical Ballet, Ballet Mecanique in French, is a Dadaist post-Cubist film by Fernand Leger and Dudley Murphy. The film also bears a cinematographic input by Man Ray and musical score by George Antheil. Regardless of all these inputs, the film premiered as a silent film in 1924. It is seen as one of the earliest masterpieces of experimental filmmaking. It runs for 19 minutes and stars Alice Prin. The film was influenced by various factors and featured different elements of cinematography. This paper seeks to discuss the various influences and cinematographic elements found in the film. Various themes represented in the film such as modern urban life, factory process, machines, momentum, pulsating energy, among others will also be explored. By exploring these themes, the paper will show that the film was created to show the connection between man and machines.
Fernand Leger was a French painter who was deeply influenced and inspired by modern industrial technology as well as Cubism. Owing to this inspiration, he developed a style that featured monumental mechanistic forms in bold colors. His connection to the Cubist movement was gained from the poets he met while he was working in Paris. His new environment influenced him to abandon the styles he had been using to paint, which combined features of Impressionism and Fauvism and took a more Cubist approach. The inspiration of the film has been a topic of debate among film historians. Some argue that Murphy was the brain behind the film and Leger only helped promote the film. However, since Leger fought in World War I and spent a year in a hospital after being gassed, it is more probable that the whole mechanical theme of the film was his idea. Leger was mobilized into the French army in 1914 and fought for two years in Argonne (Chilvers and Glaves-Smith 400). A mustard gas attack by the Germans in 1916 almost killed him. To support the claim that the film was his idea, his World War I experiences can be seen in his other works. For instance, The Card Players created in 1917 reflects his ambivalence regarding the war. The artwork also marked the start of his mechanical period under which the Mechanical Ballet falls. This artistic technique combines the dynamic abstraction found in constructivism with the unruly qualities associated with Dada. This trend is seen throughout the film.
Dadaism is the most dominant style in the film. This was an art movement during the European avant-garde period popular in the early years of the 20th century. It had its early centers in Zurich but spread and flourished in far off cities such as Paris and New York. The movement largely developed as a response to World War I. It majorly consisted of artists who rejected the reason and logic of modern capitalist society. Rather, the artists expressed irrationality as well as anti-bourgeois protests in their artwork. The art created during this period includes literary, visual, as well as sound media such as sound poetry and collage. Through these works, the artists expressed their discontent with war, violence, and nationalism. They also maintained political attachments to the radical far-left. Cubism, as well as the development of abstract art and collage, informed the detachment of the movement from reality and convention. The Dada movement had an influence on later styles such as downtown music movements and surrealism. The Dadaist elements of spontaneous and irrational experimentation are evident throughout the film.
Analysis of the Film
Mechanical Ballet is an entirely non-narrative film featuring photography. The film bears features of both

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