Zoological Surrealism: The Nonhuman Cinema of Jean Painlevé 1517902150, 9781517902155

An archive-based, in-depth analysis of the surreal nature and science movies of the pioneering French filmmaker Jean Pai

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Zoological Surrealism: The Nonhuman Cinema of Jean Painlevé
 1517902150, 9781517902155

Table of contents :
Cover
Half Title
Title
Copyright
Contents
Introduction: Cinema’s Copernican Vocation
1. Neozoological Dramas: Comparative Anatomy by Other Means
2. Metamorphoses: Crustaceans, the Coming of Sound, and Plasmatic Anthropomorphism
3. Amour Flou: The Seahorse and the Blur of Sex
4. Substitutes, Vectors, and the Circulatory Systems of Modernity: Dr. Normet’s Serum: Experimental Treatment of a Hemorrhage in a Dog and The Vampire
5. Carnivorous Cinema: Freshwater Assassins and Blood of the Beasts
Conclusion: Unfinished Re volutions, Untimely Nature
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index
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Citation preview

ZOOLOGICAL SURREALISM

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ZOOLOGICAL SURREALISM THE NONHUMAN CINEMA OF JEAN PAINLEVÉ

James Leo Cahill

UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA PRESS Minneapolis ∙ London

The University of Minnesota Press gratefully acknowledges the generous assistance provided for the publication of this book by the Hamilton P. Traub University Press Fund. Every effort was made to obtain permission to reproduce material in this book. If any proper acknowledgment has not been included here, we encourage copyright holders to notify the publisher. A portion of chapter 2 was previously published in different form as “Anthropomorphism and Its Vicissitudes: Reflections on Homme-­sick Cinema,” in Screening Nature: Cinema beyond the Human, ed. Anat Pick and Guinevere Narraway, 73–­90 (New York: Berghahn, 2013). A portion of chapter 3 was previously published in different form as “Forgetting Lessons: Jean Painlevé’s Cinematic Gay Science,” Journal of Visual Culture 11 (2012): 258–­87. Copyright 2019 by the Regents of the University of Minnesota All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Published by the University of Minnesota Press 111 Third Avenue South, Suite 290 Minneapolis, MN 55401-­2520 http://www.upress.umn.edu Printed in the United States of America on acid-­free paper The University of Minnesota is an equal-­opportunity educator and employer. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Cahill, James Leo, author. Title: Zoological surrealism: the nonhuman cinema of Jean Painlevé / James Leo Cahill. Description: Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, [2019] | Includes  bibliographical references and index. |  Identifiers: LCCN 2018025291 (print) | ISBN 978-1-5179-0215-5 (hc) | ISBN 978-1-5179-0216-2 (pb) Subjects: LCSH: Painlevé, Jean—Criticism and interpretation. | Science films—History and criticism. Classification: LCC PN1998.3.P34525 C34 2019 (print) | DDC 791.4302/33092—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2018025291 UMP BmB 2019

Contents Introduction: Cinema’s Copernican Vocation  1 1. Neozoological Dramas: Comparative Anatomy by Other Means  31 2. Metamorphoses: Crustaceans, the Coming of Sound, and Plasmatic Anthropomorphism  93 3. Amour Flou: The Seahorse and the Blur of Sex  159 4. Substitutes, Vectors, and the Circulatory Systems of Modernity: Dr. Normet’s Serum: Experimental Treatment of a Hemorrhage in a Dog and The Vampire  215 5. Carnivorous Cinema: Freshwater Assassins and Blood of the Beasts  261 Conclusion: Unfinished Revolutions, Untimely Nature  311 Acknowledgments  317 Notes  321 Index  375

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Introduction CINEMA’S COPERNICAN VOCATION

The further our knowledge extends, the more man perceives his parochial location [seinen Winkel]. —­Friedrich Nietzsche, Studien aus der Umwerthungszeit, 1882–­1888 The cinema is a marvellous apparatus for taking us outside of ourselves and outside of the world in which we believe ourselves to live. —­Jean Epstein, Alcool et cinéma, 1946–­1949

“Je suis un horsin.”1 I am an horsin. The French filmmaker Jean Painlevé described himself as such in an interview he gave in 1935. In Norman dialect, horsin (also spelled horsain) refers to somebody not from the region of Normandy. An horsin is an outsider, an unknown, or a stranger—­a label that applied to Painlevé, who grew up in Paris, but made many visits to the northern coasts as a child and then as a researcher and filmmaker. Horsin is a homonym with the spiny aquatic creature the sea urchin (oursin) as well as the phrase hors sein, which may translate as “outside,” “off-­center,” “eccentric,” or “decentered.” Painlevé’s slight pun echoes a brief sequence from his 1928 documentary Les Oursins (The Sea Urchins). The footage depicts Painlevé “doing the tides,” searching the seashore and tidal pools for specimens while also observing the inhabitants of an ecosystem in situ. Painlevé briefly resembles Narcissus, appearing as if transfixed by his own reflection and reaching out to caress the beautiful visage in front of him. Breaking the water’s surface, he reaches beyond his reflected face (now gently palpitating and deformed by the ripples of the water) and retrieves a sea urchin, which he inspects with the same fascination 1

Figure I.1. Revising Narcissus: Jean Painlevé in The Sea Urchins (1928). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

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(spectators know this to be a rock urchin not only because the film’s title cards tell us so but thanks also to an explanatory cut-­in to a full shot of a specimen in an aquarium). The shift in attention—­from self-­regard to nonhuman other, and the ripples or impact that such a perceptual pivot may have on one’s self-­image—­presents in condensed form the main argument of this book: that the films of Jean Painlevé developed a mode of looking and a practice of cinematic encounter that, in turning its attention to animal life and nonhuman worlds, also critically altered conceptions of human life. Painlevé’s oeuvre has remained a minor concern for film history and theory, despite a filmography of close to two hundred films and filmed documents spanning six decades and featuring a bestiary of strange aquatic and terrestrial creatures, including octopuses, sea urchins, crustaceans, seahorses, insects, vampire bats, and the people who observe them. The subjects explored in the films he made alone and with his partner Geneviève Hamon—­the marvels and terrors of animal life and nonhuman worlds, the radical possibilities and limitations of cinematic perception, the ethics of documentation, as well as reflections on violence, vulnerability, and precarity—­offer a path for thinking another, untimely natural history of cinema. This book offers such an account through two complementary paths. First, it presents a history of the first twenty-­five years of Painlevé’s career, spanning from 1924 to 1949. Second, through close readings of this oeuvre in its multiple contexts of production and reception, it develops a transhistorical theoretical account of cinema’s Copernican vocation, or the twinned capacities for potentially revolutionary scientific discovery and anthropocentric displacement. Given the breadth of Painlevé’s filmography, why focus on the years 1924–­49? Four primary reasons justify this periodization. First, this period coincides with the twilight years of French comparative anatomy—­the study of the morphology, physiology, development, and metamorphosis of different organisms—­before it was institutionally absorbed into biology and genetics after the Second World War. Painlevé trained in this discipline and began his first forays into aesthetics and filmmaking through his research in comparative anatomy. Comparative anatomy provided a ready-­made framework for explorations of the relationships between

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animals and humans, and Painlevé’s oeuvre may be understood as the pusuit of comparative anatomy by other means and in new contexts. His connections, institutional activities, and potential impact into scientific work in this field were strongest during this period. Second, these years also coincide with the initial, energetic phase of Surrealism in France, which provides the second key context for Painlevé’s activities. Painlevé worked at the margins of Parisian Surrealism, contributing to the competing Surrealisms organized around Yvan Goll, André Breton and Louis Aragon, and Georges Bataille. Painlevé should be understood as an intensive participant in his own form of zoological Surrealism that cuts across the various factions and brings into visibility other possible configurations and histories of Surrealist activity. Third, Painlevé was a vital contributor to what Richard Abel has called the “alternative cinema networks” of the interwar period.2 His films also enjoyed their strongest relationship to popular cinema during this era and even, in the case of L’Hippocampe (The Seahorse, 1934), garnered popular success and wide theatrical distribution. Judging by archival holdings, the popular and specialized press also gave Painlevé the most attention during these years, in part owing to his famous father. In the post–­World War II era, the films primarily played in ciné-­clubs and nontheatrical exhibition contexts. The ties to the scientific community, the development of a particular zoological Surrealism, and the importance of new forms of alternative cinema networks continued to play a role throughout Painlevé’s career, despite a shifting landscape, but these factors found their forms and most proximate connections in the interwar and immediate post–­World War II years. The fourth reason for focusing on the years 1924–­49 relates to the broader intellectual context of a nonhumanist anthropological turn in French thought. The enthusiasm for the inhuman modes of perception of lens-­based photographic and cinematographic media, and their articulation with the anti-­or critical humanist lines of thought, which flourished in the interwar years, momentarily waned in the face of the inter-­European genocides during the Second World War and the development of planet-­ destroying atomic weaponry.

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STUDYING PAINLEVÉ (ASSISTED BY HAMON)

In the first entry to what was intended to be a triptych of articles for the magazine Regards dedicated to the “subversive” Institut de Cinématographie Scientifique (Institute for Scientific Cinematography; ICS), the journalist Léo Sauvage faced a conundrum in writing his articles. “It’s inevitable. One comes interested in the work, but one is forced to first of all be interested in the man.”3 Sauvage’s mea culpa for a piece titled “Jean Painlevé ou, subversion dans la science” ( Jean Painlevé or, subversion in science) concerned the apparent ideological contradiction of writing an individual profile about the son of a very famous mathematician and center-­left politician in the pages of a communist-­aligned magazine whose full title was Regards sur le monde du travail. Focus on the man potentially reduced complex processes to biography or individual initiative and risked losing sight of the larger significance of the work and its subversions. A similar methodological conundrum faces the scholar interested in the multifaceted work of Jean Painlevé and his collaborators: how to negotiate the irreducible relationship between the work, the biography of its creator(s), its ostensible subjects—­animal life, human–­animal encounters, and the fantasies and cultural myths they generate—­and the various contexts that informed them and into which they intervened, including scientific research, aesthetic endeavors, popular culture, intellectual history, and political circumstances in France as a republic and colonial empire. This conundrum is further heightened by the productive tension between the historical and theoretical dimensions of the present study, which argues for the importance of Painlevé’s oeuvre for cinema history through an archival and contextual account of its production and reception and, as discussed in greater detail in the next section, explores the manner in which these films participated in the development of a nonanthropocentric use of cinema and its relation to a broader anthropological turn in contemporaneous thought. A photograph from around 1922, attributed to Painlevé’s classmate and friend Jacques-­André Boiffard—­a pioneering Surrealist then studying medicine—­presents a parallel tension regarding the at times fuzzy lines

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of biographical interest, authorship, and the networks in which such designations develop.4 The photograph superimposes two slightly different vantages and scaled portraits of Painlevé and Boiffard (presumably taken by the two men and merged by the latter): the sharper, smaller-­scaled exposure is of Painlevé looking directly off frame-­right and the softer, slightly larger exposure is of Boiffard looking slightly upward. The two faces mix into a strange amalgam, producing a surreal double-­exposure portrait that is not one, suggesting a dissection and doubling of its subjects, and the production of a surplus figure. Contemporaneous with André Breton’s provocative statement that the advent of photography and film may be preparing humans “to escape the principle of identity,” the photograph plays with a sense of identity as nonidentical, as defined by dynamism, exchange, and difference rather than a stable and coherent essence.5 This study aims to sharpen the contours of Painlevé and his oeuvre while also attending to the at times blurred lines of creative labor as a solitary and collaborative endeavor. If, as Sauvage noted, biographical considerations may appear as an ideologically suspect impediment, they may also provide access to both the singularity of particular historical subjects and the broader field of forces that shape them, with which they struggle, and to which they contribute.6 Jean Marie Léon Painlevé was born November 20, 1902, to Julie Marie Marguerite Petit de Villeneuve and Paul Painlevé of Paris.7 Jean arrived into a world of incredible privilege. Petit de Villeneuve, known by the pet name “Gaette,” came from a wealthy Parisian family with considerable real estate holdings. Paul Painlevé, the son of a typographer turned ink manufacturer, distinguished himself as a mathematician—­he was the youngest elected member of the Academy of Sciences in 1900—­based on his differential equations and work in fluid mechanics, which were essential to the physics of aviation. Politicized by the Dreyfus Affair, Paul Painlevé began his second career as a politician when Jean was a young boy. He was elected to the office of deputy of the fifth arrondissement of Paris in 1910. As a member of the Radical Party during World War I, he served as minister of education, minister of war, president of the Chamber of Deputies in 1917 and 1924–­25, and France’s first minister of aviation in 1930.

Figure I.2. Jacques-­André Boiffard (1902–­61). Copyright Mme. Denise Boiffard. Jean Painlevé, circa 1922. Gelatin silver print, 16.3 × 11.5 in. Inv#AM2012-­2084. Photograph by Georges Meguerditchian. Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France. Copyright CNAC/MNAM. Distribution RMN–­ Grand Palais/Art Resource, New York.

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Six weeks after Jean’s birth, Gaette died from puerperal fever. Paul, who never remarried, moved in with his sister Marie Lamy, a widow with three children. The two siblings and their four children lived together at 18 rue Séguier, and then 81 rue de Lille. As a child, Jean spent his summers with his maternal grandmother in Brittany, where he became enamored with the sea, frequently bringing creatures he found at the beach back home with him to live in his bathtub.8 He also took an interest in photography, capturing nature scenes and whatever struck him as “curious” with a four by four centimeter box camera and then a Kodak Brownie number zero. During this same time, he fell in love with the movies. Painlevé had an insolent spirit that remained undiminished throughout his life. The Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein wrote of Painlevé, “It would be hard to find a young man of more radical views and more opposed to the church. . . . Jean Painlevé, resourceful and irrepressible as he was, found a way of taking part in everything that bore even the faintest trace of social protest and disorder.”9 As an adolescent, he frequently played hooky from school, preferring to spend his time in the zoological park at the Jardin des plantes. Painlevé cofounded a short-­lived communist student organization, and he developed anarchist sympathies. While his father was in office, the young Painlevé protested his policies. He demonstrated against France’s colonial presence in Morocco and participation in the Rif War with a banner reading “Free Abd el-­Krim,” and he often found himself detained by the police. The older Painlevé showed great tolerance and affection for his son, and even in the midst of his rebellions, the young Painlevé remained devoted to his father, with whom he lived until his father’s death in 1933. Despite his strong distaste for school, Painlevé managed to pass his baccalaureate and gain entrance to the Sorbonne, where he studied the physics, chemistry, and natural sciences sequence required of medical students before changing to comparative anatomy and histology. While pursuing his studies, he also took full advantage of his privileged upbringing to participate in automobile races and recreational aviation. He frequented jazz clubs and occasionally banged on the piano at Le Jockey in Montparnasse. During the 1930s and 1940s, Painlevé also dedicated considerable en-

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ergy to the creation of independent institutions to support the production and diffusion of scientific, educational, and documentary films. He formed his own production and distribution companies, including La Cinégraphie Documentaire—­later renamed Les Documents Cinématographiques—­and the ICS, as well as the Association pour la Documentation Photographique et Cinématographique dans les Sciences (Association for Photographic and Cinematographic Documentation in the Sciences; ADPCS), which held annual conferences to bring together scientists, filmmakers, and educators. Despite his aversion to official political organizations, he became increasingly active in antifascist struggles, and during the war, he participated in several Resistance networks.10 Toward the end of the war, he co-­formed the Comité de libération du cinéma français (Committee for the Liberation of French Cinema) and briefly held the position of director of French cinema upon liberation.11 Between 1946 and 1956, as the president of the Fédération Française des Ciné-­clubs (French Federation of Ciné-­Clubs), and as the honorary president of the Fédération Internationale des Ciné-­ clubs (International Federation of Ciné-­Clubs), Painlevé helped support a noncommercial film culture and the projection of short films. Painlevé jealously guarded his independence, but independence did not indicate a solitary practice but rather intensive forms of collaboration. Painlevé’s closest collaborator was Geneviève “Ginette” Hamon (1905–­87), who served as his assistant on many of the films examined in this study and later codirected a number of popular documentaries with him. Hamon is a challenging figure to write about. Her presence in printed matter is minimal. The evening edition of L’Ouest-­Éclair dated July 20, 1905, ran a bare-­bones announcement under “Civil Status,” “Births, Geneviève Hamon, Louise Bideau.”12 Hamon grew up in Port-­ Blanc in Brittany, the youngest of three daughters of Augustin Hamon and Henriette Rynenbrœck Hamon, a couple of anarchists, vegetarians, and free thinkers who worked as the official French translators of George Bernard Shaw.13 Thanks to a generous advance from the playwright, the Hamon family bought a stone house in Port-­Blanc that they baptized “Ty an Diaoul” (The Devil’s House). Hamon’s eldest sister, Mary-­Yvonne (1902–­88), was a classmate of Painlevé, and it was through her that Geneviève and Jean met during his residency at the Station Biologique

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de Roscoff in Brittany, a short distance from Port-­Blanc. Mary-­Yvonne became a professor of natural sciences at the University of Algiers and then Rennes. Middle sister Viviane (1903–­80) also had a career in the sciences as a laboratory researcher affiliated with the Pasteur Institute. Geneviève showed little interest in formal education—­the author Louis Guilloux, who, as a young man, was briefly hired in 1917 as a tutor for the Hamon sisters, noted in his memoirs that Geneviève refused to work with him—­but she had a gift for the decorative arts, as manifested in the fabrics and jewelry she designed based on aquatic motifs, which Painlevé marketed in the mid-­1930s.14 Shortly after meeting, Hamon and Painlevé became romantically and professionally involved with each other, but as with many aspects of their lives, they did so as nonconformists: they rejected the institution of marriage and declared themselves to Hamon’s parents as advocates of free love, remaining independent but close up until Hamon’s death in 1987.15 Ty an Diaoul provided the space for a small film studio for Painlevé and was a summertime social center for many of Painlevé and Hamon’s friends and collaborators, including Jacques-­André Boiffard and Renée Jacobi, Pierre Prévert, André Raymond, Éli Lotar, and Alexander and Louisa Calder, to name a few. When in Paris, Hamon stayed at an apartment held by the family at 138, boulevard Montparnasse.16 In Jean Painlevé, le cinéma au cœur de la vie, Roxane Hamery observes that Hamon’s discretion, as well as a paucity of available material, makes it difficult to describe with precision her role in Painlevé’s oeuvre.17 The research conducted for this book has managed only a slightly larger yield of archival and documentary evidence. This much can be confirmed about Hamon’s role as assistant in the early popular documentaries: her family provided an important condition of possibility by giving Painlevé a place to set up a small film studio at Ty an Diaoul. Photographs taken during the production of the early films register Hamon’s frequent presence: she can be seen wading through a pond searching for specimens with Painlevé (Figure I.3), she appears dressed in a white lab coat in the background of a shot of Raymond and Painlevé working with a microcinematography apparatus (Figure 3.6), and a photograph of Hamon, Painlevé, and another woman (possibly one of Hamon’s sisters) working at a microscope bench with their eyes pressed against their diopters illustrates Léo Sauvage’s “L’Institut dans

Figure I.3. Jean Painlevé and Geneviève Hamon fishing for specimens, circa 1933. Courtesy of Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

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la cave” (Institute in the cellar).18 In “Les Films biologiques,” an article published in 1929, Painlevé alludes to “the complete and selfless aid of several friends” who have made the production of his films possible, and he opens his 1935 article for Voilà, “Feet in the Water,” by naming these friends as his collaborators Geneviève Hamon and André Raymond.19 In “Institute in the Cellar,” he introduces Hamon as “his principal scientific collaborator.”20 Starting with Assassins d’eau douce (Freshwater Assassins, 1947), she began appearing in film credits, first as “biological assistant,” then in Oursins (Sea urchins, 1954) as “assisted by,” and from Comment naissent des méduses (How Some Jellyfish Are Born, 1960) onward, she is credited as codirector of many of the popular documentaries. In a series of interviews for the television program Jean Painlevé au fil de ses films ( Jean Painlevé through his films, 1987), he describes her as “his constant collaborator and alter ego, who was always ready to set up whatever I needed.”21 Her roles in the early years included everything from caring for animals to maintaining aquariums, securing supplies, and working on the décor and mise-­en-­scène. Hamon’s place in this study takes form as a set of open questions for future research. Although it exceeds the explicit periodization for this book, the first of these questions asks, what differentiates the films made between 1928 and 1945 by Painlevé from those made between 1947 and 1960 that credit Hamon in various assistant positions and those from 1960 that are credited as directed by Painlevé and Hamon? Are there discernable shifts in style, form, and approach of the films from these periods, besides those made possible by technical changes in film production, such as the arrival of sound and access to color stock? How did the distribution of creative and technical labor change over time? To what extent was Hamon’s role a renegotiation of responsibilities, and to what extent was it a conceptual reorientation on the part of the filmmakers in terms of what constituted authorship and what it meant to be a film director? How did the initiative for these changes come about? Absent the discovery of some miraculous trove of documents, the answers to most of these questions will likely remain in the realm of speculation. The dynamism of their collaborations may have been the result of lessons learned in the practice of making films across several decades, wherein their roles, understandings

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of labor value, and concepts of authorship developed across this body of work. Through the experiences of making films, Painlevé and his collaborators developed a practice of making their films politically. Sauvage rhetorically lamented the inevitable turn to the man in thinking about the work as a risk of reducing it to simple causes filtered through the lens of bourgeois individualism. In Sauvage’s articles for Regards in April and May 1935 (a third installment on Painlevé’s “incursion into underwater life” never appeared), he offered one of the more extensive peaks into the ICS, which he depicted as the collective effort of three or four men and women working together harmoniously. Taken in a bluntly literal sense, Sauvage reminds readers to keep others in mind when thinking about Painlevé’s work. In the case of Hamon, one confronts a vexing question of an archival nature: to what extent were her traces allowed to vanish, seen as insignificant at the time, and to what extent was this an intentional vanishing act on Hamon’s part? How might assistance and support manifest in traceable forms? Would invisibility have been the condition of having done her job well? Did the nonconformist Hamon choose to efface her traces, preferring to have the work speak and stand in for her? Posing these questions also requires interrogating the impulses driving them. Heather Love’s reflections on the questionable ethics of “historical rescue” efforts of queer subjects in Feeling Backward calls for caution on the part of historians concerning the powerful desire behind such efforts at reclamation. What if the historical subjects one pursues wish not to be touched? How does one negotiate, Love asks, the resistance of certain figures to our advances toward them?22 If these historiographical challenges have been raised but not resolved in the writing of this book, they have informed a few opportunities to examine Painlevé’s work assisted by Hamon, particularly through photographic documents (discussed later in this introduction and in chapter 2). A literal reading of Sauvage’s cautions about the traps of a reductive bourgeois individualism may be taken a step further by recalling one of the primary subjects of the ICS’s work: the documentation of animal life and biological phenomena. To stop at the man, or even humans, would be to miss a crucial aspect of what makes the work interesting.23 Scholars writing on animal and wildlife cinema, as Jonathan Burt argues, tend to privilege

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filmmakers and filmmaking techniques over the ostensible stars of wildlife films: the animals.24 Hamon offers an instructive lesson in this regard as well, even in her possible resistance to being inscribed too readily into historical record. A pair of undated snapshots by Painlevé held in Archives Jean Painlevé (AJP) feature Hamon striking a similar pose in which she holds an animal up in front of her face (Figure I.4). They display knowledge of photographic technique, the play of parallax perspectives, and how to manipulate an image from within the profilmic frame to produce mildly surreal effects. The resultant images playfully merge human and animal into a chimeric figure. They illustrate the manner in which photographic media may provide an experimental milieu for staging encounters with animals, while also reminding beholders that this configuration makes explicit the forms of “cross-­species contact” and “entanglement” typically implicit in images of animals.25 These snapshots of Hamon provide a methodological lesson for examining the available image archives of Painlevé and Hamon: do not look behind the animals pictured but at them. Perhaps it is in the encounters between photographer, apparatus, animal, and human that the most enduring traces of Hamon appear, and this model of looking may also guide the analysis of Painlevé’s films. The historical axis of this book studies Painlevé assisted by Hamon, attending, when possible, to the varied forms of collaboration and partnership that marked their lives during the interwar and immediate post–­World War II years. The present study gives particular attention to the scientific and aesthetic contexts of the first half of the twentieth century with the aim of expanding the accounts of Painlevé produced by two previous major works dedicated to him: the edited collection Science Is Fiction: The Films of Jean Painlevé, particularly Brigitte Berg’s biographical essay “Contradictory Forces: Jean Painlevé, 1902–­1989,” and Roxane Hamery’s monograph Jean Painlevé, le cinéma au cœur de la vie. These works have set the standard in English and French. They provide important biographical information and have produced the most extensive filmographies to date. Science Is Fiction has been an invaluable and influential hors d’oeuvre for considerations of Painlevé. Its alluring title—­also shared by the subsequent British Film Institute and Criterion DVD releases of Painlevé’s films—­draws from a comment Painlevé made in an interview with Philippe Jerôme in 1986:

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Figure I.4. Jean Painlevé (1902–­89). Geneviève Hamon and dog (date unknown, photograph uncredited). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris. Courtesy of Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

“I respect scientists who say from time to time: Science rows across the lake of ignorance as it moves away from the shores. Science is a fiction. To make science-­fiction is downright useless.”26 Painlevé’s comment emphasizes the speculative nature of experimental science as it moves from the familiar toward the unknown. Taken out of context, his evocation that science is fiction tends to retrospectively suggest a glib attitude about scientific research that is not borne out by the majority of his work—­ particularly in the years examined in the pages that follow. This salvo has tended to steer scholars away from considering how traditions of scientific visualization in both laboratory and pedagogical contexts informed the films, which is something Zoological Surrealism examines in depth.

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Hamery’s Jean Painlevé, le cinéma au cœur de la vie covers an impressive scope, economically digesting the entirety of Painlevé’s six-­decade career in 302 pages of text and scholarly apparatus. The book offers an invaluable account of Painlevé’s practice and theory of documentary, but such a breadth does not allow for close readings of films, extensive consideration of the contexts that inform and pass through Painlevé’s work, or its wider theoretical implications. Limiting the focus to 1924–­ 49 allows for a more sustained excavation of a broad swath of archival records and greater attention to the films themselves as well as the manner in which text and context illuminate each other. The tighter temporal focus also enables further development of the theoretical dimensions of Painlevé’s work, its contributions to film theory and Surrealism, and its engagement with questions germane to animal studies and critical theory through the development of nonanthropocentric modes of inquiry and expression. VISIONS OF ANOTHER NATURE

Cinema’s Copernican vocation names the twin capacity of the cinematographic apparatus to function as an instrument of discovery and displacement, producing visions of another nature. This idea draws from the long and often tumultuous implications of the sixteenth-­century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus’s argument for a heliocentric system and against a geocentric one in On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres (1543) and the claiming of this revolutionary project by subsequent thinkers.27 Copernicus’s treatise placed the sun at the center of its system and argued that Earth, like other heavenly bodies, rotated around it, and not vice versa. Even though Copernicus maintained what Robert M. Wallace characterizes as a paradoxical “nongeocentric Humanist anthropocentrism,” by displacing the planet Earth and humans from a privileged place in the center of the universe, Copernicus’s system became a primary point of reference for the start of the European scientific revolution and for the generation of radical anti-­anthropocentric perspectives. It inspired the discontinuous emergence of what Hans Blumenberg refers to as a practice of “skeptical anthropology.”28

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Blumenberg’s The Genesis of the Copernican World situates the astronomer’s thought within broader cultural and intellectual currents, systems of ideas, and practices that served as the conditions of possibility for articulating the revolutionary reorganization of the cosmos as well as for the subsequent reception of this idea, which required a capacity to be affected by its implications. Drawing inspiration from Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s reflections on the development of precision optical lenses and the realization that the unusual refraction and distortion of glass could be controlled to produce magnified clarity, Blumenberg distills his philosophy of the history of science as reliant on “the structure of attention”: “What is possible is connected to what one is able to see.”29 This does not suggest a simple physiological issue, such as the relative strength or weakness of the senses, nor does it imply a reductive empiricism of the visible, particularly given that Blumenberg stresses that Copernicus’s work was primarily the result of reasoning rather than empirical observation. Rather, Blumenberg makes the more subtle point that the impact of revolutionary concepts often depends on a historically contingent capacity for recognition. This is a question of epistemology and even of ideology: of the coincidence or lack thereof between perception and the imaginable as well as how previous knowledge and belief shape the horizons of perception and the perceivable. The telescopic observations of Galileo provided important empirical support for Copernicus’s heliocentric model. His work added further insult to anthropocentric perspectives by emphasizing not only the eccentric position of humans in the universe but also the “essential incongruence . . . between man’s organic equipment and the constituents of reality.”30 The telescope brought the heavens into view with ever greater clarity but also raised disconcerting questions about knowledge derived from the senses. “The visible world is not only a tiny section of physical reality, but is also, qualitatively, the mere foreground of this reality, its insignificant surface, on which the outcome of processes and forces is only symptomatically displayed. Visibility is itself an eccentric configuration, the accidental convergence of heterogeneous sequences of physical events.”31 A profound ambivalence subtends Copernican thought and its instrumentation. Together they produced a cosmic “humiliation” of

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INTRODUCTION

being displaced from the center of the universe and being confronted with one’s own “parochial” perception. But they also supported a humanist triumph of reason and technique, capable of loosening human imagination from the perceptual limitations of its situated embodiment through prostheses “overcoming” perceived defects and extending perceptual and cognitive capacities.32 Copernican thought sustains a dialectical interplay between anti-­anthropocentric displacement and a recentering humanist affirmation of human ingenuity. For the history of ideas, the Copernican Revolution dealt a considerable blow to theocentric perspectives, and shifted—­if not abolished—­the location of anthropocentrism from one based on cosmic address to one based on a sense of transcendental humanist values. As a metaphor for radical challenges to foundational beliefs, subsequent thinkers have made claim to a Copernican vocation that sees the work of revolution as a permanent struggle. Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution placed humans in relation to animals, not as wholly distinct from them, and explained human being as a contingency rather than an elected ­outcome. Nietzsche’s transvaluation of all values dislocated, Paul-­Laurent Assoun argues, center-­based rationality, and his correlation between the expansion of knowledge and the provincialization of human existence expressed in the epigraph to this introduction distills the anti-­anthropocentrism of his skeptical anthropology, wherein what becomes clearer and sharper as knowledge of the universe increases is precisely one’s “blind spot” (Winkel).33 Sigmund Freud explicitly placed psychoanalysis as a continuation of the revolutionary work of Copernicus through its elaboration of unconscious drives. Psychoanalysis located a fissure in the self-­identical subject that betrayed the fantasy of rational mastery, revealing to “the ‘ego’ of each one of us that he is not even master in his own house.”34 In the context of France following the First World War, a renewed intellectual effort to become even more Copernican energized intellectual debate in the form of what Stefanos Geroulanos describes as the emergence of a nonhumanist atheism.35 This current of thought dispensed with foundational conceptions of a given human nature and was reinforced by the development of a “negative philosophical anthropology” and a vigorous critique of humanism.36 Geroulanos cites the French reception of What

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Is Man?, the 1929 lectures and debate between Martin Heidegger and Ernst Cassirer in Davos, Switzerland, as a watershed moment in French thought, when the neo-­Kantian philosophy dominating the French academy faced a substantial challenge in the form of a vigorous critique of “man” as both “ideal and ground” for philosophy, the history of science, and political thought.37 This context fostered the emergence of an anti-­ anthropocentrism determined to proceed without any a priori humanist suppositions. So what does this genealogy of Copernican revolutions and its metaphoric appropriations have to do with cinema, and with the interwar work of Painlevé in particular? Contemporaneous filmmakers, critics, and theorists in France rehearsed a complementary set of ideas to that of the antifoundational anthropological turn in French thought with respect to cinema’s capacity for scientific discovery and anti-­anthropocentric displacement. At the level of content and form, as the chapters that follow argue, few examined the Copernican potentials of cinema as extensively or generatively as Painlevé. His films often intermixed three domains of research: optical research, in terms of techniques of capture; zoological/ ethological research imbued with an anthropological dimension, in terms of subjects filmed; and aesthetic research, in terms of formal qualities and strategies of presentation. Painlevé’s films helped bring the Copernican potential of cinema into the fields of perception and the perceivable in both professional and popular contexts. The first element of the Copernican dyad at play in cinema refers to the apparatus’s role in research discoveries about the world and its life-­forms not possible through commonsense empirical observation alone. It draws on the cinematograph’s scientific and aesthetic use-­value as a sensory prosthetic with revelatory capacities, similar to those of the microscope, telescope, and X-­ray.38 Research laboratories in the natural sciences in the late nineteenth century, such as the Marey Institute, were important incubators for many of the techniques that contributed to the development of the cinematic apparatus. Although photographic media were not unilaterally embraced by scientific communities as a standard of evidence, university researchers across disciplines were experimenting with the application of still and moving images for research in astronomy,

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INTRODUCTION

physiology, embryology, biology, physics, and medicine. They were also developing specific protocols of use to meet disciplinary and institutional requirements for truth claims. Painlevé positioned himself as part of a tradition that included such pioneering researchers as Étienne-­Jules Marey, Lucien Bull, Julius Ries, Victor Henri, Charles Albert François-­ Franck, Lucienne Chevroton, Fred Vlès, and Jean Comandon, who all implemented the cinematograph in their research and scientific communications. He summarized his ethos of filmmaking with reference to these practitioners: “It would never have occurred to the pioneers of cinema to dissociate research on film from research by means of film.”39 The research uses of the cinematograph often relied on what historians of science Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison call the apparatus’ “mechanical objectivity” and inhuman perspectives; a mode of vision and way of seeing that is valuable precisely for its difference from rather than replication of human perception.40 The second dyad of the Copernican vocation refers to its powers of displacement, and particularly anti-­anthropocentric displacements. Similar to the importance of the telescope for Galileo’s affirmations of Copernicus’s hypothesis, the cinematic apparatus provided access to temporal and spatial realities typically outside of the realm of habituated perception. Filmmakers and critics attributed an anthropologically indifferent gaze to the camera’s lens—­objectif in French. The lens purportedly treated everything in front of it with equal dispassion. The Copernican dimension of photography and cinematography results from the differences between human perception (for which attention already imbues values) and the camera, to the extent we are capable of perceiving these differences. Exploiting the difference in gazes was a shared concern among many of the theorists of the medium during the period examined in this book. In 1921, Louis Delluc, writing on American westerns, noted the manner in which the camera displaced or “diminished” the special status of man within its gaze. To the camera, Delluc observed, the actor “is no more than a detail, a fragment of the material that is the world,” and part of what film spectatorship could teach us was to see the world through this nonanthropocentric perspective.41 Delluc’s contemporary Jean Epstein contributed to the consideration of cinema’s

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21

nonanthropocentric capacity for displacement in his 1926 essay “L’Objectif lui-­même” (The lens itself ): Why not profit from one of the rarest qualities of the cinematographic eye, that of being an eye outside of the eye, that of escaping from the tyrannical egocentrism of our personal vision. Why oblige the sensitive emulsion to only replicate the functions of our retina? Why not eagerly seize an almost unique occasion for organizing a spectacle through relation to a center other than our own line of sight?42

For Epstein, the Copernican dimension of the cinematograph was a liberating resource to be cultivated not only to distinguish the seventh art but also to interrogate the possibilities of art and even the limits of human beings through a productive decentering and depersonalization of spectacle. Epstein lamented that so many filmmakers were content to “enslave the lens . . . to make it more consistent with what we are habituated to seeing,” instead of using it as an instrument of encounter with the new and strange.43 He declared himself “a partisan of using the lens in a wild state so that it unveils for us the prodigious things of which we have until now been unaware because our eyes could not reveal them to us.”44 Epstein called for the development of a cinema that could open human perception to perspectives and phenomena, that for reasons of speed, scale, or ideological blindness, remained outside of the field of everyday perception. In 1935, the art historian Henri Focillon articulated the stakes of such an approach to film as effecting an untimely revival of the late-­medieval and Renaissance interest in life beyond the standard of the human body, “which is not, perhaps, ‘the measure of all things.’”45 Focillon praised film as potentially expanding the purview of aesthetics and aesthetic experience, which had “made so little room for other orders of life,” toward a renewed curiosity regarding the more-than-human world of “plants, animals, and shells.” The Copernican dimension of cinema was an important refrain in classical film theory, connecting otherwise disparate thinkers like Delluc, Epstein, Focillon, and their post–­World War II successor and critic André Bazin. Bazin, whose first major statement on photographic media emphasized its automatic inscription as a liberation from “any anthropocentric

22

INTRODUCTION

utility,” recapitulated many of the points of his interwar predecessors, observing in his second installment of “Theater and the Cinema” (1951) that, unlike the “anthropocentric expression” of theater, in cinema, “the actor can even be absent from the scene, because in this world human beings do not necessarily have preferential status over beasts or forests.”46 Nature can be the primary concern of a film, and dramatic forms of cause and effect can extend well beyond human scale: “the camera offers the filmmaker all the same resources as the microscope and telescope.”47 Bazin recognized a dialectical interplay similar to that Blumenberg ascribed to Copernican thought, conceding that cinema’s centrifugal shifts can alternately challenge or work to reinstall an anthropocentrism even in the absence of actors: “On screen, the human being ceases to be the focus [ foyer] of the drama in order to (eventually) become the center of a universe. The actions of an individual can produce immeasurable shock waves. The setting that surrounds him is a two-­way mirror that allows one to perceive the substance of the world.”48 Observations on cinema’s capacity to displace human actors and the sheltering idea of “Man” from an a priori center and resituate humans within a broader milieu do not guarantee an anti-­anthropocentric outcome. Bazin’s formulation suggests both a localization of anthropocentrism from the universe to a universe and also—­in an uncanny anticipation of ecological thinking and contemporary discourse on anthropogenic climate change—­something of the wide-­ranging and unexpected impact (shock) of human presence upon the universe. Between Delluc and Epstein in the late silent period and Bazin’s post–­World War II criticism, the multifaceted work of Jean Painlevé responded to and expanded the possibilities of cinema’s Copernican vocation as a mode of research with and experience of decentered perspectives. Similar to the dialectic of humiliation and affirmation described by Blumenberg, cinema’s Copernican vocation charts forms of displacement and recentering and supplies both the terms for a critical disassembly and affirmation of human beings. The Copernican dimension of photographic media was not only the concern of a relatively small group of avant-­garde filmmakers and theorists but also an important characteristic of broader discourses of the promises and allures of photographic media. Delluc’s example of Rio Jim film

INTRODUCTION

23

serials is instructive for locating this potentially radical characteristic in a popular form, and Painlevé’s documentaries also aimed this reeducation of the senses at “popular” and nonexpert audiences, a slightly amorphous category that included self-­selective avant-­garde and cinéphile audiences as well as children (Painlevé’s films were frequently projected at Sonika Bo’s Cendrillon ciné-­club for young people) and adult moviegoers at the neighborhood cinema. A Copernican perspective was a way of seeing believed to be within almost anybody’s grasp, and quite literally so with the introduction of smaller and faster photographic and motion picture cameras. An advertisement for Leica cameras that ran in the June 24, 1933, issue of L’Illustration makes the popular dimension of Copernican promise of photography explicit: “The Leica sees and records everything.” The advertisement features a Leica model 3 camera displayed in front of the glowing eyes of a black cat, an analogy that emphasized the camera’s difference from ordinary—­read limited—­human vision through its alignment with the heightened sensitivity and nocturnal capacities of feline vision. The main image is bordered by examples of the many uses of the camera for capturing fleeting moments in a manner that one might not process through unaided vision—­portraits taken “on the fly”; travel photographs; architecture; photos of sporting events, including a motorcycle crash, a tennis player mid-­swing, and a toreador and bull; nighttime images; and scientific photographs, including shots of mimetic insects, a moth, and what appears to be a microphotographic cross section of a tissue sample. Cinema’s Copernican vocation emphasizes the double sense of vocation as both a special calling and an ordinary occupation. The Copernican dimension of cinema often emerges from the highly specialized forms developed in research contexts that privilege objective and dispassionate forms of observation, but it is also a shared and enduring capacity of lens-­based photographic media that can emerge or be exploited in almost any form, be it a highly technical cinematic document, a popular film, or various amateur forms. The interest in the camera’s productively inhuman gaze was not solely the province of intellectual or aesthetic avant-­gardes but was part of a broader discourse on photographic and filmic media. Cinema’s Copernican vocation is not limited to the historical period of this book but is a transhistorical quality of lens-­based media applicable,

Figure I.5. “The Leica sees and records everything.” Advertisement from L’Illustration, June 24, 1933. Collection of the author.

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with adjustment, in a multitude of contexts that are undiminished by transformations in the medium’s substrate or mode of capture, such as the shift from analog to digital modes of inscription. Painlevé’s films model an engaged form of biological and zoological cinema of increasing philosophical and political significance, particularly for its contributions to the project of unthinking anthropocentrism, an endeavor whose timeliness has only increased in the era of accelerated ecological precariousness. Zoological Surrealism consists of five chapters and a conclusion. With a few small exceptions, the organization follows a chronological order, and within that structure, each chapter conceptualizes a different discovery and displacement that collectively constitute the Copernican dimensions of Painlevé’s oeuvre. The first chapter, “Neozoological Dramas: Comparative Anatomy by Other Means,” examines Painlevé’s forays into Surrealism and cinema as the extension of his work in comparative anatomy, through processes of enlargement and displacement into new contexts. Painlevé developed his own zoological iteration of Surrealism that turned to biological and zoological phenomena rather than the unconscious for its inspiration. Through readings of his 1924 Surrealist prose experiment “Neozoological Drama” as well as his first documentary films for popular audiences, La Pieuvre (The Octopus, 1928), La Daphnie (The Daphnia, 1928), and Les Oursins, the chapter traces the use of vertiginous scalar shifts in cinematic perspectives that both provide the measures and unsettle the grounds by which comparisons between species and humans are made. Paying attention to Painlevé’s use of close-­ups as simultaneously cuts in (to a detail) and cuts away (to a scene elsewhere), the chapter explores the Copernican potential of scalar interplays that situate anthropometric values as historically and physiologically contingent. “Metamorphoses: Crustaceans, the Coming of Sound, and Plasmatic Anthropomorphism,” the second chapter, examines Painlevé’s engagement with anthropomorphism at a moment when the coming of sound amplified its potentials, and when prominent scientists were calling for a deanthropomorphization of the sciences. Painlevé’s early sound films about crustaceans, including Le Bernard l’ermite (The Hermit Crab, 1929), Hyas et Sténorinques, crustacés marins (Hyas and Stenorhychus, Marine Crustaceans, 1929),

26

INTRODUCTION

Crabes et crevettes (Crabs and Shrimp, 1930), and Caprelles et Pantopodes (Caprella and Pantopoda, 1930), take inspiration from contemporaneous animated films in experimenting with the dissociation of anthropomorphism from anthropocentrism. Putting Painlevé’s films in conversation with the work of Sergei Eisenstein, who befriended the filmmaker during his sojourn in Paris in 1929–­30, the chapter develops a concept of plasmatic anthropomorphism that emphasizes the Copernican potential for metamorphosis in analogical thinking. Together, the first two chapters give extensive attention to the scientific training and contexts in which Painlevé worked, arguing for the productive interplay between scientific observation and the experiments in perception undertaken by the interwar avant-­gardes. Chapter 3, “Amour Flou: The Seahorse and the Blur of Sex,” examines the gender and sex politics of The Seahorse, Painlevé’s documentary about the only fish with an upright comportment. The chapter treats the film three ways: as avant-­garde erotic film about the marvelous sex lives of these creatures, as popular cinema, and as commodity form. The study of the seahorse inaugurates a Copernican displacement of “man,” in the masculine singular, through what Painlevé terms “cinema’s magnificent erotics.” The Seahorse offers a vantage from which to consider contemporaneous research by the Surrealists into questions of sexuality and, through the film’s formal interplay of visual and conceptual blurring, produces a concept of Surrealist erotics as an amour flou, a blurred love and love of blurring that echoes but critically differs from André Breton’s contemporaneous concept of amour fou. As Painlevé’s only box-­office success, the chapter also reads the film in terms of its status as popular cinema and as a commodity form that participated in the so-­called battle of the sexes at a moment when radical feminists were calling for a “womb strike” and the state was engaged in a patriotic “repopulation” effort in the aftermath of the First World War. Chapter 4, “Substitutes, Vectors, and the Circulatory Systems of Modernity: Dr. Normet’s Serum: Experimental Treatment of a Hemorrhage in a Dog and The Vampire,” studies instances in which the analogical thought of anthropomorphism threatens to collapse into identity, such as in the use of animals in scientific experiments and their subsequent application to

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27

human subjects, a logic of selective substitution that Painlevé documents in the 1929 research film Dr. Normet’s Serum: Experimental Treatment of a Hemorrhage in a Dog and deconstructs in the antifascist allegory The Vampire (1945). The chapter develops a theory of documentary Surrealism premised on the uncanny convergence of image and model. A close reading of The Vampire also draws attention to the surreal dimension of global modernity and, through a collapse of its metaphors of contagion, disease, and vectors, produces a Copernican reorientation that pivots to an exploration of the role of humans as vectors. The final chapter, “Carnivorous Cinema: Freshwater Assassins and Blood of the Beasts,” explores the question of food chain and killing as presented in two films that explicitly implicate the human spectator in their explorations of violence and the often arbitrary distinctions of when the putting to death of a living creature is a banal activity, when it is a form of sacrifice, and when it is deemed murder. Drawing on Jean Vigo’s concept of social cinema as consecrated to “subjects that eat meat” or “bite flesh,” the chapter reads Painlevé’s Freshwater Assassins and Georges Franju’s Blood of the Beasts (featuring commentary by Painlevé) as experiments that reactualize repressed violence through film forms that corporeally implicate spectators in both the exercise and possible transformation of acts of killing. The book concludes with a brief reflection on these films’ address to the present and the development of an engaged cinematic natural history. It does so by developing the historical–­temporal dimensions of cinema’s Copernican vocation to reflect on nonanthropocentric time scales in the context of a heightened—­and increasingly surreal—­ ecological state of emergency. POSTSCRIPT ON LEXICAL CONSIDERATIONS

Throughout this book, except where noted otherwise, all translations from French are my own. In most cases, effort has been made to retain the historical specificity of the lexicon of the interwar era and the productive strangeness and alien quality this often entails.49 Two terms—­milieu and réel/real—­merit special comment with respect to their historical and theoretical positions. The French term milieu has been retained

28

INTRODUCTION

throughout for the specificity of its allusions to Lamarckian and neo-­ Lamarckian thought but also for the root of its pluridirectional transit between various disciplines and fields, from natural history and geography to social science to biology and into realist aesthetics and even the vocabulary of film (milieu became a key critical descriptor in the 1930s for films focused more on capturing and exploring a human environment than on narrative action).50 A milieu may be determinant, but it is also dynamic; it need not be an essentialist or reductive concept. Philosopher Georges Canguilhem notes that the etymological root of milieu, mi-­lieu, literally “middle place,” simultaneously connotes a spatial center and a decentered space.51 The double logic of milieu reverberates through this book’s examination of the Copernican dialectic at play in cinema and its creation of experimental milieux. The real also courts potential confusion. To maintain a slight distance from the well-­known development of the term in psychoanalytic theory, it appears in this text uncapitalized, because its primary reference is not ultimately Jacques Lacan’s conceptualization of a register of the psyche. Throughout this study, the real refers to that which ruptures or lacerates representation and abstraction, a perspective that corresponds with Lacan’s definition, particularly to the extent that he was informed by the work of Georges Bataille. Loosened from the discourses of psychoanalysis, the real may be understood in a manner suggested by Canguilhem, who, in writing of the scientific history of the term milieu, observed that “science presents itself as a general theory of a real, that is to say, inhuman milieu.”52 In this passage, Canguilhem provocatively treats real and inhuman as potential synonyms, as if to say that the real is that which exceeds and evades human being and human agency but also shapes it. Painlevé’s cinematic practice developed a regard for a sense of the incursion and autonomous existence of the inhuman, and it is for this reason that, more than a practice of documentary, these films merit the description “cinema of the real” (a term adapted from Thierry Lefebvre’s introduction to a special issue of 1895 on “Images du réel” and early nonfiction film as well as the annual Cinéma du réel festival in Paris).53 The inhuman real is not the liquidation of the human or humanism but rather the Copernican engagement with an exteriority to human being

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from which to imagine other modes and manners of existence. The cinema of the real involves the reception of inhuman impressions, imprints, and traces both fragile and violent. Whether under the heading of antihumanism or, to draw a term from André Bazin, a “revolutionary humanism,” the ideas at play in this book trace a history and theory of efforts to explore, to preserve, and, in doing so, to create practices hospitable to encounters with strange forms of life.54

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1

Neozoological Dramas COMPARATIVE ANATOMY BY OTHER MEANS

I no longer know if I’m looking with my naked eye at a starry sky or at a drop of water through a microscope. —­Blaise Cendrars, Profond aujord’hui, 1917 Soon the expression “visible to the naked eye” will seem meaningless. —­André Breton, “Max Ernst,” 1922

Few mentions of Jean Painlevé’s work neglect reference to his scientific training, but the specificity of this training and its relation to his aesthetic practices remains largely unexplored. This chapter elaborates the importance of training in comparative anatomy to Painlevé’s initial approaches to Surrealism and cinema. Surrealism and cinema provided mediums for renewing, extending, and magnifying methodologies of comparative anatomy in new contexts, to which this chapter refers—­adapting Painlevé’s own idiom—­as a practice of “neozoology” or zoological Surrealism, which takes as its point of departure animal life and biological phenomena (particularly as mediated through optical instruments) rather than the unconscious or dream realm. Approaching Surrealism—­a still fluid signifier in 1924—­through the bias of Painlevé emphasizes underexamined connections across its disparate forms, which draw on a shared study of comparative anatomy among many of the pioneering figures, including Louis Aragon, André Breton, and Painlevé’s classmate and friend Jacques-­André Boiffard. From this vantage, Surrealism appears as a form of comparative anatomy by other means. Painlevé’s early documentary films entailed a “Surrealist enlargement” of comparative anatomy. This approach takes inspiration from Adam Lowenstein’s innovative reading of 31

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Surrealist spectatorship, but shifts emphasis by focusing on the manner in which particular modes of enlargement—­microcinematography and extreme close-­ups rather than a spectator’s unconscious desires—­play with and productively alter comparative anatomy’s principle of correlation between the part and the whole, introducing aspects of non-­self-­same identity and displacement into a field of inquiry rooted in taxonomic identification, organic function, and form.1 Scientific, Surrealist, and cinematic practices of visualization and analysis share complementary objectives of rendering visible phenomena that typically exist beyond the scope of everyday human perception. The epigraphs from Blaise Cendrars and André Breton emphasize the radically expanded horizons of perceived reality made possible by means of microscopy, telescopy, X-­rays, and photographic media as well as their vertiginous potentials, which were alternately exhilarating and disorienting. These techniques of visualization were testaments to the ingenuity and imagination of human endeavor, but they also raised questions about the relativity of the human sensorium that undermined its value as a stable foundation for scientific inquiry. The humanist ideal of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man as the perfect measure of all things is both flattered but also potentially displaced by an interplay of microscopic and cosmic scales, which set the human world within a continuum of miniscule and gigantic realities that not only potentially stretch and compress the observer like Alice in Wonderland but also call attention to the contingent, nonnecessity of the values by which comparisons of likeness and difference, superiority and inferiority, get perceived and evaluated. This chapter proceeds through an examination of each separate apparatus of comparison, juxtaposition, and encounter—­comparative anatomy, Surrealism, and cinema—­in the order in which Painlevé engaged them in a professional manner, but the argument stresses the mutually informing interplay between them. The chapter first offers a snapshot of the discipline of comparative anatomy and its specialized practices of viewing, visualization, and analysis. Painlevé acquired these techniques through his studies of the physics, chemistry, and natural sciences sequence ( physiques, chemiques, et naturelles; PCN) at the Sorbonne as well as in Paul Wintrebert’s Laboratoire d’anatomie et histologie comparée (Laboratory

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33

of Comparative Anatomy and Histology) and the Station biologique at Roscoff. He first put them into practice in a series of papers delivered with Maurice Parat before the Académie des sciences in autumn 1924. In the midst of these reports, Painlevé published his experimental prose piece “Drame néo-­zoologique” in Yvan Goll’s short-­lived review Surréalisme, which brought his work in comparative anatomy into conversation with avant-­garde aesthetics. A close reading of this text examines Painlevé’s articulation of comparative anatomy and Surrealism and, through the bias of Painlevé, traces the broader importance of comparative anatomy and a science-­informed concept of cinematic perception to early Surrealist practices and their impact on a Surrealist ethos of encounters.2 The chapter then analyzes Painlevé’s early documentary films for popular audiences, La Pieuvre (The Octopus, 1928), La Daphnie (The Daphnia, 1928), and Les Oursins (The Sea Urchins, 1928) as a further amplification of comparative anatomy’s methods and gaze. The early films allegorize a neozoological mode of seeing and analyzing phenomena, while also engaging in a Copernican play of scales that alternately situates and displaces spectators. Through the inventive use of microcinematography and cinematic close-­ups, the films present the microscopic and gigantic in the same frame, producing visions of a part of a whole that are also apart from a whole, initiating viewers in a dialectic of familiarization and dépaysement that encourages critical reorientations of perception. COMPARATIVE ANATOMY: A SNAPSHOT OF THE SCIENCE OF ORGANIZATION

Painlevé began his studies at the Sorbonne in October 1921, initially enrolling in the PCN sequence required of medical students. In his second year, he withdrew from medicine following a dispute with one of his professors over what he perceived to be cruel treatment of a patient with hydrocephalus and decided to pursue comparative anatomy.3 He transferred to the Laboratory of Comparative Anatomy and Physiology, run by the newly installed chair Paul Wintrebert, a neo-­Lamarckian embryologist specializing in fish and amphibians.4 Painlevé also studied at the Station biologique de Roscoff, a marine research field station in Brittany directed

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by Charles Pérez, a specialist in marine invertebrates and insects. This section examines the context in which Painlevé studied comparative anatomy, giving special attention to the approach to the discipline of his primary professor, Paul Wintrebert, as well as the longer history of practices of visualization and analogical thinking that formed the basis of the discipline. Comparative anatomy provided a critical ingredient for the development of the Surrealist and cinematic forms of perception that Painlevé and his contemporaries pursued in the early 1920s. A photograph of Wintrebert’s laboratory taken around 1922 depicts a group of approximately forty-­four people, of which at least twenty-­six appear to be women (Figure 1.1).5 Painlevé stands in the left margin of the image (three in, three back), dressed in a white lab coat and tie and wearing relatively long hair in comparison to the other men in the photograph. For reasons obscured from the beholder, his eyes are downcast. Part formal portrait and part slightly disorganized snapshot, the photograph presents several variations of the collective image of a laboratory at a moment of transition. Shortly after Wintrebert became chair, the Laboratoire d’anatomie et physiologie comparée was rechristened as the Laboratoire d’anatomie et histologie comparée (Laboratory of Comparative Anatomy and Histology). The change from physiology, the study of the function of organisms, to histology, the study of cellular and tissue structures and functions at a microscopic level, signaled a shift in subject and scale of observation; the growing importance of new practices of visualization, such as microscopy and staining; and the rising status of cell theory in the natural sciences.6 The slight disarray in this snapshot portrait fortuitously echoes the transformations occurring within the discipline of comparative anatomy, at least as practiced at the Sorbonne. By the 1920s, zoology and comparative anatomy, which at the start at the nineteenth century provided the foundational disciplines of the life sciences, were not so much organizing logics for research in the field as useful institutional titles.7 In this milieu in transition, the young Jean Painlevé began to dream up a rejuvenation of what the naturalist Auguste Chauveau christened the “science of organization” as a “neozoology.”8 Painlevé’s education in comparative anatomy involved rigorous training in a form of scientific seeing. Scott Curtis conceptualizes the work

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35

Figure 1.1. The laboratory of Paul Wintrebert, circa 1922 (Painlevé is on the far left, three back). Photograph uncredited. Courtesy of Les Documents Cinémato­ graphiques, Paris.

of scientific disciplines as apprenticeships in different “expert modes of viewing” focused on teaching initiates to look and to perceive phenomena according to a set of collectively determined protocols.9 Expert modes of viewing inculcate not only learning to look and to see in a highly specialized manner but also learning to repress or render invisible what a discipline determines to be superfluous perceptual data with respect to a line of inquiry or action. Although Curtis writes of the context of German scientific education in the early twentieth century, these principles apply well to the French context, where an explicit discourse of the perceptual training necessary for scientific research was already the subject of several decades of inquiry. The French physiologist Claude Bernard, in his foundational Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1865), offered a striking description of expert viewing in practice: The physiologist is no ordinary man, he is a scientist, a man possessed and absorbed by the pursuit of a scientific idea. He no longer hears the cries of animals or sees the flowing blood, he only sees his idea and only

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perceives the organisms that conceal the problems he is determined to solve. In a similar manner, the surgeon is not swayed by the most moving cries and sobs, since he only sees before him his idea and the objective of his operation. Similarly, the anatomist does not feel that he is inside a horrible charnel house. Under the influence of a scientific idea, he takes pleasure in seeking out a nerve fiber amongst rotting and livid flesh that would fill any other man with horror and disgust.10

Bernard’s blood-­spattered account of scientific stoicism emphasized the potentially transformative experience of disciplined vision and the exercise of seeing and intervening experimentally. The conditions in Wintrebert’s laboratory and Pérez’s field station were rarely as dramatic as the scenes Bernard evoked. The subjects they worked on—­such as sea urchins and other invertebrates—­were far less prone to inspiring identification in the manner of the rabbits and dogs typically on Bernard’s dissection table. But a similar repertoire of specialized modes of looking and forms of visual and physical analysis were taught in Wintrebert’s and Pérez’s labs. They provided a principal component of Painlevé’s intellectual and aesthetic formation. Wintrebert encouraged methodological flexibility among his students. His Titres et travaux scientifiques (1922) described his approach to research as by necessity multidisciplinary. In his thoughts on the “education of naturalists,” he emphasized that “the greatest freedom must be allowed for all to choose their own working methods according to their temperaments.”11 For Wintrebert, rigorous biological research required three key components: (1) observation of living specimens, (2) experimentation, and (3) anatomical and histological examination of fixed specimens.12 Wintrebert’s research and teaching made frequent use of photography and cinema, and he encouraged his pupils to take advantage of new techniques of visualization and documentation in their own work.13 The modern discipline of comparative anatomy emerged in the early nineteenth century at the Muséum d’histoire naturelle of the Jardin des plantes in Paris through the work of Georges Cuvier, Étienne Geoffroy Saint-­Hilaire, and Jean-­Baptiste Lamarck. These eminent scientists developed foundational paradigms of comparative anatomy. The selective synthesis of their key ideas by subsequent generations of scholars would

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provide an important empirical foundation for theories of evolution, including Lamarckian and neo-­Lamarckian transformisme, which advanced the theory of the heredity of acquired traits, and the French reception of Darwinian natural selection. By the fin de siècle, comparative anatomy was defined by both a wide-­ranging taxonomic endeavor (of living and extinct species, including paleontology, of which Cuvier was a pioneer) and examinations of metamorphosis and evolution. Wintrebert defined comparative anatomy as “a science of reasoning that animates the documents amassed by descriptive anatomy and aims to classify animals by their evolutionary order. Through synthesis and generalization, it seeks to discover the laws of the organization of organisms [êtres] based upon their structure.”14 As part of his tripartite method of live, experimental, and fixed analysis, Wintrebert insisted that comparative anatomy needed to study not just dead specimens (the privileged subjects of researchers) but also living organisms. His colleague Rémy Perrier, who taught zoology to medical students at the Sorbonne as part of its PCN sequence during the first two decades of the twentieth century, defined the objectives of the discipline in his textbook Éléments d’anatomie comparée along similar lines: “The goal of comparative anatomy is to study the modification and variations of the organs of animals. It is through this that we come to determine the true affinities of organisms [êtres] and their relationships with each other.”15 These affinities were categorized as either homologous or analogous. Homologous relations refer to morphologically similar parts in different organisms. Homologous organs or bones occupy the same place, have the same form, and share a common evolutionary origin, such as the well-­known examples of a flipper of a cetacean, the wing of a bird, the foreleg of a dog, and the arm of a human, which all have the same five component parts and suggest a common distant ancestor. Analogous relations refer to physiologically similar parts of organisms, such as the wings of birds and insects, which have very different shapes and components but perform a similar function.16 Comparative anatomy was the artful science of establishing connections, exploring differences, studying the sources and causes of development and change, and cultivating a strong capacity for analogical thinking. French comparative anatomy developed a striking dramaturgy of

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comparative encounters and the presentation of evidence in a serial, even “kinematic,” fashion whose key principles merit rehearsing to better understand Painlevé’s place within these traditions as well as his revisions and extensions of them. Cuvier’s work, as staged in the galleries of the Muséum d’histoire naturelle and in his public lectures, established a strong and highly stylized organizational aesthetics by means of visual and material evidence. He argued that comparison was the most reliable and fecund method for establishing taxonomies and discovering observable laws about organic life.17 Cuvier engaged with structural and functional comparisons of organisms, going beyond surface appearances of specimens to focus on internal mechanics, which he divided into four major branches—­vertebrates, mollusks, articulates, and radiata—­based on their physiological organization.18 Through his collections at the Muséum, he wrote natural history with its own material traces, reconstructing whole specimens from disparate fragments and creating sequential formations from the specimens on display in his galleries. Historian Dorinda Outram describes the innovative nature of Cuvier’s galleries at the Muséum, which provided him with an immense empirical data set for elaborating his taxonomic system, devising his hypothesis of functional unity (wherein all organs and parts work together as a unified whole), and producing compelling evidence and dramatic illustration for these ideas.19 In distinction from colleagues, such as Lamarck, who organized their collections according to external appearance, zoological category, or lineage, Cuvier organized his specimens according to their physiological organization. This system required a mode of display that visually evoked the penetration of surface appearances and the animation of the organism in the observer’s mind. “Cuvier’s galleries,” Outram argues, “were full of objects to be looked not at, but into,” as if anticipating a form of X-­ray vision.20 Although Cuvier’s career began with the study of mollusks, he became internationally renowned for his reconstruction and classification of fossils. His “fossil menagerie” rivaled that of the Muséum’s living collections and introduced a temporal and historical—­or rather prehistorical—­axis to his work that sought to “burst the limits of time.”21 Cuvier’s skillful fossil reassemblies, moving from disparate fragments to full reconstructions, produced an uncanny parade of skeletons of extinct creatures that

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provided glimpses into lost worlds. Refining his conception of functional unity through its application in paleontology, Cuvier developed the principle of the correlation of forms in organized beings, which may be summarized by the formulation “from the tooth the whole animal.”22 Using his formidable gifts for inductive reasoning and conjecture, Cuvier was able to reconstruct an image of an entire animal from fragments, based on the principle that each individual part should correspond to a functional whole and imply the form that all constituent pieces would assume, such that one could begin with any part of the animal and reconstruct it in its entirety.23 One could reproduce a tiger from its tooth, and the morphology of each fragment also provided strong clues as to the milieu, diet, and behavior of the animal in question, determining whether it was a carnivore or ruminant, predator or prey. In addition to being a highly visual aesthetic of serial comparisons, comparative anatomy, as developed and taught by Cuvier, was a science and art of animating significant details to reconstruct lost or hidden realities. Cuvier dramatically disagreed with his colleagues Lamarck and Saint-­ Hilaire concerning the question of transformisme. He believed that the history of life on earth was driven by successive catastrophic events—­ geological revolutions—­that caused mass extinctions, clearing the way for new fauna and flora. He also insisted that there was no possible passage between the four branches of his taxonomy (Vertebrata, Articulata, Mollusca, and Radiata). His position was, to a large degree, fixist, but a fixism haunted by the possibility of another catastrophe. The principles of functional unity and correlation of forms had little explanatory force in the face of such phenomena as vestigial organs, but Cuvier’s exhaustive studies across the his four taxonomic branches and in his work with fossils, as Rémy Perrier noted, provided subsequent empirical support for transformiste and evolutionary arguments that would become dominant by the end of the nineteenth century, particularly in the form of neo-­ Lamarckian biology.24 Lamarck’s approach to comparative anatomy—­which, when refashioned as neo-­Lamarckism, dominated French research during the Third Republic (1871–­1940)—­emphasized the metamorphic potential of organic life and gave the milieu an increasingly important causal role in

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transformations, thus leading the imagination, if not always the researcher, to move beyond the walls of the anatomist’s cabinet, gallery, and laboratory to consider the natural world from an ecological perspective.25 This move to study animals in their own habitat, as Raf de Bont demonstrates in his work on the emergence of biological field stations in fin de siècle Western Europe, became one of the defining characteristics of modern zoological research and a key component of Wintrebert’s pedagogical and methodological approach.26 In France, zoologists such as Henri de Lacaze-­Duthiers, the founder of the Station Biologique de Roscoff (1872), and his former assistant Alfred Giard, founder of the Station marine de Wimereux (1874), developed a practice that integrated Cuvier-­style comparison with neo-­Lamarckian ethology. Giard summarized ethology as “the science dealing with the habits of living beings and their relations, both with each other and with the cosmic environment.”27 The marine field stations helped support the growth of a strong tradition of marine biology in France. The integration of comparative anatomy and ethology required protocols of spatial and temporal comparison that shuttled between de-­and recontextualized contemplation of laboratory research and, in situ, relational examination and analysis, so that researchers did not make the mistake, as Wintrebert liked to joke, of believing the proper milieu of organisms was the test tube or embalming jar. Residency at one of the biological field stations became a capstone component of an advanced education in the natural sciences.28 An education in comparative anatomy in the early 1920s trained an expert mode of viewing that scientists brought to bear in the work of identifying, classifying, dissecting, and reassembling organisms. Techniques of comparative analysis and forms of argumentation drew on a dramaturgy of encounters; visual evidence arranged into series, such as the displays in the galleries of the Muséum d’histoire naturelle; methods of tracking and understanding development and metamorphosis; a strong reliance on analogical thinking; and forms of inductive thinking and conjecture that made use of fragmentary traces to reconstruct and actualize absent pasts and nonvisible wholes, such as in the reconstruction of animals from skeletal remains but also practices of tracking animals in the field. Comparative anatomy’s critical reflections on the scales and referents

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employed for comparison, as well as its engagement with deep time and theories of catastrophic or progressive change devised through examination of extinct species and evolutionary processes, had a Copernican potential. From this education in comparative anatomy and its expert modes of viewing, Painlevé gained both an applicable corpus of knowledge and an operational methodology. A REPORT TO THE ACADEMY

In September and October 1924, Maurice Parat and Painlevé presented three papers on vital staining, protoplasm, and the morphology of plant and animal cells before the Academy of Sciences.29 Parat, at the time the chef de travaux in Wintrebert’s laboratory, and Painlevé, then engaged as Parat’s assistant, were conducting research on the cytoplasm and internal reticular apparatus of the salivary glands of Chironomidae, or midge larva. Their studies concerned the structure and function of these microscopic organisms, the methods for rendering the cellular structures and morphological elements visible, and the epistemological impact of these methods. Dyes and stains were the condition of possibility for visualizing many cellular phenomena, but they were also an obstacle to be overcome, because these stains typically killed the organisms, making it difficult to study living processes as they typically functioned. Wintrebert was fond of saying, “Anatomy is not a dead science.”30 He insisted that anatomical study remained a vital area of research but also that it required the study of living organisms. To only work with dissection, preparations, or skeletal remains was to lose sight of a key goal of biology: gaining knowledge of “the processes by which organisms develop, reproduce, and evolve.”31 His students’ work on vital staining fit within a research program dedicated to live observation. Parat and Painlevé sought methods for the examination of living organisms that extended the possibilities of rendering the invisible functions and structures visible, “in order to observe them without alteration.”32 If unaltered observation was the ideal, their research remained pragmatic about determining relative degrees of visibility and alteration in various vital stains. They asserted that neutral red stain was the most

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effective for studying the contents of protoplasm. From their observations, they argued that the two fundamental morphological components of salivary gland protoplasm were vacuoles and mitochondria, which they believed functioned independently of each other. They called into question the existence of the trophospongia (a canalicular structure of protoplasm) and the Golgi apparatus, or internal reticular apparatus, a netlike structure of cells first described by Camillo Golgi in 1898, now understood as responsible for packaging and distributing protein within and outside of the protoplasm, but then a component whose existence and function were up for debate. Parat and Painlevé hypothesized that rather than being distinct structures, the Golgi apparatus and trophospongia were “more likely an artifact than the image of reality,” which is to say, they were a product of techniques of visualization and observation rather than preexisting structural elements.33 They supported this evidence—­ and introduced the strong comparative element of their research—­by reproducing their examinations with preparations from sea urchin larvae, marine worms, sea squirts, stalked jellyfish, and blood worm larvae, concluding in each case that what they were seeing were deformed clusters of vacuoles resulting from a precipitate of osium or reduced silver stains used in many cell coloration preparations.34 Parat and Painlevé’s findings were effectively countered four months later by Marcel Avel, who found problems with their vital staining techniques as well as their misidentification of the Golgi apparatus as an artifact.35 Although the particulars of Parat and Painlevé’s papers faded from the key debates in histology, cytology, and comparative anatomy, the critical attention they paid to the relationship between phenomena and observation, their attempts to refine practices of seeing scientifically, and the desire to render biological processes visible without destroying the organisms under examination furnished key insights for Painlevé’s subsequent turn to cinema as a technique for vital visualization. The content of Parat and Painlevé’s work hardly mattered to its initial public reception. The press celebrated the accomplishments of the only child of Paul Painlevé, a famous mathematician and politician (newly installed as president of the Chamber of Deputies in the May 11, 1924, elections), as the youngest scientist ever to deliver a communication before the

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Academy. Many of the daily papers printed his age as twenty, a slight inaccuracy the twenty-­one-­year-­old Painlevé allowed to go uncorrected for “aesthetic” reasons.36 A SCIENCE OF DISORGANIZATION

While studying the science of organization, Painlevé also cultivated a taste for upheaval, traversing the margins of various avant-­gardes of the era, including competing iterations of Surrealism. Painlevé made his artistic debut on October 10 in the sole issue of Yvan Goll’s journal Surréalisme. Painlevé published an experimental prose piece, “Drame néo-­zoologique” (“Neozoological Drama”), which was prefaced with the note “Mr. Jean Painlevé, who yesterday was honored by the Academy of Sciences for a very realistic body of work, reveals himself to be a Surrealist as well,” though as the Parisian newspaper Éclair noted, that preface was redundant, as “the Surrealism of the young author, if I dare say it, is blindingly obvious.”37 The text was composed of “found” material from Painlevé’s laboratory experiences, mobilizing the techniques and expert modes of viewing cultivated by his education in comparative anatomy to unexpected ends. It coupled the Latin taxonomic and anatomical vocabulary of comparative anatomy observations with a mischievous sensibility that examined the surreal aspects of scientific observation as potentially a science of disorganization and dépaysement that broke with received taxonomic orders. “Neozoological Drama” expressed a vision of scientific inquiry as an intensified mode of discovery packed with the surprising and strange dramas of life, death, nourishment, reproduction, as well as identification and its rupture: key ingredients of Painlevé’s subsequent cinematic oeuvre. “Neozoological Drama” begins in medias res, barraging the reader with a wave of strange words and situations. “So sweet is the plasmodium of the Myxomycetes; the eyeless Prorhynchus has the dull color of the born-­ blind, and its proboscis stuffed with zoochlorellae solicits the oxygen of the Frontoniella antypretica; it carries its pharynx in a rosette, a locomotive requirement, horned, stupid, and not at all calcareous.”38 To readers with a background in comparative anatomy—­including many pioneering Surrealists—­the text, even in its highly technical language, made some

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sense: it was playful but not purely random or nonsensical. Inga Pollmann reads the text as introducing a bestiary that resists pinning its subjects to any firm taxonomical identity, effectively functioning in the manner of a Dada sound poem, but one still connected to forms of denotation rather than dedicated to unleashing an annihilating phonic substance in the name of cultural negation.39 Such a perspective reverberates with what Claude Maillard-­Chary characterizes as the Surrealist’s desire for the “abolition of kingdoms,” distilled by André Breton’s 1927 declaration that “Nature denies your kingdoms.”40 For Roxane Hamery, its significance primarily comes from its materialist foundations—­locating surreal forces in natural phenomena and forms of scientific observation rather than dreams or the unconscious—­as well as its aesthetics of dislocation, wherein the displacement of specialized scientific language into a literary context draws out its latent poetry and strangeness while also emphasizing the “relativity of any referent.”41 Painlevé’s text treats agencies of comparison and the comparative endeavor as relative, without stable, a priori, or transcendental referents. For readers equipped to negotiate the estranging effect of the text’s language, the content of “Neozoological Drama” primarily concerns the life cycle of the tubellarian Prorhynchus, a free-­living paramecium-­like flatworm common to the mud of freshwater ponds and a frequent resident of zoological laboratories. The text—­when translated from technical language into lay terminology—­addresses the worm’s appearance, morphology, diet, and means of reproduction as well as the various predators and prey that inhabit its experimental milieu. The “setting” of the drama is never clearly established and seems to jump between a natural environment, an aquarium environment, the stage of a microscope in a laboratory, and the page of a notebook: its “creative geography” produces its own milieu as alternately a spatial center and a decentered, decentering space.42 The text intermixes the sites and modes of looking associated with Wintrebert’s three stages of research: live observation, experimentation, and dissection. The descriptions sometimes zoom in to contemplate traits that would only likely be possible through dissection and microscopy. Painlevé refers to a rotifer drying up in a corner, suggesting the corner of a slide preparation where the liquid has evaporated or

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some other enclosed environment. He also makes reference to explicitly human environments, referring to the interchangeability of rotifers in the flatworm’s diet by asking in a manner that recalls the play of substitutions in Fantômas novels and film serials “what difference does a double [sosie, “look-­alike”] on a belvedere make.” The text alludes to techniques of observation, such as “a bit of zinc” fixative dropped into—­and perhaps accelerating—­a death scene, and concludes with a non sequitur in the form of an anthropomorphic marc valve—­presumably a piece of equipment in a laboratory—­contributing to this discourse on comparative anatomy by asserting that spermatogenesis only occurs in male specimens.43 A straightforward translation of “Neozoological Drama” risks flattening the effects of its formal qualities. Painlevé presents a collage of bits of data and observation, a series of strange facts offered in rapid bursts, primarily separated by semicolons rather than line breaks or periods, effecting a jagged meter suggestive of the syncopation of a hot jazz drum beat, a stock ticker, or a telegram. Like a Bruegel painting, the simultaneous poetry of Blaise Cendrars, or the views of a preparation seen through a microscope—­where magnification precludes seeing the full field at once and requires moving the slide while visually scanning the view to find and follow the action—­“Neozoological Drama” brings together a series of seemingly discrete details (a rotifer drying up in a corner, a leech laying eggs, flatworms feasting) that produce an image far greater than the sum of its parts. The economy of attention in the text zigzags as zoological facts and details collide against each other in a manner suggestive of the seemingly chaotic and spasmodic blind encounters of the sightless Prorhynchus. The sudden insertion of a telegram’s “Stop” serves to rupture the anthropomorphic reverie and refocus attention. Hamery likens the textual operations in “Neozoological Drama” to a cinematic collision montage, wherein meaning does not exist within each factual “cell” but rather is produced by the crashing together of fragments, which alters the sense of each part in unexpected ways that, in her opinion, do not add up to any global significance but rather find their meaning primarily in their fragmentary form.44 The prefatory note to “Neozoological Drama” encouraged readers to consider it in comparison with Painlevé’s “realist” scientific work. While

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the process of dislocation from laboratory notebook to literary journal refreshed the latent strangeness of the microscopic worlds depicted, it also emphasized the basis of such strange experiences in empirical observation and fact. The trials of life endured by the Prorhynchus present a vision of existence primarily characterized by violence, terror, constant predation, parasitism, and unsettling eroticism. Painlevé’s vision of animal life harbored no sentimentalism or fantasies of equilibrium wherein predators relieve the suffering of prey but rather emphasized an image of cruel, perpetual struggle. Suggesting an intimate link between nutritive, sexual, and destructive appetites, Painlevé evoked an erotics of predatory relations among flatworms as the “embrace of their mouth.” The besieged flatworm ends up eviscerated by the end of the text: “The tubellarians have seized it, they penetrate by breaking and entering, they pierce and suck; a horrible cry echoes and joins the lapping of luminous interferences; the cercaria of distome emerge from their stagnal hymens, cast a glance, and terror encysts them. The rolling in an S, a bit of zinc, the temporarily gelatinous sophistry pffft! filched.”45 Painlevé presented the experience of predation as universal: newly born parasitic fluke worm larvae emerging from the host body in which they have been incubating have as their first vision of life in the outside world the vampiric assault on the flatworm, which literally petrifies them, rendering the larvae easy prey for unseen predators who almost immediately slurp them up. The comparative tone of the piece, with its frequent jumps in scale and allusions to outside observers who command “Stop” or add a bit of zinc fixative to the scene, creates frightful visions that vacillate between an anthropomorphism that confers human attributes upon nonhuman entities and a zoomorphism that confers animal attributes upon humans. Written just five years after the end of World War I—­as people grappled with the destruction and physical and psychological trauma of warfare and strained to repopulate and reconfigure a diminished and disfigured landscape—­“Neozoological Drama” sets up an uncanny play of comparisons between the violence and terror found in animal microcosms and human macrocosms. “Neozoological Drama” did not reject scientific methods and enterprises so much as it playfully experimented with their modern rebirth through a radicalized epistemic approach that acknowledged that the

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agency of observation was implicated within the field of study and that the act of observation transformed the event and observer. The prefix neo-­emphasized this imaginative reinvention of zoology and its related fields. This aspiration for a renewed science corresponded with contemporaneous radical innovations in the sciences brought about by the “new physics” of Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Paul Langevin, and Louis de Broglie, among others, which upended the foundations of Newtonian physics and called into question the adequacy of empirical observation as an epistemological foundation.46 Painlevé’s neo-­also conjured the spirit of Alfred Jarry’s “neoscience” of ’pataphysics—­“the science of the particular,” “the laws governing exceptions,” “the science of imaginary solutions” that supplements metaphysics—­developed in Gestes et exploits de Docteur Faustroll, ’pataphysicien, un roman néo-­scientifique, which Painlevé greatly admired (he gave the Hamon sisters a copy of Ubu Roi shortly after they met).47 Neozoology suggested an intention to do for the disciplines of comparative anatomy and zoology what a new generation of physicists, mathematicians, and avant-­garde thinkers were doing for physics and metaphysics: redefining and radicalizing their fields of inquiry. If Parat and Painlevé’s work initially sought observation without alteration, Painlevé’s neozoology expressed the many ways that the description of organisms and forms of life bore a historically specific valence as at least partially imbricated with the technics and techniques of observation and representation. “Neozoological Drama” extended a neo-­Lamarckian insistence on the constitutive role of milieu in the life and evolution of organisms, expressed in variations of the principle of “formation by exterior conditioning,” to include the space and perceptual protocols of scientific observation, which may also be situated within the frame of a larger cultural and historical milieu.48 The fractured form of the text coupled with its confusions of subject and perspective reverberated with the shattered subjects of the post–­World War I landscape. Amy Lyford argues in Surrealist Masculinities that one of the main currents of early Surrealist activity involved the scandalous visualization of the physical and psychic injuries incurred during World War I that were being ushered out of view and repressed by the Third Republic’s national recovery efforts.49 The mirrored images of ubiquitous violence and terror found in microscopic slides and on the

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battlefields of Europe implicitly recalled the war while second-­guessing the strained optimism of the humanist discourses of progress at the heart of the Third Republic’s postwar efforts. The Prorhynchus’s expressed aversion to sexual reproduction—­and the commentary on asexual reproduction and the thankless task of laying eggs—­resonated with a widespread anxiety over destabilized sex and gender roles coupled with concern over a diminished population and declining natality rates. Critics were quick to draw connections between the poem and its immediate historical context, such as an editorialist who archly wrote, “We live in an era where there are no longer any children. It suffices to read the neozoological drama of the young Jean Painlevé to be convinced of this.”50 The interplay between scientific language and the perceived Dada-­style dissolution of sense suggested cracks in the triumph of reason and science promoted by the newly established “republic of professors,” the leftist cartel of scholars-­turned-­ politicians Éduard Herriot, Léon Blum, and Paul Painlevé, who had just been voted into power in the May 1924 elections.51 Beyond a delight in scandal, “Neozoological Drama” revealed latent homologies and analogies between comparative anatomy and modern aesthetics as modes of inquiry. The text focalized and enlarged comparative anatomy’s aesthetic practices, ways of looking, and approaches to analysis, extending the scope and objects of inquiry it encompassed to more explicitly include the human milieu. Painlevé’s title “Neozoological Drama” provides an alluring description for the expansions, amplifications, and translations of the practices and expert modes of viewing of comparative anatomy into new, mutually informing fields of activity: Surrealism and cinema. SURREALISM: AN ETHOS OF THE ENCOUNTER

Painlevé was a Surrealist to the extent he was a comparative anatomist. Situating his work within the contexts of various Surrealisms functions like a vital stain that reveals the degree to which comparative anatomy provided a methodological model for many of the early Surrealists, despite the important differences between the factions working with the term in the 1920s. Painlevé’s engagements with Surrealism generate fresh

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critical perspectives on the history of the movement that emphasize its strong comparative dimension, defining its practice as an ethos of encounters. Building upon Lyford’s insights in Surrealist Masculinities about the importance of the Val-­de-­Grâce Hospital and its surgical reconstruction displays to the nascent aesthetics of Surrealism, this section draws out the importance of training in comparative anatomy to early Surrealist activities. The introduction of Painlevé as a “Surrealist” in the preface to “Neozoological Drama” was intended as a provocation on two fronts. The use of “Surrealist” differentiated Painlevé’s text from the practice of science and understanding of reality presented to the Academy of Sciences, while also making a claim against competing factions vying to assert propriety claims to Surrealism. In October 1924, the term Surrealism was not yet decisively anchored to any particular set of signifiers; it was a hotly contested term, and the competing factions frequently came to blows over who could use it and how.52 Yvan Goll’s Surréalisme arrived almost simultaneously with Louis Aragon’s “Une vague de rêves” (A wave of dreams), just prior to the October 11 opening of the Bureau of Surrealist Research at 15 rue de Grenelle and the October 15 publication of André Breton’s “Manifesto of Surrealism.”53 Painlevé associated with members of the various factions of nascent Surrealism over the next five years, while never being wholly partisan to any of them: in addition to his contribution to Goll’s journal, he was the unnamed “photographer for La Révolution Surréaliste” who, through Boiffard, passed along the doodle-­filled blotters lifted from the Chamber of Deputies, and he contributed film stills to Documents.54 The term Surrealism appeared in the press as a description of avant-­ garde poetry and art during spring and summer 1924, feeding polemics from various factions, while also causing some confusion among journalists, who often conflated the competing factions.55 According to Goll’s “Manifeste du Surréalisme,” it was a purely aesthetic movement inspired by reality and nature. Rejecting the “counterfeit Surrealism of the ex-­ Dadaists” and their futile obsessions with shattering consciousness, he proclaimed, “Our Surrealism rediscovers nature, the primary emotion of man, and, with completely new artistic means, heads toward a construction, a will.”56 Goll’s definition of Surrealism emphasized its foundation

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in “realism” as an aesthetic rooted in nature and saw the work of the suffix sur-­as that of aesthetic elevation: “This transposition of reality into a higher (artistic) plain constitutes Surrealism.”57 Goll’s Surrealism brought aspects of reality into art much more than the countermove of bringing aspects of art into reality. He claimed his vision of Surrealism as the rightful heir to Guillaume Apollinaire’s original concept, a point supported by his publication of Apollinaire’s 1917 letter to Paul Dermée in which he purportedly first coined the word “Surrealism” in reference to the “strange magic of words.”58 The late poet preferred Surrealism to Supernaturalism for “not yet existing in dictionaries” or in the hands of philosophers, which made it easier to develop in new directions. In the preface to his 1917 play Les Mamelles de Tirésias: drame surréaliste en deux actes et un prologue, Apollinaire further explained the motivation behind Surrealism by stating, “I thought it necessary to return to nature itself, but without imitating it in the manner of photographs.”59 Goll’s emphasis on Surrealism as a transposition corresponds with Apollinaire’s words, and Goll had already laid groundwork for these connections the previous August, when Le Journal littéraire gave him right of response against a dismissal of him printed in an open letter from Breton and his circle. Goll, citing a formulation purportedly devised in 1919, emphasized Surrealism’s roots in the transposition of nature: “The surrealist poet will evoke the distant realm of the truth, by keeping his ear to the wall of the earth.”60 Goll’s strange image of eavesdropping on nature in the quest for some distant truth, and, in doing so, reorienting one’s perspective—­from wall to floor, if one is actually putting one’s head against to the earth to listen in—­establishes a more than felicitous relationship between Goll’s understanding of Surrealism and the pursuits of naturalists. Goll’s manifesto proclaimed modern poetry to be dominated by the eye rather than the ear and christened the new Surrealist era the “century of film.”61 He elaborated more fully on this point in “Exemple du surréalisme: le cinéma” (Example of surrealism: the cinema), which once again emphasized a strong foundation in nature. “Film transcribes events that materially occur in reality and raises them to a more direct, more intense, more absolute state: Surrealism.”62 Goll described the raw material of film as reality unimpeded by the “poisons” of “imagination,

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thought, philosophical or moral speculation, aesthetics,” or “the slightest human intervention.”63 Alluding to Abel Gance’s famous train wheel sequences from La Roue (The Wheel, 1923), Goll posited that the film’s most effective qualities were not derived from découpage but rather from simply splicing together “the most different and most realist scenes.”64 Goll’s description of the film recalls Pierre Reverdy’s 1918 definition of the poetic image as “the bringing together [rapprochement] of two more or less distant realities” wherein the contrast and distance between the assembled fields sharpen their effects.65 He emphasized the interplay between the camera’s inhuman forms of capture and the intelligence at play in montage. Goll’s model of Surrealism as an art that transposes nature upward aimed to renew but not necessarily reinvent art, and it ultimately appeared content to accept reality as it was rather than question and reimagine its possibilities. While Painlevé’s neozoology and Goll’s Surrealism shared a foundation in the observation of nature, and each bear the imprint of cinematic style, Painlevé’s approach to art is not necessarily an elevation of reality so much as an opportunity to explore it further. Painlevé’s “Neozoological Drama” shared with Aragon, Breton, and Boiffard a common touchstone in the comparative practices of dissection, reconstruction, analogical thinking, and the ways of seeing and visualization cultivated by their educations in comparative anatomy, which they all encountered at the Sorbonne.66 Attention to this formation complements but also extends Lyford’s generative insights concerning the importance of the collection of medical iconography housed at the Musée du Val-­de-­ Grâce, the military hospital where Aragon and Breton served as interns during World War I, to the history of Surrealism and what she conceptualizes as its aesthetics of dismemberment.67 Lyford makes a compelling case for the significance of the Val-­de-­Grâce’s vast collection of images, models, artifacts, and preserved specimens of male bodily trauma and reconstruction, which she hypothesizes may have been where Aragon and Breton “started to see as Surrealists.”68 Particularly striking in this respect were the museum’s displays of moulages (wax molds) that sequentially depicted surgical reconstruction efforts on badly mutilated soldiers. Lyford notes that the museum brought in curators and art historians to help assemble these moulages in vitrines, which adopted evolutionary models

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of display.69 These were the very techniques of sequential arrangement pioneered by Cuvier and then Albert Gaudry in the galleries of comparative anatomy and paleontology at the Muséum d’histoire naturelle. The modes of seeing modeled at Val-­de-­Grâce revisited—­with a focus on human anatomy—­the logics of display and visual argumentation Breton and Aragon would have previously encountered during their PCN studies. For the nascent Surrealists, comparative anatomy provided a fertile reservoir of inspiration that, when translated and “enlarged,” often in a cinematic fashion, became the basis of many of the fundamental techniques and methods of Surrealist activity. Extending Lyford’s thesis, the optics of comparative anatomy should also figure prominently in the early history of Surrealism in France. Surrealism, from this vantage, appears as a form of vernacular comparative anatomy pushed to its very limits by practices of enlargement.70 The accounts of Surrealism provided by the manifestos of the former PCN students—­Louis Aragon’s “A Wave of Dreams,” André Breton’s “Manifesto of Surrealism,” and the preface to the first issue of La Révolution Surréaliste penned by Boiffard with Éluard and Vitrac—­quickly overturned Goll’s vision of the movement. Aragon, Breton, and their colleagues effectively secured their claims to the new definition of Surrealism as a revolutionary movement inspired by Freud and new physics and keenly interested in the natural sciences to such an extent that La Révolution Surréaliste took the scientific review La Nature as its model. Aragon, who in the pages of Littérature declared zoology his favorite science and asserted “nature is my unconscious” in Paysan de Paris, drew directly on the language of natural history in one of his first major statements on Surrealism.71 Written in the wake of his colleagues’ experiments with trances, séances, and waking dreams, “A Wave of Dreams” initially defined “Surreality” as the assembly and reconciliation of “diverse species.”72 In the context of his text, these species refer to various kinds of contrasting experiences the former Dadaists were attempting to bring together into new forms of coexistence, but taken at its word—­a few pages later, Aragon defines Surrealism as “absolute nominalism” working at the level of “vocabulary itself”—­this phrasing briefly evokes an image of Surrealism as a strange conceptual form of experimental biology resonant

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with the unusual couplings accomplished by Painlevé’s neozoology.73 Breton’s manifesto, which appeared five days after Goll’s, expands on what Jacqueline Chénieux-­Gendron identifies as Aragon’s epistemic emphasis with a strong ethical dimension.74 In contrast to the vague and hastily developed pronouncements of Goll’s manifesto, Breton provided Surrealism with a capacious definition, a history of precedents that extended well beyond Apollinaire, and a compelling set of methodological guides for pursuing Surrealist acts and effects.75 Breton’s approach built on a core idea introduced in his 1922 article “Enter the Mediums,” where he defined Surrealism as “a certain psychic automatism which corresponds quite closely to the dream state.”76 Inspired by Freudian conceptions of the psyche and its mechanisms of censorship—­ which prevent unconscious wishes and formations from direct access to conscious systems—­Bretonian Surrealism sought access to fuller realms of psychic activity and experience and the admission of reality beyond the present limits of empirical observation. Breton’s manifesto presented a praxis rooted in the dissolution and overcoming of the oppositions that delimited the scope of reality, including distinctions between waking thought and dreaming, rational and irrational processes, reason and unreason, deliberate and accidental actions, and so on. Drawing on a Hegelian formulation of the dialectical synthesis of contrary forces, Breton identified the aim of Surrealist activity as “the future resolution of these two states, dream and reality, which are seemingly so contradictory, into a kind of absolute reality, a surreality.”77 In a sly retort to Apollinaire’s letter to Dermée, Breton provided two further definitions of Surrealism, in the form of dictionary and encyclopedia entries: Surrealism, n. m. Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express—­verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner—­the real functioning of thought. Dictated by thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempted from any aesthetic or moral concern. Encyclopedia. Philosophy. Surrealism is based on the belief in the superior reality of certain forms of previously neglected associations, in the omnipotence of dream, in the disinterested play of thought. It tends to ruin once and for all other psychic mechanisms and to substitute itself for them in solving all the principal problems of life.78

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Breton’s definitions emphasized techniques for accessing the real—­or full—­functioning of thought as well as a radically expanded realm of experience, which he believed held the keys for reconfiguring individual and social existence. Surrealists developed a syllabus for living based on the importance and novelty of encounters, emblazoned in their recurrent turns to the Comte de Lautréamont’s “chance encounter on a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella” and Pierre Reverdy’s ideal of the poetic image as the “bringing together of two more or less distant realities.”79 Acts of Surrealism drew upon but also cultivated a disposition of radical openness to the strange, unexpected, and new. The free association of the Freudian talking cure was refashioned as the “veritable photography of thought” of automatic writing and other forms of automaticity tasked with outpacing the censorship mechanisms of the human psyche.80 The poetic images of Surrealism were received rather than produced, and in an extensive footnote, Breton emphasized that Surrealist images are not drawn but rather traced or copied [calquer].81 Whereas Goll’s manifesto concluded with an evocation of artistic volition, Breton’s ideal Surrealist agents possessed a striking capacity for passivity, aspiring to attune themselves, like mediums, to channeling existent forces. Surrealist methods experimented with a form of active passivity that, as Oliver Gaycken elaborates, reveal strong “isomorphic” relations with “protocols of scientific observation as well as precepts of documentary filmmaking.”82 Breton’s manifesto made frequent recourse to what David Lomas characterizes as “technical jargon and concepts stemming from science.”83 Breton took inspiration from the graphic method and its technologies of inscription, ranging from the myographs developed by Étienne-­Jules Marey to photographic and cinematographic devices that frequently served as models for Surrealist thought and vision. Breton described his cohort as performing a secretarial function in their creative practices: “we, who have made no effort whatsoever to filter, who in our works have made ourselves into simple [deaf, sourd ] receptacles of so many echoes, modest recording instruments that are not mesmerized by the drawings they trace, perhaps we serve an even nobler cause.”84 The ideal of “modest recording instruments” that capture

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whatever they encounter without filtration provided a concrete model for the form of radical openness and availability (disponibilité) that furnished the condition of possibility for Surrealist encounters.85 Breton’s perspective was attuned to the Copernican dimensions of comparative anatomy and cinema in their displacements of anthropocentric perspectives to make way for a productive interface with aspects and traces of an inhuman real. Pursuing the ideal of becoming active–­passive mediums, the Surrealists drew on a deep well of experimental data—­at least five years’ worth, as Lomas notes—­including automatic writing and trances, but also experiments in cinemagoing.86 Cinema provided a fertile experimental milieu for the development of the Surrealist ethos of encounters. Surrealist experiments with cinema also inspired a strong set of theoretical insights about the medium, which can be summarized by five qualities to which the Surrealists attempted to attune themselves. First, cinematography provided Surrealists with a model of automatic image production that engaged a dialectical interplay of passive reception and active searching. Second, in cinematography and cinematic spectatorship, the Surrealists found an aesthetic practice that conferred a privileged role to chance, contingency, the accidental, and the instantaneous. Third, cinematic objectivity furnished Surrealists with a capacious, disinterested, and nonanthropocentric gaze that ruptured forms of habituated seeing and brought new phenomena into the field of the perceptible. Fourth, cinema and cinematography functioned as supplements to commonsense perception with a strong revelatory dimension. Finally, Surrealism and cinema were social activities that engaged with distinctly modern forms of collective endeavor in both their production and reception. Aragon recounted his first experiments with cinema in “On Décor,” where he showed how he sharpened his anatomist’s eye at the movies—­a cultural form that in Paysan de Paris he gathers alongside microscopy, Surrealism, and other intoxicants as forces that “enlarge the power of my senses.”87 The cinema provided a school for educating the senses in new forms of perception, aesthetics, taste, and disgust, particularly through film’s capacities for dissection and enlargement by means of the “new attraction”: “magnification.”88 Aragon’s article theorized two

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forms of magnification. The first referred to magnification that renders things visually larger and reveals new qualities, allowing one to appreciate, for example, the modern beauty of “corned beef and tins of polish” as well as the lettering on advertisements, posters, and other forms of contemporary expression.89 The second form of magnification referred to an “emotive concentration” that involved affective intensification at once “poignant and pointless.”90 This second mode of magnification—­or to appropriate the phrasing of Adam Lowenstein, “Surrealist enlargement”—­ took inspiration from the nonartistic but “poetic” practices of children, who flood their attentions by means of obsessive fixations with a special object or with a word repeated until it turns into pure phonic substance.91 This concentration entailed an excessive perceptual and mental focus that distilled and increased the strength of the object or word. Like the surgical incisions on a dissection table, practices of Surrealist enlargement effectively cut the object out of its context, separating it from its milieu, but did so to restore or discover new relationships and uses for it. Aragon presented a mode of centrifugal spectatorship that found its dramas not just in the faces of stars or narrative intrigues but also in the backgrounds and the enigmatic details of the décor. These elements provided the building blocks for a radical renewal of aesthetic experience. The modesty of the title betrays the considerable stakes that Aragon invested in cinema: a potential transvaluation of values. Citing the relation of décor and mise-­en-­scène in Chaplin films, he noted, “By an inversion of values, each inanimate object becomes a living thing, each human person a mannequin for which we must find the crank.”92 Simultaneously anthropomorphic and nonanthropocentric, Aragon suggested that skillful use of décor and its relation to actors could draw out the vital aspects and agency of inanimate objects while also revealing something of the inhuman aspects of human figures. He concluded the article by turning his attention from individual reception of films to the mass reception in the cinema, calling for an aesthetic unafraid of offending or scandalizing its audiences. Aragon encouraged the creation of films that solicited not just laughter but boos, catcalls, and even spittle, proclaiming, paradoxically, that the images that attract the contempt and expectorate of viewers

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signify their “purity.”93 Jennifer Wild argues that the transvaluation Aragon imagined was not a classical avant-­garde veneration of new poetics but rather “a subversive call for spectatorial contamination” expressed in riotous laughter, disgust, ire, and spit.94 Wild reads Aragon’s evocation of purity as “a formally resistant expression against all legitimate conventions or routine expectations.”95 She emphasizes that the poet’s allusions to Mallarmé and Rimbaud in the final two lines of the article—­“The white concern of our sail? O purity, purity!”—­are deeply ironic, citing a letter from Aragon to Breton in which he described the article as “IMPURE.”96 Coupled with the call for spittle, Aragon produced an emblem for such a radical aesthetic: the white movie screening glistening with a lugubrious film of the audience’s saliva prepared the medium for the transmission of what in Paysan de Paris he will envision as Surrealism’s highly contagious “image infections.”97 Aragon’s account inspired Breton and Jacques Vaché, who explored the cinema as an experimental milieu. Breton described their errant form of cinemagoing in Nadja (1928) and again in his 1951 reflections “As in a Wood.”98 Recalling his wartime adventures with Vaché, Breton evoked their unorthodox habits of cinemagoing: I agreed wholeheartedly with Jacques Vaché in appreciating nothing so much as dropping into the cinema when whatever was playing was playing, at any point in the show, and leaving at the first hint of boredom—­of surfeit—­to rush off to another cinema where we behaved in the same way, and so on . . . I have never known anything more magnetizing: it goes without saying that more often than not we left our seats without even knowing the title of the film, which was of no importance to us, anyway. On a Sunday several hours sufficed to exhaust all that Nantes could offer us: the important thing is that one came out “charged” for a few days.99

These outings provided exercises in chance encounters with screening material and varied publics that testified to the power of dépaysement or disorientation as a method for reconfiguring perception and attuning oneself to significant or alluring details. Their mode of cinemagoing dispensed with a concern for narrative coherence in favor of the cultivation a form of fetishism of the enigmatic detail. Initially rehearsed in the cinemas, the Surrealists would then pursue these practices of availability

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to unknown and unforeseen signs in their urban beach combing, sensitized to perceive with heightened and refreshed senses. These experiments in cinemagoing and spectatorship also informed a mode of production in which reconfigured cultural consumption played a significant role, ranging from Max Ernst’s influential collage work, which Breton effectively read alongside photographic and cinematic media; to the “found” poetry and montage style of “Neozoological Dramas”; to an approach to filmmaking that reinscribed the errant and desirous spectatorship practices and heterogeneous variety of the cinema program format into its textual logics. In the preface to the first issue of La Révolution Surréaliste, Boiffard, Paul Éluard, and Roger Vitrac aligned the emergent movement with the practice of gathering and animating facts that distilled the ethos of encounter inspired by scientific inquiry and cinematic spectatorship. “Any discovery that changes the nature, the destination of an object or of a phenomenon constitutes a Surrealist fact.”100 Surrealist facts privileged metamorphic phenomena, the animation and transformation of things, but also the reorientation of the beholder. Painlevé’s neozoological Surrealism and his approach to filmmaking as a research endeavor offer some of the most compelling realizations of the pursuit and discovery of Surrealist facts. The threads connecting comparative anatomy, early Surrealist research, and cinema do not conflate or efface the different factions of Surrealism and the competing understandings of the term in circulation in autumn 1924. But the distinct bias of Painlevé’s formation and work brings heretofore unexamined affinities to the foreground, even among disparate and at times contradictory impulses of Surrealists, offering a new vantage for considering its histories. Painlevé’s zoological Surrealism consisted of a cinematic enlargement of comparative anatomy and its translation into new fields. His practices of enlargement and translation were also driven by an ethos of encounters that, while being radically open to difference and delighting in bringing together disparate realities, often did so with the detachment of an anatomist’s expert mode of viewing. These tendencies would strengthen over the coming years as Painlevé began producing his cinematic neozoological dramas. The first films that Painlevé worked on were not the scientific research

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films and animal documentaries for which he would become known but rather avant-­garde-­inspired fictional films. In 1926 he played one of the principals, alongside Michel Simon and Tania Fédor, in L’Inconnue des six-­jours (The Unknown Woman of the Six-­Day Race), a never-­released narrative film with Surrealist flourishes based on a scenario by Pierre Lazareff, shot by André Raymond, and directed by René Sti. The plot of The Unknown Woman of the Six-­Day Race revolved around two men falling in love with the same mysterious woman and following her to the Six Days bicycle race. The film was to intermix material shot in the studio with documentary footage of racing cyclists and “surreal” animated passages depicting metamorphic bicyclists and the dreams of characters.101 Painlevé declared that he was making the film to raise money for Wintrebert’s laboratory, and the Société de cinéromans, the production company, donated ten thousand francs up front and promised to share profits with the lab.102 Shortly after shooting The Unknown Woman of the Six-­Day Race, Painlevé directed a series of five absurdist vignettes featuring Painlevé, Antonin Artaud, and one of Josephine Baker’s understudies (her details remain elusive) that were designed to be screened during a production of Yvan Goll’s “alogical” play Mathusalem, ou l’éternel bourgeois (Methuselah, or the Eternal Bourgeois, 1927). The play was directed by René Sti, with music by Maxime Jacob; costumes and sets by the animator Alexandre Alexeieff, Ladislas Medgyès, and Geneviève Hamon; and featuring Le Loup blanc, a theater troupe formed by Sti and Roger Andrieu. The play was initially announced as opening at L’Œil de Paris in December 1926 but was relocated to the Théâtre Michel, where it previewed in matinées in January 1927 and was reviewed in March 1927.103 Although these early filmmaking attempts made little impact as films, they served, as one critic put it, as “hors-­d’œuvres,” less important for their aesthetic accomplishments than for the experiences and contacts Painlevé made during their productions—­particularly with Raymond, with whom he began experimenting on shooting in the laboratory in 1927—­as well as the manner in which press attention to his entry into cinema and the dramatic arts forced him to articulate his approach to filmmaking.104 In late winter 1928, Painlevé loaded a generator, film equipment, and glass aquariums onto a flatbed truck and drove from Paris to Port-­Blanc,

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on the northwest coast of Brittany, to establish a small film studio at the Hamon family home Ty an Diaoul. Over the course of the next two springs and summers, Painlevé produced a set of short zoological and biological documentaries of aquatic creatures intended for popular audiences: La Pieuvre, La Daphnie, Les Oursins, Le Bernard l’ermite (The Hermit Crab, 1929), and Hyas et Sténorinques, crustacés marins (Hyas and Stenorhychus, Marine Crustaceans, 1929). The balance of this chapter examines The Octopus, The Daphnia, and The Sea Urchins, which were only released as silent films, returning the films on crustaceans, which had both silent and sonorized releases, in the next chapter. SEE CREATURES: THE OCTOPUS

In an essay published in the first issue of Lumière et radio under the title “Les Films biologiques,” Painlevé summarized his approach to filmmaking: Producing films about the biology of diverse animals really appealed to me. By this I mean films about animal behavior (mores, manners of eating, locomotion, mating, oviparation, etc.), development, including in all possible cases birth, internal and external morphology, as well as comparative anatomy and its modification over the course of development. The study of anatomy and development can be taken very far thanks to the use of the microscope to examine tissues, whether living, in which case the use of vital staining can emphasize certain components and their evolution, or whether fixed through the common methods of histology.105

Painlevé outlined the value of film as an experimental medium and milieu, an instrument of research, a form of documentation, and a pedagogical tool. He was quick to recognize the need for several iterations of films on a single subject, depending on if they were intended for a popular audience, for classroom usage, or as part of scientific research and experimentation. The Octopus, The Daphnia, and The Sea Urchins, while all intended for popular audiences, carry traces of these other modes of filmmaking, serving as advertisements for the research and pedagogical potentials of film.106 The Octopus premiered on December 14, 1928, as part of the opening program at Henri Diamant-­Berger’s chic 160-­seat cinema Studio Diamant.107 The screening marked the start of a distribution agreement

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between Diamant-­Berger and Painlevé.108 The press was quick to pick up on the latest endeavors of the son of the minister of war, but unlike the previous coverage of his attempts at prose, theater, and the cinema, the notes were uniformly positive. The first review, filed by Pierre Lazareff (no impartial party, as he had written the scenario for The Unknown Woman of the Six-­Day Race), was titled “Paul Painlevé, the Minister of War, attends a screening of a film by his son, Jean Painlevé,” and primarily focused on who attended and what the famous minister thought, joking that he was unaware who directed the film on the octopus.109 Along with Paul Painlevé, notable attendees included his deputy chief of cabinet Charles Henry; senators Gaston Meunier and Charles Lebrun; the writers Colette, Henri Duvernois, and Alfred Savoir; and people from the world of cinema, including Pola Negri and her husband “Prince” Mdivani, Charles Pathé, Jean Tedesco, Jean Renoir, Lucien Wahl, Edmond Gréville, and Germaine Dulac.110 The second review the following day, in Petit Parisien, shifted attention to the film and filmmaker: it featured a front-­page photograph of Painlevé using a microcinematographic apparatus under the header “Film in Service of Science: Jean Painlevé’s The Octopus.”111 The Octopus reflects a tendency of science and animal films to produce a discourse on their own means and modes of production. The historian of science Natascha Adamowsky observes that The Octopus makes uncommonly explicit its use of aquariums as a medium of visibility and an epistemic object that brings together nature and culture, “laboratory and dream-­landscape.” “Only rarely” as in the films of Painlevé “does it become clear that the aquarium is a medium—­that it produces images and creates a new framework for perception.”112 The clarity of the strange images shot in aquariums, which are made visible by the animals pushing their suction-­cupped limbs against the transparent surfaces, emphasizes the artificial, experimental milieu that provided the condition of possibility for the events captured in the film. Adamowsky, reflecting on the centrality of media to the modern history of marine biology, notes, “The incommensurable dimension of media involves the paradoxical experience of phenomena being as they seem, while also being somewhat wholly different. [Aquariums] have the magical effect of making present what is absent or lies beyond one’s grasp.”113 The aquarium’s effect of making

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Figure 1.2. An octopus slinks off a window ledge in The Octopus ( Jean Painlevé, 1928). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

present, of giving a perspective and a living sample of a subaquatic elsewhere often impossible to access outside of a submarine or deep-­sea diving suit, found powerful extension in the cinematograph’s ability to play with spatial and temporal dimensions of such visual experiences. The conjunction of aquarium and cinematograph established an experimental milieu with a dazzling power of displacement, multiplying the “new frameworks” through which to consider, observe, and encounter this fantastic creature. The prologue to The Octopus introduces its surreal cinematic enlargement of comparative anatomy by tracking the film’s star as it lures the gazes of zoology and comparative anatomy into new and unexpected contexts. It provides a tutorial on how to watch the film and how to see like a comparative anatomist and Surrealist. The opening sequence follows the movement of an octopus sliding off what appears to be the flat, black surface of a laboratory dissection table—­a space designed to be abstracted from the world—­and going for a stroll. The films uses match-­ on-­action and directional edits to show the animal crawling across a floor;

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Figure 1.3. An octopus crawls across a doll in The Octopus ( Jean Painlevé, 1928). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

sliding out of an exterior window (Figure 1.2); crawling over the face of a recumbent doll (Figure 1.3); slithering between the crook of a tree; falling into an aquarium, where it crawls across a human skull (Figure 1.7); and then entering the sea and swimming out of frame through a cross-­fade that flashes from a polarized image to a standard one showing the northwestern coast of Brittany (around Port-­Blanc and Perros-­Guirec).114 The sequence encapsulates the movement of modern zoology, as analyzed by Raf de Bont, from a strictly laboratory-­based practice to one that also sought to study animals in their milieux. It visualizes the productive contamination of zoology and comparative anatomy by its entry into spaces not traditionally associated with it. Adamowsky insightfully reads the prologue to The Octopus as showing the transformation of the animal from slimy, nightmarish monster to graceful swimmer, and this insight may be extended to note that the film juxtaposes the image of the legendary “man-­eating” predator of popular imagination with that of a graceful but also small and frightened creature, subject to cruelty at the

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Figure 1.4. Close-­up of the mantle of an octopus in The Octopus ( Jean Painlevé, 1928). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

hands of fishermen and scientists.115 The octopus’s itinerary from abstract laboratory to specific natural milieu makes a passage through uncanny and oneiric landscapes of human imagination, where the incongruity of the octopus’s trajectory produces images that bring together distant realities with a powerful charge of the surreal. These effects were intensified by the green tint used in the original release prints of the film, which reinforced the folkloric associations of the animal as a putrid agent of contagion.116 The balance of the film emphasizes the beauty and strangeness of the creature as seen through a more traditional comparative anatomist’s gaze, focusing on the key aspects outlined in Painlevé’s essay on making biological films: it presents observations of octopus behavior, locomotion, eating, morphology, and comparative anatomy. The film shows how to spot the presence of an octopus in a tidal pool by noting the vibrations in the water caused by its breathing. It depicts octopuses frenetically swimming in tidal pools and fleeing from the film crew, dispensing clouds of ink in its wake. The film then presents a set of anatomical views, mostly shot

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Figure 1.5. Close-­up of a detached octopus arm in The Octopus ( Jean Painlevé, 1928). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

in close-­up in aquariums, including footage of what a title card describes as its “very human eye,” the functioning of its mobile respiratory siphon, and its skin pigmentation, which changes hue from bright white to near-­ black, depending on the animal’s emotional state. The climax of the film depicts a fatal fight between two octopuses enclosed in an aquarium, including the prolonged “death” scene of an octopus that turns a ghostly white, twists in torment, and finally collapses. When providing live spoken commentary for the film, Painlevé would compare this sequence to Sarah Bernhardt’s performance in La Dame aux Camélias (André Calmettes and Henri Pouctal, 1912), reportedly to much laughter from audiences.117 The film returns to the coastline, where it shows two fishermen catching an octopus, revealing the monster to be a small and vulnerable creature. Briefly reengaging a surreal register, the tip of a severed octopus arm is shot in close-­up still wiggling and grasping things, including Painlevé’s finger, with uncanny animation. The film ends back in the aquarium, where a lobster and crab are each introduced into the experimental milieu, among two skittish octopuses.

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The final sequences are rather choppy due to lack of coverage. Painlevé lamented in “Les Films biologiques” that the heat and intensity of the lighting necessary for proper film exposures upset the animals and altered their behavior, but that, all the same, their predatory behaviors are “so fast that one does not have time to pull focus on an octopus seizing a crab.”118 The footage makes it appear as if a crab in the aquarium dies simply by being touched by one of the octopuses, which quickly covers the petrified animal with its body to devour it. This footage astonished the critic Marcel Bourdet, who wrote of the animal’s apparent telepathic powers in his December 16 review: “a single touch from the octopus causes the sudden death of several crustaceans. Thus, in a fight between two octopuses, one of them succumbs before it has even been touched by its opponent.”119 The final shot of the film shows an octopus gathering itself into a ball, as if ready to pounce on the tail of a lobster in the foreground, or, perhaps, in what Jennifer Wild refers to as the “ballistic” practices of avant-­garde cinema, to assault spectators with the cast of its glance and the mere idea of its caress.120 Painlevé’s decision to make the octopus the subject of his first film drew upon his long-­held passion for the animal.121 In terms of a cinematographic approach, he expressed a desire to “emphasize all the static power [ puissance statique] of this animal.”122 This slightly ambiguous description—­static power is a term from electrical engineering that typically refers to a leakage or spending of energy from transistors even when a machine is not engaged—­evoked the powerful affective pull that octopuses appear to have on other living creatures, even when they are inactive or dead. The close-­up images of the octopus at rest in an aquarium, slowly billowing from respiration, as well as the simple sight of the glistening and viscous surfaces of the octopus’s skin, as seen magnified in the sequences on pigmentation and the close-­up time-­lapse shots of the dead animal’s skin bubbling in the sun, transmit something of Aragon’s “image infections” that potentially contaminates the spectator with a surplus of affect or wonder. The footage of an octopus dying, introduced by a title card stating, “The Death,” juxtaposed what Painlevé called the “plastic dimension of locomotion” with the “hopeless poetry” of “the horrible and sad” event.123 Critics were particularly “touched” by this sequence. Charles de Saint-­

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Cyr, critic for La Semaine à Paris, described The Octopus as “the most remarkable, most astonishing, most extraordinary [hallucinant] scientific documentary” and a testament to the virtues of cinema for “bringing us something that the cinema alone can offer.”124 For de Saint-­Cyr—­ who credited Painlevé with inaugurating a new genre of short film: the documentary monograph—­the footage of the octopus dying expressed the power of cinema to transform one’s perspectives through a powerful emotional and rational appeal.125 The film’s prologue showcased the terrifying creature that was the source of so many nightmares and phobias. De Saint-­Cyr waxed lyrically that “nature delights in surpassing the horror of the most frightening inventions of man.”126 Paul Werrie described the first encounters with the creature on-­screen as conforming to the sense of it as a “foul and viscous mass, an oozing, slithering protoplasm” that incited “holy terror” when one noticed the humanlike eye peeking out from among such a formless mass, as if the sudden appearance of a familiar gaze from precisely that which was wholly repulsive might corrupt one’s own humanity.127 The death scene triggered a change in perspective for these critics, wherein the creature’s suffering elicited empathy and sorrow from the previously revolted spectators. “Up until this moment,” as the critic Georges Le Fèvre admitted, “I did not think that an octopus could stir one so.”128 Assessing the uncanny capacities of film to record and repeat the singular event of death, as well as the technical afterlife it offers, a critic with Pour vous linked the death scene with the subsequent demonstration of the postmortem reflexive movements of a severed octopus arm, concluding, “the head dies—­like a great tragic actress on the screen—­but its tentacles remain forever wrapped around our imaginations.”129 Contradictory as it may seem, viewing the death of an individual animal enlarged to mythic dimensions inspired these critics to reconsider the status of the animal. The grip of The Octopus was powerful enough that Charles de Saint-­ Cyr sought out an interview with Painlevé to learn more about the animal’s on-­screen death. He asked if Painlevé had directly provoked the octopus’s demise and, if so, by what means. De Saint-­Cyr reported back to his readers: “No! Jean Painlevé responded to me. That octopus died in the course of a battle with another of its kind, because octopuses engage in duels of a fantastic fierceness, which are altogether useless since they do not eat

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each other.”130 Painlevé acquitted himself of responsibility in setting up an experimental milieu in which two octopuses, normally solitary animals, had no choice but to encroach on each other’s space. He also emphasized the overlay of myth and ethology at play in the film, maintaining an image of the animal as both ferocious in battle and delicate in death. The Octopus demonstrated the capacity of photographic media to capture a dual identity, simultaneously bearing the imprint of scientific observation and mythic resonance, of documentary facticity and oneiric hallucination, and of a humanizing and estranging gaze. Painlevé’s zoological Surrealism cultivated the double-­status of the image while also situating such a project within a longer set of popular culture and literary traditions deriving from the hallucinatory natural history of Victor Hugo’s 1866 epic–­poetic novel The Toilers of the Sea. STORY OF THE EYE: A HALLUCINATORY NATURAL HISTORY

Hugo may not be the first name to come to mind when considering Surrealism, cinema, or natural history, but The Toilers of the Sea establishes, as Margaret Cohen writes, a form of exploration through the poetic image that finds its most developed port of call, by way of Rimbaud’s “Drunken Boat,” in the “poetic adventure” of Surrealism.131 Breton claimed Hugo—­ “when he’s not stupid [bête]”—­as one of the ancestors of Surrealism in his 1924 manifesto.132 But even without Breton’s approval, Hugo’s The Toilers of the Sea provided a strong blueprint for a species of Surrealism rooted in a constellation of concerns—­for the Unknown, mysterious, improbable, hallucination—­that the author in exile ascribed to nature. According to Hugo, nature actualized these forces: “The mysterious encounters with the improbable that for want of a better name we call hallucinations occur in nature.”133 To revise Breton’s formulation, Hugo was a Surrealist to the extent that he was a comparative anatomist and natural historian. Zoological Surrealism inherited from Hugo a strong fascination for the actual hallucinations conjured by nature, which Painlevé exploited in the early popular documentaries, heightening the effects through the skillful use of the aquarium as a medium for staging the second nature of the experimental milieu.

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Hugo pondered the “element of hallucination” possessed by his character Gilliatt, who based on the principle of analogy speculates about the existence of invisible creatures, emissaries of the unknown, populating the atmosphere just as they do the depths. In a passage that could apply to the experience of seeing The Octopus in a darkened cinema, Hugo writes that at night and in the dark, “the Unknown [l’Inconnu] appears.” The dark things of this unknown world come closer to man, whether because there is real communication between the two worlds or because the distant recesses of the abyss undergo a visionary enlargement. It seems then that the impalpable living creatures of space come to look at us and are curious about us, the living creatures of earth; a phantom creation ascends or descends to our level and rubs shoulders with us in a dim twilight; in our spectral contemplation a life other than our own, made up of ourselves and of something else, forms and disintegrates; and the sleeper—­not wholly aware, not quite unconscious—­catches a glimpse of these strange forms of animal life, these extraordinary vegetations, these pallid beings, ghastly or smiling, these larvae, these masks, these faces, these hydras, these confusions, this moonlight without a moon, these dark decompositions of wonder, these growths and shrinkings in a dense obscurity, these floating forms in the shadows, all this mystery that we call dreaming and that in fact is the approach of an invisible reality. The dream world is the aquarium of night.134

The self-­proclaimed “somnambulist of the sea’s” description of a semi-­ lucid state between waking and dreaming evokes techniques later developed for Surrealism through recourses to cinema, including practices of visionary enlargement and a mixture of searching observation and radical passivity.135 If the dream world is the aquarium of night, might the aquarium be the world of dream in daytime form, an emissary from “the Unknown” made manifest? Nowhere is the fascination with natural hallucination more clearly on display than in the pages Hugo dedicated to his chapter “The Monster,” which is primarily concerned, as Laurent Jenny observes, with “assigning a name to a monster.”136 In one of the nested digressions in a chapter that is effectively one long digression, Hugo informs the reader, “At some moments we may be tempted to believe that the intangible [insaisissable, literally the “ungraspable”] forms that haunt our dreams encounter, in the

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world of the possible, magnets on which their lineaments are caught, and that these obscure dream images become living creatures. The Unknown has the power to produce marvels, and uses it to create monsters.”137 The monster in question, the cause of so many taxonomic and epistemic crises, is an octopus. Hugo introduced pieuvre, a term local to the Channel Islands, into modern French.138 Prior to the publication of The Toilers of the Sea, the common octopus was primarily referred to as poulpe, though after the book’s publication, the latter term was reserved for referring to the animal as it appeared in fish markets and on menus, which makes all the more delightful Hugo’s use of poulpe when describing the animal’s carnivorous attack on a man.139 Hugo performs an etymological survey of “the creature that seamen call la poulpe, scientists call the cephalopod, and which in legend is known as the kraken. English sailors call it the devilfish, or the bloodsucker. In the Channel Islands it is called la pieuvre.”140 The name derives from the uncanny distinctiveness of the creature’s eyes [ yeux in French], and Jenny notes the manner in which the cluster of vowels in pieuvre function as a yod, wherein they take on the role of a consonant and reproduce the “yeux/eyes” of the octopus in the very word itself, becoming a species of verbal chimera, at least when spoken aloud.141 In a paragraph that did not make it into the final version of The Toilers but was appended to the etymological study, Hugo wrote, “Scientific terminology does not know this word pieuvre. . . . One ceases to be a serious man if one believes in the pieuvre, and one risks losing one’s clientele. . . . The pieuvre, excluded by science as pieuvre, reenters science as the poulpe.”142 It may be for these reasons that at the outset of his chapter on this embodiment of the improbable, he asserted, “To believe in the existence of the octopus [ pieuvre], you must have seen one.”143 But to see a pieuvre is also to experience being seen by the strange gaze of an optical “see creature.” The Octopus, as if in response to Hugo’s regretful report of the exclusion of la pieuvre from science, gives its star full rights to this realm. Painlevé’s cinematic octopus strikingly materializes new ways of seeing that bring together Hugo’s fascination for nature’s hallucinations with the objective gaze of scientific observation. The film emphasizes the uncanny qualities of the creature, particularly its “so human” eyes. The title card on the eye introduces a close-­up shot of an octopus in an aquarium, its eye

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Figure 1.6. Close-­up of an octopus’s eye in The Octopus ( Jean Painlevé, 1928). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

slowly opening thanks to the unseen hand of Jacques-­André Boiffard, who pressed the animal’s mantle against the glass of the aquarium in order to force its eye open.144 Pressed against the glass of an aquarium like one of its suction cups, the octopus’s eye meets the gaze of the camera. As if by transmission, the palpitating mass of gelatinous alterity, this eye without a face, casts a strangely human but also unnervingly tactile gaze upon spectators (Figure 1.6). Painlevé was all too happy to make explicit the connections to Hugo. In an unpublished manuscript that likely dates from the years just following the film’s release, Painlevé, noting the existence of giant octopuses and squids, claimed, “The Toilers of the Sea and many other works are not so exaggerated,” for “the octopus truly corresponds to the animal dreamed up by legend.”145 The scalar expansions of The Octopus when projected on the screen provided spectators with a face-­ to-­face encounter with a cinematic species of giant octopus. Legend and scientific inquiry come into contact in both Hugo’s genre-­ bending poetic–­epic novel and Painlevé’s equally genre-­bending film. Hugo, in struggling to name the monster, also struggled to define it. The

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octopus, in his account, defied description and comparison. It was the incomparable, or, to use a term Hugo was fond of, formless, a species of phenomenon that would reenter critical discourse shortly after the release of Painlevé’s film.146 Hugo, as Fiona Cox argues, used formless to evoke a milieu that encompassed not only the abyssal ocean and its mysterious creatures but also the landscape and the internal milieu of the “ocean man” (l’homme océan), to use Hugo’s term for creators of tempestuous genius.147 These oceans were capable of profound creation. But like the lapping waves slowly reshaping the geography of the Channel Islands, they were ultimately marked not by the immortality pursued in artistic creation but by the impermanence and entropy of natural history. Hugo’s novel, reflecting on its own futile efforts to endure, opens with a child using her finger to write words into snow—­a pure white page—­that will soon be effaced and melt away. Gilliatt’s encounter with the octopus accelerates the rupture and deterioration of human existential assertions and sense making. In this respect, Hugo’s use of formless in relation to the octopus sets the stage for the subsequent development of the term in a short text from December 1929 by Bataille, who was no stranger to Hugo, octopuses, or Painlevé (whose crustacean close-­ups appeared in the previous issue of Documents). According to Bataille, formless names that which “declassifies” and deranges whatever it encounters.148 Formless entities frustrate idealization and abstraction with a contagious and entropic base materialism that asserts the powerful resistance of the particular and singular against any systems of abstract value and exchange. A similar idea of formlessness haunted Hugo, as he expressed in his notebooks shortly before setting out to write The Toilers of the Sea: “It is lovely to believe in things that have a contour. I believe in things which have no contours and that wearies me.”149 Hugo’s work sets the stage for the two significant strains of interwar Surrealism. His movement from detail to increasingly abstract poetic language, which Cohen describes as “transmut[ing] the material world into figures of thought and imagination” and “physis into a figure of the imagination,” corresponds strongly with the currents described by Breton’s quasi-­Hegelian “future resolution” of dream and reality into “an absolute reality, a surreality.”150 Yet, the will to capture and elevate the

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heterogeneous particularities of the world that characterizes Hugo’s epic form is continually haunted and disorganized by formless energies that anticipate Bataille’s base materialism, emphasizing the entropic forces and incommensurable singularities continuously reasserting their presence. The “visionary enlargements” of The Octopus further developed the Hugo-­esque poetic images of natural hallucinations in a manner that maintained the copresence of the imaginative and materialist elements through the interplay of abstraction and the stubborn particularity of its photographic documents. The film also attended to deficiencies that Hugo—­over the course of a chapter citing Buffon, Denis Montfort, Péron, Lamarck, Saint-­Hilaire, and Cuvier—­identified with traditional zoology and comparative anatomy. Confronted with the task of accounting for the seemingly formless octopus, Hugo spins out into a comparative anatomy of the incommensurable—­a project later taken up by Bataille, whose consideration of the term makes recourse to a comparative mania that meets its match in crushed spiders, worms, and spittle, which is to say, things that resemble each other only in resembling nothing in material form.151 Hugo runs through an entire bestiary of strange and horrific creatures equipped with all manner of inflicting pain on their fellow creatures. The formless qualities of the octopus frustrate the stability of the comparative function and its appeals to an abstract system of exchangeable or transcendental values, such as provided by zoological taxonomies. The octopus forced Hugo to make recourse to a comparative anatomy of the singular. In response to the question “what, then, is the octopus?” Hugo provided a series of increasingly frightful portraits. He described the octopus as a “suction cup”; “disease shaped into a monstrosity”; “a viscous mass with a will of its own”; a boneless, bloodless, flaccid void; and “a spectral sun.”152 Hugo imagined that it had only a single orifice serving simultaneously as anus and mouth: “The entrance is also the exit.”153 Allen S. Weiss suggests Hugo’s description effects “the reduction of anatomy to an absolute orifice,” where beginning and end collapse into each other, succumbing to the lure of the void.154 The anomalous nature of these animals—­“phantoms as much as monsters,” “proved to exist and yet improbable”—­passes from myth to science to a chimeric offspring of the two that stages the return

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of the taxonomic repressed: “You deny the existence of the vampire, and the octopus appears.”155 Hugo’s digression into the formless true hallucinations was occasioned by Gilliatt’s encounter with a hungry octopus. While pursuing a crab he wishes to eat, Gilliatt is seized by an octopus, and the narrative is put into suspension to address the epistemological rupture caused by the monster that has taken hold of his protagonist and the narrative. Hugo’s descriptions of the octopus’s manner of attack and eating are equally fantastic, evoking the terrible process of being digested alive. Whereas most predators “devour” their prey, Hugo asserted, the octopus “breathes you in” by means of its hundreds of suction cups. One is not swallowed so much as liquefied and “drunk alive.”156 Part of the terror of the process, as imagined by Hugo, is that one is conscious of being rendered a formless mass just like the octopus: “with a sucker it is you who are entering into the beast. Your muscles swell, your fibers are twisted, your skin bursts open under this loathsome pressure, your blood spouts out and mingles horribly with the mollusk’s lymph. . . . The hydra incorporates itself into the man; the man is amalgamated with the hydra. You both become one.”157 After Gilliatt manages to escape from the octopus’s grip by slicing its head into two “formless, gelatinous heaps,” he discovers the skeletal remains of another man, a previous victim of the beast.158 The narrator notes that although Gilliatt had never heard the word “hallucination” before, the glimpse of the grinning skull was just such a category of experience, though it also happened to be real and true, or to use the literary positivist Hippolyte Taine’s formulation for sense perception, une hallucination vraie, or “true hallucination.”159 By induction, Gilliatt realizes that the human skeleton, which is teeming with crabs as well as crab carcasses, was not even the primary meal for the octopus but rather the bait to attract the scavenging crustaceans on which it prefers to feast. Not only does this sequence displace humanity from its imagined position at the top of the food chain but it also deprives humans of the dignity of being the main course. In the hallucinatory realm of the octopus, humans are instrumentalized as means to another animal end. Painlevé’s The Octopus is framed by two allusions to Hugo’s terrific scenario: its prologue features an octopus perched atop a human skull,

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Figure 1.7. Octopus crawling over a human skull in The Octopus ( Jean Painlevé, 1928). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

and its concluding sequence shows an octopus enjoying its preferred meal of crabs. In its prologue, the film overlays the allegorical figure of the memento mori with highly condensed allusions to the encounter with a hallucinatory grinning death’s head that Gilliatt discovers in the octopus’s garden. Painlevé directly connected the film, and particularly its “slightly romantic” and “irréel” prologue, to Hugo’s poetic novel, and these allusions were recognized by at least one contemporaneous critic, who praised Painlevé for having “recreated on the screen the fabulous life of the toilers of the sea.”160 The Octopus engages with Hugo-­esque zoological Surrealism through its exploration of the strange and hallucinatory aspects of nature incarnated by its subject, which are intensified by cinematic processes of enlargement. Hugo wrote of science refusing to admit the octopus as pieuvre. Only by taming and in a sense shrinking these creatures through study, dissection, classification, cataloging, taxonomy, and so on, does science, as described by Hugo, admit the octopus as poulpe and cephalopod.161 Through rhetoric

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and laboratory practice, science cuts the legendary monster down to size: “Science divides them into larger, medium-­sized, and smaller species; she is readier to accept the smaller rather than the larger species, for that is, in all fields, her natural bent, which is microscopic rather than the telescopic.”162 This preference, however, does not prevent the gigantic, immense, and telescopic from emerging from within the infinitely small. Jean-­François Chevrier observes that Hugo’s hybrid form of the epic– poetic novel developed a concept of things as simultaneously tiny and immense.163 Such scalar vertigo between tiny and immense was one of the defining characteristics of the modern sciences. The epigraph to this chapter from Blaise Cendrars captures the exhilarating dépaysements of modern optics, as new technologies of vision brought everything closer to the observer and spectator. The Octopus modernized and intensified Hugo’s poetics of visionary enlargement and monstrosity through its canny use of the media ensemble of the cinematograph, aquarium, and practices of enlargement and concentration. The film took advantage of a ready stock of symbols and associations established by Hugo’s famous passages on the octopus. It also presented a counterdiscourse on the animal that, contrary to the complaints of Hugo, was admitted into a practice of capacious scientific inquiry, where the frightful creatures of legend are revealed to be worthy of empathy, not just fear, and are shown to be more than viscous bundles of malefic energy. The epistemic, aesthetic, and even ethical effects of the play of scales emphasized the revelatory and transformational potential of neozoological dramas to recast the world in a manner not simply calibrated to the measure of man as a universal standard. CLOSE-­U P: THE SURREALISM OF SCALE IN THE DAPHNIA AND THE SEA URCHINS

Painlevé’s zoological Surrealism brought together a cinematic enlargement of comparative anatomy with a Hugo-­inspired poetics of natural history as mysterious, entropic, and concerned with singularities and monsters in addition to taxonomic orders. These practices were most powerfully materialized in the skillful use of microcinematography and

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close-­ups, which critics recognized as a significant contribution to film form. The Belgian critic Paul Werrie declared Painlevé’s close-­ups “poetically unprecedented.”164 The Octopus and the popular documentaries released shortly in its wake, particularly The Daphnia and The Sea Urchins, offered audiences explorations of scale that brought the microscopic and gigantic together in the same frame.165 These films used the magnifying close-­up as both a surgical cut-­in to focus on details of a larger whole and a cut-­away to a scene elsewhere suggested by the strange landscapes of magnification. Painlevé’s close-­ups dissect but also displace, presenting views that operate by a double-­logic, in which a part is taken for a whole but also may become a separate whole unto itself: a part apart. The shifts in perspective produced by magnifying close-­ups may perceptually alter the “whole” that such cut-­ins imply, introducing a force of internal differentiation within the subject filmed, and in certain cases, as Georges Didi-­Huberman argues, the close-­up shifts from a detail that follows the logic of correlation to an “irritating disproportion.”166 In terms of spectator experience, such close-­ups swerve between anthropomorphic recognition and an estranging reorientation. Both effects are heightened by a Surrealism of scale deployed in the films, which at times take on a vertiginous quality that reveals the contingency and nonuniversal particularity of means of measure. The Daphnia, described in its title cards as a “film of microcinematographic observations by Jean Painlevé,” examines a species of transparent freshwater crustaceans commonly found in freshwater ponds and streams. They are known for their ability to reproduce through parthenogenesis, a form of asexual reproduction wherein ova develop without fertilization. Painlevé emphasized the beauty and power of magnification, in part due to the difficulty of focusing on anything else. “In the documentary on the daphnia, the microcinematography of the freshwater crustacean, no larger than 1–­2 mm in length, prohibited décor. It was thus only through the play of magnification and lighting that I attempted to hold the spectator’s attention, the scientific attention being ensured by the interest presented by the animal itself.”167 Two indicators of scale frame the film. First, a title card explains that the magnifications indicated are measured according to a 2.7 by 3.6 meter movie screen (9 by 12 feet), such that when the film

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later describes the power of its magnification being 150,000 times its normal size, viewers can measure the translation of scales against their own sense of size. Second, the photography begins with a sequence of establishing shots of the milieu where daphnia live (freshwater streams in the countryside) that move increasingly closer, cutting to aquarium shots of swarms of daphnia, which are increasingly magnified until the framing settles on a single specimen seen in extreme close-­up. The film explores the anatomical and morphological structures of the daphnia, including its pivoting eye, its intestines, its heart, and the quivering fibers of its muscles; its modes of locomotion, notably its tendency to turn frantic somersaults like a gymnast when exposed to the bright lights required for exposure on film; its reproduction; and the creatures that prey on it, including various colonies of palpitating infusoria that embed themselves in the carapace of daphnia or feast on dead ones (even a tiny organism such as a daphnia might be the milieu of an entire other order of life), as well as freshwater hydra, which ensnare daphnia in their tentacles. In an essay published a decade later on the ethical challenges of documentary films, Painlevé, in language resonant of Hugo and the formulation of Surrealist facts, described the powerful effect of shifting scalar registers: “we enter into the unknown. In this way, the microscope gives us a reality different from our own and different from that given by our vision.”168 Entry into the realm of the unknown and the juxtaposition of several realities, Painlevé concluded, required filmmakers to be scrupulous about allowing the spectator to locate herself in space and time through indications of these shifts (a practice already on display in The Daphnia and The Sea Urchins). But such indications did not mute the powerful effect of magnification and comparison across scales. As with The Octopus, several critics praised the astonishing effects of microcinematography upon spectators. Georges Le Fèvre, writing for Le Journal, marveled at the manner in which the cinematography transported viewers: “we are no longer in front of the daphnia, we are inside it,” immersed in “another world” of this delicate “life-­machine.”169 While the Cuvier-­esque passage into the transparent animal was remarkable in terms of taking in the incredible details and mechanisms of basic biological and physiological phenomena from blood circulation to the twitching of muscle fibers, critics

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Figure 1.8. Close-­up of a water flea in The Daphnia ( Jean Painlevé, 1928). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

were just as astonished by the manner in which magnification produced an uncanny form of surface recognition. The framing and cinematography in The Daphnia encouraged such recognition by producing several “portraits” of daphnia, accentuating the wide eyes and facial mask whose contour resembles a caricature of a human face seen in profile. Referring to one of these shots in a piece on Painlevé for Lectures pour tous, an anonymous journalist observed, “Look! The presence of the daphnia magnified 150,000 times on-­screen: a veritable human face.”170 What might it mean to see a “veritable human face” in an image of a tiny crustacean, or to be situated face-­to-­face with a creature alternately alien and oddly familiar? The close-­up conveys character to the microscopic creature and solicits interest and fascination, if not empathy or identification. Recognition suggests some line of affiliation, some common ground on which to engage with another. It establishes a rapport that may be as discomforting as it is pleasurable or assuring, as indexed by the range of responses suggested by the human gaze emerging from the formless mass in The Octopus or

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the accidental replay of the myth of Narcissus in The Sea Urchins when Painlevé appears to pluck a rock urchin from his own reflection. The forms of recognition encountered in these films vary, but often function dialectically, moving from grounding points of reference to disorienting perspectives. Close-­ups allow for new vantages from which to do the work of comparative anatomy across scales of measure producing specimens without necessarily killing the creatures. Reflecting on the cumulative effect of a program of films by Painlevé and his collaborators, Le Fèvre saw in the “face” of the daphnia and other creatures a play of masks: “Thus our knowledge is to this point relative, a slave to our crude senses. Thus the truth borrows so many plausible faces in order to better confuse us.”171 The fleeting recognition of faces across the cinematic bestiary produced a second recognition of the relativity of the senses and the values one derives from them. Émile Vuillermoz made a similar observation with respect to the use of microcinematography in Painlevé’s “astonishing” films of an “unexpected beauty”: “No other spectacle gives a more unsettling sense of the relativity of our sensations.”172 For Paul Werrie, the lessons of the close-­up in Painlevé’s films allowed him to productively expand the work of Béla Balázs, whom he critiqued as unnecessarily prioritizing the human face as the basis of his physiognomic aesthetics of cinema. “Why the human face? Why limit oneself to the face? The leg of a miniscule animal magnified 110,000 times, is this not a close-­up?”173 Werrie was somewhat reductive in his reading of Balázs, who, while prioritizing the Caucasian human face as the coin of the realm for cinema, also wrote of cinema as the art best equipped to show us the “face of things.” Balázs wrote enthusiastically about film’s ability to capture the expressions of animals, which he described as producing a double-­image in which animals acquire “a human physiognomy and at the same time retain their own dear, honest animal faces.”174 But Werrie was correct in his critique that Balázs’s physiognomic aesthetics of the close-­up were, ultimately, an anthropocentric reference back to the human face, which served as the primary measure and value by which all cinematography could be evaluated. Balázs claimed that film was not interested in nature as such so much as it was interested in “man’s personal relationship to it,” which in close-­up produced a “mysterious, unnatural

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image of nature.”175 Werrie’s gloss of Painlevé’s film suggested the possibility of a different, less anthropocentric conception of film form that might inspire a Copernican reconfiguration of aesthetics. Recognizing a face may provide an unexpected passage to encounters with the strange, unusual, and alien. But this mania for “facial recognition” also blinds one to other ways of seeing through cinematic enlargements. The Sea Urchins, perhaps more than any early film by Painlevé, posed this challenge in its study of a “faceless” creature that employs some of the most adventurous experiments in scalar values, wherein close-­up and landscape, detail and totality, commingle in the same image. The Sea Urchins complicates the implicit anthropometrics of cinematography, which, for practical reasons, refers to camera setups based on the anatomy of human actors (close-­up, medium shot, full shot, etc.), tending to implicitly “humanize” whatever it films. Structurally, the film resembles The Octopus and The Daphnia in its location of its subjects within a particular milieu, the seashore around Port-­Blanc.176 Painlevé’s own body serves to establish a sense of scale: he is depicted, shovel in hand, locating and digging up sand urchins and, later in the film, donning a one-­piece bathing suit and retrieving a rock urchin from a waist-­deep tidal pool. These establishing shots are intercut with aquarium footage and microcinematographic footage showcasing skillful mise-­en-­scène, décor, and lighting design, which set increasingly detailed images of various sea urchins against an abstract and abstracting black fond. The film comprises two parts. The first part presents the locomotion and digestion of sand urchins—­one of which Painlevé dissects to display its intestines full of sand (Figure 1.9). The second, longer part examines the locomotion and morphology of rock urchins, giving special care to its flexible tube feet (which help it move by hydraulic pressure) and the multitudes of pedicellaria—­the wormlike clawed stalks that clean, defend, and possibly help feed the urchin—­that populate the surface of the creature. The footage makes the urchin appear as an assemblage of organisms rather than an individual. The film examines the rock urchin with increasingly intense powers of magnification, attaining enlargements, as a title card notes, two hundred thousand times the original size when projected upon a 2.7 by 3.6 meter screen. The innovative use of

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Figure 1.9. Close-­up of a dissected sand urchin in The Sea Urchins ( Jean Painlevé, 1928). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

microscopic cinematography takes viewers on a “stroll” through the urchin’s “forest” of spines, where it encounters the various types of pedicellaria populating its surface. Painlevé uses increasing magnification to examine the one-­thousandth-­of-­a-­millimeter-­long cilia that cover the pedicellaria, raising the possibility that further magnification might reveal another living landscape and republic of organisms of an entirely different scale. The presentation of the urchin as alternately an autonomous spiny creature, a vast forest landscape, and a Medusa-­like republic of creatures demonstrates how shifts in scale can produce documentary footage of a being as non-­self-­identical. The film concludes like it began, by intermittently returning to the scale familiar to humans, showing full shots of a rock urchin in an aquarium, a slightly more contextualized shot of an urchin in a tidal pool, and three landscape shots on the shore, with a bright sun overhead (offering an inverted graphic match to the dark radiating rock urchin, suggesting an infinite unfolding of worlds at different scales). The complementary framing sequences return the spectator to the familiar

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Figure 1.10. Close-­up of a forest of spines and pedicellaria in The Sea Urchins ( Jean Painlevé, 1928). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

setting and scale that served as the point of departure for this voyage in perception, but the landscape is now potentially altered for spectators by a new way of seeing. In “Les Films biologiques,” Painlevé emphasized the spatial and temporal disorientations of the film’s scalar interplay, which, in addition to providing spectators with points of reference, seemed to call for metaphoric bridges to connect the forms of radical difference that the cinematic enlargements revealed. He described the surface of the sea urchin as seen through microcinematography as “the strangest, most surreal decorative theme, evocative of a cataclysm, of a temple in ruins, of vanished flora, the magnifications of the spines presenting Doric columns, the pedicellaria worming their way into the optical field with spasmodic motions—­in sum, a bit of a lost world.”177 In an article on sea urchins for Zoo: la revue du monde animal, he extended this metaphoric line of thought, referring to the echinoderms as “an unknown world.”178 Between the lost and the unknown, the Surrealism of these natural hallucinations provided images

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both anthropomorphic and alien, haunted by catastrophe, entropy, and extinction that emphasized the absence of human life, as if their surfaces restaged Cuvier’s natural history of successive cataclysms as well as Hugo’s entropic natural history even as the conditions of possibility for these visions were the outcome of human ingenuity. After a private screening of The Sea Urchins at Painlevé’s home, Le Fèvre emphasized the experience of having one’s perceptions and sense of reality relativized. The “magical” capacity of the camera “brings us closer to the infinitely remote, and our sovereignty wavers before the suddenly humanized sea urchin.”179 Le Fèvre’s sense that the film humanized the sea urchin is a curious one, given how difficult it is to confer personality or anthropomorphize this faceless entity that, by appearances on-­screen, resembles less an individual organism than a teeming assemblage of creatures. This assertion would seem to rely on precisely what Werrie critiqued in Balázs, which is to say, the habitual relation to think the close-­ up as inextricably linked to the study of the human face and the practice of enlarging details to human scale. Le Fèvre alludes to the other component of the close-­up’s dialectic, which in this context may be referred to as the spectator suddenly oursinisé or urchinized by the film, through the curious remark that at such moments, human sovereignty appears less self-­certain. The Daphnia and The Sea Urchins invite spectators to consider a different cinematographic scalar anatomy, such as that deriving from the close-­up of an animal’s leg, which may provide an optic for seeing human anatomy otherwise. The Sea Urchins presents an interplay of spectatorial reorientations and shifts in perspective that unsettle the stability of reality produced by the human senses and potentially extended and reconfigured by the cinematic dispositif. Painlevé notes in “Un monde inconnu: les oursins” that sea urchins live their lives with an orientation exactly opposite of that of humans: they keep their mouths to the ground, and their “bottoms,” or excretory orifices, face upward.180 Coming face to sur-­face with the faceless urchin through the cinematic close-­up implies a perceptual and spatial reorientation, a literal up-­ending that goes “head over heels and away,” to borrow a phrase from Franz Kafka’s Red Peter that describes processes of metamorphosis taken up in the next chapter.181 The Sea Urchins, like the cephalopods (literally “head-­feet”) featured in

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The Octopus, choreograph encounters below, face-­to-­foot, that move from narcissistic recognition to a metamorphic reorientation, even a temporary reorganization, of the perceiver. BIG TOES AND OTHER BEASTS

The Octopus, The Daphnia, and The Sea Urchins navigate viewers through a back-­and-­forth passage from familiar to strange perspectives, orientations, and scales. While this structure has the pedagogical effect of making the strange more familiar, bringing it closer to spectators, it also teaches spectators to view familiar scenes with an eye for the strangeness they may harbor, as if these images of natural hallucinations might alter what seemed at first glance to be of the known. The passage of the octopus from the laboratory through a heterogeneous dreamscape and back to its milieu, the movement from establishing shots of freshwater streams to microscopic daphnia and back again, and the itinerary of the final sequence of The Sea Urchins, which travels from a forest of spines to a “global” view of the animal in an aquarium to a tidal pool and then the larger context of the seashore, train spectators to bring these modes of viewing, heightened by microscopy and close-­ups, into the context of their habituated scales of perception. Painlevé’s zoological Surrealism produces an orientation toward the world that carries a heightened sensitivity to the contingency of perception and perspective as revealed through the inhuman gaze of the camera. The radical potential of Painlevé’s Copernican cinematic practice was further developed by Georges Bataille and Jacques-­André Boiffard in their collaboration on “The Big Toe,” an assemblage of three pages of text by Bataille and three full-­page photographs by Boiffard published in Documents 6 in November 1929, the same issue that featured close-­up stills from Painlevé’s film Crabes et crevettes (Crabs and Shrimp).182 “The Big Toe” extends the Copernican dimension of the close-­up, further testifying to the role of comparative anatomy as a Surrealist methodology. As an image–­text assemblage, “The Big Toe” provides a powerful iteration of the Surrealism of scale. The textual component provides a ribald, materialist account of idealist thought rooted in the anatomy and orientation of the

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human body, of which the most notable characteristic for Bataille was the erect posture. The article opens with a brief exercise in comparative anatomy. It considers human morphology in relation to that of the closest evolutionary relatives, such as chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and gibbons, to support Bataille’s salvo that “the big toe is the most human part of the human body.”183 The big toe is the most differentiated part of the human body in comparison with anthropoid apes. Its primary function is supporting the elevation and erection of humans, who have evolved from tree-­dwelling creatures into walking trees, absorbing their milieu into their anatomy through this digit. Although the big toe is the most human part of the body, it is also the most bestial. It is the part most in contact with the animal existence it departs from, by virtue of being the anatomical pivot of human erection and the pedestal on which human existence rises from the supposed muck of animality. As a foundation, the big toe is constantly in touch with mud, filth, spittle, and other debased and debasing matter. If bodily orientation and perspective produce humans as head-­in-­the-­air idealists aspiring ever upward, away from matter and determinant material circumstances, the big toe—­which Bataille, against his logic of singularity, frequently conflates with the foot—­corresponds to “derision and gives a very shrill expression to the disorder of the human body, that product of violent discord of the organs.”184 Bataille surgically isolates the big toe and foot, analyzing how they “independently lead an ignoble life,” but he also grafts these appendages back onto a larger body to radically rethink the notion of human existence in a different, darker light.185 Although Bataille avoided using the term dialectic for its implications in an idealist and idealizing telos of the future resolution of conflicting forces into an uplifting synthesis, à la Hegel’s Aufhebung, his study of the big toe introduces a nonsythesized dialectic of seductive forces between “elevating” idealism (the recapitulation of human erection as a motion ever upward) and a “base” seduction—­“an extreme seduction” or seduction by extremities—­that countered idealist aspiration and abstraction with a rude materialist particularism.186 The article concludes with a direct citation to Boiffard’s photographic documents—­three specimen portraits of the big toes of two thirty-­year-­old men and one twenty-­four-­year-­old woman—­and a theory of the close-­up. “The meaning of this article lies in

Figure 1.11. Jacques-­André Boiffard (1902–­61), Big Toe, Male Subject, 30 Years Old, 1929. Gelatin silver print, 31 × 23.9 cm. Copyright Mme. Denise Boiffard. Repro-­ photograph by Bertrand Prevost. Musée National d’art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France. Copyright CNAC/MNAM. Distribution RMN-­Grand Palais/Art Resource, New York.

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its insistence on a direct and explicit questioning of seductiveness, without taking into account poetic concoctions that are, ultimately, nothing but a diversion (most human beings are naturally feeble and can only abandon themselves to their instincts when in a poetic haze). A return to reality does not imply any new acceptances but means that one is seduced in a base manner, without transpositions and to the point of screaming, opening his eyes wide: opening them wide, then, before a big toe [un gros orteil ].”187 Readers of the essay as it appeared in Documents found themselves face-­to-­foot with Boiffard’s three grotesquely enlarged big toes. Bataille’s conception of a close-­up as an instrument of seduction in service of “a return to reality” involved seeing in a manner unclouded by ideologies of human exceptionalism or idealist abstractions disarticulated from the counterforce of base materialism. The close-­up is an attraction, a lure, an allurement, that draws one toward it, and toward a reconsideration, in this case of human beings, human bodies, and the relation with other forms of existence, beginning with a big toe. The last line of the text shifts from the generalized singular of the, treating “the big toe” as an ideal anatomical category, to the singular a, which reorients readers toward the incommensurable and resistant singularity of the photographic documents and forces a critical rereading of the essay itself, countering its own categorical claims and anthropological fantasies with the particularity of each photographic specimen. Boiffard’s triptych of photographic documents operates according to his definition of “Surrealist facts,” emphasizing a reorientation of beholders, situating them on the ground at the level of toes, not unlike a downward facing sea urchin or the head-­footed cephalopod. The detailed portraits of big toes jutting out from abstract black backgrounds share strong morphological resemblances with key images from The Octopus and The Sea Urchins, such as the opening shot of an octopus crawling off a black surface, the close-­ups of an octopus’s mantle (Figure 1.4), a dissected sand urchin (Figure 1.9), and Painlevé’s contemporaneous photograph Pince de homard (later subtitled ou De Gaulle) (Figure 1.12) produced at Port-­Blanc in 1929, with assistance from Éli Lotar. Boiffard was visiting Port-­Blanc during some of the production of the films in 1928, where, according to Painlevé, he spent time developing

Figure 1.12. Pince de homard, ou De Gaulle (Lobster claw, or De Gaulle; Jean Painlevé, assisted by Éli Lotar, 1929). Gelatin silver print, 61 × 49.5 cm. Inv. no. 04837. Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris. Courtesy of Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

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photographs, including some by Painlevé.188 Painlevé’s and Boiffard’s practices developed parallel with each other, and while their close-­ups echo each other, a direct relation need not be insisted upon if one recalls that the two studied PCN together. Experiments with dissection and enlargement against the black fond of laboratory abstraction constituted part of a shared visual vocabulary and expert modes of viewing derived from comparative anatomy, which, as this chapter has argued, was intensified and concentrated in their encounters with Surrealism and the cinema. Like Painlevé’s films, Boiffard’s photodocuments of big toes performed a scalar and spatial reorientation, as well as an anthropological one. The big toes photographed are parts apart, appendages dissected, and, through a perverse form of Cuvier’s principle of correlation, reattached to an altered conception of the human body and human being. From the big toe, one must rethink the entire body and the fables and fantasies it sustains, no longer taking the human as a stable category or universal measure. The close-­up provides a detail that reinterprets the whole and, in the process, unsettles the frames of reference. The close-­up, as the most visibly manifest technique of Surrealist facts and their discovery by means of the cinematic enlargement of comparative anatomy, may be an instrument of metamorphosis, wherein a critical regard at the different, dynamic aspects of animal life simultaneously effects a potentially transformative shift of orientation and perspective regarding humans. Bataille and Boiffard’s big toes make their target explicit in taking aim at the idealist conception of Man. They conceptualize the close-­up as a mode of seduction and animal attraction countering this ideal. Painlevé, while less explicitly polemical, participates in these experiments in deconfiguration and reconfiguration, as suggested in the conclusion to Pénétration pacifique, a text where he describes the sea as effecting an octopedal reorientation of the human explorer greeted by “the multiple joyous events which await us in each corner of this immense territory where the eye of man too rarely puts his foot.”189 The next chapter examines how the sensitivity to the relativity of one’s senses and their surreal realignment fosters a metamorphic capacity to both reveal the universe in constant flux and explore how shifts in perspective may produce a sense of self as fluid. Looking at four films

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about crustaceans produced by Painlevé and his collaborators between 1929 and 1931, a period that coincided with an initially reluctant shift to sound production, chapter 2 explores the dialectic of determination and dynamism as well as its relation to forms of antifoundational critique. These films experiment with the implantation of a Copernican potential within practices of anthropomorphism, built on extending to other aspects of film form the seductive powers of metamorphic Surrealist facts discovered in the close-­up.

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2

Metamorphoses CRUSTACEANS, THE COMING OF SOUND, AND PLASMATIC ANTHROPOMORPHISM

Changes of shape, new forms, are the theme which my spirit impels me now to recite. —­Ovid, Metamorphoses, circa a.d. 8 There is no deformation quite like the one unleashed by the undulating surface (transforming a respectable diver into a Picasso-­esque aquatic satyr). —­Jean Painlevé, Pénétration pacifique, circa 1936

Metamorphoses—­morphological transformations and the emergence of new forms—­occupy a territory between biology and mythology. The term encompasses empirically observable phenomena, such as embryological development or the maturation of organisms, and it provides a poetic explanation for changes without easily observed sources. The epigraph from Painlevé summons the doubled language of metamorphosis to articulate the wonder and enchantment of scientific exploration as transformative. Looking through the water’s surface, he sees “man” transformed by the powers of the sea, which functions as a medium of perception. A high-­ angle photograph accompanies Painlevé’s words, featuring an unidentified woman, half in the water, filming the scuba-­diving pioneer Yves Le Prieur.1 The undulations of the water in the photograph refract and transform the gaze, producing a perspective that captures a recognizable human form and a subaquatic satyr. The photograph frames a fluid interplay of Euclidean and non-­Euclidean perspectives. The photograph and text staged an idealized version of Painlevé’s production practices in the 1930s, particularly as marketed around the 93

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release of L’Hippocampe (The Seahorse, 1934). During this period, Painlevé attempted to fully immerse himself in the milieu where his subjects lived. The photograph and epigraph emblematize the argument of this chapter: that Painlevé’s rigorous documentation of animal life also enfolded a metamorphic exploration of the cinematic medium’s capacity to critically reconfigure human epistemology and ontology through increasingly antifoundational engagements with anthropomorphism or the attribution of human qualities to nonhuman entities. It is a commonplace observation to note that animal films say as much about human cultures as they do about wildlife. Writing on the place of anthropomorphism in Painlevé’s films, the critic Ralph Rugoff summarizes this tendency as an expression of an “anthropomorphic lust,” and Michael Richardson likens it to an “anthropomorphism à rebours” or against nature.2 This chapter examines the hybrid and even chimeric nature of anthropomorphism’s coupling of human and animal. It attends to the seams of difference as well as the zones of overlap between humans and nonhumans, the seductive attractions of anthropomorphism, and what Eva S. Hayward calls a refractive spectatorship that bends the viewer’s perspective away from self-­same identification.3 Painlevé acknowledged this anthropomorphic seduction and unmooring in his evocation of the classical figure of subversive play in the form of a Picasso-­esque aquatic satyr. The ancient fascination with metamorphoses proved to have an uncanny actuality during the 1920s and 1930s, as a series of Copernican revolutions in politics, science, and culture promised dramatic transformations to the foundations of received knowledge. The Russian revolution and the rise of fascism challenged the hegemony of capitalist democracies from the left and right, while anticolonial actions began to foment in spaces colonized by Europe, such as the Zaian and Rif uprisings in Morocco. Feminist activism and the emergence of gay and lesbian subcultures in urban centers began to articulate discourses and create spaces counter to the de facto heterosexuality and patriarchal structure of Western culture. In the sciences, postrelativity physics and Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics shattered Newtonian laws and argued that empirical observation alone was insufficient for new fields of inquiry. Parallel breakthroughs in medical science and biology,

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Figure 2.1. The metamorphic powers of the water and lens: Yves Le Prieur and an unknown woman (possibly Daisy Banié) with the Club des sous L’eau, circa 1935. Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

including the rise of aesthetic surgery, rejuvenation procedures, and the first experiments in sexual confirmation and reassignment procedures, complicated the dictum that biology was destiny. These breakthroughs, according to Brett A. Berliner, “showed the world to be mutable, uncertain, plastic.”4 Modern metamorphoses coupled with antifoundational thought also inspired the Surrealists’ enthusiasm for creative practices liberated from and antagonistic to the principle of identity (A = A, A ≠ B).5 New currents of a metamorphic imagination energized the otherwise strongly deterministic and mechanistic research contexts in which Painlevé often worked. Although, as the epigraph suggests, by 1936, Painlevé spoke freely about metamorphic powers of aquatic visuality, cinematic media, and anthropomorphic transformations, this was not yet the case in 1929. This chapter traces the development of these perspectives through practical experiments, aesthetic and scientific debates, and a growing realization of the critical possibilities of anthropomorphism. Painlevé’s quartet of films about crustaceans—­Le Bernard l’ermite

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(The Hermit Crab, 1929), Hyas et Sténorinques, crustacés marins (Hyas and Stenorhychus, Marine Crustaceans, 1929), Crabes et crevettes (Crabs and Shrimp, 1930), and Caprelles et Pantopodes (Caprella and Pantopoda, 1930)—­crystalized the tensions between deterministic and antifoundational thought as filtered through a fascination with metamorphoses. Crustaceans embodied these tensions through their hard carapaces and soft flesh, which gets exposed during molting (a precondition for growth and reproduction), as well as through the relations to their milieu, made (in)visible in the mimicry and camouflage of certain species. These films were initially released between February and July 1929 as silent prints and then sonarized and rereleased through a distribution deal with Gaumont-­ Franco Film-­Aubert between December 1930 and summer 1931. In negotiating sound production, which he approached with hesitance, Painlevé confronted the strong anthropomorphic powers of cinema, which were amplified by music and commentary. Scrutiny of the crustacean films, their production contexts, and their relation to contemporaneous research in biology and aesthetics brings into view the development of pluriform and at times contradictory anthropomorphisms in Painlevé’s work. Examining the tensions between approaches taken in each film as well as in relation to contemporaneous discourses on anthropomorphism, this chapter argues for the emergence of a plasmatic anthropomorphism that emphasized the metamorphic capacity not only to translate animal life into human terms but to rethink the possibilities of what it meant (and means) to be human. Animation played an important conceptual role in Painlevé’s work during the transition to sound. In addition to the prominent place of “Mickey Mousing,” or the precise synching of on-­screen movement with music, animation served as a source of inspiration for treating the content of films and for theorizing with and through its formal novelties. The clearest example of this comes from Sergei Eisenstein’s concept of the plasmatic, developed in his notes on drawing and animation to describe the elastic aesthetics of cartoons that behave “like primordial protoplasm.”6 Eisenstein’s conceptualization of the plasmatic emerged contemporaneous with his own efforts to come to terms with sound production, which were made in the company of Painlevé in Paris in late fall and winter 1929–­30. Eisenstein may have drawn partial inspiration from Painlevé’s research

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films on protoplasm in stickleback eggs and Canadian waterweed. Following the few archival threads connecting these figures, and setting their works into conversation, the chapter elaborates an animation-­inspired concept of “plasmatic anthropomorphism” that emphasizes both the joy and potential violence of an anthropomorphism that, like the amoebic properties of cartoons, took neither human nor animal forms as given in advance or immutable. This potential was celebrated by critics, who praised Painlevé’s films for their interplay of rigorous determination and surprising plasticity. As Maurice Bourdet, critic for Ciné-­miroir, effusively wrote in January 1929, the films provided the pleasures of seeing supposedly fixed and stable properties become animated and undergo metamorphoses: “In making us carefully examine these infinitesimal beings, for whom he acts as a historian, or better yet, a novelist, Jean Painlevé leads us into the domain of dreams, where, to our astonished eyes, beings and things spill beyond the limits of their forms.”7 At the turn of the twenty-­first century, anthropomorphism has regained some of its intellectual credibility, with scholars in the history of science and animal studies, such as Lorraine Daston and Gregg Mitman, Kari Weil, Erica Fudge, and Jane Bennett, reclaiming its critical possibilities. These scholars aim to redeem anthropomorphism from its dismissal as a narcissistic and epistemologically lazy manner of seeing the reflection of man’s image and human values in the nonhuman world. Anthropomorphism also holds the possibility of sustaining an ethically charged translation and communication between different ontological positions that challenge ideologies of human exceptionalism.8 Daston and Mitman call for a rigorously contextual attention to the uses of anthropomorphism. They argue that the two variables in the term’s etymological roots, anthropos (human) and morphos (transformation), need not only serve to reify human beings. Placing emphasis on the morphos, they note that it may also generate forms of metamorphosis.9 Weil adds the important caveat that one must also attend to whose sense of anthropos gets evoked or dismissed in anthropomorphic projection.10 Bennett has forthrightly called for the development of strategic anthropomorphisms as a way of making new connections across registers of being. She imagines a

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practice of anthropomorphism that, through its analogical connections, can “uncover a whole world of resonances and resemblances” that may exist “across ontological divides.”11 Taken together, these thinkers all articulate critical, strategic, and reflexive accounts of anthropomorphism that work to decouple it from anthropocentric perspectives that place humans at the source and center of all significance. Circumstances were quite different when Painlevé began making films. Anthropomorphism was considered a professional risk, both in the sense of an on-­the-­job danger of unconsciously lapsing into anthropomorphism when making films with animals and also in the sense of risking credibility among the professional echelons of scientists with whom Painlevé had studied or collaborated. In the milieu of 1920s and early-­1930s France, anthropomorphism risked producing an “unprofessional” mode of perception. The interplay of scientific rigor and artistic expression, professionalism and risk, nourished Painlevé’s experiments with anthropomorphisms: first as a problem, then as a perceptual optic, and finally as a critical and potentially metamorphic technique that envisioned the dynamic flux and multifarious entanglements between human and nonhuman entities. THE TRANSFORMATIONS OF SOUND

Film, the medium endowed with the power to capture metamorphosis unfolding, was itself undergoing a series of substantial transformations in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Painlevé’s films from this period connect a critical regard for wildlife with an interest in exploring the plasticity of film as a medium and experience. As with many of Painlevé’s contemporaries, the transition to sound film production presented financial and aesthetic challenges.12 Broaching these challenges sparked a series of metamorphoses in the approach, style, and conceptualization of his film practice that would become a signature of subsequent films in terms of an adventurous use of sound and the development of a critical anthropomorphism. Sound film production posed steep economic challenges to independent filmmakers such as Painlevé, who, up to this point, had self-­funded his films. Jean-­Pierre Jeancolas recounts that in the late 1920s, a silent

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short film could be made for as low a cost as five thousand francs and still find itself in cinemas, as was the case with Pierre Chenal and Jean Mitry’s Paris-­cinéma (1928).13 Painlevé estimated that each of his early silent films was made for less than twenty thousand francs a piece, a figure largely possible due to filming en plein air and at the makeshift studio at Hamon’s family home.14 The capital required to produce sound films could easily be more than three to four times the twenty thousand figure, as was the case with his 1934 short film The Seahorse, for which production costs alone reached approximately sixty thousand francs.15 Even well into his sound production career, Painlevé remained convinced of the grim economic prospects for independent and noncommercial filmmakers. “The production cost of any documentary is around 150 to 200 francs per meter (black and white cartoons also tend to cost this) so that 300 meters (the current standard) may add up to fifty thousand francs. If one earns 3 francs per meter, thus 900 francs per copy, one must sell fifty copies in order to simply amortize the expenses of the film, and this in a rather short time so that the interest on the money invested does not necessitate the sale of supplementary copies.”16 Painlevé noted that this situation was all the more difficult for makers of scientific and animal films, because the ratio of footage shot to footage used could be as high as ten to one, since “at each instant one is at the mercy of chance.”17 In terms of returns from exhibition, short films hardly figured in the calculations. Painlevé claimed that the larger studios often treated shorts as part of the amortization of feature films, and one could frequently hope for no more than 3 percent of the returns on a program.18 As with many of Painlevé’s comments on financial matters, these figures require a bit of caution, but the footage costs do correspond with records for The Seahorse. If maintaining financial independence required finding new resources to cover the increased costs of production and negotiate a shifting culture of exhibition, the aesthetic stakes of the coming of sound, according to Hamery, sparked Painlevé to reflect on the nature of the medium and the risks and rewards of transformation.19 He expressed concerns that fixed sound–­image relations might diminish the surreal capacities of the image to function as simultaneously fact and hallucination. Painlevé declared the voice to be “in contradiction with the photographic image”

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and beside that “really annoying.” He lamented the forms the talkie was taking, asserting that “we were few indeed who found The Jazz Singer completely odious,” but he also understood that the sound film was the new standard.20 In “Les Films biologiques,” an essay that begins by addressing scientific cinema and ends by connecting it to avant-­garde cinema, Painlevé proclaimed himself a partisan of “pure cinema.”21 For Painlevé, pure cinema named an ethos of documentary film production with “little or no mise en scène,” that expressed itself “entirely through the photography, rhythm, and montage.”22 He conceded that for his films intended for the general public, “purity” was a guiding ideal rather than a strict protocol, because one had to keep audiences engaged. Painlevé contrasted the explanatory function of spoken and written language with the evocative plasticity of photographic images, and he worried that talkies threatened cinema’s visual immediacy. “By definition the voice is made to be understood (cries and singing bring it back to sound); it is thus incompatible with all the plastic, deformable, and imaginative visuals that represent photographic art.”23 He was suspicious that language would have the domesticating effect of all too quickly fixing images with a stable and even reductive meaning, whereas “pure cinema enables individual possibility and modes of responses without forcing resonance.”24 Painlevé protested that the recorded voice deprived the spectator of the alluring ambiguity of “silent” images. The voice diminished the freedom of engagement that silent films supposedly granted spectators (he seems not to have minded the role of live commentary). Painlevé fretted that prefabricated speech dampened the potential “sensation of plenitude” that well-­crafted silent films produced.25 Painlevé also lamented the potential loss of the international aspect of film’s visual language. Like many champions of the medium, he believed silent film had the potential to act as a form of popular Esperanto. He fretted that the wholesale embrace of the talkie “tosses to the floor” cinema’s most utopian aspect as a universal form of communication.26 His concern also had a practical financial side: the presence of spoken language meant linguistically limiting the viewing communities, which complicated and potentially curtailed distribution. Producing bilingual title cards or splicing in translated title cards could be accomplished relatively

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inexpensively and quickly, whereas subtitling or dubbing added additional costs to production budgets. In addition to taming the wild potential and international qualities of filmic images, sound production raised ethical problems particular to nonfiction films. Spoken and written commentary could be used to cover up faulty filmmaking or to fabricate intentional falsehoods from documentary footage.27 Recorded commentary and music could also significantly amplify the presence of anthropomorphism. Henri Diamant-­Berger, the critic and producer who distributed Painlevé’s first films, wrote the director in early spring 1930 urging him to add sound to his “little silent films” to ensure their distribution and any chance of popular success.28 In notes bearing the handwritten title “Le Cinéma,” written for a lecture delivered shortly before recording the first set of commentaries for his films—­reference to this in the concluding lines allows the document to be dated 1930—­Painlevé responded to the pressures to convert to sound with an imaginary conversation with a theater manager: —­From now on, we can only ensure a serious run if you give us documentaries with sound. —­Nevertheless, I cannot make an octopus speak . . . —­Why not . . . ? Ah, yes. Very well, speak yourself. But do not tell the audience anything boring or difficult. —­I see: some light chitchat. —­That’s it, some light chitchat about the octopus. Or better yet some well-­matched music, something that sticks together well. —­For octopus music, something a bit slimy. We’ll tell the musicians not to empty the spit valves on their instruments . . . —­Do what you like provided that it is evocative. If need be record noise, so as long as it is sound. We have not spent millions transforming our theatre in order to project silent films.29

Painlevé rehearsed familiar tropes of independent filmmaking as a heroic struggle for artistic and intellectual integrity against demands for commercial appeal and higher entertainment values. The extract emphasized his sense that the mounting pressures to add sound to film were frequently arbitrary and divorced from considerations of content or aesthetic integrity. The distracted attitude with which the imaginary manager suggests

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that if the octopus cannot be made to speak on film, then the filmmaker must speak for and about it dramatizes the pressures to impose anthropomorphic commentary on the material based on cynical assumptions about audience taste. Painlevé’s lecture notes concluded by admitting that he would shortly join the ranks of sound filmmakers. “For a poetically produced documentary, I do not see any good sonic solution outside of a musical score. Nevertheless, in several days, I have to turn a documentary on aquatic animals into a talkie. Faith won’t keep me silent.”30 THE SKELETON DANCE: CAPRELLA AND PANTOPODA

The film that Painlevé referred to at the conclusion of “Le Cinéma” was almost certainly Caprella and Pantopoda (1930), a comparative anatomy doc­umentary about the ethology, morphology, reproduction, de­vel­op­ment, and locomotion of skeleton shrimp (Caprella) and sea spiders (Pantopoda). This was the first of Painlevé’s productions to be theatrically released as a hybrid sound film. Painlevé shot the film in 1929 at Port-­Blanc. Éli Lotar, a friend and collaborator of Jacques-­André Boiffard, worked as the camera operator on Caprella and Pantopoda, Crabs and Shrimp, and unfinished projects on lobsters and spiders. This collaboration was short-­lived due to a falling out with Painlevé over the mishandling of some footage of skeleton shrimp giving birth. According to Painlevé, Lotar forgot to label the unprocessed footage as “panchromatic,” resulting in the laboratory processing it as orthochromatic and ruining the negatives.31 Caprella and Pantopoda was projected silently to a warm reception in May 1930 during a lecture by Painlevé at the Sorbonne about scientific cinema. It was projected silently for a second time for the Groupe de cinématographie de la Chambre des Députés (Chamber of Deputies Cinema Group) in July 1930.32 The film was subsequently sonorized with commentary by Painlevé and a musical score featuring interpretations of suites by Domenico Scarlatti arranged and directed by Maurice Jaubert, which was recorded in October 1930.33 Its commercial debut as a sound film was on December 23, 1930, at the opening night of Les Miracles cinema, a theater launched by the newspaper L’Intransigeant.34 Painlevé gave each part of Caprella and Pantopoda similar structures.

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An introduction situates the animals within a biological classification as crustaceans; gives an evocative description of their appearances, of their anatomy and morphology, and of their reproductive habits and development; and gives a playful parting shot. In the case of the skeleton shrimp, the study concludes with the tiny shrimp appearing to compulsively curtsy to each other, which is intercut with the title “Sincerely Yours.” The concluding sequence on the sea spider features skeleton shrimp and sea spiders engaged in what the commentary refers to as “La danse macabre!” Caprella and Pantopoda and the other films made between 1929 and 1931 straddled two modes of production: a “silent” practice showcasing optical research and vertiginous scalar displacements of microcinematography and sound production exploiting the possibilities of vertical montage. Painlevé experimented with the new form while ensuring that the final cut also remained viable for silent projections. The film relies on twenty-­eight title cards to furnish all the important biological information about its subjects. Painlevé defended the maintenance of subtitles in talkies as more than a mere residual artifact by pointing to their presence in L’Âge d’or (Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, France, 1930) and All Quiet on the Western Front (Louis Milestone, USA, 1930). He emphasized the importance of reading for the assimilation of information in documentary films. Title cards bridged sudden shifts in subject matter and provided a “necessary oasis” for spectators’ eyes and attentions.35 The use of title cards also meant the film was ready for export or to be transferred to a reduced format for silent projection, which was frequently how films were shown in educational contexts.36 Interspersed throughout the film, Painlevé delivers telegraphic bursts of spoken commentary. By the time Painlevé began sonorizing his films, he had already accrued experience performing live commentaries for them. Beginning in 1930, he spent part of his winters touring France and its neighbors under the heading of “Nature Unveiled by the Cinema.”37 Journalists repeatedly praised his performances for an “extreme skill that transforms the most scientific language into a human and frothy language ultimately projecting humor and intelligence.”38 Painlevé’s tours helped develop a commentary tone that struck a balance between scientific credibility and playfulness.

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The title cards for Caprella and Pantopoda handle most of the key factual information while the voice-­over alternates between directional information that directs the spectators’ gazes and interprets action—­“we are going to follow a running skeleton shrimp”—­and evocative and lightly anthropomorphic observations such as referring to a set of skeleton shrimp on a piece of detritus as castaways on a raft, describing their motions as “acrobatic” and “curtsies,” and referring to a baby sea spider as resembling “a charming parasite of man” and “a farmer cultivating his land, seen from behind.” In keeping with Painlevé’s comments on the priority and plentitude of the image, the commentary most frequently sets up sequences but rarely talks over them for very long. The film references Painlevé’s ambivalence about adding commentary. Painlevé introduces a pair of close-­up shots of the body and head of a skeleton shrimp with the proclamation “the monologue of the Caprella.” The commentary then drops out as the film shows the highly mobile mandibles of a silhouetted skeleton shrimp that appears to be delivering a Shakespearean-­style monologue (Figure 2.2). Where one might expect the sort of anthropomorphic drolleries made possible by sound, the film offers silence as both a sonic space into which one may project a monologue and a marked refusal to put words into animals’ mouths. The film flirts with anthropomorphism while also performatively restraining from doing so by withholding the content of that monologue. Maurice Jaubert’s arrangement of Scarlatti opens the film with an allegro suite characterized by a lively burst of horns and strings exchanging voices, which complements the frenetic movement of skeleton shrimps scampering across a slate-­colored rock. The score cycles from jaunty horn parts, evocative of equestrian maneuvers, to movements in andante moderato and soft minor key passages, which serve as a sound bed for the commentary. The strongest image and music connections occur in the half dedicated to sea spiders. Their long, bone-­white legs rapidly agitating as they swim against an abstract black background lend the images a phantasmagoric aura (Figure 2.3). The rhythm of the music frequently synchronizes with the creatures’ flailing limbs, giving the appearance that they are dancing to the music. The skeletal appearance of clusters of bony sea spiders and curtsying skeleton shrimp swimming in the aquarium

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Figure 2.2. The monologue of the Caprella in Caprella and Pantopoda ( Jean Painlevé, 1930). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

motivates the final line of commentary: “La danse macabre!” This tongue-­ in-­cheek allusion to the medieval allegory about the universality of death may also allude to Painlevé’s sense that talkies spelled the death of silent cinema’s universality. But the phrase also would have been recognized as a reference to Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks’s first Silly Symphony, The Skeleton Dance (USA, 1929), which was known in France under the title La Danse Macabre.39 Alongside the first Mickey Mouse cartoons, The Skeleton Dance and the other Silly Symphonies offered a model for the sound film as the birth of a new cinematic form. Pierre Scize, film critic for Jazz, wrote in December 1929 that Mickey Mouse cartoons presented to audiences the first technically perfect sound films.40 Benjamin Fondane proclaimed them the “point of departure for the arrival of the new art.”41 Alexandre Arnoux, writing in Pour vous in May 1930, described cartoons as a “refreshing antidote” to the talkies presently “poisoning us.”42 Closer to Painlevé, his friend Sergei Eisenstein, during his February 17, 1930, lecture at the

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Figure 2.3. The skeleton dance in Caprella and Pantopoda ( Jean Painlevé, 1930). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

Sorbonne, declared, “I think that a 100 per cent talking film is nonsense [bêtise] and I believe that everyone shares my opinion. But sound film is much more interesting and the future belongs to it. Particularly Mickey [Mouse] films.”43 Painlevé joined this chorus of appreciation for Les Mickeys in his lecture “Le Cinéma,” and a photograph from the era shows Painlevé, Hamon, and Raymond in their studio with what appears to be a plush Mickey Mouse doll seated on a skull suspended from the ceiling (see Figure 3.6). The Skeleton Dance—­which Eisenstein described as a “masterpiece of moving equivalent of music”—­provided its viewers with a blueprint for potential sound–­image relations.44 Set in a nocturnal graveyard, the film portrays skeletons involved in a danse macabre set to Carl Stalling’s jazzy score. The reanimated skeletons perform a wild array of popular dances, including rondes, hulas, pirouettes, acrobatics, shimmies, and the Charleston, undergoing a series of metamorphoses from bony hardness to a rubber band–­like elasticity. The mixture of frantic animation,

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dancelike motions, and a macabre humor resonates between the two films. The comic effects of the skeleton’s rubber band elasticity parallel the interplay between strict determination and contingent creation in Painlevé’s films about crustaceans. Guests at the film’s premiere included the painters Fernand Léger, Marc Chagall, and Pablo Picasso as well as the sculptors Henri Laurens and Jacques Lipchitz. L’Intransigeant’s critics Les Deux Aveugles (Tériade, né Stratis Eleftheriadis, and Maurice Raynal) managed to get quotes from most of these prominent artists, who were filled with praise for Painlevé’s work.45 The critics cited an enthusiastic Léger: “Jean Painlevé’s Pantopoda is, according to him, the most beautiful ballet that he has ever seen.”46 Chagall remarked, “Jean Painlevé’s film is . . . a veritable source of images for the artist. The work is formidable and does not contain any frivolities [chichi ].”47 The film’s “plastic richness” and “astonishing opening into reality” impressed the sculptors Laurens and Lipchitz.48 Picasso praised the Ub Iwerks cartoon Flip the Frog: The Cuckoo Murder Case (1930) that screened alongside the film, though his admiration for Painlevé’s The Octopus and its influence on his paintings of the period are now well documented.49 Praise from such prominent artists for his first foray into sound production may have eased the sting Painlevé felt in being pressured to make the transition. Following Diamant-­Berger’s advice, he sonorized Crabs and Shrimp, Hyas and Stenorhynchus, and The Hermit Crab with funding and distribution support from Gaumont-­Franco Film-­Aubert and rereleased them in 1931. UNEXPECTED OPPOSITIONS: CRABS AND SHRIMP

The perception that inopportune uses of sound might have a reductive, anchoring effect on a spectator’s experience of a film found a counterpoint in the creative possibilities of audiovisual montage. Sound could clarify analogies, create provocative juxtapositions, and, in the words of the composer and critic Florent Schmitt, exploit the aesthetic valence of “unexpected oppositions.”50 While Schmitt’s comments were made in a review of a live performance of Marcel Delanoy’s score prior to the release of the sound print of Crabs and Shrimp, it encapsulated the

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Figure 2.4. Close-­up of a shrimp from Crabs and Shrimp ( Jean Painlevé, 1930). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

primary aesthetic approach of the film, which presents crustaceans as creatures that are hard and soft, lumbering and graceful, mendacious and whimsical. Two stills from the film, labeled “shrimp head, crab head—­Jean Painlevé film (1929),” were published in the critical dictionary section of the November 1929 issue of Documents. The images were situated across from photographs of the La Villette slaughterhouses taken by Lotar and among short texts on abattoirs, factory chimneys, crustaceans, and metamorphoses by Georges Bataille, Jacques Baron, Marcel Griaule, and Michel Leiris.51 Jacques Baron’s “Crustaceans” celebrated how scalar shifts may transform our sense of beauty. Baron recounts an anecdote about Gérard de Nerval taking a lobster for a walk on a leash around the Palais-­Royal, a practice the nineteenth-­century poet defended by arguing that unlike loud and dirty domestic animals, such as dogs and cats, the lobster is “gentle, graceful, and clean . . . and at least he knows the mysteries of the sea.” He concludes with a shock-­cut linking human gustatory

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Figure 2.5. Close-­up of a crab from Crabs and Shrimp ( Jean Painlevé, 1930). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

pleasure and cruelty: “Crustaceans are boiled alive in order to conserve the succulence of their flesh.” Baron makes the case for the poetic wonders of these strange creatures through an allusion to cinema. “A painter friend of mine said one day that if a grasshopper were the size of a lion it would be the most beautiful animal in the world. How true that would be of a giant crayfish, a crab as enormous as a house, and a shrimp as tall as a tree!”52 Painlevé’s magnification and projection of crustaceans on screens rendered them hundreds and even thousands of times their normal size. If such extreme close-­ups could transform perception by making these tiny creatures monstrous, magnification, like the poetic eye of Nerval, could also render common crustaceans graceful and even chic. Baron’s text attuned audiences to the metamorphic power of the cinematic close-­up and to the doubled metamorphosis of perceptual extensions that transformed both the object and beholder of the gaze. Unlike octopuses, sea urchins, and daphnia, the mere appearance and locomotion of common crustaceans did not provide sufficient novelty

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and attraction value. The film needed to develop a set of unexpected oppositions, such as those contained in Baron’s text, to take a rather common animal and render it marvelous by transforming the perception of the spectator. Painlevé described the challenges of making the film in terms of finding the right tone: There is nothing more pretentious than becoming ecstatic over something banal in order to give the appearance of discovering something in it that others have never seen, when, just like you, they have tickled its mandibles or gobbled up its head, liver and all the rest. But this familiarity does not confer any claims to knowledge. Particularly when we are trying to engage audiences with animals encountered on every corner, like crabs and shrimp. In order to maintain interest, it is necessary either to force them to perform sketches, bustle about, and if possible, to kill or be killed, or to transform our eyes in order to see them in a new manner.53

This metamorphosis of vision necessitated formal strategies aimed at reorienting and extending the perspectives of the spectator. For Painlevé, the objective was to create this effect “not by producing a particularly astonished state of mind . . . but by using lighting and microscopic lenses to create a new structure from an old unity and by highlighting details inaccessible by other means.”54 Crabs and Shrimp features Cancer pagurus and Portunus crabs alongside common and sand shrimp. After an alternating set of close-­up images of crabs and shrimp, the film cuts to a long shot of the coast at Port-­Blanc, which subsequently cuts to overhead shots of a tidal pool containing some crabs. The film then cuts back to the aquarium set and several more close-­ups of crabs and shrimp. A title card introduces a sequence of a crab “wearing” a sea anemone and several shrimp bounding off of it. The film documents the external morphology and internal functions of the transparent common shrimp and sand shrimp, including their spiny rostrum, their heart and circulatory system, the process of laying eggs, and the structure of their tail and legs seen through increasing magnification. It returns focus to crabs, examining the mandibular system of a crab’s mouth, its eyes, as well as mating habits and the morphology of its offspring. A sequence demonstrates the “strength of crabs” and the “struggle and claw” of their interspecies combats, intercutting footage

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of tangled crabs at a stalemate and in violent spasms of grappling. The film concludes with a menacing close-­up of a crab claw. In addition to twenty-­four minimalistic intertitles (“A leg,” “The eye,” etc.), the sonorized version of the film features Marcel Delannoy’s “Les Figures sonores,” an original score for oboe, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, strings, piano, and percussion recorded for the film under the direction of Maurice Jaubert. Drawing inspiration from the documentary’s contrasts between the pugnacious crabs and balletic shrimp, Delannoy’s score cycles between frantic, halting staccato string parts answered by bursts of dissonant chords from the brass section and melodic pianissimo sections featuring a chimelike piano and delicately voiced strings and woodwinds. When the music was performed by Walther Straram’s orchestra in winter and early spring 1931, prior to the release of the sound print, it garnered considerable attention from music critics. André George described the score as a “musical translation” of the film and characterized it as a “descriptive work” that also managed to stand as an autonomous piece of concert music.55 The composer and critic Maurice Imbert praised it as “simultaneously evocative of the immensity of the ocean and of the crustacean populations whose antics and mystery-­filled life it wishes to depict.”56 The stylistic oppositions, such as the frenetic passages that evoke scurrying crabs, the dissonant horn burst that suggests their quarrels, and the melodious passages that conjure up the fluid arcs of shrimp movement and morphology, inspired in Florent Schmitt’s mind a set of cinematic images of the “petty domestic dramas” of “vicious, jealous, quarrelsome, voracious crabs” and “gentle and virtuous shrimp.”57 “Among the hundred ingenious and moving details,” Schmitt continued, “I noted a graceful and infinitely melancholy oboe air, the symbol, I imagine, of the distress of a little crustacean surprised by a large one and terrified by the inevitable.”58 It is unclear as to whether Schmitt had seen either the silent version of the film or a preview of the sound print, but a brief oboe air was synchronized with a sequence of passages following the title card “Curious Customs,” featuring a sizable male crab that, after performing the courting ritual of standing en pointe and waving its claws, seizes a much smaller female crab in a precopulatory embrace. The “Curious Customs” sequence is emblematic of the oppositions

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at play across Painlevé’s crustacean films. Cancer pagurus and Portunus both have a durable exoskeleton and powerful claws, as demonstrated in the penultimate sequence of Crabs and Shrimp, “The Strength of the Crab,” which shows a crab support and extricate itself from beneath two concrete slabs. Painlevé juxtaposes this characteristic rigidity with the fact that in order to grow and to mate, crabs must molt their protective exoskeleton, temporarily exposing their soft and vulnerable flesh. The film presents a couple of crabs in the copulatory position. The male caresses the shell of the female, likely testing it to see if she is softening in preparation for molting. A title card indicates that the crab waits for the female to molt before mating and draws attention to the female’s empty shell in the foreground of a shot. Molting—­the becoming fleshy of the calcareous creature—­stands as a figure of metamorphosis and reproduction. It presents the momentary liberation of shedding one’s carapace as well as one’s submission to the constraints of accrued form. It also emphasizes that this momentary plasticity requires assuming the risks of exposure. Painlevé’s cinematic crabs embody the tensions between rigid determinations and metamorphoses, which the film contrasts with the depictions of shrimp as “graceful, transparent, fluid, rapid . . . delicate and refined.”59 Approaching these creatures as if they were living decorative architecture and members of a ballet troupe, Painlevé directly engaged with the forms of anthropomorphism that he elsewhere associated as a risk of sound films. The associations were not produced through spoken commentary or title cards—­with the exception of one comparing the structure of a shrimp’s tail seen in magnification to “a splendid fan”—­but rather through canny lighting, photography, and image–­sound relations that often appear immanent to the profilmic scene. Painlevé admitted to the absurdity of many anthropomorphic characterizations by commenting on the unpredictability of animals during the production process. “Shrimp vomit in front of the lens just when one expects the most ethereal ballet from them.”60 Terrified animals often spoiled the filmmaker’s anthropomorphic expectations, and even if these moments of pure animal corporeality were left on the cutting room floor, they marked a limit point of cinematic manipulation. The film’s examinations of the morphological features of shrimp—­ particularly the rostrum, the beating heart seen through its transparent

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body, the legs, and the two sequences exploring the fanlike blades of the tail through increasing magnification—­conjure the art nouveau decorative styles and haute couture of the Belle Époque. In this context, molting takes on additional resonances beyond growth and reproduction, linking shedding carapaces with the caprices and temporal rhythms of fashion. The fanned tails of shrimp appeared in the scalloped décolletage and fishtail hems of many dresses, while its carapace resembled the corseted profiles common in Belle Époque styles. From this perspective, molting signals the rapid shedding of one style for another that drives the conspicuous consumption of fashion as well as the potential liberation from constraints that characterized women’s fashions during the interwar period. Critics remarked on the film’s connections with decorative art and fashion. In “L’Art sous-­marin” (Underwater art), Jean Cassou praised Painlevé’s “cinematic novels” for giving spectators a sense of what the Romantic poet Novalis called the “voluptuous pleasure of water” as well as for drawing correspondences between “mechanical movements”—­such as the underwater ballets of aquatic life—­and an “interior metamorphosis.”61 Equally charmed by the effects of cinematic magnification, Claude Doré, critic for Ciné-­miroir, praised the “movie star qualities” and “photogénie” of the shrimp, which he had never considered prior to the film. He joked about hanging pictures of shrimp and spirograph worms on his wall in the manner one would with movie stars.62 Inspired by the metamorphic spirit of the film, as well as the knowledge that Painlevé and Hamon were designing fabrics inspired by shrimp tails, he concluded, “I would like to be a woman and wear a ‘shrimp tail’ dress.”63 Reviewing a screening of the film at Sonika Bô’s Club Cendrillon, a ciné-­club for children, the critic H. Berger marveled at how the camera made the shrimp appear “fine and translucent” with structural details resembling the stone lace of gothic cathedrals.64 Surrounded by an appreciative audience of children, Berger claimed, “My neighbor, a chubby little five year old, burst out crying with all her heart due to the fact that she had never before seen ‘shrimp like this.’”65 Did “like this” refer to shrimp as living, animated creatures—­rather than dead on a plate—­or to their appearance as dazzling and delicate giants when projected on-­screen? To have

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one’s view of these tiny creatures so fundamentally changed, and one’s sense of scale and value so altered, justifies an outpouring of tears, of both regret for having lived unaware of this insight and of joy for having experienced it. THE CLINAMEN, ANTHROPOMORPHISM’S UNFORESEEN BEAST

The transition to sound production and exhibition provided a catalyst for Painlevé to begin developing explicit positions on anthropomorphism, which swerved from denouncements of anthropomorphism to declarations of its necessity. The challenges of sound production were not just financial, technical, and aesthetic—­as faced by all filmmakers working at the moment—­but also epistemic and ethical. Painlevé’s training in comparative anatomy and histology sensitized him to the challenges of observer bias as well as the potential artifacts introduced by the apparatus of visualization into processes of preparation and observation. Major figures in the natural sciences, such Étienne Rabaud, the chair in experimental biology with the Faculty of Sciences of the Sorbonne, called for the break from anthropomorphic—­and tacitly anthropocentric—­perspectives in biological research.66 With the reception of postrelativity “new physics” and quantum mechanics, language and figuration were subjected to increased scrutiny as potential artifacts and biases that limited comprehension of phenomena and even foreclosed access to them. In an essay published in Europe in 1933, Pierre Abraham, making reference to such key thinkers as Paul Langevin, described the thrust of modern research as a progressive “de-­anthropomorphization” of scientific thought.67 Anthropomorphism, according to Abraham, threatened to deform the creation of “adequate images” of phenomena.68 Ordinary language and comparative habits of thought were typically calibrated to the scale of the individual human’s sense perceptions.69 The implicit anthropomorphic biases of language threatened scientific progress, but Abraham also argued that the careful and artful deployment of language could “fuse abstract concepts with the conduct of our embodied intelligence.”70 The challenges of using language and images to aid rather than obstruct observation and comprehension—­to produce “adequate images” of phenomena—­

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illuminated Painlevé’s early sound films as both a tempering and constructive use of anthropomorphism and its relationship to anthropocentrism. Anthropomorphism is an inclination or bias that translates and interprets phenomena through explicitly human terms by means of analogy. Occasionally, the application of anthropomorphism produces a clinamen, or unpredictable swerve in its significations and perceptual scope. The epicurean philosopher Lucretius introduced the term clinamen in De Rerum natura as the name for the unpredictable swerve in the motion of atoms, whose collisions are the source of creation and of the new.71 In Gestes et opinions du Docteur Faustroll, ’pataphysicien, the Surrealist predecessor Alfred Jarry appropriated Lucretius’s concept to name the “unforeseen beast” that was an eroticized engine of novelty, instability, and transformation. Jarry imagined his clinamen painting metamorphic poems on the walls of a postapocalyptic Paris.72 The clinamen animates the possibilities for the chance emergence of novelty latent in the morphism of anthropomorphism. An unpredictable swerve cannot be formulaically instrumentalized, but conditions hospitable to such transformative shifts may be cultivated and maximized, such as through the ethos of disponibilité (availability, openness) fostered by Painlevé’s filmmaking practices, which drew on the combination of active and passive observation acquired from his training in comparative anatomy and Surrealism. His films present chimera and cadavres exquis born of the encounters—­uneven and coerced as they may be—­between filmmaker and animals. On occasion, the anthropomorphic analogies and translations in them produce uncanny effects, exploiting the inherent instabilities of anthropomorphism. Painlevé’s writing and public discourses of the late 1920s and early 1930s frequently raised protests and cautions against anthropomorphism, as would be expected of somebody with advanced scientific training at a moment of rigorous critique of anthropomorphism as lazy and limiting. Yet anthropomorphism frequently irrupted into and erupts out of his work. Painlevé’s early statements on anthropomorphism, and at times anthropocentrism, largely addressed this optic’s epistemic and ethical risks. Even in the cases where animals were relatively acclimated with the disturbing conditions of filmmaking, including forms of stimuli meant to spur the animals to act or react in a particular way, the challenges of filming animal

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behavior required incredible discipline, dedication, and patience (Scott MacDonald refers to the best wildlife films as a form of “committed” cinema).73 The considerable artifice required for capturing animals on film demanded counterbalance of patience and respect for contingency to ensure scientific and documentary credibility as well as a trace of the wildness of so-­called wildlife. In “La Beauté du film documentaire, le film biologique” (The beauty of the documentary film: the biological film), Painlevé, revising previous remarks on pure cinema, noted that all but the purest film documents required some mise-­en-­scène and artful montage. He expressed wariness regarding the manner in which these techniques so frequently served as crutches for impatient and bad filmmaking, as well as the production of what he labeled “counterfeit documentaries.”74 Even prior to the editing and sonorization of a film, Painlevé noted that anthropomorphism and anthropocentrism posed an epistemic challenge at the planning and shooting stages of a production: The most well-­established observations collapse, the most surely organized reflexes cease to function due to the unusual lighting passing through the filters, while hunger-­related behaviors cease due to a change in milieu. One would like to find the emotional factor and control its variations even though, constantly swinging between anthropomorphism and anthropocentrism, we are incapable of understanding an animal that does not remain within the field determined by these two blinders.75

Anthropomorphism and anthropocentrism were conditions of observation as well as the primary impediments that one “swings” between. He referred to anthropomorphism and anthropocentrism as blinders (oeillères), like those placed on workhorses to restrict their field of vision, that negatively determine and limit one’s perspectives and the possibilities of comprehension. Here the indifferent mechanical eye of the camera, in combination with an ethos of best practices cultivated by scientific and Surrealist modes of observation, played important roles in loosening the double bind and double blinders of anthropomorphism and anthropocentrism through the production of a field of vision that might have otherwise been inaccessible. Anthropomorphism, according to Painlevé, was latent in human per­ cep­tion. Painlevé initially conceived of anthropomorphism as something

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“one cannot entirely rid oneself of” when observing certain animal behaviors.76 In “La Beauté du film documentaire,” addressing himself as much as his readers, he cautioned that filmmakers must “tickle as little as possible the anthropomorphism which sleeps within all of us.”77 Press accounts of his 1931 screening tour “La Nature dévoilée par le cinéma” (Nature unveiled by cinema) frequently recounted Painlevé’s ambivalent remarks about anthropomorphism. In an article promoting Painlevé’s visit to Les Amis du cinéma ciné-­club in Nice on November 11, 1931, its president, the filmmaker Jean Vigo, provided a portrait of Painlevé as “armed with the surreal eye of his camera” and coming to town to “deflate our lazy anthropomorphism” with his films (the program at Nice’s Idéal cinema included The Hermit Crab, The Daphnia, Crabs and Shrimp, and The Sea Urchins, as well as some extracts from surgical films made with the plastic surgeon Dr. Charles Claoué).78 A journalist covering the event in Éclaireur de soir mentioned that the filmmaker “begged our forgiveness for including moments of anthropomorphism in his texts” and then admitted that “there certainly were several in the audience who forgave him on faith, not having their dictionaries with them to look up the meaning of this term.”79 Whether or not the public was acquainted with the term, the press followed Painlevé’s lead in discussing a distinction between typical or “lazy” anthropomorphism and that which occasionally had sprung up in Painlevé’s films and lectures. The good faith of journalists suggested a measure the respect afforded to Painlevé thanks to his father’s reputation and influence as well as his own rhetorical gifts. An account in Le Petit Provençal from the same week testified to the credit audiences extended him, as it described Painlevé as managing to hold himself to the standards of scientific honesty and artistic perfection while maintaining a “formal refusal of any temptation—­however seductive—­of anthropomorphism.”80 The journalist Chamine (pen name for Geneviève Dunais), writing about the crustacean films in Pour vous, distilled the contradictory status of anthropomorphism in Painlevé’s work. “In showing us new forms of life,” she observed, “he makes us better know our own.”81 This operation did not proceed by way of a direct path. The films generated such insights

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through a category of tactile perceptual experience that dislodged anthropomorphism from its foundation in anthropocentrism and emphasized its mediating capacities: [Painlevé] presents us with a sense that mediates between touch and vision, a visual skin or, as Jules Romains would say, our unofficial vision of the world. It is our pitiless and curious gaze, our proximity to species, in a word, our childish receptivity that he has presented to us. For Jean Painlevé is not in the least bit a “sentimental zookeeper.” He does not seek to compare the mode of existence of these mysterious species with that of man. He does not hopelessly seek maternal love, passionate love, or intelligence among these simple creatures. He forgets himself. He shows them to us in their candid cruelty, their survival instinct, and their strangeness [extérieur]. He isolates them in their habitat, in their species, without submitting them to the criteria of art and morality that man has so artificially placed at the forefront of his life. The animals to which Painlevé introduces us contain all the figures from the game of human life [toutes les figures du jeu de la vie humaine].82

The strangeness or “exteriority” of Painlevé’s bestiary draws out uncanny echoes with human existence. It raises awareness of our own animal existence through flashes of recognition and a tactile perception. These echoes were not anchored in what Chamine dismissively referred to as a sentimental mode of anthropomorphism rooted in human understandings of love or even in comparison, a point that seems strange to make about a person trained in comparative anatomy, but rather in self-­abnegation (“he forgets himself”). If spectators saw something of themselves in these animals—­the article is illustrated by a close-­up photograph of a bee, a still from Hyas and Stenorhynchus, and an extreme close-­up of the “face” of a crab from Crabs and Shrimp—­it was perhaps because the human element vacillates between omnipresence and seeming effacement. But whatever recognition of a face or figure of humanity was present was put into play, continuously shuffled and recombined. Painlevé insisted that his films had a significantly different orientation than the popular animal and science film made by his primary competitor, Germany’s UFA studios. “UFA’s vitalist and anthropomorphic spirit may be pleasing to audiences, but it is not scientific.”83 Continuing this line of thought in his essay “Feet in the Water,” he wrote, “There are so many

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myths to shatter! The most preposterous anthropomorphism reigns in this field: everything has been made for Man and in the image of Man and can only be explained in terms of Man, otherwise, ‘What’s the use?’ That leads to observations that are inaccurate.”84 Sentimentality, vitalism, and what can be qualified as anthropocentric anthropomorphism were all perils whose risks seemed all the more palpable in Painlevé’s early entry into sound film production. If these apparent dangers inspired rather strong anti-­anthropomorphic pronouncements, Painlevé’s popular films frequently displayed an iteration of anthropomorphism hospitable to generating a clinamen or unforeseen beast of a second nature, produced by the encounter between human and nonhuman animals by means of the experimental milieu of cinema. Nearly six decades later, reflecting on his films from this era in Jean Painlevé au fil de ses films, Painlevé made a rather astonishing proclamation, which appears as a clinamen in his own thinking: “We commit anthropomorphism. We have the right to commit anthropomorphism. We have the duty to commit anthropomorphism. Otherwise, we would be incapable of appreciating any element around us.”85 The apparent human chauvinism of the right and duty to commit anthropomorphism was complicated and, at times, upset by the artful use of the medium’s uncanny capacities, which animated a metamorphic drive. In interviews, articles, and lectures, Painlevé expressed contradictory positions on anthropomorphism as both an inherent problem to be tempered and a duty and responsibility to be pursued. He understood anthropomorphism as an ontological and, in a sense, an inescapable phenomenon. But this ontological inescapability should not be mistaken for anything inevitable, unchangeable, or ahistorical. An acceptance of the fact of anthropomorphism allows critical focus to be directed to its practices, uses, and shortcomings—­for it is not a matter of simply committing anthropomorphism but how and toward what ends. THE HERMIT CRAB

The Hermit Crab combines anthropocentric and nonanthropocentric anthropomorphism, providing a striking example of anthropomorphism’s unpredictable swerve. Hermit crabs were the most familiar creatures in

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Painlevé’s cinematic menagerie up to that date. Their name evokes a class of people (hermits) defined through their mode of dwelling in solitude. The 1931 sonorized version of the film preserved the title cards from the 1929 silent version but added spoken commentary by Painlevé and a score featuring musical themes from the composer Vincenzo Bellini under the direction of Maurice Jaubert. The fourteen-­minute film provides an ethological portrait. Owing to their soft abdomens, hermit crabs seek shelter in shells that have been, as the commentary explains, “abandoned by their landlords.” (One critic joked that the crabs were simply taking advantage of the newly passed Loucher law in support of financial subventions for public housing.)86 The film depicts the manner in which crabs choose and secure shells as well as how they “evict” other crabs from shells they find more desirable. The film playfully examines hermit crab “fashions,” including shells covered in sponges and sea anemones, and depicts prolonged battles between crabs narrated like boxing matches. The Hermit Crab also features a series of behavioral experiments, such as removing a crab’s eyes to demonstrate how it can select a shell using its sense of touch rather than sight (a classic laboratory experiment for zoology students), provoking a “housing crisis” by introducing a single shell among a cluster of “naked” crabs, and staging a soccer match between crabs using a cork ball. Nowhere in The Hermit Crab are the creatures personalized or familiarized with proper names. Painlevé’s foregrounding of cinematic technique made explicit both the solicitations of anthropomorphic identification with the hermit crabs and the moments of sudden estrangement. Early in the film, the commentary announces, “With a bit of magnification, one can make a monster out of this charming little animal.” This is followed by a rapid succession of six extreme close-­up magnifications of the mandibles and eye stems of hermit crabs, which appear frightening, strange, and terribly beautiful. As with The Sea Urchins, the multiple identities of the crab—­that of a charming little creature, model specimen, and a gigantic monster—­produced by filmic techniques keep the film’s anthropomorphism from settling too comfortably into anthropocentrism, while the commentary emphasizes its creative acts of morphism. These self-­critical gestures were multiplied by the film’s playful critique of conventions of wildlife documentaries and the technologically

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Figure 2.6. Close-­up of a hermit crab in The Hermit Crab ( Jean Painlevé, 1929/1931). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

assisted misinformation they often produced, leading one critic to describe the film as a “satiric documentary, a solid parody of documentary bluffing.”87 In “La Beauté du film documentaire,” Painlevé critiqued the sloppy and even dishonest filmmaking of La Vie au fond des mers (Life at the bottom of the sea), a film he had recently seen.88 Painlevé complained of the inaccurate title cards—­the film purportedly referred to a hermit crab as a hermit crayfish and claimed it was limited to northern seas—­but he was truly incensed by the film’s description of the relationship between hermit crabs and sea anemones. Quoting from La Vie au fond des mers, Painlevé emphasized a particularly egregious falsehood: “The anemone loves to ride on the back of the hermit crayfish. Reaching its destination, the ingrate anemone eats it.”89 Painlevé “remade” this scenario in his own film. The sequence begins with the whimsical introduction of the sea anemone as a “pot of flowers” that hermit crabs enjoy wearing as an accessory. The commentary explains, “It is impossible for a sea anemone to eat the hermit crab. . . . Yet this is shown in documentary films with trick photography.” Suddenly, through a Méliès-­style replacement splice,

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the hermit crab carrying the sea anemone on its shell disappears, as if it had been sucked straight through its own shell and into the stomach of the anemone. The humorous moment served to differentiate The Hermit Crab from less rigorous films. Like the creation of monsters from charming little creatures, it also drew attention (and possible self-­critique) to the film being projected by means of a marvelous cinematic attraction. Despite the reflexivity of The Hermit Crab, Painlevé published a number of apologies for its anthropomorphism in texts that appeared prior to the release of the sound version. These apologies registered regret for having indulged in forms of “unscientific” anthropomorphism. In 1929, referring to the silent print, he explained that the “vivacity” of the hermit crab’s behavior “inspires dreaming” and that, if he could not cure himself completely of anthropomorphism, at least he had the decency to restrict it to the soccer match at the end of the film—­forgetting, perhaps, the numerous episodes of anthropomorphism throughout the preceding twelve minutes.90 In 1930, he explained anthropomorphism as a response to the impenetrability of animal behavior: “it’s truly through the inability to delve into their reflexes that I have once used three non-­objective title cards in a film on behavior.”91 He lamented calling the shell experiment a “housing crisis,” noting in an interview it was a “regrettable title, because it belongs more to human experience than zoological reality.”92 The soccer match was inspired by the crabs’ response to a small cork ball introduced into the aquarium, which, according to Painlevé, “required this mise en scène.”93 The crabs were drawn to the ball and fought over the privilege of rotating it between their legs. An absurd theatrical setup of two goals and a sign reading “the decisions of the referee are final” frames the scene. The shabbiness of this set gag suggests a parodic approach to anthropocentric anthropomorphism. Painlevé surmised that the crabs’ response may have been due to the fact that it resembled an enigmatic shell with no entrance: an impossible home. The crabs investigating the cork ball provide a mise-­en-­abyme emblem of Painlevé’s use of anthropomorphism as a strategy for trying to enter and open up an impenetrable animal world, locked out on the exterior but strenuously working with it all the same. The staged “housing crisis” and the plight of these homeless and

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homesick crabs struggling to find shelter, lest they become victims of their own exposure, introduced a theme that would become a primary concern of Painlevé’s subsequent films: a cinematic exploration of the uncanny aspects of anthropomorphism. This appears most clearly in the presentation of the vulnerability of the homeless and unhommely creatures. Amplified by the sudden swerve of an anthropomorphic clinamen, The Hermit Crab invites reflection on vulnerability that is often prey to arbitrary and fatal forces but, as Anat Pick theorizes, may also be the source of a creaturely beauty.94 Contemporaneous critics recognized a parallel and at times blurred sense of vulnerability in the film’s interplay of anthropomorphic familiarization and estrangement. In one of the earliest critical examinations of Painlevé’s films, Charles de Saint-­Cyr described The Hermit Crab and The Octopus as the “two poles” of a nascent oeuvre. While he did not precisely identify these poles, the intimation seemed to be that The Octopus emphasized radical alterity with the surprising effect of winning audience’s empathies, whereas The Hermit Crab moved between estrangement and identification. Of the latter film, he wrote, “A life of agony and comedy in the very image of human life. We know that the hermit crab is a type of soft crab. Whether it stays on land or in open water, it knows very well what to expect: it will be eaten by one of its fellow creatures. It must therefore protect its body, toward which nature has shown so little generosity, and this is why it introduces itself with such an astonishing dexterity into one of the countless shells found on the sea’s floor.”95 De Saint-­Cyr was particularly touched by the regret he detected in a crab evicted from a shell by another, admitting that the “agony of this tiny little brother of the sea floor” seen on the big screen “is, for us, extremely distressing.” The critic Marcel Perin, writing in La Petite Gironde, observed that the film’s play of scales was doubly moving. “The cinematographic apparatus is made to show us what our eye cannot see. It is, as needed, a microscope that magnifies thousands of times, reconstructing for us the strange and prodigious lives of microscopic animals, more fantastic than all the creatures imagined by Edgar Alan Poe. What perhaps moves us the most is that these creatures are far more similar to us than we had imagined.”96 Painlevé never collapsed the distinction between species, but

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he also explored the homologies and analogies between different forms of life, allowing for the emergence of an uncanny proximity produced by an anthropomorphic clinamen. The Hermit Crab provides striking lessons in anthropomorphism. The fictions of anthropomorphism were (and are) not primarily a matter of the sentimental projections that humans assigned to animals. The fictions of anthropomorphism were, rather, those of the self-­identical, stable referent that self-­satisfyingly engages in or condemns these practices. If Painlevé’s films frequently resisted a sentimental discourse about animals, they still attempted to move spectators, to make them more mobile, fluid, to become unmoored in a sense, and possibly resituated in relation to and not simply apart from the marvelous creatures observed. METAMORPHIC MIMICRY: HYAS AND STENORHYNCHUS

Painlevé’s Hyas and Stenorhynchus, Marine Crustaceans was often used as the grand finale when he presented his films as a program.97 It features some of the most explicitly anthropomorphic material from the early films. The film documents mimicry [mimétisme] among two species of crabs: Hyas, or spider crabs, and Stenorhynchus, or arrow crabs, which “dress” themselves with elements from their surroundings. It concludes with the dazzling spirograph worm. Painlevé described the silent version of the film in 1929 as primarily a matter of a “spectacular” aesthetics motivated by “decorative research and photographic presentation.”98 The 1931 sonorized version added a score of Chopin selections arranged and conducted by Jaubert intermixed with descriptive intertitles primarily focused on the animals’ morphology and ethology and with playful spoken commentary punctuated by joking and anthropomorphic asides. The added commentary frequently interpreted crustacean behavior through the lenses of dance and fashion. The film stands on its own as a charming document of the visual marvels of submarine nature. But its lighthearted exploration of animal aesthetics and aesthetics of animal cinema also corresponded with contemporaneous scientific and cultural research on animal mimicry, mimesis (imitative representation), and their metamorphic potential. Mimetic behaviors of Oxyrhynchus and related “decorator” crabs

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provided a key case study for scientific debates regarding evolution and transformisme. The key positions in these debates included theories of Darwinian adaptation and natural selection, neo-­Lamarckian heredity of acquired characteristics, and Bergsonian creative evolution, wherein an élan vital drove the dynamic self-­organization of living beings by means of either instinct or intelligence.99 The film’s aestheticized exploration of mimicry also anticipated a growing Surrealist interest in animal mimicry as a model for depersonalized and ecstatic experience, an orientation that art historian Joyce Cheng connects to both the pursuit of Surrealism’s pure psychic automatism and an increasing concern for and explanation of the rise of fascism in Europe.100 Painlevé presented Hyas and Stenorhynchus crabs as both masters of disguise—­engaging in forms of camouflage or blending into their environment—­and undersea dandies and quaintrelles. The film voiced several perspectives through the sober discourse of its title cards and the playful speculative nature of the spoken commentary, which opened the images to multiple interpretive possibilities: viewing mimicry as a defensive mode of adaptation, a metamorphic drive, and a creative, luxurious behavior separate from vital instincts. This splitting of perspectives corresponded to contemporaneous scientific debates over mimicry and its relation to evolution, without explicitly naming them. After the first title card introduces the key facts of the film—­“Hyas and Stenorhynchus, just 1.5 inches long, dress in materials found in their surroundings”—­a veritable crustacean fashion show unfolds. “Each crustacean dresses in its own manner. Algae on the tip of the nose are undoubtedly striking. Here is a ravishing ball gown . . . and a simple sports outfit.” The photography presents the crabs in magnified full shots. Presenting the distinct “styles” of the different crabs, the film notes through an intertitle, “It is often difficult to tell them from their milieu.” This is followed by a series of shots of Stenorhynchus crabs blending in with the plants and rocks distributed throughout the aquarium tanks, until sudden movement reveals part of the landscape to be alive. The film then offers a brief account of the morphology of the Stenorhynchus, explaining that spines distributed throughout the creature’s carapace allow it to attach algae and sponges to its body. The commentary notes that it is easy to recognize a Hyas as a crab

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Figure 2.7. A Hyas in Hyas and Stenorhychus, Marine Crustaceans ( Jean Painlevé, 1931). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

from below, but from above, “it looks like a bunch of seaweed out for a walk.” Surveying the different Hyas crabs in the aquarium, the commentary remarks on “the latest fashion” for seaweed in vertical spikes and jokes about a sponge-­covered animal as “going to grotesque lengths” and being carted off by the police, as if the latest fashions might scandalize the guardians of taste and order of the animal world. In the final third of the film, Painlevé’s commentary refers to crabs covered in sponges and algae that appear to take on human postures as “a praying Buddha” and “a Japanese warrior.” Hyas and Stenorhynchus concludes this flurry of exotic metamorphoses with the show-­stopping extension and retractions of the respiratory plumes of spirograph worms, simply introduced as inhabiting the same milieu and providing an occasional snack for the crabs that like to nibble on its plumage. The film likens the creature’s respiratory plumes to “a Loïe Fuller ballet” and a “fireworks display,” as if the invertebrate might rapidly transform from worm to flower to woman to energetic pyrotechnic expenditure.

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Figure 2.8. A “praying Buddha” in Hyas and Stenorhychus, Marine Crustaceans ( Jean Painlevé, 1931). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

Although most common crabs do not engage in extravagant mimetic behavior, Hyas and Stenorhynchus crabs, and those of the classification Oxyrhynchus, frenetically “follow” the latest fashions as dictated by the milieu. In a series of widely cited experiments conducted toward the end of the nineteenth century, the Swedish zoologist and marine biologist Carl Wilhelm Aurivillius chronicled the variables of mimetic behaviors among crabs that “dress up” in their surroundings.101 When crabs dressed in red algae were placed in a tank filled with sponges, they quickly shed their present get-­ups for ones in accordance with their surroundings. Aurivillius repeated this experiment with numerous variables. He shifted the available flora, even using completely alien materials such as paper and hay, and tracked the behavior of the crabs with available light and in total darkness. He observed that the animals acted in an agitated manner when they noticed, by means of vision and touch, a difference between themselves and their environment. Researchers in zoology and biology debated whether animal mimicry

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Figure 2.9. A “Japanese Warrior” in Hyas and Stenorhychus, Marine Crustaceans ( Jean Painlevé, 1931). Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

was an expression of instinctual adaptive behavior or an example of a “useless” biological luxury. Up through the Second World War, neo-­ Lamarckian thought dominated the French academy, led by such influential figures as Étienne Rabaud.102 Rabaud’s version of neo-­Lamarckism, like that of his teachers Félix Le Dantec and Alfred Giard, was strongly mechanistic. He advocated that all heredity of acquired traits resulted from contingent encounters with an indifferent milieu.103 In a section of his Élements de biologie générale called “The So-­Called ‘Means of Defense,’” Rabaud presented a neo-­Lamarckian retort to Darwinian explanations of mimicry as preservative adaptation.104 Not only did many creatures that engaged in mimicry end up devoured by prey but the criteria of resemblance were often in the eye of the beholder and thus frequently anthropomorphic. For these reasons, Rabaud challenged biologists to consider the “uselessness” and “disadvantages” of mimicry.105 Non-­Lamarckian scientists in the French academy also critiqued the Darwinian position. Paul Vignon of the Institut Catholique de Paris, whose philosophy of biology drew on Bergsonian-­inspired creative evolu-

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Figure 2.10. A “Loïe Fuller ballet” in Hyas and Stenorhychus, Marine Crustaceans ( Jean Painlevé, 1931). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

tion and a call for an abandonment of Cartesian mechanism in favor of a modernized Aristotelian approach, emphasized that animal mimicry did not necessarily collate with successful adaptation.106 For Vignon, in his 1930 Introduction à la biologie expérimentale, the behaviors of crabs that decorated themselves suggested a form of intelligence rather than blind instinct, since crabs dressed themselves of their own initiative and in selective response to their surroundings. Vignon gave expression to what might be called a metamorphic desire at play in creative evolution. Referring to the experiments in which crabs were placed in different experimental environments, he observed, “What is necessary for the crab, is to cease being an animal. . . . The crab is now a ‘bush’: and is satisfied.”107 Whether by instinct, drive, or willful contrivance, the explanations of mimetic metamorphosis developed in France examined the possibility that mimesis exceeded the bounds of biological utility, entering the realm of biological luxury—­the expenditure of vital resources on nonproductive endeavors—­and even creative expression. If the focus on the interplay between organism and milieu in Hyas

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and Stenorhynchus betrayed a slight bias for the neo-­Lamarckian training Painlevé received at the Sorbonne and the Biological Station at Roscoff—­ he described his perspective as mechanistic (but not of the Cartesian variety) and was hostile to spiritualist and vitalist explanations of biological phenomena—­the film treated its subjects broadly enough to keep in play the varied credible interpretations of animal mimicry.108 The film’s anthropomorphic appeals to fashion and dance, while rooted in well-­ documented natural phenomena and experimental data, also corresponded with a Surrealist natural history that reanimated the anthropomorphic bestiary and zoomorphic social satire of J. J. Grandville’s Second Empire caricatures of Parisian society, morality, and the emergent culture of commodity fetishism. The film provides ethological support for the humorous and often unsettling observations contained in Grandville’s folios. Writing of the untimely actuality of Grandville’s caricatures, Pierre Mac Orlan and Walter Benjamin cited the artist as a predecessor and even a progenitor of Surrealism. Mac Orlan credited the enchanted cinemas of Méliès and Disney—­to which Painlevé’s work could easily be added—­as prolonging Grandville’s “inventions” through their ability to “radiate a sense of strangeness.”109 For Benjamin, Grandville’s caricatures of modern life and fashion provided a view of the universe through the lens of commodity fetishism—­“the sex appeal of the inorganic”—­and the logic of world exhibition, wherein everything (nature included) was intended for display, opening up new, critical perspectives into the relationships between nature and artifice, living and dead matter, cause and effect, and human and natural histories.110 Fashion’s rationalization according to the cyclical “schedule” of the seasons was syncopated by the irrational and intensified temporalities of trends and the rapid shifts in styles to maintain and expand markets. Taking a page from Grandville’s drawings of animals parading around in the latest Parisian fashions, Painlevé’s film used anthropomorphism to juxtapose the seemingly distant realities of animal life and the artifice of fashion. To consider the contemporaneity of a supposedly timeless nature may also open up the possibility of examining human activity within a nonanthropocentric temporality of natural history, raising the question, who is copying whom? The metamorphic mimicry depicted in the film, and particularly its

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final segment on the “pyrotechnics” of the spirograph worm, registered with critics as offering compelling evidence for the existence of luxury and art in the animal world, as well as for a more generalized will to metamorphosis cutting across taxonomic distinctions. Jean Cassou speculated that creatures like the “spirograph worm, no longer wished to submit to severe necessity, but exclusively to grace.”111 Charles de Saint-­Cyr marveled at the manner in which the spirograph worm and Hyas “reconnect animals with plants,” blurring distinctions between orders and, by extension, potentially implicating the spectator in the metamorphic play, if only at the level of aesthetic transvaluation, as suggested by a Belgian critic who responded to the silent print by proclaiming that “the spirograph, a humble sea worm . . . makes the most sumptuous chrysanthemums appear devoid of any charm or grace.”112 Paul Werrie praised the cinematography of the documentary for providing viewers with visions of the spirograph worm as a “chrysanthemum capitulum with prehensile petals,” which he believed expressed great pleasure when it comes into contact with others of its kind.113 Each critic evoked the momentary pleasure of metamorphic play. While aestheticians were frequently satisfied to restrict metamorphic mimesis and the play of resemblances to the escapism offered by the cinema, Surrealist-­inspired thinkers wrote of mimicry with higher stakes in mind, seeking nothing short of a way out of hidebound conceptions of humanity. In the same issue of Documents that featured Baron’s text on crustaceans and the stills from Painlevé’s Crabs and Shrimp, Marcel Griaule, Michel Leiris, and Georges Bataille published a triptych of texts on metamorphoses that read as brief treatises on metamorphic mimicry. The texts used ethnographic and historical data to interrogate contemporary culture, drawing connections between “previously surmounted” beliefs and their continued existence in contemporary “civilized” cultures.114 Griaule’s contribution, “Abyssinian Games,” described the playful mimicry of members of the Wallo, who imitated a coyote to frighten their neighbors and a guinea fowl to make them laugh. Leiris’s contribution, “Out of the Self,” cited the metamorphoses of Ovid and Apuleius as “among the most poetic conceptions of the human mind” and expressed pity for those who are so self-­satisfied and lacking in curiosity that they have not,

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at least once in their lives, wished to transform into an animal or even an inanimate object.115 Comfort in one’s skin, for Leiris, was antithetical to every passion and worthwhile experience. Linking metamorphosis with ecstasy, he suggested that true metamorphic experiences—­such as produced by intoxication or sexual and religious ecstasy—­were “liable to create a shattering and violent paroxysm.”116 Bataille’s contribution, “Wild Animals,” brought together anthropological and historical data as staged in modern urban existence, including family trips to the zoo and the interiors of apartment buildings. “The obsession with metamorphosis,” according to Bataille, “can be defined as a violent need—­identical, furthermore, with all our animal needs—­that suddenly impels us to cast off the gestures and attitudes requisite to human nature.”117 Metamorphosis is both a conscious fixation and an unconscious drive expressed in mimicry. A man in a social setting suddenly gets down on all fours and eats dog food from the floor. By imitating the dog, the man tries to become one, or at least to cease being human. Bataille’s little fable emphasized the fragility of the edifice of human nature, which was not some immutable attribute but rather simply a set of accrued performances comprising habituated gestures and attitudes. Like a crustacean shedding its carapace, the figure in Bataille’s story endeavors to experience an outside of the self. Read together, these reflections on metamorphosis contributed to Documents’ larger project of critiquing the idealist and anthropocentric presuppositions of Western humanist thought. They also echoed Painlevé’s Surrealist-­informed fascination with creatures that became otherwise, if only temporarily. This serves as an apt description of what cinema promises moviegoers. This surreal potential of cinema derived in part from providing one of the possible intoxications that Walter Benjamin believed the Surrealists were rescuing for revolution. Like dreams, drugs, and religious ecstasy, film spectatorship might “loosen individuality like a bad tooth,” opening up to collective and nonanthropocentric subjectivities.118 Part of the promise of cinema was precisely what Maurice Bourdet described in his January 1929 review as the moment in Painlevé’s films when “beings and things spill beyond the limits of their forms.”119 The crustaceans in Painlevé’s films were effectively dancing exoskeletons that showcased actual examples of the inventive plasticity of Walt Disney and

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Ub Iwerks’s Skeleton Dance. These films enfolded documents of rigorous biological determinism with metamorphic plasticity. The fascination with mimicry as a method of creative activity unhampered by conscious human subjectivity—­a zoological precedent for the pure psychic automatism of Surrealist activities—­endured into the 1930s, as Roger Caillois theorized in “Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia,” published in Minotaure in June 1935.120 Such research acquired an explicitly political valence in the face of the rise of fascisms throughout Europe, including the Nazi Party rallies in Nuremberg and the more local manifestations of far-­right and fascist leagues in France, which came to prominence with the lethally violent antiparliamentarian riots of February 6, 1934. These events cast a sinister shadow on the fantasies of exit from the self.121 The Dionysian energies channeled by fascist movements, as well as the affective responses to mass media such as cinema, intensified and politicized the stakes of carrying the biological research on the phenomenon of mimicry into the context of human activities. On the left, Siegfried Kracauer, in his 1927 essay “Mass Ornament,” described cinema audiences as learning to identify themselves with their own abstraction, and on the right, Maurice Bardèche and Robert Brasillach, in their Histoire du cinéma (1935), conceptualized cinema as where audience rehearsed mass unification.122 Caillois, drawing from a broad and often contradictory set of sources—­ Laurent Jenny notes he used ideas from the neo-­Lamarckians Le Dantec and Rabaud and the spiritualists Vignon and Murat without concern for their incommensurable philosophical differences—­developed an account of mimesis not as a phenomenon of preservation of the species but, following Le Dantec, as “a veritable photography” of objects in depth and space, wherein the body sculpted and colored itself to match other objects in its milieu. Mimicry was the expression of a “dangerous luxury” often indulged at the creature’s own expense, as demonstrated by the autocannibalistic behaviors of Phyllidae “leaf insects,” which mistake their own kind for leaves and graze upon them.123 Mimicry, as formulated by Caillois, resembled the Freudian uncanny in its derivation from a perceptual disorder, a fundamental problem with making distinctions, most notably between the self and one’s milieu: “the subject crosses the boundary of

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his own skin and stands outside of his senses. . . . He is similar; not similar to anything in particular, but simply similar.”124 Building on his methodological combination of zoological data with literature from perceptual psychology and psychoanalysis developed in his essay on the praying mantis published a year earlier in Minotaure, Caillois analyzed mimesis as an expression of legendary psychasthenia, or “depersonalization through assimilation into space” driven by a compulsion to disseminate and dissolve into one’s milieu.125 Mimicry was a response to a “lure of space” invested with a predatory, devouring power, not unlike the engulfing and digestive processes of phagocytosis or, to return to Freud, the death drive.126 Caillois’s connection of mimicry with legendary psychasthenia danced between anthropomorphism and zoomorphism as it used case studies of extreme mental states of humans to explain biological phenomena and biological phenomena to explain human psyche under duress. (In the recapitulation of his work on the praying mantis and mimicry in his 1960 book Méduse et cie, Caillois included a “Short Note on Anthropomorphism” vigorously defending its methodological value, notably for its relational mode of thinking and its refusal to treat humans as isolated, exceptional species.)127 Although Caillois made no explicit mention of cinema in his essay on mimicry, Paula Amad, writing on the links between Colette’s accounts of film programs for children and the cinematic avant-­gardes of the 1920s, and Adam Lowenstein, writing on Surrealist-­inspired theories of interactive media spectatorship, have drawn connections between Caillois’s thought and a theory of cinematic spectatorship.128 Caillois’s essay shifts focus from a critique of mimicry as utilitarian camouflage to a question of spatial perception and the limits of the subject. Caillois notes that it is “impossible to dissociate spatial perception and representation.” 129 Representation and perception take on a dynamic, fluid relationship, such that the boundaries between one and the other often intermix, as the Surrealists fantasized they would in the cinema. “Matters become critical with represented space because the living creature, the organism, is no longer located at the origin of the coordinate system but is simply one point among many. Dispossessed of its privilege, it quite literally no longer knows what to do with itself.”130 This description of displacement—­

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of being one point among many rather than the center of the coordinate system—­encapsulates both the potential pleasure and loss at play in the cinema’s Copernican dimensions. Where Caillois’s vision of mimicry would likely see spectators diffuse themselves by becoming the darkness of the cinema, Amad connects these lines from Caillois to Colette’s reflections on the mimetic reception of science films by an audience of wide-­ eyed children at the Musée Galliera and to Louis Aragon’s description of the poetic potential of children’s animistic perception in “On Décor,” suggesting that they all contribute to a discourse of the medium’s radical “deanthropocentrism” and its production of experiences of what Miriam Hansen referred to as a “dispersed subjectivity.”131 Lowenstein offers a reading of the “distinctly cinematic dimensions” of Caillois’s writings on mimicry, emphasizing that what is at stake in mimetic reception is the frequently strange experiences of embodiment it may effect through its dialectic of self-­erasure and extension into and through the milieu.132 In such a conception of metamorphic mimicry, imitation begets a similarity that all the same retains a protean capacity to become otherwise. Followers of fashion or film may learn to cultivate a nonpathological (or nonpathologized) form of mimicry. Walter Benjamin saw this possibility in certain childhood forms of play, wherein, as Cheng summarizes, “otherness and suspension of the self constitute a genuine source of joy” as well as in the mass reception of Mickey Mouse cartoons, where collective, contagious laughter at the parade of sadistic and masochistic scenarios in such films might have a salutatory effect of inoculating the audience against fascist infection.133 Part of the joy of mimetic play is its access to a temporary ontological plasticity. The phenomena described in Caillois’s early account of mimicry emphasized transformation in a single direction, toward a “diminished existence,” wherein a crab becomes a bush, an insect a leaf or part of a landscape, all tending in the direction of a devouring space and even a “return” to an inorganic state.134 Caillois’s media-­informed account of metamorphic mimicry resonates with the modes of reception in the dark spaces of cinemas that Painlevé’s critics described, playing on mimetic responses and a sense of diffused subjectivity that pushes the limits of the spectator’s experience of self

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as self-­identical and fixed. For the Surrealists, this account suggested a confirmation of both their privileged modes of nonconscious aesthetic production and their politicized challenges to European humanism contained in their call in the first issue of La Révolution Surréaliste to revise the declaration of the rights of man. The anthropomorphic aspects of Hyas and Stenorhynchus offered such salutatory forms of the “outside of the self” through an emphasis on the morphos or plastic, transformative potential of anthropomorphism as well as its capacity to translate experiences of difference without fully incorporating them. Painlevé’s anthropomorphic engagements with crustaceans used the cinematic apparatus to perform an uncanny dance along the borders between human, animal, and plant life. PLASMATIC ANTHROPOMORPHISM

A second clinamen, introduced by the arrival of the Soviet film director Sergei M. Eisenstein in Paris and his fast friendship with Painlevé, momentarily swerves into a more speculative realm. The two filmmakers shared an interest in the metamorphic properties of protoplasm (the highly plastic living material in cells), animals, and animation.135 They met in late autumn 1929 or early winter 1930, soon after Eisenstein and his colleagues Grigory Alexandrov and Eduard Tisse embarked on a two-­year excursion to study sound film production and “teach the West.”136 Painlevé and his films charmed Eisenstein, and they may be counted among the curios that Eisenstein encountered during his travels, whose accumulation fueled his theoretical peregrinations of the 1930s and 1940s. In autumn 1932, Eisenstein began expressing a fascination with protoplasm and the protoplasmatic capacity of animated films to present dynamic transformations of contours, forms, and contents. These insights produced a significant reorientation in Eisenstein’s theory of moving image arts and a refinement of his concept of the deterministic montage of attractions as a more dynamic montage of animal attractions that maintained a wild, surplus affective charge distinct from the rational calculations of his art.137 Eisenstein’s ideas, likewise, may productively inform a reading of Painlevé’s approach to sound film and anthropomorphism, and the pivotal influence of animation on his endeavors. By reading these oeuvres

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Figure 2.11. Jean Painlevé and Sergei M. Eisenstein at the Clichy Fairgrounds, 1930. Photograph uncredited. Courtesy of Les Documents Cinématographiques.

in conversation, this section develops the conceptual affinities between Eisenstein and Painlevé as a practice of plasmatic anthropomorphism, which is to say, an anthropomorphism that emphasizes its transformative and antifoundational potential. Painlevé joined efforts to aid Eisenstein when the prefecture of the police, Jean Chiappe, detained the director the morning following an impromptu lecture at the Sorbonne on February 17, given in place of a prohibited screening of The General Line/The New and the Old (USSR, 1929). Painlevé enlisted his father in Eisenstein’s defense, adding considerable heft to the chorus of voices that successfully petitioned Prime Minister André Tardieu for an extension of Eisenstein’s visa. In a letter dated March 27, 1930, Painlevé wrote to Eisenstein, “I just arrived in Paris to learn from my father that Mr. Chiappe has been forewarned that you will remain effective immediately. . . . One thousand congratulations and all my friendship.”138 On April 1, Eisenstein’s visa was extended by four weeks, at which time he secured his passage aboard the steamer Europa to begin his American adventure.139 The time spent in each other’s company was brief: Eisenstein’s memoir mentions a dinner together, Painlevé’s

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archive includes a photograph of the two in a cardboard airplane at the Clichy Fairgrounds, and a letter from Painlevé mentions a rendezvous in Guingamp, Brittany, thirty-­five kilometers due south from the Hamons’ home in Port-­Blanc.140 Holdings at Archives Jean Painlevé and the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art (RGALI) indicate that they continued corresponding at least through 1933, after which it is unclear as to whether or why their correspondence broke off (neither archive appears to contain further materials).141 In an undated letter from 1930, Eisenstein told Painlevé that he was “the only competition with Our Lady of Lourdes as far as miracles are concerned.”142 In his 1947 memoir, the director expressed fond memories of their friendship, describing Painlevé as “my friend and companion,” who dressed all in black and held radical, anticlerical views. Eisenstein recounted their lively night on the town punctuated by a seafood meal that “had it been alive would have itself been on his screen.”143 Eisenstein was particularly taken with Painlevé’s film technique: “Young though he was, he made fascinating films. Documentaries. I had seen one of his films only recently at an independent film festival. It was very interesting and the camera work was first rate. It was about the underwater life of the hermit crab. His close-­ups showing the life cycles of water fleas and his fantastically beautiful film about sea-­horses are as involved as an intricate composition by Méliès.”144 As Marie Rebecchi has recently uncovered, Eisenstein also wrote of Painlevé’s films in his travel diaries of January 2, 1930, making allusions to and illustrations of the Buddha-­like Hyas crab and noting a New Year’s Eve visit to Painlevé’s house, where he marveled, “Three days ago I was at Painlevé’s. He blows up the images to 200 times larger.”145 Given the zoophilia at play across Eisenstein’s oeuvre, his appreciation for Painlevé’s work is not surprising. While traveling in Mexico, shortly after meeting Painlevé, Eisenstein began to draw comic and sexually explicit scenes involving anthropomorphic animals, and according to correspondence between Upton Sinclair and Eisenstein’s early biographer Mary Seton, the Soviet director spent a good amount of his time in Mexico “shooting pictures of animals copulating.”146 Eisenstein’s and Painlevé’s films complemented each other, a connection illuminated by

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the programming of Battleship Potemkin with Caprella and Pantopoda for a screening at a meeting of the Chamber of Deputies Cinema Group held at the Palais-­Bourbon, the seat of the National Assembly, in summer 1930.147 In a letter to Eisenstein addressed “Dear Tintin”—­an ironic allusion to the Belgian cartoonist Hergé’s anti-­Soviet Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, whose highly publicized serialization coincided with Eisenstein’s visit—­Painlevé included the postscript “Curious . . . Program for the inauguration of the Chamber of Deputies Cinema Group (10 June [sic] 1930). First part: Documentary films by JP. Second part: Potemkin. Eh! Eh! They won’t get bored [Ils ne s’embêtent pas].”148 From the agitated movements of skeleton shrimp and sea spiders in Caprella and Pantopoda to the agitation for political revolution that starts with wriggling larvae (maggots) in rotten meat in Battleship Potemkin, Painlevé and Eisenstein collectively presented a montage of animal attractions, a cinematic idiom fostering highly charged and revolutionary ways of thinking with and through animals. Eisenstein’s zoological imagination was fortified by a growing interest in anthropological and biological data. While in France, he began reading Lévy-­Bruhl’s La Mentalité primitive (1922) as well as books on Saint Jean de la Croix, Saint Theresa, and Ignatius Loyola, as part of a study of “religious ecstasy as a particular aspect of pathos.”149 According to Antonio Somaini, Eisenstein’s archives include notes from 1929 for an unproduced film on the “expressive movements of plants,” for which the director intended to draw on the techniques of animation as a method of morphological analysis, allowing for better comprehension of “the language of flowers.”150 Between this idea and his contributions to a film on women’s reproductive health, Eisenstein briefly found himself mining similar territory to that of Painlevé. Eisenstein began to construct a vision of the medium as what Akira Mizuta Lippit calls a “biomorphic hallucination.”151 Eisenstein alternated between naturalizing human culture and suggesting a cultural vision of nature that was at once unanchored from any essence and associated with protean, metamorphic generation. In his essay “Beyond the Shot,” which appeared in French in the first two issues of Cahiers d’art in 1930 as “Le principe cinématographique et la civilisation japonais,” Eisenstein imagined a genealogy of montage

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descended from a species of Japanese hieroglyphic script referred to as “copulative” (huei-­i), composed from the combination of two different signs so that they represent both the concrete objects of the individual hieroglyphs plus a concept produced by their conjuncture, inspiring him to conclude, “This is montage!”152 In the same essay, he referred to the shot as a “montage cell” and “embryo.”153 Zoological, botanical, biological, and embryological metaphors flourished in Eisenstein’s writings of the 1930s, particularly through his discussions of protoplasm and the plasmatic as accounts of the basic elements and functions of moving pictures and their effects on spectators. Masha Salazkina points to a passage early in his Metod, written shortly after his return to the Soviet Union from Mexico, in which he counted “the protoplasm” among his discoveries of 1932.154 In Eisenstein’s self-­analytical “Notes on Drawing” from September 14, 1932, he described his drawings as “protoplasmic, avant tout. . . . They capture the process between the primal protoplasm and formed man.”155 Between his introduction of cellular and embryological metaphors in 1929 and his “discovery” of protoplasm in 1932, Eisenstein became acquainted with Painlevé and his films at a moment when he was also working on projects related to protoplasm. Eisenstein’s fascination with protoplasm was nourished by two sources: the “proper” scientific definition as the living substance of cells (the cytoplasm, nucleus, organelles, etc.) and the more general use of the term for a gelatinous, primordial substance that formed the substrate for all living processes and was characterized by a seemingly infinite plasticity. He and Painlevé belonged to the tail end of a widespread fascination with protoplasm as a biological fact and speculative fiction. The historian of science Robert Brain writes of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as struck with a “protoplasmania” that fueled scientific, philosophical, and aesthetic inquiry.156 Biologists and physiologists came together, Brain argues, in conceptualizing protoplasm as “a pulsatile medium capable of storing manifold temporalities within it” and expressing the “great throb of life” common to plants, protists, and animals (Claude Bernard referred to protoplasm as “life in a naked condition”).157 In France, research on protoplasm took a broadly neo-­Lamarkian bent, informed by a belief in the plasticity of organic life to the influences of its environment,

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wherein evolutionary processes resulted from a dialectical relationship between an organism and the contingencies of its milieu. Characteristics acquired through this process of complex exchanges between organism and milieu could be passed on to subsequent generations.158 This approach informed functionalist physiologists, such as Étienne-­Jules Marey, who believed organs were shaped by their functions (rather than form preceding function) and inscribed traces of these movements into the very organs themselves, which Brain summarizes as the belief that movement was a primary determinant of morphology and morphological transformation.159 The description and documentation of protoplasmic animation played a significant role in Painlevé’s early scientific and cinematic endeavors. Painlevé’s and Parat’s presentations before the Academy of Sciences in 1924 concerned protoplasm, and Painlevé subsequently produced two research films on the subject: L’Œuf de l’épinoche, de la fécondation à l’éclosion (The Stickleback’s Egg, from Fertilization to Hatching, 1927), which documented protoplasmic contractions and blood circulation in the eggs of this cousin of the seahorse and pipefish, and Mouvement du protoplasme d’elodea Canadensis (Protoplasmic movement of the Canadian waterweed, circa 1928), which focused on cytoplasmic streaming in plant cells.160 The pairing of these films suggested a comparative anatomist’s interest in the similarities and differences of protoplasm across taxonomic kingdoms. Painlevé assisted Paul Wintrebert and Yung Ko-­Ching in their research on the fecundation and development of stickleback embryos. In 1926, Wintrebert and Yung were invited to the Academy of Sciences to present their research on the protoplasmic contractions of stickleback embryos as a distinct phase of development that occurs between fertilization and the commencement of blood circulation.161 Their presentation offered further descriptive detail and distinction within the stage of protoplasmic contractions that preceded the closure of the vitelline membrane’s blastopore, a small entry in the initial envelope of the embryo, which, depending on development, may become an organism’s mouth or anus. In their subsequent research, Wintrebert and Yung continued to differentiate the process of protoplasmic contractions, and did so with the aid of film documentation provided by Painlevé and his camera operator, André Raymond.

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Painlevé and Raymond used the time-­lapse-­equipped microcinematographic apparatus at Jean Comandon’s former laboratory at Pathé’s Vincennes studio to track the protoplasmic contractions and developmental stages of the stickleback embryo, recording previously unnoticed contractions thanks to the capacious lens and temporal expansions of time-­lapse cinematography.162 These efforts resulted in a second presentation before the Academy on July 22, 1929, where Painlevé, Wintrebert, and Yung submitted their paper “Le développement de l’épinoche (Gasterosteus aculeatus L.) analysé par la chronophotographie. Contractions protoplasmiques et circulation embryonnaire” (The development of the Stickleback analyzed through chronophotography. Protoplasmic contractions and embryonic circulation) and projected Painlevé’s film document The Stickleback’s Egg, from Fertilization to Hatching.163 The authors discovered through cinematographic observation that protoplasmic contractions, which were previously thought to cease with the postfecundation cleavage of a cell, endured until the inauguration of blood circulation. The film captured the persistence of protoplasmic contractions at the base of the newly formed blastomeres. This footage established a clearer order of development with respect to the inauguration of circulation in the embryo. The film also helped the scientists argue for the existence of serous circulation prior to the establishment of globular circulation and to furnish greater details on the unification of vitelline circulation (between an embryo to its yolk sac) with the hepatic portal system (which directs blood from the gastrointestinal organs to the liver).164 The Stickleback’s Egg utilized intense magnification and temporal manipulation to capture protoplasmic contractions and demonstrate their importance to the initial development of the fertilized egg into an embryo. Painlevé claimed that he and Raymond worked in alternating shifts, taking one image every three minutes over the course of several days to render perceptible through time-­lapse imagery the near-­invisible contractions, which can take several minutes to reverberate through an egg. The undulating contractions of the protoplasm, which the film notes can go in opposite directions and overlap in time, revealed an alluring plasticity of form, manifesting a primal throb of life in action. After one of the rare public screenings of a fifty-­meter extract of the eight-­hundred-­meter film,

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Figure 2.12. Protoplasmic contractions in The Stickleback’s Egg ( Jean Painlevé, 1927). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

the critic Paul Werrie wrote that The Stickleback’s Egg was an alternately remarkable and monotonous vision of genesis and metamorphosis, concluding, “The most powerful actor in the world is a fish egg.”165 The debut screening before the Academy of Sciences, however, was not without its hiccups. One of the members of the distinguished audience—­purportedly the botanist Louis Blaringhem—­proclaimed before the projection, “The cinema is not serious, I prefer to leave” and exited the salon.166 More potentially devastating to the credibility of the research and to the use of the cinematograph as a research instrument, Painlevé noted that for the initial presentation of the film, an editing error produced unexpected effects: I smoked heavily—­chain-­smoked, in fact: English cigarettes with hot ashes, while I edited the film. I set fire to the copy, and so had another one made, which I put together hurriedly for the projection at the Academy. I put one of the sequences in upside down by mistake, in which one sees the embryonic heart spread on the nutritional ball and reject

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the blood corpuscles instead of attracting them. . . . I was horrified but said nothing, and at the end several astonished specialists asked to see the film again. Given the late hour, we arranged to meet the next day. As soon as I returned home, I quickly turned the sequence back round . . . so that the specialists never saw the strange phenomenon of the heart rejecting the corpuscles instead of attracting them again. If I had simply signaled that this was an “editing” mistake, when the cinema was already considered a fraud, I think that film would have been forbidden in labs and universities.167

Painlevé’s editing error served as a reminder of the contingencies of film’s truth claims as well as the need to be rigorously careful when producing a film, becoming a favorite anecdote to share about the travails of his early career. The brief passage of reversed imagery of blood circulation as blood dispersion produced an unintentional vision of time travel, as if it were possible to return to the protoplasmic state and to develop anew, potentially in a different direction.168 The very idea of such a sequence would likely have delighted Eisenstein, who would, shortly after his encounters with Painlevé in Paris, begin to formulate such a vision of biological and aesthetic plasticity. In taking an interest in protoplasm as an aesthetic ideal, Eisenstein reanimated the fascination explored by Edvard Munch, August Strindberg, and other early modernists who, according to Robert Brain, connected the protoplasmic theory of life based in pulsatile motion, not unlike the churning of the protoplasm depicted in Painlevé’s film, to an ideal of aesthetic production and reception, wherein the vibrations and rhythms of aesthetic objects “would aim at nothing less than the transformation of plastic human substance and function” by connecting with the beholder/ beheld at the protoplasmic and conscious levels.169 By the 1920s, the adjective protoplasmic acquired an idiomatic usage in French as something “formless and developing in all directions (like a protoplasmic mass).”170 The protean qualities of protoplasm, as a universal and highly plastic substance of living matter endowed with what Anne Nesbet calls a “Lamarkian flexibility,” furnished the model for Eisenstein’s aesthetic production and theory of ecstatic reception that he christened the plasmatic, for which early animated sound films provided the key example.171

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Eisenstein was not alone in noting the superplastic qualities of animated films. For example, in a 1930 essay on cartoons for the journal Lumière et radio, Jean Mitry linked animation with the liberating energies of Surrealism and noted how its “acrobatic, elastic, and arbitrary characters . . . unhinge our most solid convictions, making a paradox of realities and a reality of paradoxes.”172 Jacques Bernard Brunius, in an essay on humor and love in animals for Cahiers d’art, celebrated the anarchic “concrete poetry” of cartoons and their “gratuitous transformisme,” capable of accelerated evolutionary processes liberated from linear, cause-­and-­effect relations.173 In Eisenstein’s writings, these fleeting observations received substantial development. Eisenstein’s “Notes on Drawing” conceptualized his drawings as resembling protoplasm, which he subsequently developed into an elaborate discourse on the process of “plasmation” and the “plasmatic” in art. Plasmatic signified a highly “attractive” quality of fluid dynamism and elasticity by which an entity assumed different forms. He declared Mickey Mouse to be “plasmation par excellence” for the manner in which the cartoon mouse demonstrated an elasticity of form and variability of contour in relation to his milieu.174 This elasticity also extended to any element within the frames of Disney and Iwerks’s animated worlds, such that the entire image pulsed and throbbed with a vital energy due to the minor differences between each drawn image and the looser registration of early cel animation techniques. In his early formulation of protoplastic and plasmatic qualities, Eisenstein saw this potential in the “plasmatic reminiscences” of Pablo Picasso; Yuri Annenkov; Boris Grigoriev; the Surrealists, such as Salvador Dalí and his drooping objects; and the drawings of Velimir Khlebnikov, which recalled for him a “physiological atlas.”175 Eisenstein’s posthumously published Disney expanded on his notion of the plasmatic in relation to early animated cartoons as a reformulation of his earlier theory of attractions. Eisenstein defined the plasmatic aspect of animated cartoons with a vocabulary similar to that of his notion of ecstasy in Nonindifferent Nature published in 1945: “A departure from the self. Once and for all from the prescribed norms of nomenclature, form and behavior.”176 The plasmatic embodied an energetic “lyrical revolt” against the Linnaean system of classification and the alienating,

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oppressive, and gray conformity of the capitalist culture exemplified by the disassembly lines of Chicago slaughterhouses.177 In an entry written in September 1940, he placed animated cartoons within a longer genealogy of plasmatic beings, including the elastic limbed figures of late Edo-­era woodcuts by Toyohiro, Bokusen, and Hokusai; Lewis Carroll’s shrinking and expanding Alice; Walter Trier’s Arthur with the Long Arm (1931); and a “Human Snake” dancer in Harlem (likely the eccentric performer Earl “Snake Hips” Tucker). He subsequently added to the list Grandville caricatures, “jelly” stories, the composition of the skeleton of humans and exoskeleton of crabs, and, perhaps in a nod to Painlevé as well as Disney, the remark “Octopi: Most plasmatic.”178 His fascination for these plasmatic phenomena was due to their “attractiveness”—­a phrase he explicitly linked to his youthful theoretical inquiries.179 Eisenstein was eager to understand the force of such images, which functioned in a manner quite different from the blows of his first iteration of the montage attractions: The fact that this exists isn’t strange. What’s strange is that this attracts! Which leads you involuntarily to the thought that one general premise of attraction winds through all these examples—­the rejection of the constraint of form, fixed once and for all, freedom from ossification, an ability to take on any form dynamically. An ability which I would call “plasmaticity,” for here a being, which is represented in a drawing, a being of a given form, a being that has achieved a particular appearance, behaves itself like primordial protoplasm, not yet having a stable form, but capable of taking on any and all forms of animal life on the ladder of evolution.180

In Merbabies, the 1938 Disney color Silly Symphony, Eisenstein found an emblem for the freedom from fixity and the back-­and-­forth leaps up and down the evolutionary ladder. The film features the froth and foam from waves transforming into cherubic mermaids who stage a circus parade on the bottom of the ocean floor, featuring a Painlevéan menagerie of seahorse-­drawn carts, octopuses who become elephants, fish-­tigers, and snails performing as trained seals, which all dissipate into sea foam when caught in the wake of a sperm whale’s sneeze. Eisenstein joked that Ovid

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likely “plagiarized” a few pages from Disney’s short films for the repertoire of substitutions, displacements, condensations, and transformations amounting to “an idiosyncratic protest against metaphysical inertness established once and for all.”181 The plasmatic expressed an antifoundational ontology characterized by the promise of metamorphosis. It intertwined evolutionary and revolutionary thinking into the utopian vision of a world in which everything was changeable, emphasizing the nonnecessity of being and the possibility of becoming-­otherwise, of maintaining an amoeboid plasticity. Disney cartoons furnished an image of ecstasy as “the pouring forth of the self into nature and animals.”182 Eisenstein’s later writings presented the subject of aesthetic experience as engaged in a form of “sensuous thinking” that brought together the attraction’s spectator terrorized by the blows of his cine-­fist with an account of the spectator seduced at a conscious, preconscious, and even jelly-­protoplasm level by the remarkably elastic, boneless, and ecstatic allure of plasmation. This plasmatic quality in cinema was endowed with the extraordinary thermotropic powers of arc light projection. Eisenstein’s consideration of the continuous becomings of plasmatic animation also sketched out several theses on anthropomorphism and zoomorphism. Unlike Painlevé, whose scientific training and relation with contemporaneous research inculcated a professional suspicion of anthropomorphism even as he engaged with it, Eisenstein had no compunctions about using what he believed to be a mode of “primitive” and “prelogical” thinking as a creative instrument. Animation brought together the coordination of modern technologies and laborers with ancient fascinations for an animistic vision of the universe. It was a thoroughly anthropomorphic and even anthropocentric endeavor: “at the center of it all,” Eisenstein mused, “stands Man. But Man, seen as if in reverse in his earliest stages, which were sketched out by . . . Darwin.”183 This vision of anthropomorphism is both anthropocentric (human beings stand at its center) and eccentric/ecstatic (seeking to overcome the limits of human being through eccentric motions). Plasmatic anthropomorphism suggested a quasi-­Hegelian capacity to maintain contradiction in the form of an evolutionary Aufhebung—­also ascribed by Lévy-­Bruhl to primitives under

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the rubric the “law of participation”—­that simultaneously preserved and overcame humans’ animal origins, which were carried in potential form in the protoplasm common to all cells, and in the case of animated films, all cels.184 Plasmatic anthropomorphism also supported the possibility of a nonlinear, spiral evolution with a temporality of back-­and-­forth leaps, wherein entities jumped up and down the rungs of the evolutionary ladder. Inspired by Lévy-­Bruhl’s discussion of the totemic beliefs of the Bororo people of Brazil, who asserted to the anthropologists observing them that they were at once humans and a type of red parrot (araras), Eisenstein, producing a cleavage in the principle of identity, referred to Mickey Mouse as “both a human and a mouse!”185 Eisenstein’s Disney developed an account of anthropomorphism based on equivalence, or at least the imagination of a participatory double-­identity, between the human and nonhuman parties evoked in anthropomorphic representations. Painlevé’s films ran parallel to and intersected with Eisenstein’s work of the same period: from a shared interest in Mickey Mouse and animation as a guide for entering into sound production to the importance of protoplasm to the varied and often ambivalent experiments with anthropomorphism. These two corpuses—­animal and scientific documentaries on one side and political and historical narratives on the other—­were mutually charmed by each other. The encounters between Eisenstein and Painlevé offer a productive manner for conceptualizing a form of anthropomorphism possessed of a plasmatic capacity to generate dynamic transits between self and other, similarity and difference, familiarity and the strange. DISTORTED MIRRORS: “THE END OF ROBOTS” AND BLUEBEARD

By fostering the plasmatic aspects and maintaining a commitment to the antifoundational ethos of the radical thought of its moment, the encounters between the oeuvres of Painlevé and Eisenstein generated a species of nonanthropocentric anthropomorphism. Just as Eisenstein’s early films were produced for revolutionary subjects that did not necessarily exist prior to their encounter with his work, plasmatic anthropomorphism contributed to a stretching and morphing of the anthro as much as the animals and

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objects it interpreted through analogical relations with human perspectives and forms. In a 1935 interview with Charles Chassé, in which he was asked “Don’t animals give moral and social lessons?” Painlevé insisted that he tried to resist drawing nonbiological and nonethological lessons from his observations of animals—­not that this could prevent spectators from doing so.186 A sense of plasmatic anthropomorphism, however, subtended examinations of human beings in three pieces produced around this time: a pair of snapshots of Painlevé and Hamon labeled “miroir déformé” (distorted mirror), taken by Geneviève Hamon in March 1933; Painlevé’s short science fiction story “La Fin des robots” (The end of robots), published under the pseudonym Yann Bazavet in VU magazine in 1933; and Barbe-­Bleue (Bluebeard, 1936–­38), a stop-­motion animated film shot in Gasparcolor, for which Painlevé served as producer in collaboration with René Bertrand, his wife, Germaine, and their three young children Nicole, Michèle, and Jean-­Louis.187 These artifacts broached anthropological questions of the “proper” of man, the sovereignty of nature, and the pleasures of thinking these subjects otherwise, through a critical regard informed by the production of animal films and the coincident development of an aesthetic of plasmatic anthropomorphism. Hamon’s pair of snapshots captured Painlevé and herself in front of a distorting funhouse mirror that stretched and blurred their contours, rendering them slightly grotesque. In one of the images (unavailable for publication), Painlevé, like one of the members of Eisenstein’s parade of elastic creatures, appears to have a comically long left arm, as if he was protoplasmatically sprouting a pseudopod or becoming Arthur with the Long Arm, and in the other, it is Hamon whose arm is stretched comically to the edge of the image. In the first image (not pictured), the camera with which the photograph was taken is visible in Hamon’s hands, and the resulting image testifies to the power of its objectif to capture reality while also stretching perspectives. Taken after the run of crustacean films but prior to the portrait of the woman filming Le Prieur as an aquatic satyr with which this chapter began, Hamon’s snapshots play with the Surrealist trope of bringing together two types of representational space, two realities, within the same field. They capture the distorted image in the mirror and the sharper pair of frames that surrounds it: the thick

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Figure 2.13. Jean Painlevé and Geneviève Hamon in front of a distorting mirror. Geneviève Hamon (1905–­87). “Miroir déformé,” 1933. Courtesy of Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

wooden frame supporting the mirror and the framing of the frame by the city street shown on either side of it. The snapshots resemble André Kertész’s contemporaneous series of “Distortions” taken before funhouse mirrors, including the comical images of Carlo Rim at Luna Park published in the August 6, 1930, issue of VU, and the better-­known images of grotesquely distorted female nudes, published in Le Sourire and in Arts et métiers graphiques in 1933.188 Writing of Kertész’s photographs of him, Rim referred to his experience at Luna Park of being “the Barnum of my own metamorphoses” and seeing the newly rendered images of himself as “deformed . . . yet true.”189 Rim’s words, equally applicable to the distorted portraits of Painlevé and Hamon, suggest that the

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narcissistic pleasures of self-­representation might also unleash a dialectical complement in the strange pleasures one may take in seeing one’s form stretched, distorted, deformed, and pulled beyond its limits, as with plasmatic anthropomorphism. A slightly more pessimistic tenor is manifest in two works involving Painlevé that turned a plasmatic, morphic gaze on humans. “The End of Robots” presents the testimony of the time traveler Yann Bazavet. Protoplasm plays a prominent role in the story as an engine of evolution and revolution, providing a curious extension of Painlevé’s research with Wintrebert and Yung and the encounters with Eisenstein and his proto­ plasmatic ideas. Bazavet reports of a future in which eugenicists and anti-­eugenicists have become the two dominant political factions. The eugenicists, eager to liberate humanity from the contingencies of material existence, have created a race of semiautonomous robot-­servants powered by protoplasmic masses. The protoplasm enables the robots to develop basic memory and thus the capacity to be trained to work autonomously. Soon the robots attend to every material need of the humans, going so far as to replace “natural” food with more efficient synthetic nutrients. This inspires the humans—­who can no longer see a purpose for plants and animals after they have lost the ability to digest them—­to exile all flora and fauna to the moon. To the surprise and eventual demise of the eugenicists, the robots endowed with protoplasm evolve and begin to demand liberties and rights from their human “masters,” including (1) the right to their own language, (2) the right to their own newspapers, (3) the right to use some of their energy for their own development, and (4) the right to become sexual beings and reproduce like humans—­an idea, the author notes, that was supplied by robots working in domestic settings in close contact with humans who ignored their presence because they were but machines.190 Incredulous humans, using the rhetoric of colonial paternalism, proclaim, “After all we’ve done for you?” They refuse to grant these requests “for their [the robots’] own good.”191 The eugenicists are particularly concerned that the robots must never become sexed or “know the secret of man,” insisting that along with physical pleasure comes all manner of problems that “weren’t worth the trouble.”192 The intransigence on the part of the humans eventually results in a robot revolution.

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The story thematizes capitalist and colonial exploitation as well as a prescient critique of unreflective technological development and the dangers of eugenics as a political platform, a position Painlevé would strengthen two years later in a skewering review of the Noble Prize–­ winning French biologist Alexis Carrel’s best-­selling pro-­eugenics tome L’Homme, cet inconnu (Man, the unknown).193 The treatment of plants, animals, and robots in the story warns of the destructive hubris of anthropocentrism taken to its extreme, where all forms of life are reduced to their potential to serve humans. The story lampoons the fantasy of complete sovereignty over nature and the unwillingness to consider the possibility of an in itself quality of other forms of existence. The story’s punch line comes in the form of an ironic reversal of fortunes. The humans who flee the robot revolt by traveling to the moon immediately die of shock on hearing the now “alien” birdsong of a common chaffinch. The apotheosis of mankind’s narcissism transforms the encounter with a formerly inoffensive creature into a catastrophic and lethal event. Like “The End of Robots,” Bluebeard turns a plasmatic critical eye on the foibles of “man” and men. The short animated film adapts Charles Perrault’s fairy tale of monstrous male sovereignty, burning secrets, and lethal curiosity into the form of an opera buffa composed by Jaubert with lyrics by Jean Vincent Bréchignac. Produced over the course of two years, the Bertrand family and Painlevé engaged in the painstaking process of sculpting and arranging hundreds of plasteline figures, working at a rate of approximately twenty images per day, or less than one second of film at the sound projection rate of twenty-­four frames per second.194 Critics followed Painlevé’s lead in reporting on the animated film as an extension of his scientific and animal documentaries. They remarked on the extraordinary “ingenuity and patience” required of these forms of filmmaking and emphasized that “real research hides behind the apparent silliness,” which would have potential contributions to future uses of animation, color, techniques of rendering depth, and working with sound.195 Painlevé claimed that he and Bertrand used footage from Étienne-­Jules Marey’s motion studies for guidance.196 The film includes brief passages of time-­lapse photography of living roses responding to light as a way of materializing the connections between the techniques

Figure 2.14. The plasmatic transformation of Bluebeard (René Bertrand, 1936–­38), produced by Jean Painlevé. Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

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of scientific cinema—­such as Jean Comandon’s films of blossoming flowers—­and animation. In an interview published in Sight and Sound, Painlevé explained that he wished for the film to be as “far as possible from the spirit of American films. . . . It would be useless to compete in a genre where perfection has been achieved.”197 Georges Sadoul, connecting the film to the work of the recently deceased animation pioneer Émile Cohl, noted that despite its imperfections, such as the rather rough “tracking shots,” Bluebeard opened up paths in animation techniques that might make Disney’s Snow White—­a high watermark in animation technique—­ appear primitive and flat.198 The highly condensed version of Perrault’s fairy tale primarily emphasizes the murderous widower’s sadism and his delight in hacking bodies apart. Unlike its source material, the film only briefly handles the themes of curiosity, forbidden knowledge, and the power struggles within marriage. Bluebeard’s wife, like the animals in Painlevé’s films, appears like a hostage plucked from her milieu. The Bertrands and Painlevé produced several striking plasmatic metamorphoses, beginning with the opening sequence, during which a copy of Perrault’s book Les Contes de ma mère l’oye: histoire ou contes du temps passé transforms into the grotesque disembodied head of Bluebeard, which emits menacing laughter as it floats toward the camera. A set of chaotic battle scenes that François Porcile and Richard Neupert have both compared with Eisenstein’s 1938 feature Alexander Nevsky can also be connected with the similar visual confusions of the “struggle and claw” sequences in Crabs and Shrimp. The film showcases the sadistic violence of the plasmatic: an entire repertoire of dismemberment techniques are exercised against soldiers carapaced in armor, including body parts forming incongruous throbbing masses and severed limbs unsuccessfully attempting to raise a decapitated head above a growing dust cloud.199 Speaking about the film at the Club Écran in Belgium during the early stages of production, Painlevé promised that it would showcase the color of blood.200 He was particularly proud of the effects of a horse biting off the head of a soldier: “one sees the plasteline stretching apart, the neck becoming thinner and thinner until the head pops off: this produces an absolutely new ‘trick.’”201 Perhaps out of concern for censors, but also taking advantage of the

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Figure 2.15. “An absolutely new trick” of cinematic dismemberment in Bluebeard (René Bertrand, 1936–­38), produced by Jean Painlevé. Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

metonymic powers granted by such a well-­known story, the film concludes with a compressed version of the first of the tale’s contradictory morals (although both morals are visible on the pages of the book that reappears at the end of the film and into which the plasteline characters return). It features a close-­up of the first line of Perrault’s moral that “curiosity, however enticing, often brings regrets”—­leaving out the explicit allusions to the fleeting pleasures of sex and their high cost.202 The film omits the second moral concerning how modern heterosexual marriage has developed to such an extent that it is no longer clear who is the master, regardless of the color of their beard—­a position that supposedly consigns the terror of unequal gender relations as a thing of the past. Marina Warner emphasizes that the original Perrault story is full of reversals and contradictions, including the two morals at counterpurpose to each other and to the data of the story. She sees the survival of Bluebeard’s wife as a possible message of hope for young women during an era when pregnancy had a high

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mortality rate and, one can add, when betrothed girls and women became their husbands’ property. This dismal situation had changed little, even under the progressive Popular Front of Painlevé’s times: women did not achieve suffrage and legal autonomy until after World War II.203 Bluebeard embodied a monstrous patriarchal sovereignty at a moment when such figures were in no short supply: from villains of the recent past, such as Henri Désiré Landru, the “Bluebeard of Gambais” who preyed on ten war widows and a child between 1915 and 1919, to bloodthirsty political leaders on the rise in Europe to the more diffuse forms of patriarchal domination and violence interwoven into the fabric of everyday life. Painlevé’s take on the fairy tale suggests its resonance with his contemporary moment: “The success of this brutal and filthy rich widower will never be adequately stigmatized.”204 The narratives of “The End of Robots” and Bluebeard both pivot around struggles to redistribute the power–­knowledge complexes of the enigmatic “secret of sex” and the “dangerous” curiosity it fosters, be it through the jealously guarded “secret of man” that the humans refuse to cede to robots or through the loci of desire, sex, and misogynistic violence hidden away, with the cadavers of his six previous wives, in Bluebeard’s forbidden chamber. “The End of Robots” and Bluebeard issue similar—­ and similarly unconvincing—­disavowals that the experiences of sexual pleasure and the knowledge that they conferred were not worth the trouble they caused. The disavowals undermined the supposed sovereignty their statements conveyed. In between these two texts, Painlevé produced The Seahorse (1934), a cinematic poem to animal eroticism that reimagined rapports between sexes and the blurring of gender roles very much in conversation with the ideas suggested by Hamon’s snapshots. If Bluebeard manifests plasmatic traces as an aesthetic property, The Seahorse presents plasmatic anthropomorphism as a disposition for imagining the ways in which humans—­men, women, and new, as of yet named configurations of sex and gender—­could also become endowed with metamorphic properties. The Seahorse provides an inverted complement to these two texts, suggesting how a mode of analogical thinking developed through encounters with animals might also productively (if cautiously) instruct considerations of human affairs. The film’s

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enchanting exploration of sexuality, gender, and love presents a surreal natural history as a challenge to the stable and self-­certain positions of “man” as a gender, sex, and species. The film reverberates with a broader inquiry over sex, gender, and the so-­called battle of the sexes as it played out in interwar culture, a moment of both exciting experimentation and conservative retraction. The crustacean films and parallel texts experimented with anthropomorphism as an epistemic instrument. They reveal anthropomorphism to be best thought relationally and in the plural. When anthropomorphism, like sovereignty, is exercised without respect for irreducible alterity and critical regard for the dangers of the reduction of man to the masculine singular, the consequences are barbarous and even lethal.

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Amour Flou THE SEAHORSE AND THE BLUR OF SEX Biology teaches love. —­Philippe Soupault, “Le Pagure dit,” Les Champs magnétiques, 1920 Hip! Hip! Hip! For the hippocampus. —­Robert Desnos, “L’Hippocampe,” Chantefables et chantefleurs, 1944

The plasmatic anthropomorphism of Jean Painlevé’s early experiments in sound cinema developed its most trenchant expression in L’Hippocampe ou cheval marin (The Seahorse, 1934), a documentary on the anatomy and reproductive behavior of this unique aquatic creature. The interplays of anthropomorphism and zoomorphism, familiarization and estrangement, and determinism and plasmaticity find historical specificity in The Seahorse’s exploration of gender, sexuality, and the manner in which it renders these terms contingent. The film adapts much of its information, and even a bit of its poetic sensibility, from “L’hippocampe ou cheval marin,” a chapter from the first volume of Les Poissons et le monde vivant des eaux: études ichthyologiques et philosophiques by Dr. Louis Roule, chair of zoology at the Muséum d’histoire naturelle.1 Depictions of mating and reproduction in The Seahorse discover in nonhuman biology a challenge to the norms of human sexuality and gender roles, slightly displacing the human binaries of male–­female and mother–­father with more fluid visions of sexuality and gender. This inspiration came from the fact that biologically male seahorses—­determined by the presence of spermatozoa—­carry their fertilized embryos in a ventral pouch and deliver their offspring through a protracted live birth. Beyond reproduction, The Seahorse showcases 159

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an expanded horizon of eroticism made possible by the cinema. Shortly after the release of The Seahorse, Painlevé mused, “the seas do not hold a monopoly on forms of reproduction astonishing to man.”2 This task was also the vocation of cinema. Through attention to The Seahorse’s figurations of sex and parenting, this chapter examines how the Copernican dimension of Painlevé’s film displaces homme—­the French word for “man”—­from its claims to stand as the stable, universal term for the human species and implicit point of reference for zoological inquiry. Through its study of seahorses, the film also implies an understanding of “man” rendered more plastic, by emphasizing the sexed and gendered specificity of homme in the masculine singular. Just as the cinematograph’s nonanthropocentric capacities placed the human within a broader context and continuum of existence, it could also situate human gender and sexuality within a broader spectrum of behaviors with far more porous and dynamic boundaries. Ironically, The Seahorse’s displacements of man also revealed the extent to which it is one of Painlevé’s most “human” films. Painlevé’s skillful use of superimpositions, focus and defocus, and framing develops these displacements as a manifesto for an amour flou, or “blurred love.” Produced contemporaneously to André Breton’s initial theses on convulsive beauty and amour fou, or “mad love,” The Seahorse may be read as a parallel articulation of a Surrealist conception of love. The film supports a conceptualization of love as a blurring of corporeal and conceptual boundaries independent from the inveterate heterosexuality of Breton’s formulations. The Seahorse develops the erotic dimensions of plasmatic anthropomorphism and the pleasures taken in the metamorphic blurring and deformation of the self anticipated by Geneviève Hamon’s miroir déformé snapshots discussed in the previous chapter. In the interwar context of the state’s reconstruction efforts and a strong retrenchment of heterosexual and patriarchal gender and sex roles, the use-­value of amour flou drew from its pedagogical function: to teach, through its provocative anthropomorphism, other ways of being gendered and sexed and of remaining open to transformation. The gently subversive potential of the film notwithstanding, The Seahorse did not escape or wholly disassemble the all-­too-­human dynamics of sexuality and gender in which it was produced and received. Painlevé’s

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promotional text “The Seahorse” makes explicit the connection to contemporaneous gender and sexual politics through a set of verses written around the time of the film’s theatrical release and the launch of the JHP ( Jean Hippocampe Painlevé) seahorse jewelry line. The text concludes with the dedication “To those who struggle ardently to improve their everyday luck, to those who wish for a companion who would forgo the usual selfishness in order to share their pains as well as their joys, this symbol of tenacity joins the most virile effort with the most maternal care” (Figure 3.1).3 He retrospectively reaffirmed these sentiments, describing the film as modeling equilibrium in turbulent times: “The seahorse was for me a splendid way of promoting the kindness and virtue of the father while at the same time underlining the necessity of the mother. In other words, I wanted to re-­establish the balance between male and female.”4 The film’s spectacles of sexual reproduction and birth entered the cinemas in an atmosphere still charged by the memories of the euphoria of les années folles. The film participated in the cultural work of redefining gender and sex, a project embodied by feminists, garçonnes (a term taken from Victor Margueritte’s 1922 novel La Garçonne to describe “new women” who adopted a sexually ambiguous appearance and shirked many conventional gender expectations), flappers, male and female transvestites, and other gender and sex pioneers. Painlevé’s seahorses coexisted with such sensations as the music hall star and “sphinx of transformists” Barbette, who, for nearly a decade, transfixed Parisian audiences by performing a high-­flying trapeze act as a beautiful woman who, as a “final tour de force” to the performance, as Jean Cocteau reported, “turns back into a man.”5 At the same time that The Seahorse contributed to the popular fascination with spectacles of metamorphic gender and sex, and may be a spiritual cousin of Barbette’s popular act, the film also resonated with the cultural veneration of the famille nombreuse (large family) at a moment of politicized concern over the recovery of the decimated population due to the First World War, declining birthrates, and a sense of national decadence. In the post–­World War I era, the state took up significant measures in support of aggressive pro-­natalist campaigns and the simultaneous repression of neo-­Malthusian groups that advocated for birth control and greater sexual freedom for women.6 Painlevé’s description

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of the film’s desire for a restored balance or equilibrium—­which is not the same as equality—­simultaneously expressed a radical demand and a conciliatory gesture. The Seahorse was Painlevé’s most popular film, in terms of being one of the few to make a return on investment but also in terms of the large audiences who saw it during its run in Pathé Consortium cinemas. A brief write-­up in Le Petit Parisien at the time of its initial release proclaimed the film to be “one of the most interesting documents that has ever been recorded.”7 The perceived biological reversals figured by male seahorses giving birth reverberated with a diverse array of audiences, winning praise from across the ideological spectrum. Surrealists were fascinated with the strange eroticism, zoological anomalies, and convulsive beauty of the film; certain feminists recognized in it another model for the sexual division of labor, while traditionalists and conservatives saw in it a celebration of maternity and paternity. The journalist and feminist activist Germaine Decaris wrote a glowing review of the film in the left-­wing La Lumière, celebrating its historical importance in transforming perceptions of nature and culture.8 The critic André Lang, writing in the far-­right newspaper Gringoire, praised the “rare merit” of the film’s powerful effects on the spectator, through its depictions of the miraculous reversal of reproductive roles.9 The Seahorse provided a perfect sign of the “contradictory forces,” to borrow Painlevé’s description of the creature, at play in the film as well as in interwar France.10 This chapter thus approaches The Seahorse three ways: as a Surrealist erotic film, as popular cinema, and as commodity form. The Seahorse contributed to a practice and theory of cinematic erotics that paralleled and expanded on the anthropological turn of Surrealist investigations into sexuality. The film also corresponded with the era’s popular cinema and its concern with what Noël Burch and Geneviève Sellier call the so-­called battle of the sexes.11 The film also reverberated with broader discourses of gender and sex as tracked through cultural ephemera. The juxtaposition of the film with advertisements for hormone treatments, advice from sex manuals, contemporaneous medical practices, and natalist ideologies may have the appearance of a Surrealist prank. A Surrealist practice of dépaysement and dislocation informs the construction of the

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Figure 3.1. “The Seahorse,” promotional material associated with Painlevé’s film and JHP jewelry line, circa 1936. Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris. Collection of the author.

relationships between text and contexts, but it is the wager of this chapter that fine-­grained historical analysis paired with theoretical elaboration reveals significant correspondences between these elements. While film may be a privileged object, it has no necessary ontological separation

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from other modern commodities and modes of address. Just as the previous chapter argued for the value of placing animal documentaries and animation into conversation, this chapter explores the entanglements of avant-­garde and popular forms not only as oppositions or antagonisms but as mutually illuminating. DREAMS OF FILMING IN THE “NEW NIGHT”: PRODUCING THE SEAHORSE

Almost every wildlife film is also its own “making-­of” documentary, offering a metanarrative about how its images came into being as well as about its ideals of filmmaking. The commentary for The Seahorse frequently narrates its technical and practical means of production, informing viewers of its many techniques and perceptual manipulations, such as when shots are magnified or to note the alterations in camera speeds. In more subtle manners, the aspirations that drove the production are as significant for a thorough understanding of the film as the content of the completed film. The film’s most notable claims were to its pioneering attempts at fully submerged underwater cinematography (none of which appears in the release print). The desire to film the seahorses in their own milieu responded to movement among modern zoologists to “study the animal in its own dwelling place.”12 A parallel move among researchers, as Natascha Adamowsky has shown, began to treat the behaviors of organisms in aquariums as artifacts of that medium of visibility.13 Adamowsky cites the 1920s as being the watershed decade in a shift in professional scientific perspectives regarding aquariums as research instruments and experimental milieu, and Painlevé’s frequent remarks on the artificial nature of filming and its observer effects bear this out. In the absence of immersive footage, Painlevé did not try to efface the presence of aquarium work but actually heightened its mediating powers. The experience of long hours observing and trying to film seahorses significantly affected Painlevé’s approach to filmmaking. The production of The Seahorse, to appropriate a slogan from the Groupe Dziga Vertov, bears traces of Painlevé and his collaborators learning to “make films politically,” both in terms of how he shot his subjects and how the labor

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of filmmaking was organized. Seahorses offered a model for the redistribution of gendered labor. In the press coverage for the film, including some of Painlevé’s own commentary, Hamon’s contributions to the production process were explicitly credited. One may consider The Seahorse as an early experiment in the more explicitly collaborative efforts of their post–­World War II films. Painlevé’s discourse around the film also marked a more direct, if incomplete, examination of the ethical implications of working with and on animals. Painlevé began experimenting with filming seahorses in 1930 or 1931, and several reviews of Painlevé’s lectures from this period mention footage of the curious animal. Lucie Derain, writing in Cinémonde in autumn 1931, described silent footage of seahorses as one of the highlights of an evening of his films. “In The Seahorse,” Derain writes, “he studies the ingenious, preposterous, and charming movements of this animal that is halfway between a fish and an animal, and whose head and body recall an animated piece from a strange game of chess.”14 The following year, Herman Frenay-­Cid, reporting on Painlevé’s appearance at the Club Écran in Brussels, also mentioned seeing footage of “the melancholic ‘Hippocampe’ trembling with perpetual epileptic agitations,” and Claude Aveline (a childhood acquaintance of Painlevé’s) included the title Hyppocampe among his filmography in a 1932 article on documentaries, suggesting that footage of male seahorses in labor had already been committed to film and shown to select audiences.15 The positive reception to these tests provided encouragement to continue this work, so that by fall 1933, Painlevé announced that the seahorse would be the subject of one of his next films.16 Painlevé obtained a potentially lucrative contract with Pathé-­Natan and Pathé-­Consortium-­Cinéma in early June 1933. As outlined in a letter from Charles David, head of production at Pathé, the studio would furnish twelve hundred to fifteen hundred meters of film, cover development and printing costs, and oversee musical synchronization and the recording of spoken commentary for the next film.17 The terms of agreement specified that Pathé-­Consortium-­Cinéma would handle distribution, with a sound version of the film getting a general release and a silent version being made available for cinémathèques and schools. Painlevé was to get 45 percent of net profits of the commercially released 35mm versions of the film,

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with Pathé taking 45 percent and Pathé-­Consortium-­Cinéma taking 10 percent.18 Whereas most of Painlevé’s silent films had been made for approximately 20,000 francs, the remunerable production budget for The Seahorse was three times that: reaching 59,119.90 francs, including a 15,000 franc salary for the director.19 Pending the success of this arrangement, Painlevé and La Cinégraphie documentaire, the production company Painlevé formed in 1930, agreed to give Pathé an exclusive option for an additional ten documentaries to be produced under similar conditions. According to the contract with Pathé-­Natan, the original intention was to produce a series of films called Assassins d’eau douce (Freshwater Assassins). A dry spell that reduced local populations of the aquatic larvae and insects intended to star in this “gangster-­style film” forced Painlevé to consider other projects to fulfill his contract.20 Painlevé contemplated making a film about the storks that nest in towers in Alsace but decided that it would be too difficult to film, so seahorses, already on the docket, won out.21 The interest generated by the test footage of seahorses, the increased financial resources at Painlevé’s disposal from a series of family inheritances in conjunction with funding from Pathé, and the technical advances in underwater exploration and filming, most notably Yves Le Prieur’s scuba system, made the decision to shift focus from assassination to love much easier. At the end of June 1934, Roland Tual, a former Surrealist working as a production manager at Pathé, informed Painlevé that the studio agreed to allow the switch in titles, which may indicate the faith they had in him but just as likely suggests the interchangeable nature of animal films in the company’s eyes, given that they were primarily destined to be screened in the first part of a film program among newsreels and cartoons and that their financing was directly tied with that of feature films.22 Painlevé had begun preliminary work for The Seahorse in May 1934, prior to official assent from Tual. Initial footage was shot in late June and July 1934 in Paris, followed by several short trips at the beginning of August to the Bay of Arcachon on the southwest coast of France to attempt to film seahorses in their own milieu. Initial editing occurred in autumn to debut the film at the second annual congress of the Association pour la documentation photographique et cinématographiques dans les

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sciences (ADPCS, or Association for Photographic and Cinematographic Documentation in the Sciences) held October 4–­11, 1934. According to letters between Painlevé and Pathé, subsequent edits and photographic processing, such as the trademark stop-­motion animation ending that spells FIN with dried seahorses, were completed between late fall 1934 and early winter 1935.23 Letters from May 1934 between Painlevé and M. Condom, an affiliate of the University of Bordeaux and the Station biologique d’Arcachon who helped with the film as both a consultant and wildlife supplier, note that Painlevé hoped to set up a temporary film laboratory near the seashore at Arcachon to have easy access to specimens.24 Failing to find a place with the consistent three hundred ampere power source needed to operate the camera and lights while also keeping filters on the aquariums and tanks going, he decided to film in the cellar studios of the Institut de cinématographie scientifique (ICS, or Institute for Scientific Cinematography), 12 rue Armand-­Moisant, in the fifteenth arrondissement of Paris. This required transporting seahorses by train and producing properly balanced sea­water in the laboratory to maintain the conditions under which specimens would give birth. Condom sent the first parcel of seahorses to Paris from Arcachon on June 18, 1934, and Painlevé requested an additional batch of pregnant seahorses in a telegram of July 3, 1934.25 Filming seahorses swimming, mating, and giving birth required a combination of studious application of technique, patience, and luck. Painlevé had difficulty keeping capricious and agitated seahorses in frame and in focus, but these challenges also produced one of the primary aesthetic attributes of the film: the image of animals rapidly exiting the frame or dissolving into gray blurs.26 Painlevé considered a number of strategies for keeping the seahorses within the camera’s field of vision, but out of direct contact with the fatal heat of the arc lamps. In a letter dated July 21, 1934, he wrote to the aquarium manufacturer Fumerand seeking advice regarding heat management. He was curious as to whether it would be better to use two identical tanks, with décor in one and the animals in the other, or if it would be better to construct a nested tank system for filming, in which a ten-­centimeter-­(four-­inch-­) wide saltwater tank would be inserted within a larger freshwater tank.27 While the larger tank would

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cool down the heat of the lights necessary for filming, the smaller, interior saltwater tank would be of a sufficiently shallow width to keep the creatures within a set focal length and limited field of activity. During filming, the custom-­built tanks holding groups of seahorses often sprung leaks. On two occasions the tanks shattered, sending saltwater and traumatized creatures across the floor of the basement studio and injuring the crew.28 Condom informed Painlevé that seahorses collected from the coast of France only spawned in late spring, so the window for filming had to synchronize with the biological rhythms of the animals.29 In the press, Painlevé described the crew’s tank-­side vigil waiting to film the seahorses going into labor as lasting anywhere from an uninterrupted thirty-­six to seventy-­two hours.30 Painlevé cultivated an image of his endeavors as a combination of expertise, dedication, and athleticism. Explaining these difficulties in an interview with Léo Sauvage, Painlevé asserted, “These animals are mobile, capricious, and completely unconcerned with the way you wish to film them. So you must simply yield to them, bow to their whims. And then, be patient.”31 After completing principal footage in Paris, Painlevé briefly decamped to the Bay of Arcachon in late July and early August 1934 to attempt to film seahorses in their own milieu. The film’s primary experimental aspect—­ in terms of conducting research on and by film—­concerned underwater filmmaking and the possibility of pushing the traditions of field research even further than the tidal pools and ship decks on which it relied. Despite a lack of clear evidence that underwater footage appears in The Seahorse, it provided an alluring publicity angle for the film and marked its legacy as one of the “first” films shot fully immersed underwater rather than through a glass-­bottom boat, aquarium, or submerged column, as John Ernest Williamson used in the Bahamas in the 1910s. Most accounts tend to overstate the success of this venture. Future archival work may turn up test footage, but it is difficult to identify any shots in the final 1934 version of The Seahorse that come from the depths, given the omnipresent aquarium reflections, the absence of currents or stirred-­up sediments, the relative indifference of the animals, and the steady cinematography. Regardless of the minimal on-­screen traces of these experiments in underwater cinematography, these attempts provided field testing for equipment and techniques.

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Figure 3.2. Jean Painlevé filming The Seahorse in his studio in Montparnasse, 12 rue Armand-­Moisant, circa 1931–­34. Courtesy of Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

The production of The Seahorse and its attempts at immersive filming occurred during a mini-­renaissance of technological developments and daring submarine expeditions that sparked the public’s interest in marine worlds. Le Prieur’s autonomous full-­face diving mask and air tank scuba system was patented in spring 1934. It improved on the first scuba tank system developed by Maurice Fernez and Yves Le Prieur in 1926, which used goggles with a pince-­nez and back-­mounted air tank. Around the same time, daring deep-­sea expeditions were grabbing headlines, such as William Beebe and Otis Barton’s record-­breaking descent to 923 meters below the surface in their bathysphere in August 1934.32 An article published by Ferdinand Reyna in VU, citing the presentation of The Seahorse at the ADPCS conference in October 1934, described Painlevé’s attempts to film under the sea: “armed with his camera, his head encased

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in a rudimentary diving apparatus, with 60 kilogram-­weighted belt to assure the necessity of remaining immobile in the depths at all times, this young biologist spent entire days living in the land of silence. There was even a time when, too immersed in his work, he became disoriented and it was only with great effort that he succeeded in orienting himself and returning to the beach.”33 Even though Le Prieur’s vastly improved, self-­contained underwater breathing apparatus had just become available, and would shortly be embraced by the filmmaker, the very limited diving times it afforded in its initial iteration made its use impractical for filming wild animals. For The Seahorse, Painlevé made his dives using the much older Fernez diving mask: a modification of the classic deep-­ sea diving system using a lightweight rubber mask that fed the diver air through a hose connected to a wheel-­powered air pump on the surface. This system did not cut the umbilicus between surface and depths, and the increased atmospheric pressure below a few meters would press the goggles against the eyes and cause an oculocardiac reflex that could dramatically affect one’s pulse, but it had the virtue of allowing for significant dive durations.34 The technical challenges of being underwater were matched by those of filming there. Charles David, the head of production at Pathé, provided Painlevé with a lightweight Debrie Sept camera enclosed in a watertight metal case outfitted with rubber-­coated operation triggers (Figure 3.4). The Sept was a 35mm, spring-­loaded camera that took both moving and still images. Painlevé and crew joked that its name was due to its small size, which could only hold approximately seven meters of film (it actually held five meters, or approximately ten to sixteen seconds’ worth of footage, depending on frame rate).35 The inconvenience of having to resurface after only several seconds of filming in order to reload the camera was compounded by the optical adjustments necessitated by an aquatic milieu. Painlevé and Raymond struggled to calculate for light refraction underwater when trying to get the appropriate focal lengths.36 Additionally, as Reyna recounted in his profile of Painlevé, one had to remain entirely still so as not to scare away the animals or stir up particulate matter and sand from the seafloor, which could cloud the image. A set of letters between Painlevé and Noëlle Margaritis provides

Figure 3.3. Painlevé on the cover of the May 4, 1935, issue of Voilà. Courtesy of Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

Figure 3.4. Painlevé on the cover of the August 17, 1935, issue of Voilà, showing off the Le Prieur scuba system and underwater camera. Courtesy of Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

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further details about the filming at Arcachon.37 In a letter dated August 1, 1934, Painlevé wrote, I returned to Paris from Arcachon with the intention of writing you on the train. A formidable sunburn prevented me from doing so between the dives that we carried out from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. because, despite several attempts, I could not hold a pen until yesterday. When all is said and done, water leaked into the “watertight” casing and the film and all our efforts are for shit. Back into the fryer we go. (Raymond, the cinematographer, screamed bloody murder and he only got burnt on his arms. This will make it tough to edit the film.)38

In a follow-­up letter, posted August 12, 1934, Painlevé recounted further difficulties: Tell Le Prieur that, using a Fumerand, I made several dives at Arcachon. Despite a magnificent sun at its zenith and a calm sea; no filming below three meters (we could not see more than two meters in front of us). Seawater entered the camera casing. The camera is in bad shape, as is the film. Back into the fryer we go. I lost myself in the water, couldn’t find the way out.39

Even if the underwater footage did not make it into the final cut, the means for successfully doing so would all be in place by the time The Seahorse was commercially released in early May 1935 at the Omnia Pathé cinema. Le Prieur’s refined self-­contained underwater breathing apparatus and full-­face mask, as well as improvements to camera containment systems, helped underwater cinematography become a centerpiece of Painlevé and Yves Le Prieur’s Club des sous l’eau (Underwater Club, which in French sounds similar to the alcohol Souze and the colloquial term soûlard, meaning “drunkard” or “soak”) (Figure 3.4). The club, formed to promote scuba diving and underwater exploration, gave its first public demonstration on August 1, 1935, near Le Prieur’s home in Saint-­Raphaël on the Mediterranean coast. It also served as publicity for Le Prieur’s inventions and Painlevé’s filmmaking: the first article on the club appeared on June 2, 1935, while The Seahorse was still in theaters.40 In keeping with the spirit of The Seahorse’s theme of redistribution of sexual labor and gender norms, Painlevé proudly noted that the first member to join the Club des sous l’eau

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Figure 3.5. The Club des sous l’eau at the Pontoise swimming pool in Paris, 1936. Photographer unknown. Courtesy of Les Documents Cinématographiques Paris.

was Titaÿna (née Élisabeth Sauvy), the renowned adventurer, journalist, author, and former editor of the avant-­garde review Jazz. The following year, amid the Popular Front government’s promotion of sport, leisure, and tourism, Painlevé and Le Prieur organized a second public exhibition at the Pontoise swimming pool in Paris (Figure 3.5). There, some of the fifty members of the club, including Geneviève and Mary-­Yvonne Hamon and a six-­year-­old girl proclaimed the world’s youngest diver, engaged in a series of scuba demonstrations. Members of the club shot and projected films, rode a bicycle, hunted, played sports, and performed a series of burlesque stunts at the bottom of the swimming pool, such as setting up a café and pouring drinks underwater.41 Painlevé pronounced his desire to build an underwater film studio to expand their explorations into this “new night”: the living dreamscapes, strange bestiaries, and unexplored dimensions of the planet’s unconscious.42 The desire for immersive filmmaking indexed shifting attitudes—­in thought if not always in deed—­concerning the subjects Painlevé filmed and how he filmed them. In a short and likely apocryphal anecdote from

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undated lecture notes for the public presentation of The Seahorse, Painlevé claimed that during his first attempts using Yves Le Prieur’s scuba gear at sea, he encountered swarms of seahorses, promenading as couples, that “wrapped their tails around my air hose and looked me in the eyes.”43 This image of a face-­to-­face encounter, the chance to look an animal in the eyes, and likewise be gazed at, was an experience that projections of the film, with its dramatic magnifications and intimate filmmaking style, promised to share with spectators. The film’s attempt to “re-­establish a balance between male and female” described the seahorse, its lessons for the audience, and its film crew. The press coverage in the run-­up to the release of The Seahorse provided one of the first instances where Geneviève Hamon was explicitly credited as part of the production team. Though she still remained at the edges or in the background of press photographs, readers were given glimpses of the collective efforts supporting Painlevé’s filmmaking. Painlevé opens his article “Feet in the Water,” published in May 1935, by naming his collaborators: “In our decade-­long effort to develop a technique for making scientific documentary films, Geneviève Hamon, André Raymond, and I have come up against thousands of obstacles.”44 That same month, in an interview for Regards, Painlevé referred to Hamon as his “principal scientific collaborator,” and Léo Sauvage gave a description of Hamon at work in the institute’s cellar: Miss Hamon, in the corner, is in her domain. She presides over the microscope table. This table, cluttered with lamps and electrical apparatus of all sorts, sits beside a barrel that has been covered with a plank and faces a large sink, a few empty aquariums, a broom, a garbage pail. I turn my attention away from the garbage pail and look into a microscope, where Miss Hamon has prepared something for us. Lights illuminate a backdrop of color, and at that very moment the specimen on the glass slide comes to life before my very eyes. I think of the Musée Grévin, where those willing to pay the price of a ticket are entertained by the play of light, mirrors, and a phonograph record. I peer once again into the microscope, realizing why Jean Painlevé takes such pleasure in his work.45

This vision of scientific and aesthetic creation rooted in an egalitarian collaboration, which Sauvage referred to as “a view into the future,” served

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Figure 3.6. André Raymond, Jean Painlevé, and Geneviève Hamon at work in Jean Painlevé’s studio in Port-­Blanc, Brittany, circa 1930. Note Mickey Mouse astride the skull in the upper right side of the photograph. Courtesy of Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

promotional purposes for the film but also modeled a way of filmmaking. Painlevé also expressed an increased sensitivity to the animals with which he worked. The journalist Madeleine Epron, in a pair of articles published in February 1935 recounting a visit to Painlevé’s home to preview The Seahorse, wrote, “Jean Painlevé, who several years ago, did not hesitate to make an animal suffer for the needs of science, now swears to deplore these cruel measures. Moreover, the tenderness that he manifests for his little artists is truly touching.”46 In the second article, Epron observed, “This avowed anarchist suffers when his work obliges him to torture animals.”47 Four decades later, reflecting on the suffering of pregnant seahorses in the third installment of Jean Painlevé au fil de ses films, Painlevé engaged in a lengthy parenthesis about his regrets and culpability in the destruction of his animal subjects. “It often bothered me, on almost every subject I dealt with, that as the master, the human being, I could take animals and do whatever I liked to them. I think it’s a

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really nasty thing to do and it’s always bothered me. . . . As for me I find it terrifying that I can exercise authority just because I’m the strongest. It’s always bothered me in my films, no matter the subject.”48 Painlevé summarized the promises of a growing sensitivity and respect for his living subjects in Pénétration pacifique (1936): “what a reward it is when you begin to integrate yourself into this milieu [the sea], when one comes across animals in their own home, at their level, and not above them.”49 Encountering aquatic life on more commensurate terms, moving from surface to depth, and risking the safety and familiarity of terrestrial grounding for unknown and unusual vantages encapsulated his spirit of inquisitive openness. Something of this new attitude and regard—­still an ideal rather than a consistent practice—­appeared in the formal qualities of the film, particularly in the Surrealist-­inflected use of superimposition and blurring. CINEMA’S MAGNIFICENT EROTICS: REPRODUCING SEX

The financial and technical participation of Pathé enabled considerable experimentation with mise-­en-­scène and underwater cinematography that might have otherwise been out of reach. The studio’s involvement also had a decided effect on the film’s sound elements. As designated by the contract, Pathé hired Radio-­Paris commentator Ben Danou, who lent his voice to many newsreels and documentaries of the era, to perform Painlevé’s commentary. The studio also commissioned an original score by the composer Darius Milhaud, then under contract with Pathé. Milhaud’s “L’Hippocampe, opus 137,” which Painlevé later joked was the result of the composer’s engagement to make “sausage music” for the studio, pairs a jaunty brass march that trots along as if at a military parade inspection with delicate woodwind melodies that are interwoven with polyphonic string arpeggios and the occasional jazz-­inspired blue notes. Like the “unexpected oppositions” of Marcel Delannoy’s “Les Figures sonores” in Crabs and Shrimp, Milhaud’s score sets the tone for the film’s thematic elaboration of the coming together of contrasts.50 The Seahorse opens by introducing the coupling of the strange and the ordinary. As several seahorses swim slow circles in a large aquarium, the

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commentary begins: “The Hippocampus, or seahorse, despite its strange appearance, is an ordinary fish of no more than fifteen centimeters when found off our coasts.” The first of four parts of the film addresses the animal’s appearance and anatomy, including its large, mobile eyes, its prehensile tail, and its manners of locomotion. The film’s second section presents the animal’s unique reproductive and mating behaviors and the astonishing live births of seahorses. This is followed by a scene of a vivisection of the ventral pouch of a pregnant male specimen, revealing scores of developing eggs within, which opens up to the third section’s microcinematic examination of the development of seahorse embryos, including their morphological transformations, the coloring of their dermal cells, and demonstrations of the functioning of the heart. The film’s final section returns to the adult males, still convulsing from their deliveries, with their tiny offspring darting around them, and discusses the seahorse’s alimentary preferences. A sequence of right-­moving tracking shots follows swimming seahorses before cutting to oneiric superimpositions of seahorses and race horses jumping hurdles as seen from the stands of a hippodrome. It concludes with a stop-­motion animation of seahorse cadavers spelling out “FIN.” The film’s formal qualities reflect some of the morphological peculiarities of its subject. The commentary describes the seahorse’s appearance as an assemblage of animal parts from various subgroups (mammal, insect, reptile, fish). The animal appears to have the head and chest of a horse, the snout of a St. Charles spaniel, the lower body of caterpillar, and the prehensile tail of a chameleon or monkey. Its upright posture, a unique trait among fish; pouting lip; “anxious” eyes; and “slightly pompous air” all suggested human attributes.51 Seahorses evoke the strange encounters, unexpected couplings, exquisite corpses, and juxtapositions that Surrealists placed at the heart of their poetic practices and that filmic montage and superimposition render concrete. Like the creature it studied, the film comprises a series of contrasting elements. It mixes rigorous observation, a populist pedagogical sensibility, Surrealist play, cruelty, tenderness, and what Painlevé referred to as “cinema’s magnificent erotics.”52 Painlevé dedicated considerable energy and resources to bringing

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Figure 3.7. A tangle of tails in The Seahorse ( Jean Painlevé, 1934). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

footage of seahorses copulating and giving birth to the big screen. The commentary archly observes, “The strangeness of this fish is completed by an exceptional fact: the male’s stomach contains a pouch in which the female deposits, in several installments, two hundred eggs. On this occasion one sees lovely balletic figures with two or more protagonists.” The accompanying footage shows a series of close-­up images of male seahorses with protruding ventral pouches, followed by clusters of seahorses of both sexes, their tails entwined, in the midst of courtship bonding and mating, a process that can last for several days (Figures 3.7 and 3.8). The observations that the delivery of eggs occurs over the course of multiple engagements and that these acts may involve several participants are delivered with sufficient euphemistic abstraction—­through the metaphor of dance—­and insouciance so as not to immediately register as scenes of copulation. But the four shots that follow directly present the sexual act. An extreme close-­up shot shows a male seahorse (recognizable by its rounder abdomen) arch its tail backward and yield to a female seahorse

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Figure 3.8. Coupling creatures in The Seahorse ( Jean Painlevé, 1934). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

(identifiable by the more angular abdomen), who inserts her ovipositor into the male’s ventral pouch and deposits her eggs, where they will be fertilized and nourished by the father. As the pair copulates, their tails swaying, the female wraps her tail around the male’s trunk and they begin to float upward and out of frame. The commentary notes that in reproduction and birth, male seahorses take on the “characteristic female function” of nourishing the embryos in its ventral pouch. Léo Sauvage, in his profile of Painlevé for Regards, observed, “Love amongst seahorses: it’s the female . . . who ‘takes’ [ possède] the male.”53 Five to six weeks after mating, the males undergo a prolonged labor resulting in the live birth of offspring. The subsequent shots depict the ardors of male seahorses convulsively giving birth, which climaxes with the expulsion of clouds of tiny infant seahorses. The film’s anthropomorphic address has a particularly charged valence with respect to gender and sexuality, especially in relation to the final lines of the film’s commentary. Right before the concluding superimposition

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Figure 3.9. The “dazzling points of contact” of the final superimposition in The Seahorse ( Jean Painlevé, 1934). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

of seahorses over footage of the steeplechase, the commentary admits, “One cannot help oneself from adding arms and legs to this animal when one sees it moving about with its upright body and horizontal head—­the sole aquatic vertebrae whose appearance evokes a biped.” This confession of a strong anthropomorphic impulse to add limbs and imagine the seahorses as bipedal, which is also an incitement to spectators to try it, adds a slightly scandalous air to footage that might otherwise be received in a more clinical manner. It retroactively implicates the spectators in the film’s on-­screen erotic economy, suggesting a discretely voluptuous version of the superimpositions that end the film: intermixing human desire and animal attraction. The anthropomorphic invitations in The Seahorse encourage spectators to imaginatively insert themselves into the tableaux of courtship involving multiple participants, the yielding passivity of the male and the active role of the female during the close-­up shots of reproduction, the phenomenon of male pregnancy, and the alternately agonizing and ecstatic birthing

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of young seahorses. From the perspective of this intellectual superimposition, the observation that seahorses reverse “characteristic” sex and gender roles overlays conventions of human sexuality and gender, and particularly those of the heterosexual dyad. It is perhaps for this reason that the New York State Censors, recognizing, if not appreciating, the erotic qualities of the film, refused to grant it an exhibition permit if drastic cuts were not made. Irwin Esmond, director of the board, wrote in his decision that in order for the film to be screened, the producers would have to “eliminate all views of actual copulation and all views of male evicting its young. REASON ‘INDECENT’.”54 Painlevé’s cinematic erotics neither presume nor deny that the profilmic behavior of the seahorses is erotic: it is sexual. But its cinematic representation enables a shift from observation of animal sexuality to the question of the erotic as part of what is at stake in the work of art. What Painlevé called cinema’s magnificent erotics did not stop with the representation of the sex lives of animals on film. They entailed a polymorphic, expanded horizon of eroticism enabled by the sensuous and social experiences of cinema. In this context, superimposition was a privileged form. The critic Jean Vidal, perhaps still under the influence of the film’s final sequences, opened his brief note on the release of The Seahorse with a reflection on the strong solicitations of its superimpositions. Setting the film within a larger cinematic context—­of an evening’s program, but also the habit of regular cinemagoing—­he noted, “By projecting scenes of animal and plant life on the same screen where men [hommes] present us with the spectacle of their passions, the cinema invites us to make unexpected connections.”55 Vidal suggested that the site of projection acted like a palimpsest, wherein the variety of films projected form a larger, porous text that invites a comparative perspective but also highly charged overlays marked by chance and surprise.56 It is not just film but the space and experience of cinema that functioned as an instrument and site of an eroticized analogical thinking. The Seahorse—­as cinema—­manifested a potential for the species of erotic contagion valorized by the Surrealists. Erotic energies were transmitted through an atmosphere charged by the relay of desires between screen and spectators, a scenario theorized by the Surrealist poet,

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critic, and seahorse aficionado Robert Desnos in his 1923 essay on cine­ matic eroticism.57 For Desnos, the new medium’s principal contribution to modern life was the manner in which it refashioned eroticism on a grand scale that was simultaneously deeply personal and social. Films accumulated their erotic charge by means of the overlay, superimposition, and occasional divergence between the forces of desire on-­screen and the spectator’s fantasies. While the fixed narratives of the films ran an irrevocable course, they inspired parallel scenarios in the minds of “sensitive spectators,” wherein the screen’s luminous figures “take part in a far more miraculous adventure.”58 Pairing the fixed narrative of the film with the spectator’s supplemental one, Desnos mused that this “double scenario gets pursued in an atmosphere superior to that of opium, while, participating in both themes, facts and gestures suddenly illuminate themselves as dazzling points of contact.”59 Cinema’s illumination of “dazzling points of contact” between the fixed and the fluid, the real and the reverie, suggested an overlay or superimposition that “brings together two more or less distinct realities,” to cite Pierre Reverdy’s definition of the poetic image, such as the aquarium and race track of The Seahorse’s final shots. The fleeting contact between the extant and the possible has a transformative potential in stoking desire for an existence matching our most feverish dreams. Cinema’s erotic potential offers a salve for the disappoints of everyday life, but Desnos believed it could also generate demand for things to be otherwise: “Ushered by Nazimova and Pauline Frederick into an anxious and bustling life, we no longer know how to be content with a banal reality. During the intermission we seek out the man or woman among our neighbors who is capable of carrying us off on an adventure equal to the cinematograph’s twilight dream.”60 Returning to this idea two years later, Desnos added, “Modern love flows directly from the cinema and by this I do not mean just the spectacle on the screen but also the room, the artificial night.”61 The powerful desires stirred up by cinema’s spectacles fed off but also leaked into the audience. They transmitted a flood of desire for alternate arrangements to present realities. The enchanting superimpositions of The Seahorse, simultaneously visual and intellectual, operated through the porousness imagined by Desnos. But unlike the fragile aquariums and

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leaky case for the Sept camera used in making The Seahorse, the leakages of the film itself were the condition of possibility for an expanded horizon of eroticism. CONVULSIVE BEAUTY: CINEMA’S SURREALIST RESEARCH ON SEXUALITY

The superimpositions in The Seahorse correspond with the Surrealist fascination for the impossible “scandalous couples” conjured up by Lautréamont’s vision of beauty in the “chance encounter on a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella.”62 The frisson of such unexpected encounters and strange juxtapositions—­what Annette Michelson summarizes as Surrealism’s “grand erotic metaphor”—­emphasize the extent to which eroticism was a major concern for the movement.63 The significance of Surrealist thought and activity to the interwar understanding of eroticism in its popular forms shaped both the production and reception of The Seahorse. Expanding on these connections draws out the film’s stakes as an educational film contributing to research on sexuality while also revealing the necessity to consider it within a set of wider cultural contexts beyond Surrealist reception. In establishing a genealogy of Surrealism, it helps to recall that Apollinaire’s use of the term was “born of a transformation of sex,” to quote a character from his play Les Mamelles de Tirésias: drame surréaliste en deux actes et un prologue.64 In the 1917 preface to the play, among allusions to Malthusian thought and rubber nipples, Apollinaire described Les Mamelles de Tirésias as responding to a very particular set of concerns: “the problem of repopulation,” which he connected to the fact that “one no longer produces children in France since one does not make love enough there.”65 The play, set in Zanzibar, dramatized this “problem”: tired of the continuous amorous demands of her husband, the play’s self-­proclaimed feminist protagonist Thérèse detaches her breasts and undergoes a sexual metamorphosis, becoming Tirésias. Inspired by Tirésias, the women of Zanzibar demand political rights by refusing carnal relations with men and chanting “No more children, No more children!”66 Tirésias’s husband responds to these circumstances by miraculously giving birth to 40,049

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children himself, not unlike the aquatic fathers depicted in The Seahorse.67 In wresting Surrealism away from Apollinaire and his legacy, the Surrealists organized by Breton’s 1924 manifesto may have wished to separate themselves from the unsettling proximity between Apollinaire’s thinking and the postwar rhetoric and policies of the state, but this separation also temporarily repressed the stakes of metamorphic sexes and sexuality in Apollinaire’s conception of Surrealism. These concerns returned to the foreground in the collective research into sexuality conducted between 1928 and 1932 as a series of “soirées” held by the Surrealists. The first two sessions, from January 27 and 31, 1928, were published as “Recherches sur la sexualité” in issue 11 of La Révolution Surréaliste.68 The inquiries into sexuality constituted one of the more radical horizons of the empirical dimension of Surrealist activity. These sessions attempted to frankly discuss and document sexual behaviors and fantasies at a moment when there were few direct treatments of these subjects. Even “progressive” sex manuals frequently resorted to metaphor and indirect language. The best-­selling sex manual Encyclopédie de la vie sexuelle (The encyclopedia of sexual knowledge) by Lery-­Lenz, Costler, and Willy, known for its frank approach, appeared in 1934, just as The Seahorse went into production.69 As with many Surrealist endeavors of the moment, the research sessions were dominated by a heterosexual male perspective, and women did not participate until the seventh through the tenth of the twelve sessions. Misogynist declarations of disgust over pregnant women and menstruation, gender hypocrisy, and heterosexist statements appear throughout the transcriptions of these sessions: modernist avant-­gardes could be just as, if not more, regressive than the dominant culture. At the same time, Surrealist activities frequently engaged in a critical reformation of received notions of gender and sexuality. This was often punctuated by “antiestablishment ideas,” “feminist impulses,” and what Amy Lyford persuasively argues were a complex set of displacements and projections of male corporeal anxiety upon female bodies motivated by a refutation of the Third Republic’s highly gendered postwar reconciliation and reconstruction projections, which aimed to repress the physical and psychological trauma of male veterans’ dismembered and disfigured bodies and “restore” traditional gender roles.70

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The Surrealists’ combination of a vernacular ethnographic approach and a charged atmosphere of dialogical conversation fueled genuine attempts to collect concrete data about sexual behaviors and mores. This research fostered moments when discourses critical of normative gender and sex roles emerged, were debated, and were recorded. During the first session, Raymond Queneau criticized the group mid-­conversation for its “extraordinary prejudice against homosexuals,” and in the subsequent session, Jacques-­André Boiffard rejected moral condemnations of homosexuality. In response to Boiffard’s statement that he had contemplated sleeping with men, Breton threatened to storm out of the meeting if such “promotion of [male] homosexuality” continued.71 In the same session, Louis Aragon objected to Breton’s use of the term pathological for its implications of a stable conception of “normal man,” as well as the “fatal predominance” of a male perspective in these conversations, guaranteed by the absence of women: “For myself, nothing can be said about physical love if one doesn’t start from the fact that men and women have equal rights in it.”72 In the fourth session, held February 15, 1928, the question of children and responsibility inspired Pierre Unik to declare, with Breton’s agreement, “I do not believe anyone has the right to use the phrase ‘to have children.’ There are no fathers.”73 Such a declaration has a ring of revolutionary zeal at a moment when paternity, maternity, and natality were questions of great political concern. If this declaration does not precisely call for the abolishment of patriarchy (Dawn Ades expresses skepticism of a radical interpretation), it does insist—­from the privileged position of the bachelor—­on the social separation of sexuality from biological necessity and the liberation of children from the controlling grasp of parents.74 The Seahorse’s triangulation of eroticism, parentage, and birth also explored these questions with a surreal eye. From a conservative perspective, the film suggested, in contradistinction to Unik, that there is nothing but fathers. Conversely, the film’s development of superimposition and the staging of strange encounters found a complement in techniques that produced an aesthetics and erotics of blurring: an amour flou. A love of, and for, blurring manifests in three ways. First, it appears through the profilmic phenomena captured on film: the chimeric seahorse and

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its sexual behaviors that blur familiar sex and gender binaries. Second, it manifests in the filmic image and frame as nexus of surprising juxtapositions and visual confusion. Third, it presents a Surrealist-­inspired conceptual blurring of categories, taxonomies, and genders and sexes through its anthropomorphic solicitations. The film describes the seahorse as simultaneously a zoological exquisite corpse comprising many parts and behaviors that transcend any single class, phylum, or kingdom and as an ordinary fish (un vulgaire poisson). The concerns examined in the film paralleled those of contemporaneous Surrealism. The Surrealists were fascinated by seahorses and other categorical bêtes noires—­such as platypuses and carnivorous plants—­for their appearance as living exquisite corpses whose very existence empirically challenged the distinctions of traditional Linnaean orders of knowledge and classification ranks.75 Claude Maillard-­Chary argues in Le Bestiaire des surréalistes that such oddities of natural history were at the very heart of Surrealism’s project and may even be understood as a defining characteristic: “the abolition of kingdoms trembles deep within each authentic Surrealist oeuvre.”76 Taking inspiration from Lamarckian transformisme and Darwinian evolution, the Surrealists’ fascination with seahorses and other zoological curiosities drew in part from the challenges such creations posed to the rigid and at times reductive categories of classical natural history, as well as the remnants of “fixism” and its adherence to the principle of identity inherited from the Judeo-­Christian Genesis myth of God inventing creatures fully formed.77 Seahorses, as offspring of impossible “chance encounters,” and living specimens of the permeability between species and kingdoms, embodied “the most diverse and unexpected possibilities.” These uncommon ordinary fish emblematized the chance and contingency of a natural history worthy of the name. They inspired a neozoological philosophy of metamorphosis and becoming. The Seahorse frequently emphasizes what strains the apparatus’s capacity for capture, lending the film a reflexive quality, particularly in its use of aquariums as “epistemic objects” and “invented realities” that produce a highly mediated and rather unnatural natural history.78 Painlevé frequently noted that one of the primary challenges of his films was maintaining clear

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Figure 3.10. Amour flou in The Seahorse ( Jean Painlevé, 1934). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

focus and framing on mobile and capricious animals made anxious by captivity and bright lights. The Seahorse’s repeated defocus and deframing effects were not a result of camera limitations, such as due to an indirect viewfinder of the Debrie Sept, which provided only approximate framings and no visual information about focus. The film’s aquarium sequences were shot with a Debrie Parvo L camera (see Figure 3.3), which featured through-­the-­lens, direct-­on-­film focusing and framing systems, which allowed for quick focal adjustments during shooting as well as for precise image composition.79 The film was shot with a rather shallow depth of field. Filming tiny living creatures in extreme close-­up required striking a balance between a high f-­stop (with a correspondingly smaller aperture) needed for focus, the increased lighting necessary for exposure, and the effects of the intense light on the subjects, who might be traumatized or killed in the process. The shallow depth of field provided greater control over the appearance of the environment in which the sequences were filmed, obscuring the fact that the majority of the film was produced

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Figure 3.11. A male seahorse giving birth in The Seahorse ( Jean Painlevé, 1934). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

in the cellar studios of the ICS, though the highly artificial and artistic lighting made it difficult to mistake the stylized decor and mise-­en-­scène for natural locations. As a result of these practical and aesthetic decisions, the seahorses’ movements, even within a relatively constricted area of the birthing tanks, quickly shifted between zones of crystalline focus and hazy blur. The enigmatic, question mark–­shaped creatures pivot in and out of focus as well as in and out of frame: a small female seahorse with its tail wrapped around a larger male slowly drifts toward the camera and out of the field of focus; the entwined tails of several courting seahorses maintain the copresence of sharp details and fuzzy grays; and the violent convulsions of male seahorses in labor send them out of frame. Painlevé’s filmmaking style captured the copresence of incompossible realities, developing a form of conceptual blurring that was not the murkiness of confusion but rather a crisp but porous interpenetration of seemingly contradictory elements. This contemplation of copresent but unsynthesized differences is one of the concrete contributions of cinema to

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critical theory. It serves as a technology of heterogeneous views, ideas, and ways of thinking. Footage of writhing, spasmodic male seahorses, their eyes rolled back in the agonies of labor as they eject offspring in a blur of motion, recalls but also reconfigures André Breton’s major statement on Surrealist erotics and its ethos of the encounter in the “convulsive beauty” of amour fou or mad love.80 Breton’s concepts offer a near-­contemporaneous analytic instrument for considering the relation of formal techniques to the content of The Seahorse, while the film provides an instrument for a critical rereading of Breton. The following parenthesis on amour fou and convulsive beauty argues for both the necessity and inadequacy of Breton’s theorization of erotics and aesthetics. Breton provides a lucid articulation of the ethical and political stakes of sexuality as tied to questions of liberty as well as a compelling set of methodological approaches that sought to attune subjects’ receptivity to the strange. At the same time, Breton set a priori limitations on the forms love may take. The Seahorse may be read as an alternative articulation of the principal concerns of amour fou revised as amour flou. Breton’s writing on convulsive beauty and mad love had a strong biographical dimension rooted in the description of his encounters with his lovers Nadja and Jacqueline Lamba, but these concepts may also be situated at the tail end of the Surrealist’s research into sexuality and the simultaneous attempts to find a rapprochement between the idealist tendencies of Surrealism and the uneasy engagements with communism and dialectical materialism.81 Breton’s 1924 manifesto cast Surrealism itself as “solving all the principal problems of life,” but in L’Amour fou, he recasts love—­in a form resembling Hegel’s Aufhebung, or dialectical synthesis, simultaneously a preservation and an uplifting transformation—­as “the greatest supplier of solutions” as well as “the ideal place for the joining and fusion of these solutions.”82 Breton was clear that his understanding of love was explicitly carnal love, by which he meant solely monogamous, heterosexual coupling. Breton placed incredible importance on love as a revolutionary force but was constrictive in his understanding of what love entailed. He cited Engels and Freud to support his claims, reading their work as testimony to the progressive value of the heterosexual couple as

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a fundamental social unit with the potential to not just break with but also break social hierarchies and differences in race, class, and nationality.83 As amour fou, a “delirium of absolute presence,” such couplings demanded that the subject pursue love at the expense of everything else. This manner of loving served as Breton’s standard for revolutionary action, exemplified for him by the total—­and totally mad—­love of the couple in Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí’s 1930 film L’Âge d’or, whose complete disregard for every moral and material concern—­save for their own mutual pleasure—­ often took antisocial and even animalistic forms.84 Breton’s theses on mad love developed from his notion of convulsive beauty as the erotically charged images and encounters that provide a revolutionary spark. This idea first appeared as the concluding line of Nadja, which makes the concern for convulsive beauty absolute: “La beauté sera CONVULSIVE ou ne sera pas.”85 Beauty will be convulsive or it will not be. “Convulsive” beauty seized the beholder with a sudden jolt while also describing the beauty of shaking beings, such as the eighteenth-­century convulsionnaires, religious pilgrims to Saint-­Médard who succumbed to frenzied passion, as well as their modern descendants, the patients of La Salpêtrière celebrated in issue 11 of La Révolution Surréaliste, several pages before the first set of transcripts from the investigations into sexuality.86 Rosalind Krauss observes that most of the examples to which Breton turns in his discussions of convulsive beauty in the Minotaure essay, which reappeared as the first chapter of L’Amour fou, were not drawn from the attitudes passionnelles of the female patients at Salpêtrière but rather from nature, to which she attributes a form of uncanny semiotics, always already engaged in systems of signification.87 Krauss’s analysis may be sharpened further: Breton’s allusions to convulsive beauty were not just to natural wonders, such as Alaskan volcanoes and the mineral formations in caves, but to “nature’s fantasies” and nature’s mediation and presentation in poetry, photography, and microscopy. Consider the photograph of a coral reef in the Bahamas with a large Nassau grouper in the foreground shot by the underwater film and photography pioneer John Ernest Williamson, which Breton mislabeled as “The Treasure Bridge of the Australian ‘Great Barrier,’” the mineral formations in caves he likened to Prince Rupert’s Drops, the photograph of a virgin forest swallowing an

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abandoned locomotive, or the allusions to salt crystals seen in extreme close-­up, as if under a microscope.88 Breton admitted to a “profound insensitivity in the presence of natural spectacles and of those works of art which do not straight off arouse a physical sensation in me, like the feeling of a feathery wind brushing across my temples to produce a real shiver.”89 Yet his privileged examples of images of coral reefs, caves, volcanoes, and virgin forests represented phenomena capable of producing the véritable frisson, the real shiver that he understood to be a species of erotic charge. Breton presented the incongruous and unexpected pairings of Lautréamont’s “Beautiful as a . . .” as the model for a convulsive poetry. Three such couplets appear in his explication of convulsive beauty: “Convulsive beauty will be veiled-­erotic, fixed-­explosive, magic-­circumstantial, or it will not be.”90 These categories of convulsive beauty corresponded with dialectical tensions at play in every true encounter: between withdrawing and seducing, stasis and animation, and the enchantments of chance and rigorous determination. Surrealists had to train themselves to be attuned and ready to receive such instances of beauty: an attitude that Breton developed as a disponibilité—­“availability” or “openness”—­that was simultaneously passive and active. Disponibilité was characterized by a radical receptivity to unexpected encounters and to the world’s signs.91 In the 1934 version of “Convulsive Beauty” published in Minotaure, each couplet was used as the caption for a different photograph. “Fixed-­explosive” appears beneath Man Ray’s photograph of a female dancer coming to a sudden halt, haloed by a blur of her flying skirts tracing the momentum of her movements. “Veiled-­erotic” accompanied Man Ray’s nude portrait of an ink-­covered Méret Oppenheim, strategically positioned behind the large wheel of a printing press. “Magic-­circumstantial” served as the caption for one of Brassaï’s marvelous series of photographs from 1931 of a potato, suspended by wires, with a tangle of tentacle-­like roots growing from it, suggesting some strange, unidentified microscopic, arachnid, or aquatic creature at the threshold of animal and vegetable kingdoms.92 The undecidability of these images and the questions they pose—­ animate or inanimate; veiled or exposed; animal, mineral, or vegetable—­ have the allure of the “intoxicating atmosphere of chance” that Breton identified as a principal objective of Surrealist research. It was a search for

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the seemingly atemporal instant at the “forefront of discovery” when one encounters the genuinely new, unknown, and unexpected. Breton alluded to both photographic media and the dramas of predation and the food chain to illuminate this point. “It is the recreation of this particular state of mind that Surrealism has always aspired, disdaining in the last analysis the prey and the shadow for what is already no longer the shadow and not yet the prey: the shadow and the prey mingled into a unique flash.”93 The blurred union of the shadow of a soaring bird of prey and an unsuspecting mole peeking out of its burrow (or of Count Orlok’s shadow falling on Ellen Hutter), of subject and object, of terra firma and fluid zones, developed an image of a dynamic interval, at least for the instant captured by flash photography. The photographic dimension of convulsive beauty, a beauty born of technics, is further emphasized by his insistence that “the word ‘convulsive’ would lose any meaning in my eyes were it to be conceived in motion and not at the exact expiration of this motion.”94 No longer the “future resolution of these two states, dream and reality, which are seemingly so contradictory, into a kind of absolute reality, a surreality” promised by the “Manifesto of Surrealism” of 1924, here Breton’s dialectical notions of convulsive beauty and amour fou emphasize the fleeting, contingent, and fragile dimension of the solutions—­the rendering fluid—­that love offers, unleashing its creative and metamorphic energies.95 The Seahorse suggests a complementary conception of the mixed states and amorous solutions of convulsive beauty and amour fou. It differs significantly from the Bretonian version on two key points. First, it counters the priority that Breton gave to the capture of the expiration of motion, be it in instantaneous photography or film’s freeze-­frame, with a blurring possessed of a temporal dimension. Second, it did not insist on a standard of monogamous, heterosexual coupling as the basis for love, working instead with a more open and less determined set of erotic possibilities. Painlevé’s chosen medium, an art and science of motion, fostered the convulsive beauty of amour fou in dynamic and fluid manners. In contradistinction to Breton, the beauty and love of The Seahorse’s cinematic eroticism would be nothing if it heeded the demand that beauty was only arresting when arrested. In Painlevé’s films, motion—­an index of life, change, and metamorphosis—­provides the basic condition of

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possibility for the collisions and juxtapositions of the cinematic encounter, and they do so without effacing the tensions Breton named as veiled-­ erotic, fixed-­explosive, and magic-­circumstantial. The darting motions of the animals on-­screen rapidly shift between penetrating clarity and a hazy blur, often within the same shot. These moments of blurring revise amour fou as an amour flou and amour floué: a blurry and blurred love, an eroticism sparked not only by the frisson of the unexpected encounter but also by the confusion and interpenetration of boundaries and limits. The strange visual poetry and shimmering erotic energy of The Seahorse invites contemplation of expanded possibilities of coupling, of coming together, of comparison, and of comprehension. The inversion and blurring of sex and gender roles in The Seahorse presents two possibilities. First, it shows the perfectly “natural” if uncommon biological redistribution of sexual labor wherein males are impregnated and carry and deliver their offspring.96 The film coexisted with a culture in which sexologists and then cultural critics were discussing the possibility of a neo-­Lamarckian evolution of a “third sex,” as both biological designation and sexual orientation (the term entered popular culture through Willy’s 1927 “guide” to gay and lesbian literature and culture, Le Troisième sexe). Second, it provides images of the fantastic and phantasmatic vision of an amour fou so strong that love produces new solutions wherein male and female roles and relations blur or take on new, even wholly other configurations; a set of possibilities that were becoming increasingly real in the 1930s, both in terms of social performances of gender and also in terms of cutting-­edge medical interventions. This evocation of blurring resonated with the reconfigurations of love, sex, and gender chronicled by Jean Cocteau’s homage to the acrobat Barbette as a nonbinary figure of the “supernatural sex of beauty” and photographed by Brassaï at the Montparnasse lesbian bar Le Mononcle and the gay and lesbian dance, the Bal des Invertis.97 As if describing the aquariums in Painlevé’s film, Brassaï’s commentary for his photographs of the 1930s Parisian nightlife of balls and chic bars reminisced, “I saw many enigmatic, unidentifiable creatures, floating between the poorly drawn barrier between the sexes in a sort of no man’s land.”98 The Seahorse both documented and inhabited such a no-­man’s land, a utopian space where the expanded horizons of

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cinema’s magnificent erotics dissolved the fixisme of Breton’s naturalized heterosexism into a polymorphous transformisme.99 The film’s veneration of the seahorse and its anthropomorphic solicitations provided a model for human comportment that joined together “the most virile effort with the most maternal care,” creating “the most diverse and unexpected possibilities.”100 The aesthetics and erotics of blurring in The Seahorse bring to the fore a queer genealogy slumbering within Breton’s amour fou and his use of disponibilité, recalling the term’s earlier appearance in the work of André Gide. Gide’s Les Nourritures terrestres (1897) introduced disponibilité through one of the lectures by the narrator’s hedonistic teacher Ménalque. “I hate foyers, families, all places where man thinks he finds repose—­continuous affections, faithfulness in love, and attachment to ideas—­everything that compromises justice. I declare that each new thing must find us always and entirely available [disponible].”101 Availability was first and foremost an orientation toward novel sensual experiences—­ disponibilité de la chair, openness of the flesh—­regardless of, and often in opposition to, forces of stability represented by the bourgeois family and its stifling comforts.102 Breton’s account of disponibilité recognized these radical stakes and developed a vital methodology for their rehearsal. In the course of L’Amour fou, he explicitly restricted them to a heterosexual context, but Breton’s development of disponibilité did not wholly preclude a reconnection with Gide’s approach or its appearance in broader currents of Surrealist writing, such as Robert Desnos’s use of the term in his 1927 article “Amour et cinéma,” where he affirmed that against the censor’s attempted restrictions on the erotic imaginations of spectators, “the desire for love will suffer no harm,” for “we preserve our availability [disponibilité] to love and to revolt.”103 A reconfiguration of disponibilité also appeared in Claude Cahun’s short text “Beware of Domestic Objects,” where, in reference to Breton and Lamba’s Surrealist objects Petit mimétique and Grand paranoïaque, Cahun wrote of a need to “make ourselves ductile, good conductors of liberating forces.”104 Drawing from the vocabulary of metallurgy, ductility refers to the flexibility and plasticity of a material, particularly to the extent that it may be stretched into a durable wire and serve as a conductive agent. Cahun conjured a sense of becoming an

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electrified conduit for forces that do not simply replicate familiar senses of reality (little mimics) but prepare one for the tendentious reinterpretation of reality, starting with a caution concerning the domestic. From a perspective both indebted to and critical of Surrealism, The Seahorse provided and continues to provide an education not only in natural history but also in cinema’s expanded horizons of eroticism. The film connected the generative idea of Lautréamont’s “scandalous couples” with the Copernican dimensions of the cinema both in its discovery of radical new possibilities and dimensions of life and in its displacements of humans—­designated in the masculine singular as l’homme (man)—­from a position as the natural center of existence through the indifferent gaze of its lens. Copernican cinema situates humans within broader contexts where gender and sex relations become both provincialized and more plastic. Painlevé’s research on seahorse sexuality engaged a broadened field of erotic and sexual possibilities as well as a different configuration of gender roles and relations. A SIGN FOR THE TIMES: THE SEAHORSE AS POPULAR CINEMA AND COMMODITY FORM

The Seahorse was Painlevé’s most popular film in terms of its box-­office success and audience appeal, and all of this despite, as one reviewer noted, the absence of a big marketing campaign or ushers dressed up as seahorses and deep-­sea divers.105 The surviving paper trail for the finances for The Seahorse is slightly more robust than for his other films, thanks to Pathé’s participation. A number of printed sources and correspondences testify to the film’s status as popular cinema from a production, distribution, and exhibition perspective, if not to the precise figures from its theatrical run. For example, a Pathé-­Consortium-­Cinéma exhibitor wrote to Painlevé, “I am delighted to inform you that your film had the greatest success in the opinion of the audience that frequents the St. Marcel Cinema, and that it was frequently applauded even in popular seats.”106 That same month, the organizers of the Festival international de cinéma at the Exposition universelle in Brussels awarded it the Prix de la chambre syndicale des distributeurs et exploitants de salles (the syndicate of distributors and

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exhibitors prize) and expressed the widespread appreciation the film garnered: “The Seahorse, during its presentation, was warmly received by the audience and the critics.”107 In an interview with Libération published in 1986, Painlevé retrospectively referred to The Seahorse as “the only popular success I’ve known” and suggested that its images of male birth were its primary attraction. “People talked about it on the bus: ‘Did you see that movie about the male who gives birth?’ ‘Oh, I’ve known about that for a long time.’”108 Painlevé’s recollection, whether it actually occurred on the bus or primarily in his head, emphasized connections between seahorses and the audience’s own lives. As Jean Vidal observed in describing the movie theater as a machine for analogical thinking, audiences were well habituated with the forms of associative cinematic thinking that would move from male seahorses to men in their discussions of the movie. Noël Burch and Geneviève Sellier, in their study of French popular cinema from 1930 to 1956, describe the drôle de guerre des sexes—­the so-­ called battle of the sexes—­that structured many of the narrative feature films of this era. Focusing on popular cinema, understood as collectively produced cinema destined for collective consumption by a general public, Burch and Sellier examine how films, as “mediators of the social imaginary,” rehearsed and enacted gender relations.109 They describe the cinema of the 1930s as characterized by a striking “complementarity between a male identity crisis and regenerative view of the female,” which the balance of this chapter explores through The Seahorse.110 Their approach to the battle of the sexes primarily focuses on gender relations according to an agonistic heterosexual binary, but its heuristic value is not by necessity limited by this focus. Part of what gender reveals, when approached historically as an analytic category, to use Joan W. Scott’s formulation, is that the clusters of ideational norms and concrete practices that organize the social existences of sexed bodies require constant upkeep.111 The trope of the battle of the sexes foregrounds and ritualizes the continuous contests and maintenance of such social arrangements. Although they fall beyond the limits of Burch and Sellier’s project, Painlevé’s films—­and other wildlife and animal films—­compose part of the popular cinema. Such films should not be read in isolation, particularly given this cinematic mode’s combination of pronounced voyeurism almost unimaginable in

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narrative films and the frequent recourse to allegory.112 The frequency of mating, copulation, and birthing in popular animal cinema provides a direct account of the battle of the sexes and a model for many narrative films. Particularly in the short form, animal films served as distillations of broader concerns addressed by popular cinema. The conflicting gender and sex ideals that appeared on the screens of popular cinemas often manifested the culturally diffuse double standards of sexual permissiveness for men eager to regain their virility and constrictive and controlling responses to the women’s desires and sexual behaviors.113 The interwar crisis of masculinity was fueled by everything from the traumas of the First World War to concerns about the insalubrious effects of urbanization and industrialization on the vitality of the population, and the imagined “threats” to a weakening male population by the increasing demands for equality and opportunity by the “new woman” exemplified by flappers, garçonnes, career women, women without children, and other figures who blurred or challenged the normative boundaries of gender and sex. Patriarchal attitudes cast women within a regenerative role of replenishing and nurturing a male populace, which coincided with pressures to push “new women” back into the foyer and reemphasize the idealization of the self-­sacrificing mother. This perspective drew on postwar anxieties over depopulation—­to which historian Mary Louise Roberts refers as one of the master narratives of the era—­and the corresponding pro-­natalist movements, which, according to James McMillan, called on the French to do their civic duty and reproduce, effectively conscribing women to the function of “baby machines.”114 Natalist values became near-­ubiquitous in interwar French culture and found state support in such measures as the law of July 23, 1920, which increased the repression of abortion and prohibited writing and public discourse deemed “detrimental to birthrates”; the law of January 12, 1923, which made abortion a criminal offense; and the law of July 29, 1939, which gave financial benefits to large families.115 Depopulation and natalism fueled an obsession with sexual rapports, as the necessary condition of possibility for reproduction and the key explanation for its decline, which became a pressing matter of state interest. Attempts to diagnose what ailed a physically and demographically

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diminished France were manifest throughout the culture and often took forms that maintained contradictory perspectives. A particularly telling analysis in this regard appeared in Le Droit à l’amour pour la femme (Woman’s right to love), one of the more frank and sympathetic—­if still thoroughly patriarchal—­sex manuals of the interwar period. Its author, Dr. Michel Bourgas, described sexual dissatisfaction as a source of a great number of health issues, particularly in his female patients. He prescribed an active and informed approach to sex within the bounds of marriage as a cornerstone for personal health and happiness that would “contribute not only to the augmentation of the population, but also to its improvement.”116 Yet Bourgas also critiqued most writing on sex and marriage for the perpetuation of a myopic male perspective. He called for a general increase in knowledge and understanding of the physiology and psychology of the sexes and of the importance of mutual sexual pleasure. Bourgas thought that feminist struggles for equality and reform in the public sphere were premature and even unnecessary prior to the recalibration of relations between the sexes at the level of the heterosexual married couple, which was for him the key field of struggle. He promoted equivalence, as the pursuit of a harmony in complementary differences, rather than equality.117 Demands for equality between the sexes, according to Bourgas, were “misguided,” because they effaced basic biological differences and were less likely to get at the root of the problem or its solution, which was the role of heterosexual sex in modeling a mutually beneficial unification of complementary differences. Rebuilding the nation required rebuilding the rapport between the sexes at the level of the heterosexual couple with clearly differentiated traits and tasks. Diagnoses such as Bourgas’s inspired the emergence of a wide array of “remedies” to rejuvenate the body politic. The illustrated press contemporaneous with the production and release of The Seahorse regularly featured advertisements addressed to matters of sexual difficulties and the relations between the sexes. The issues of Voilà featuring cover stories on Painlevé in May and August 1935 included advertisements enticing readers to order the Encyclopédie de la vie sexuelle (“An indispensible book!”); brochures from the Institute for Organotherapeutic Research promising “knowledge of sexual problems”—­given that “sexuality dominates our

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life”—­and their solutions (glandular treatments); Oriental Pills for women for the development, firming, or restoration of breasts; and the services of the Institute of Hormone Therapy, promising to alleviate impotence, the “terror of men.”118 In the March 30, 1935, issue of Voilà, a half-­page advertisement for l’Ormosan hormone treatments asked, “Who is the guilty party? The Husband or the Wife?” Silhouettes of a healthy-­looking naked man and woman are separated by a lengthy paragraph of advertising copy that promises to reveal “how to assure sexual harmony” by replenishing flagging “geniplasm” hormones “extracted from the active glands of young and vigorous animals” and thus provide a solution to bring the pair back together. The fact that l’Ormosan offered formula A for men and formula B for women suggested the possibility of a shared culpability, though advertisements that ran in the crime magazine Détective featured much more pointed copy: “Sir! You are the guilty one if your wife is frigid.”119 The August 8, 1935, issue of Détective ran a quasi-­Surrealist collage of two advertisements addressed to women. The top advertisement, for the “Periodique: barometer of female health,” featured an image of a woman holding the device and longingly gazing upward, in the direction of a hazy image of a smiling infant. The copy offered the double address “Madame do you want to be a mother? Is maternity not an option?”—­promising to allow women to track fertility potential by “natural means beyond legal or religious reproach.”120 The bottom advertisement reads in bold letters, “Why Keep Your Breasts?” in which Madame Florène promises to share her “harmless and easy” secrets for a healthy bust. The ambiguous wording of the advertisement’s question would seem to address potential Tirésias, garçonnes, and aspiring amazons (in the model of the “suridealist” writer Maryse Choisy or the famous athlete and automobile racer Violette Morris, who both underwent elective double mastectomies, the former to do undercover journalism and the latter to improve her racing form) as well as those wishing to preserve or achieve a “firm, round, and seductive” figure.121 Such advertisements addressed a constellation of desires and anxieties related to sexual confusion, “flagging” male virility and female fertility (including the supposed need for former garçonnes and flappers to “regain” the femininity they had previously renounced), and endemic

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“disharmony”—­read inequality and dissatisfaction—­between the sexes. Among the more dramatic solutions to these problems were the many rejuvenation treatments and procedures that promised a dose of animal-­ charged vitality: including hormone therapies (the isolation of testosterone was accomplished in 1935 by Ernst Laquer), organotherapies (treatments derived from endocrine organs or glandular extracts taken from animals), and xenografts and other cross-­species transplantation operations. The Austrian endocrinologist Eugen Steinach experimented with vasoligature operations that entailed a partial vasectomy intended to spur the production of sex hormones, transplants of sex gonads from younger to older animals, and transforming the sexual characteristics of animals by altering their gonads. The Russian-­born French surgeon Serge Voronoff made headlines for his potency and rejuvenation treatments that consisted of grafting monkey testicles into those of men. Between 1920 and 1939, Voronoff and his disciples performed some two thousand testicular grafts. Voronoff even transplanted a woman’s ovaries into a female guenon in the name of physical and mental rejuvenation.122 If many such practices ultimately proved ineffective and based on scientific beliefs now considered misguided at best and a field for mischief and quackery—­Voronoff was a regular target for the satirical newspaper Le Canard enchaîné and inspired Marius Brubach and Roger Crayssac’s 1925 jazz novelty song “Va te faire greffer” (Go get grafted)—­these experiments represented a genuine if contested line of scientific inquiry. Outside of the practicality and success of such procedures, the very notion that surgical intervention could restore or alter what nature or time had stolen, sparked the imaginations of Voronoff’s contemporaries. Not only might testicular grafts and ovarian transplants restore the fertility and virility of men and women but such interventions also suggested the possibility of imbuing women with virility and men with the capacity to carry and bear children (sexual confirmation operations for men and women were being performed in the Soviet Union as early as 1926).123 It is tempting to place The Seahorse on the same shelf as the multitude of rejuvenating remedies for the wounds inflicted on the population’s virility, fertility, and vitality by the traumas of war and the supposed tumults of urban modernity. Associations between The Seahorse and the fraught

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fields of sexuality, gender, and reproduction are not solely of the realm of Surrealist dépaysement or the “contextual confrontation” of Eisensteinian montage.124 The extent to which they appear as such is an effect of neglecting the life of The Seahorse as a popular film and commodity circulating in the same marketplace of goods and ideas. The film’s original spectators made such connections, as suggested by some of the letters Painlevé received after the release of the film. Édouard Monod-­Herzen, a practicing psychoanalyst and author of Principes de morphologie générale (Principles of general morphology), a book that brought morphology and comparative anatomy into conversation with art practice, sent an effusive letter to “Painlevé and friends” in response to The Seahorse. Monod-­Herzen shared that he was making as many people as possible go see the film, including the patients from his psychoanalytic clinic. One of his analysands, after seeing the film “prescribed” to her, dreamed of seahorses and, according to Monod-­Herzen’s orders, illustrated them as part of her treatment (he had all his patients draw their dreams).125 While the enclosed drawing appears lost, Monod-­Herzen makes an allusion to the appearance of a tube in the drawing “which is not a cigarette”: an overdetermined analytic interpretation suggesting an erotic reconfiguration of the creature in terms of the patient’s fantasies, or the analyst’s fantasies of the patient.126 If a cigarette was sometimes more than just a cigarette, following the clichés of psychoanalysis set out by Monod-­Herzen, and if the neuroses that sent one to analysis were largely of a sexual origin, then the notion that the film could play a role as a remedy, or at least a catalyst, for treatment in an unconventional talking cure did not seem so far afield. Another admirer, Jean-­Louis Vallos, sent Painlevé a handwritten fifty-­eight-­line poem inspired by The Seahorse. The verses explicitly connect the film to the battle of the sexes as well as the fantastic possibilities of rejuvenating and even rewriting nature with a skillful scalpel. In the penultimate stanza, Vallos wryly speculates about the possible social implications of audiences watching female seahorses impregnate males and then leave them to deliver the offspring on their own: This proposition’s obvious gist Assured to attract a few feminists

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Should some Voronoff A gent who’s no slouch In the art of putting teeth Back in old tigers’ mouths Graft future Adams With a seahorse’s pouch. I’ve heard it said, the time is close When to gain the right to vote Suffragettes of every mane Will trot city streets Will trot rural lanes With a cry that’ll make Adam’s rib quiver “Hippocampize the men” Let them deliver!127

Vallos concludes the poem with the image of suffragettes taking to the streets and demanding the hippocampization of men in order to win the right to vote. While this did not happen—­otherwise suffrage may have been won in France prior to 1944—­leading feminist and neo-­Malthusian activists of the era, such as Nelly Roussel, had called for a grève des ventres (a womb strike) as part of a program of women’s liberation and to stop providing grist for the mill of military, capitalist, and imperialist exploitation, under the logic that by reducing birthrates, one could deprive such institutions and endeavors of the necessary bodies.128 It is not surprising that a film depicting male pregnancy and hyper­ fecund delivery would fascinate audiences of its day and generate, as many popular films did, several interpretations at once credible and contradictory. But given the promises of Painlevé’s promotional verse in celebration of the seahorse and its “contradictory forces,” it is curious to note that after the mating scenes, almost all the commentary concerning female seahorses disappears from the film. Jonathan Burt, alluding to Painlevé’s own habit of exclusively focusing on his patrilineage in the rehearsal of his biography, observes that the film not only evacuates female presence but also tends to give the male seahorses an exaggerated role in reproduction with respect to contemporary knowledge of the ethology of seahorses.129 Seahorses are currently believed to be sexually exclusive—­ even “monogamous”—­creatures. Paired females frequently stay close by

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their pregnant partners, making their home range within a three-­meter radius of their mates and repeating a variant of their courtship dances each morning as a manner of maintaining pair bonds.130 Burt’s critique raises these points to complicate readings of the film that are too quick to celebrate its implicit gender politics as subversive on the grounds that it ignores the specificity of animal life (reading it anthropomorphically) and that it ignores some of the obvious structural elements of the film and where and to what it pays its attentions. Painlevé’s celebration of seahorses as ideal mates suggested that he had a sense of the dynamics of seahorse pairing, and at least one contemporaneous popular article supported this interpretation, though Painlevé and Roule were its primary sources.131 The anomalous qualities of seahorse reproduction made even many rigorous observers rather myopic in their focus. Louis Roule’s work on the seahorse only discussed female seahorses in terms of their role depositing eggs. He marveled at the “extraordinary genetic inversion” displayed by seahorse fathers but gave equal attention to the vertical posture of these fish, which made him reflect, “It is as if the animal wished to assemble within itself every possible oddity and to push to excess its uncanny qualities.”132 Closer to the release of the film, the September 1, 1934, issue of La Revue de Paris published an essay by Jules Sargeret on the fathers of fish families that similarly focused on the male’s maternal role after noting the female’s role in depositing the eggs in the male seahorse’s pouch, which he compared to the pouch of a kangaroo.133 The disappearance of mature female seahorses from Painlevé’s footage—­for there remain numerous seahorse fry of both sexes on-­screen, pulling each other by the tail back and forth across the frame—­may be understood as the outcome of a bias on the part of the filmmaker and the source material in popular and learned zoological studies, but it is also a symptom of the vexed and entangled visions of gender and sex of its moment. The vanishing females in The Seahorse evoked the image of Roussel’s “womb strike” as well as a paternalistic fantasy resolution to it with a return to labor through the sight of prolific male birth. These images fed a fantasy of a père de famille nombreuse (father of a large family) that served as a complement to but also as a possible replacement for the

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natalist icon of the mère de famille nombreuse—­the idealized vision of the French woman posited as the salubrious alternative to the variations of new women who were delaying or forgoing childbirth. The second half of the film may thus be read along exclusionary lines as a veneration of paternity, if not patriarchy, that imagined a way to evade the increasing demands for equality made by feminists and as the realization of women’s nonparticipation in reproduction. The outsized role of the father may also be understood through biographical resonances linked to Painlevé’s and Hamon’s personal lives. The film suggests a set of compensatory images created in the face of double loss. Its tribute to the ideal of maternal fathers paid homage to Painlevé’s father, the politician and mathematician Paul Painlevé. Painlevé senior, having lost his spouse Marguerite Petit de Villeneuve to puerperal fever just after the birth of their only child Jean, raised his son with considerable patience and tenderness. His death on October 29, 1933, from a heart attack was a grave loss, and one can see in the seahorse a condensation of the mother he never knew invested with the father whose presence in his life loomed large and whose death he deeply regretted.134 Painlevé’s loss of his father—­who was given a state funeral—­followed a personal loss on the part of Hamon. In a set of reflections on his relations with women, recorded late in his life, Painlevé recounted that Hamon became pregnant early into their relationship. He does not give a date, but places it in the context of Mathusalem and the first scientific films around 1927. At Painlevé’s behest, they attempted to terminate the pregnancy by administering a douche of potassium permanganate, a highly dangerous method of inducing abortion. As a result, Hamon began bleeding internally, requiring immediate medical attention and a surgical intervention that foreclosed the possibility of future conceptions.135 With only Painlevé’s account of this affair, it is impossible to know Hamon’s feelings and is unfair to speculate, including whether having children was something she desired. But given Painlevé’s interest in fetish animals of magical births—­such as storks and seahorses—­the image of a father capable of giving birth may have held a personal valence as a compensatory fantasy, whereas the vivisection of the seahorse’s womb, discussed shortly, may have had an air of a traumatic repetition.

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Finally, the absence of females from the latter half of the film also reads as foregrounding a vision of the renegotiation and redistribution of what might otherwise appear intractable: the division of sexual labor along biological lines. In this manner, the film’s second half offers female spectators, all too familiar with coercive social pressures to fulfill a reductive version of a single social role—­that of maternal baby machine—­something of a relief in “their” absence from the scene. The feminist and patriarchal readings overlap in the fascinating way with which the film’s commentary describes the “genuine birthing” that male seahorses endure. “An anguished expression accompanies the rolling of its eyes. Agitated by convulsions, he writhes on the spot. His breathing speeds up. Finally a massive contraction flattens his pouch, signaling the expulsion. As the offspring exit in small batches, the delivery requires many hours.” As this commentary is spoken, the visuals depict a male seahorse contorting and writhing as it prepares to give birth. The shots alternate between full views of the seahorse and close-­ups of the “anguished” look in its eyes, climaxing with the release of clouds of tiny seahorse fry, who appear like miniature versions of their parents. The heroic description of paternal birthing offered another opportunity to celebrate patriarchy seen by traditionalists as in need of repair and restoration but also a potential moment of empathetic transference that acknowledges the pain and suffering of delivery typically thought to be the sole province of the female sex. The focus on the eyes, magnified to fill the entire screen, which the film describes as communicating anguish, concretizes Painlevé’s desire to regard animals on their level. The ontological flattening made possible by the indifferent gaze of the camera, combined with the film’s plasmatic anthropomorphism, stages an encounter between animals and humans premised on a shared experience of the anguish born of living. Scenes soliciting empathy for the suffering of the seahorses in labor abruptly shift to footage of the vivisection of a pregnant seahorse. Under bright, clinical lighting, unseen hands slice open the swollen ventral pouch of a seahorse to reveal scores of embryonic seahorse fry within. Forceps and a scalpel dislodge the embryos from the nutritive membrane lining the pouch. The sudden shift from birthing tank to dissection table, and from an animal expelling offspring to an immersive, fatal view of the milieu

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intérieur of its confrere, shows how easily the integrity of this cinematic exquisite corpse may be dismembered and how contingent the bonds of identification and empathy may be—­that one can poetically establish the presence of anguish in an animal and then submit it to an agonizing procedure. If the play between clarity and blurring evoked an eroticized aesthetics, the clinical view of the vivisection effects a more direct and even pornographic visualization. The superimposition of scientific and sexually explicit gazes, as Linda Williams has conceptualized in the context of hard-­core pornography, cultivates a “frenzy of the visible” governed by a “principle of maximum visibility.”136 Scientific, pornographic, and wildlife filmmaking converge in the exercise of a will to total visibility. The film’s anatomical theater raised the curtain on an interior matrix, as if one could pinpoint the secret of sex through a visible scientia sexualis. To the extent this footage prolongs rather than ruptures anthropomorphic discourse, it may also correspond with the play of condensation and displacement of gender anxiety and trauma that Lyford argues suffused Surrealist activity of the 1920s and early 1930s. Lyford views Surrealist work as dramatizing the physical and psychological traumas of the war that the state repressed in its efforts to spur national reconstruction and its appeals to heteronormative gender binaries as the foundation of future prosperity.137 She returns Surrealism to Lautréamont’s dissection table as the site where Surrealist conceptions of gender were made and unmade. Without denying the frequent sadistic misogyny of Surrealist creation, she examines the relational aspects of their highly artificial representations of gendered bodies: asking to what extent the figuration of female bodies also served as condensed and displaced commentary on the deformed and traumatized bodies of veterans. In the context of the film, vivisection brings the spectacle of bodily trauma and living suffering to the foreground. It attempts to document and clarify the strangeness of seahorse sex (in the masculine singular) through interior views of its subject’s reproductive anatomy. The footage reveals an uncanny image that simultaneously maintains sexual and species differences while also condensing them into a sadomasochistic image of “supernatural sex.” André Lang’s review in the extreme right Gringoire and Germaine Decaris’s review in the left-­wing La Lumière attest to the film’s capacity

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Figure 3.12. Dissection of a seahorse’s ventral pouch in The Seahorse ( Jean Painlevé, 1934). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

to sustain multiple interpretations and appeal to potentially ideologically opposed audiences. Both reviews alluded to the novel revelatory capacities of the camera, “rendering living and familiar what we do not know how to see and what we cannot see,” and to the potentially dangerous nature of these revelations and the knowledge they enabled.138 Lang admitted that Painlevé’s films both impassioned and upset him. “We leave this short voyage into the garden of knowledge disturbed, as if we too had violated a sacred trust and touched the tree of Good and Evil.”139 Lang imagined the “extraordinary spectacle of seahorse birth” as addressing and dividing the audience by sex. “Women, slightly shocked, wonder why the Creator has favored the weaker sex only among seahorses, and men laugh like little fools, finding that the good Lord decidedly did well in doing as he did.”140 Lang’s review raised the possibility of female viewers finding something unjust and dissatisfying in the created order of things, while men, by entertaining the mere thought of being tasked with childbirth, mendaciously laugh while also acknowledging relief about the male bias

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of heavenly creation. The film’s fascinating and upsetting quality came from the potential to unsettle creation as it has been believed to exist since the Garden of Eden. The feminist activist Decaris imagined cinema as pointing between what exists and the possibility of seeing the world otherwise and upsetting its order. In opposition to the biblical frame and eschatological temporality of Lang’s account, her version placed natural history in conversation with human history: The cinema must continually suspend itself between known and unknown worlds. What René Clair attempted by artificial means Jean Painlevé produces, once again, by remaining true to life itself. It is not a question here of a laborious reconstruction of the life of a Napoléon. It is a question of an otherwise new representation that takes part in the very structure of the universe.141

Contrasting The Seahorse with Abel Gance’s Napoléon and its imperial vision of “History (with a capital H in order to better menace the future),” she praised the film’s depiction of events that had “infinitely more claims to immortality than the Battle of Austerlitz.”142 The stakes of the film were a question of history and historiography. Immortality, in her account, was not a matter of heroic deeds but the outcome of a cinematic aesthetic seemingly in service of “new laws.” Decaris did not directly address what every other critic saw as the most overt interest of the film in terms of the sex lives and reproductive behaviors of seahorses. She focused instead on the revelatory capacities of the film as bridges to another, unknown world and on the mode of analysis such revelations might foster for the future. Her account put less emphasis on biological fact than on shifts in perspective. Reading her prose, it is difficult to ignore the play of gender in the language itself, wherein man is situated between two feminine forms—­la Nature and la Science: Nature, in order to better defend herself against man, has not endowed him with great powers of investigation. We only perceive what the ear wishes to receive and we only see what is right in front of our faces. But science is not content to be second to man. She exceeds him. . . . Did the eye ever imagine that it would one day see the ballet of seahorses such

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as it is presented to us today in the cinema? Did we ever hope that one day we would witness a seahorse pied au pied with an arborescence of lunar whiteness?143

Cinema’s extensions of our sensoria reveals the wonders of the universe, such as males giving birth and the marvelous dances of seahorses, both in the grace of their mating and in the frenzy of labor convulsions. She credited the film’s “indiscreet attitude” regarding the best-­kept secrets of nature as “one of the glories of current cinema.”144 The plural designation of “best-­kept secrets” may refer to the sex lives and reproductive behaviors of seahorses, the very possibility of male pregnancy, but also to the internal views made possible by the bisections of a pair of seahorses and the vivisection of a pregnant seahorse, cut open to reveal the inside of its pouch filled with embryonic fry. If this frank attitude was to be praised, it was not without its costs. Decaris recounts the story of the tanks that shattered during production, concluding by posing the question “who was avenged?”145 A violated nature? A reactionary patriarchy? A muted feminist demand? The answer appears in the historically specific blurring of these competing forces, their arrangements and rearrangement in filmic form, that The Seahorse embodies. Like the creature it documents, the film frequently resembles a set of question marks—­a set of floating enigmas. DAZZLING POINTS OF CONTACT: MARKETING THE MARVELOUS

In an attempt to capitalize on the popular success of The Seahorse and fund future ventures, Painlevé launched JHP, a line of seahorse jewelry and aquatic-­themed fabrics designed by Hamon, which were produced in collaboration with the fashionable but short-­lived Maison Desny, run by Clément Nauny.146 Painlevé’s The Seahorse joins Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North as one of the rare occasions when a documentary film has produced a successful merchandising endeavor. The JHP label opened a stall in the Printemps department store on the Champs Elysée, complete with aquarium-­inspired displays and live seahorses. Painlevé marketed the seahorse as a symbol of “virile effort” and “maternal care” “for those who wish for a companion who would forgo the usual selfishness in order

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Figure 3.13. JHP seahorse broach. Photograph by Jason Falchook. Collection of the author.

to share their pains as well as their joys.” It offered a symbolic solution to contemporary problems. As with the advertisements for L’Ormosan and Oriental Pills, the JHP products tried to capture the promises of reconciliation and romance through the entangled seahorses that embodied these ideals, an allure that continues to the present day, as indexed by the global trade in seahorses as aphrodisiacs and medicine, which, along with

Figure 3.14. Advertisement for the JHP brand featuring photography by Philippe Halsman, circa 1936. Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris/ Copyright Philippe Halsman Archive 2017. Courtesy of Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

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climate change, is perilously depleting seahorse populations.147 Publicity materials for JHP featuring smiling infants adorned in seahorse jewelry, photographed by Philippe Halsman, further associated the JHP seahorse charms with fertility, good luck, rejuvenation, and happiness. Painlevé referred to the products as “fetish jewelry” (bijou-­fétiche), a term carrying anthropological and psychoanalytic—­if not Marxist—­inflections as an object invested with magical powers of reconciliation, rejuvenation, and romantic possibility. Like secular relics, this line of Bakelite and brass costume jewelry held the allure of concretizing the film’s enchanting effects so that they could be carried along with whoever wore them.148 Extending the final superimposition of the film that brings together seahorses and the steeplechase, the JHP line marketed a version of the film’s “dazzling points of contact” between different realms, such as film narrative and the spectator’s imagination, aquatic and terrestrial milieux, animal and human, dream and waking life. These objects participate in a Surrealist optic trained on the latent energies of commodity culture and everyday life to foster marvelous experiences and transformations. Seahorse enthusiast Robert Desnos frequently evoked the capacities of ephemeral visual culture to unleash a marvelous potential that could transform the conditions of life. In La Liberté ou l’amour, he imagined Bébé Cadum from the ubiquitous soap advertisements plastered throughout Paris coming to life and transforming the city into a soap-­filled fairytale landscape, inspiring residents to strip naked and roll in the suds.149 After his rupture with Breton, Desnos declared, “Surrealism has fallen into the public domain,” for use by the people, and in this spirit, he called for the erection of statues honoring the “strange creatures” and “modern fetishes” from advertisements and everyday life—­including Bébé Cadum, casseroles, bottles, wheels, wheelbarrows, and even X-­rays—­whose presence electrified and transformed modern existence.150 Katharine Conley, drawing on insights from Daniel Poirion and Marie-­Claire Dumas, shows how the poet’s conception of the marvelous combined two senses of the term. It animated the medieval sense of the marvelous as a textual rupture, gap, or abrupt shift in register and perspective, but it was also charged with the more contemporary sense of an “integrating force within the present that draws dream realities onto the same plane as ordinary events.”

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In distinction from Breton’s sense of the marvelous as transforming the everyday, Conley argues that Desnos’s iteration takes the everyday to be the source of the marvelous.151 The JHP fetishes inspired by this ordinary extraordinary fish, like The Seahorse’s concluding superimposition, sought to market these marvelous possibilities. Four years after the release of the film and the launch of JHP, the symbolic valence of the seahorse remained current. In “L’Hippocampe porte bonheur” (The seahorse brings good luck), published in the February 11, 1939, issue of Le Monde illustré, G. D’Aguilar described the seahorse as a sign of the times. “These days everybody is talking about a tiny, strange-­ shaped fish with singular habits. Already famous among the ancients, who made of it an emblem and remedy, today it plays the role of a good luck charm and symbolic attribute.”152 D’Aguilar cites Roule’s Les Poissons et le monde vivant des eaux as well as the “marvelous film” The Seahorse in noting that modern interest in seahorses had less to do with their strange appearance than with “their behaviors, which astonish and charm us in a manner of speaking, symbolizing virtues that we hold dear.”153 These virtues, as inventoried by D’Aguilar, include sociability, harmony, sweetness, and “the highest conceptions of duty and devotion.”154 Painlevé’s film and the trinkets it inspired became emblems of their era, a living sign and heterogeneous crystallization of the times. These images and objects encouraged spectators to look beyond themselves to find new models for living together, in difference. And in doing so, the film and jewelry produced a vision of existence, a way of looking and a set of encounters, a form of love, of blurred love, for which the who of those “highest conceptions of duty and devotion” could no longer be taken for granted as stable givens. In this work, the Copernican dimension of cinema boomerangs from a perspective of anthropocentric displacement to the development of a discourse on humans that has been transformed and refracted through figurative animals invested with a defiguring and reconfiguring power. If these marvelous cinematic images of seahorses could not provide a direct salve for the rifts of the so-­called battle of the sexes, The Seahorse nevertheless contributed a resonant model to the struggle of reimagining other possible arrangements and rapports of sex and gender in the public domain: a Surrealist revolution worthy of its name.

4

Substitutes, Vectors, and the Circulatory Systems of Modernity DR. NORMET’S SERUM: EXPERIMENTAL TREATMENT OF A HEMORRHAGE IN A DOG AND THE VAMPIRE

Blood is Life. —­Knock, Nosferatu (F. W. Murnau, Germany, 1922) Let it bleed. —­Boris Vian, “Les Joyeux bouchers,” 1954

In a letter dated October 16, 1934, coincident with the premier of The Seahorse at the Association pour la documentation photographique et cinématographiques dans les sciences (ADPCS), Jean Painlevé informed Alfred Stoessel, director of the Institute for Popular Natural History in Berlin, of his latest projects: I am now going to begin a very long study of the blood of animals and men. I do not know the outcome, but for or against the classical theories, I am confident, after the first attempt made, that we will have interesting results.1

The paper trail in the archive does not offer many clues as to what the precise dimensions of his “very long study of the blood of animals and men” entailed, but one manner of understanding this project is in reference to a number of films Painlevé made over a period of approximately two decades that examine blood. These films study the ways blood circulated within, between, and out of living bodies in the contexts of experimental 215

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biology, medical research, carnivorous culture, and geopolitics during the 1930s and 1940s. Painlevé, working under the auspices of the Institute for Scientific Cinematography, produced the research film Étude du sang (Study of blood, 1932) as well as the commissioned film La Digitaline nativelle (1934), a demonstration of the heart medication digitoxin’s value for strengthening and restoring heart rhythm and rate. The study of the blood of animals and men on and through film may be back-­dated to the 1929 film document Le Sérum du docteur Normet: traitement expérimental d’une hémorragie chez le chien (Dr. Normet’s Serum: Experimental Treatment of a Hemorrhage in a Dog). The “interesting results” may subsequently be traced forward through his popular films examining blood, bleeding, and hematophagy, which constitute the subject of this and the next chapter, including Le Vampire (The Vampire), an essayistic reflection of vampirism organized around footage of a Brazilian vampire bat filmed in 1939 and edited and released in 1945; Assassins d’eau douce (Freshwater Assassins), an examination of carnivorous freshwater larvae begun in 1933 but not completed until 1947; and Painlevé’s role writing the commentary for the 1949 film Le Sang des bêtes (Blood of the Beasts), directed by his former assistant Georges Franju. Painlevé’s letter to Stoessel adds another dimension to the configurations of human–­animal relations and the dialectics of anthropomorphism explored in the previous two chapters. The analogical processes of anthropomorphism function by means of projective assignation: the observer projects a set of purportedly known human qualities onto an animal, object, or nonhuman entity. But anthropomorphism also has a metamorphic potential. It may deform the human doing the projecting as much as it makes the animals it incorporates conform to anthropocentric perspectives. The metamorphic qualities of anthropomorphism generate Copernican orientations that may place humans within a broader ecological context. Dr. Normet’s Serum and The Vampire study blood and blood-­borne disease with an explicit focus on the experimental animals that served as the living media for this research and as direct proxies for humans. The films participate in protocols of experimental biology and medicine and the accompanying rhetorics of when and how assertions of identity

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and difference between animals and humans get made and managed. Research with animal subjects relies on what Georges Canguilhem referred to as a “function of substitution.”2 In biology, hypotheses based on analogy, Canguilhem observed, are progressively refined through a series of substitutions. The founding ideas of hemodynamics, or the study of blood circulation, illustrate his point. The original hypothesis of hemodynamics was that blood functioned in a manner similar to the agricultural techniques of irrigation. Through progressive experimentation, the account was revised into the explanation of blood as a closed system of pumping and circulation. No method of biological inquiry, according to Canguilhem, exists outside of analogy, metaphor, and substitution. In experimental biology and medicine, guinea pigs, rats, dogs, and other common animal test subjects “stand in” as direct proxies for humans, even in the face of Heraclitean admissions of the dynamism of living organisms. By the twentieth century, this practice of substitution was so common that popular idiom reversed the relation, referring to human subjects of research experiments as “guinea pigs”—­a second-­order definition of the word as a subjectivity premised on its substitutability and the capacity to be treated “like an animal.” These logics of analogy and substitution have also been implicated in some of the worst crimes of the modern era. Theodor W. Adorno distilled the fatal logic of substitutions assigned to targets of marginalization and violence through the formulation “after all, it’s only an animal.”3 Painlevé’s cinematic studies of blood, in which animal test subjects play a starring role, document both experiments and a thoroughly cultural play of substitutions by which analogy (this is like that) turns into substitution (this stands in for that), which temporarily folds into an assertion of identity (this is that).4 The blood films document experimental procedures in surgical theaters and research laboratories, but the resonances of the images frequently bleed beyond these strictly delimited contexts. In the footage of vivisection, experimental disease transmission, and death, animals are cast as explicit proxies for humans but also as proxies for possible human futures. The establishment of direct correspondences between animal and human bodies raises the stakes of anthropomorphism and its use of animals as vehicles for staging the dramas of not just biological

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but also social existence. The images from Painlevé’s blood films make such a risky wager in their engagement with contemporaneous historical struggles, ranging from colonial and racial domination rooted in ideologies of blood in the case of Dr. Normet’s Serum to the “outbreak” of fascism in the case of The Vampire. A play of substitutions animates the relations of text and context in this chapter, while also informing a theoretical claim about the Surrealist charge of realist documents and their use as instruments of presentation and representation. The surreal dimension of these film documents derives from the elements of substitution collapsing into each other. In a departure from explanations of Surrealist media that emphasize a form of representational dreamwork in which the signifier takes priority over the signified—­as in important theorizations offered by Rosalind Krauss and Linda Williams—­this chapter brings together ideas of Jacques-­André Boiffard, Jean Painlevé, and André Bazin to account for a practice of documentary Surrealism premised on pushing the play of substitution to the point of collapse, where the images acquire an uncanny and unsettling presence that Painlevé conceptualized as trop objets, or “too object-­like.”5 The aesthetic project of developing the Copernican dimension of cinema assumes an explicitly political valence regarding the blood of animals and humans as well as how the thresholds of animal and human life get valuated and potentially undergo forms of transvaluation. The moments of collapse in documentary Surrealism, in which substitution becomes a form of impossible identity, pose a variant of the Luis Buñuel’s question in Las Hurdas in response to a royal portrait hanging in an impoverished classroom: “Why is this absurd picture here?”6 Painlevé’s short films about strange animal life also document the strangeness of the circumstances through which their chance encounters occurred, asking, “How did this absurd picture get made?” These films exist as nexuses of the complex ecologies of laboratories, ponds, abattoirs, editing benches, and literal operating tables where surreal exquisite corpses were assembled and dissected. Their images bear the traces of their own conditions of production and possibility, including the entangled technoscientific and political infrastructures that composed and maintained the many contradictions of the French colonial system of la plus grande France during

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the Third Republic.7 The moments of documentary Surrealism, and the questions of propriety that these at times absurd images inspire, provoke materialist inquiry into the films’ technical and political conditions of possibility. The suspension, dislocation, estrangement, and juxtaposition of their incongruity may bring critical attention to the means by which they have come into existence. The blood films document the Surrealism of colonial modernity, experienced as the strange, violent, and alluring coming together of distant geographic, cultural, and temporal realities. Jennifer Anne Boittin argues that interwar Paris functioned as a “colonial metropolis in mainland France,” a cultural space haunted by near-­ubiquitous signs of empire.8 A culture of colonial contact suffused the city of light, from its sizable communities of black, Asian, and mixed-­raced immigrants and ex-­pats to such popular spectacles as Josephine Baker’s turn with the Revue nègre; the Colonial Exposition of 1931, attended by 8 million visitors; the Surrealist and communist Anti-­Imperialist Exposition: Truth about the Colonies of 1931; and the marvelous modern commodities, including the rubber tires, bananas, and other goods, reliant on extraction, exploitation, and importation from the Global south. Boittin traces how the two spatial categories of empire, metropolitan center and colonial periphery, coincided in Paris, in a sense offering another stage on which the play of substitutions converges.9 In drawing attention to the strangeness of these convergences, the films provincialize—­to draw on Dipesh Chakrabarty’s formulation for the anticolonialist localization of universal claims—­the geopolitical stakes of the research they present and re-­present.10 Dr. Normet’s Serum and The Vampire show the microscopic and global circulatory systems through which vital essences and lethal contagions, stunning beauty and shocking violence, accumulated, flowed, and were distributed. The chapter first examines Dr. Normet’s Serum for its representation of vivisection and its theses on the powers of the serum to rejuvenate and protect bodies threatened by “foreign” menaces. It situates the film’s production and reception within the context of the French colonial system. Kirstin Ostherr’s argument that the immediate post–­World War II era experienced a growing awareness of vectors and contagion as global problems, due to the rapidity of world travel and an increasingly connected planet, finds

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an early rehearsal in the two films examined here, which both began as commissions from scientific researchers working on issues of colonial hygiene.11 Noting the manner in which reviewers emphasized the surplus aesthetic and affective qualities of Dr. Normet’s Serum, the chapter develops an account of documentary Surrealism as a presentational form of materialist inquiry. The chapter then performs a close reading of the documentary Surrealism of The Vampire and its discourse on vectors and hygiene. The film’s examination of pestilent species, through its collapse of comparative anatomy’s play of substitutions, raises the specter of humans as also being destructive and malefic pests, with a global reach. The images and associative montage combine explorations of the violence of colonialist ideologies, the rise of fascism in Europe, and the pervasiveness of vampires as a cultural logic of colonial modernity. THE LONG AND DREADFUL KITCHEN: DR. NORMET’S SERUM

Claude Bernard’s Introduction à l’étude de la médicine expérimentale (An introduction to the study of experimental medicine, 1865), one of the founding texts of modern experimental method, describes the life sciences as a “superb salon, resplendent with light,” entered only by passing through a “long and dreadful kitchen.”12 Bernard’s culinary metaphor alludes to the bloody scenes of vivisection and “experiments by destruction” that formed the basis of his method for the modern life sciences.13 Bernard believed such an apprenticeship was absolutely necessary, but best kept to professionals, lest it turn public opinion against experimental science. Painlevé’s research film Dr. Normet’s Serum: Experimental Treatment of a Hemorrhage in a Dog gives viewers a peek into Bernard’s kitchen, “the fetid and palpitating terrain” traversed in pursuit of Bernardian scientific enlightenment.14 The film documents the application of a sodium citrate–­based artificial blood serum developed by Major General Dr. Léon Normet, a military physician serving as director of health in Hué, Vietnam, then part of the French colonial dominion of Indochina. Normet’s serum was created to provide a reliable alternative to blood transfusions at a moment when blood typing was still a fledgling science. His temporary blood substitute

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was meant to obviate the risks of the transfused blood being rejected by the patient. He also intended it to serve as a stopgap in situations where there might not be access to a blood bank with a ready supply of matching samples, such as in emergency surgical procedures performed in combat, at the site of accidents, or in remote locations.15 A pamphlet describing the serum recommended its usage in both surgical and clinical contexts, including in the treatment of major hemorrhages and shock from blood loss, and in a diluted form for the treatment of anemia, arterial hypotension, myocarditis, hemophilia, recurrent bleeding, and a range of infections.16 Journals of colonial medicine reported its use in the small-­scale experimental treatment of complications from malaria—­a key focus of medical research in Indochina—­such as splenomegaly (enlargement of the spleen) and blackwater fever.17 The control of blood-­borne parasites and diseases was a priority for colonial administrators, as much for humanitarian and sanitary reasons as for economic and imperial ones. The idea of such a serum also fulfilled the imperatives of a racist colonial hygiene premised on protecting the integrity the European body in an era of intensified global contact. The Société nationale de chirurgie (National Society of Surgery) screened a version of the film during the organization’s meeting of June 12, 1929, six months after Normet’s serum was presented to the Academy of Sciences at its meeting on January 21, 1929.18 Given the film’s utilitarian documentation and somewhat gruesome imagery, it was not initially intended for popular audiences but rather was aimed at a more select audience of medical professionals and students. Bernard’s experimental method required initiates to discipline their senses so that only certain data were rendered significant and everything else effectively fell out of the field of perception. But these films also posed a serious problem of visual and sensational excess, because the camera indiscriminately captured all the details in its field of focus, requiring an expert mode of seeing film. If surgical films required discretion in how and where they would be consumed, Painlevé seemed eager to expand the potential audiences for such footage. In an exchange of letters with Maguerite Mesureur of the antivivisectionist Association française pour la défense des animaux (French Association for the Protection of Animals), Painlevé offered to

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project the film for the group, noting that such films had the benefit of reducing the suffering of animals to a single sacrificial specimen, because once filmed, the procedure need not be endlessly repeated to demonstrate or teach it.19 Cinema provided, in this manner, an archive of creaturely suffering, a record of the “useful violence” of experimental procedures that both captured the singular suffering of the test subject and generalized its results, with the hope of obviating future suffering. Dr. Normet’s Serum was projected at a séance of surgical films at the Sorbonne on May 9, 1930, as part of a program of Painlevé’s films at the Club Écran in Belgium in December 1932, and in the Medical and Biological section of the first congress of the ADPCS on October 7, 1933.20 At these screenings, the film drew excitement from lay spectators for its miraculous demonstration of Normet’s serum and its rejuvenating promise to bring the dog, as one critic put it, back “from the beyond.”21 The spectacle of death and resurrection reduplicated the promises of film as a technology of animation and reanimation. If some critics, such as Claude Aveline, demurred from reporting the more spectacular aspects of functional surgical documents—­“nothing is less ‘photogenic’ than clinical lighting—­and blood,” Herman Frenay-­Cid, sounding a Surrealist note, mused, “One will see in the films ‘Sérum Normet’ and ‘Chirurgie Esthétique’ [on the plastic surgery of Charles Claoué] that the direct contemplation of simple data, stripped of all artifice, can open us to subjects of wonder, seduction, and horror.”22 The purity of the gaze, in its unbound capaciousness, generates a surplus of effects and affects. What professionals learned to repress in exercising expert modes of viewing the cinematograph revived and redeemed. Over the course of eight sequences, with interspersed title cards intended to guide spectators through the process, the film shows the exsanguination and revival of a dog. It begins with a full shot of the dog standing on its hind legs receiving caresses from a man in a lab coat. He orients the dog so that she can seen by the camera in profile. The dog is strapped to an operating table, and close-­up shots show her throat being shaved and sterilized with an iodine solution. An extreme close-­up shows the insertion of a trocar into the dog’s carotid artery, commencing the draining of what the film claims is 80 percent of her blood. The canine’s

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Figure 4.1. Presenting the blood from an exsanguinated dog in Dr. Normet’s Serum ( Jean Painlevé, 1929). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

blood is collected into two large beakers, which in a moment of direct address are held up to the camera. The filled beakers show a volume totaling 1,400 cubic centimeters of fresh blood (Figure 4.1). When the animal, shown in a full shot, expresses signs of mortal distress through the forcible extension of her limbs, she is rescued from the brink of death through of the introduction of Normet’s serum, which is pumped into a vein in her left hind leg. The operation completed, the slightly dazed dog is placed on the ground to walk around, compelled to drink water, and then finally allowed to exit the frame. The concluding sequence, indicated by a title card reading “the next day,” shows the dog in a sunny garden being propped up on her hind legs to reveal her sutured throat, which is then shown successively in a close-­up and an extreme close-­up. Like a perils-­filled serial, the film presents a scenario of mortal danger resolved by a just-­in-­time heroic deed. It reveals the rupture and restoration of the integrity of the circulatory system and the homeostasis of the “internal milieu” or system of fluids circulating within a body.23 The film’s

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experimental treatment proceeds from the problem of how to maintain homeostasis necessary to organic life—­the stability of sameness and the self—­in the face of physical trauma or infection. The continuity of circulation is maintained by temporarily altering its contents. The film’s primary formal challenge was maintaining maximum visibility and scientific credibility in the face of the lacunae produced by its sutures—­the cuts that separate and exclude but also bind the material together. The cuts, camera repositions, insertion of title cards, and temporal lapses afford the camera and spectator better perspectives on the proceedings, but they do so at the expense of disrupting the procedure’s status as a singular, unified event. The disruptions produced by elisions, most notably the lack of footage of the dog being fully resanguinated after treatment with Normet’s serum, result in an incomplete document. While investigatory close-­ups were one of the pedagogical promises of surgical films, their authority as documents of a single event required assurances of their integrity. This pattern was established by the filmed surgical performances of Dr. Eugène-­Louis Doyen at the turn of the century, whose speed enabled him to perform procedures in the time frame of a single reel of film, adjusting the speed of his performance to match the available footage.24 In Dr. Normet’s Serum, the presence of cuts and the small lapses in time they indicate motivate the final sequence of the re-­presentation of the dog’s sutured throat “the next day,” presumably to assure spectators that this was the same dog featured in the previous day’s operation and not an exchangeable prop in a Méliès-­style replacement-­splice trick or a manipulation of the temporal sequencing.25 The epilogue suggests the researcher’s gratitude to the animal and reaffirms the nonsadistic elements of the scientist–­test subject dynamic. During a discussion of surgical films at the first congress of the ADPCS in 1933, Painlevé made it clear that legible indexes of authentication were essential to establishing the truth claims of a film document and the “sincerity” of its makers. Sincerity, for Painlevé, meant not just good intentions but clear ones: “the cinema must constantly prompt critical thinking, as must any means of investigation which, in contributing a new means of evidence, always brings with it the possibilities of tricks or a false interpretation.”26 As with the sequences of vivisection in The Seahorse, Dr. Normet’s

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Serum suggests a “frenzy of the visible”: the spectacle of bleeding an animal to the point of morbidity and the presentation of beakers of blood, aimed to reveal the otherwise inaccessible contents of the internal milieu. It allegorizes one of the driving fantasies of film as a technology of preservation and reanimation: the fight against the absoluteness of death by means of a technologically realized afterlife. This idea, for all of its science fiction allure, was very much in the air in the late 1920s, when new devices of reanimation captured the imaginations of both scientists and the general public. The Soviet scientist Sergei Brukhonenko’s highly publicized experiments with the reanimation of exsanguinated and decapitated dogs made headlines around the world. The latter experiment, which was performed live before select audiences, and subsequently filmed, presented the decapitated head of a dog kept “alive” and responding to stimuli for nearly two hours with the help of an “autojector” device, an external pump maintaining the circulation of blood into and out of the dog’s head. Nikolai Krementsov writes that Brukhonenko’s work arrived at a moment when people were beset by a postwar sense of omnipresent death, but it was also driven by utopian hope in scientific progress to banish death.27 Brukhonenko published a summary of his research in Henri Barbusse’s Monde in October 1928 and placed three monographs on this work in the important review Journal de physiologie et de pathologie générale in 1929.28 Summaries of these experiments also appeared in left-­leaning papers L’Homme libre and Le Populaire, which mused that thanks to this research, one could now die twice.29 The work made its mark on literature of the moment too, inspiring Philippe Soupault’s character “the experimenter” in his novella Un Évadé, who reads an entire summary of Brukhonenko’s experiment out loud and then repeats the experiment with the head of a condemned man.30 The filmed version of the experiment, La Réanimation de l’organisme (Experiments in the Revival of Organisms, Brukhonenko and Tchetchuline, USSR, 1940), was subsequently presented by Painlevé as part of the Séance internationale de films scientifiques at the Palais de Chaillot in November 1946, where the critic Lo Duca, caught up in the play of substitutions, admitted, “Each spectator . . . secretly thought of the results of such an experiment on man.”31 The implications of Brukhonenko’s research haunt Dr. Normet’s

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Serum. The film’s hygienic and sanguinary attractions effectively condensed a back-­and-­forth passage between life and death within the duration a single projection. The ebb and flow of life and death were mediated in the film by an exchange of fluids, the temporary substitution of one’s own vital essence for that of another, and the maintenance of the internal milieu, with the aid of an exterior prosthesis that extends life through—­ perhaps even into—­the machine. Like a bite from a vampire—­and there is much that is vampiric about the film’s blood sucking—­Dr. Normet’s Serum envisioned the introduction of a vital impropriety that perpetuated life. Following the logic of inoculation, the maintenance of the proper—­ which in French means both “self” and “clean”—­sometimes requires the intervention of the improper. Normet’s serum failed to take hold, remaining primarily an experimental treatment. In his initial report to the academy, Normet presented impressive data, claiming to have successfully saved ninety-­five of the one hundred dogs used in his trials in Indochina and noting that the occasions when it was used on humans proved to have excellent results.32 But after its well-­promoted debut, the serum fell out of use in practical medicine owing to the deaths of several patients in France who were treated with it, something Painlevé attributed to the incorrect storage of the serum during the long trip from Indochina.33 Regardless of these setbacks, Painlevé remained fascinated by the theoretical implications of Normet’s serum. Prior to Normet’s serum, blood spilled was blood spent. Blood flowed in a single irreversible direction common to all known organic life (save plasmatic Turritopsis dohrnii ): death. The mummifying powers of cinema and its capacity to embalm temporal processes may have fed Painlevé’s interest in techniques for rerouting the circulation of blood and recovering what was previously an irrecuperable and fatal loss, as if by the magic of a cinematic splice replacement trick (another play of substitutions, indebted to the magician and film pioneer Georges Méliès). This otherwise minor film document informs the subsequent films on which he worked—­alone and in collaboration—­about bleeding and eating. Dr. Normet’s Serum provides a valuable interpretive key for drawing out the stakes and critical implications of The Vampire, as well as Freshwater Assassins and Blood of the Beasts, discussed in the next chapter.

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THE POINT OF COLLAPSE: DOCUMENTARY SURREALISM

The play of substitutions depicted in Dr. Normet’s Serum and the documentation of Brukhonenko’s experiments with the decapitation and revivification of a dog, which critics noted they could not resist applying to humans, correspond with a contemporaneous theorization of the Surrealist capacities of photographic and cinematic media. In 1930, Jacques-­ André Boiffard, at the time still close with Painlevé, produced his photograph Papier collant et mouches (Flypaper and flies), which appeared as a full page in Documents as a preface to Georges Bataille’s essay “Modern Spirit and the Play of Transpositions.” Bataille’s essay, also illustrated with microscopic enlargements of fly anatomy, argues for arts of presentation over representation, based on his materialist commitments to radical singularity. He critiques the sanitizing idealism of artistic transposition, while valorizing practices “confronting the grandiose image of a decomposition whose risks, intervening at each breath we take, is nevertheless the very meaning of life we prefer.”34 Boiffard’s accompanying photograph provides a visual manifestation and manifesto of documentary Surrealism rooted in the point of collapse when representation becomes direct presentation. The close-­up photograph of flypaper stained with the carcasses of flies trapped by its sticky surface is magnified so that the flies match the size of the reader’s thumb holding the page. The layout sets a trap for readers to find themselves inadvertently putting their right thumb on or in the image and at risk of contamination from such contact, whether through the putrefying flies or the sticky surface of the flypaper. The photograph trembles at the boundary of representation and presence, acting as a vector of a hallucinatory contamination. Papier collant et mouches performatively displays the function of photographic media and the task of documentary Surrealism, while also presenting an alternate technical genealogy of the medium that takes flypaper as its model and perverse ideal. The photograph makes direct contact with the real, bearing not just its trace in the form of representation but also its disturbing presence or intrusion into representational space.35 The stickiness of the flypaper corresponds with the sticky feet of flies. Attracted to fecal matter and rotting flesh, flies are common vectors

Figure 4.2. Jacques-­André Boiffard (1902–­61), Papier collant et mouches (Flies), 1929. Gelatin silver print, 22.8 × 17.9 cm. Inv no. AM2012-­2076. Copyright Mme. Denise Boiffard. Photograph by Georges Megeurditchian. Collection of Musée national d’art moderne, Paris. Copyright CNAC/MNAM/Dist. RMN-­Grand Palais/Art Resource, New York.

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of disease, potentially contaminating whatever they touch. The mass of dead and dying flies stuck to the flypaper like so many black blots “reeks of the real,” as Georges Didi-­Huberman writes in a trenchant analysis of this photograph as a “contact image,” a phrase that touches on the sticky nature of flypaper and the impact of such an image on the beholder.36 Papier collant et mouches is not just a photograph of a vector; it is a photographic vector, a photograph as vector that elicits a tactile reception and strong physiological response. Didi-­Huberman places Boiffard’s photograph in a genealogy of art that solicits a direct physical response from the spectator, drawing back to the trompe l’oeil story of the painter Cimabue trying to swat away a fly his student Giotto had painted on the nose of a portrait, but also by the close-­up shot of a “swarm of ants coming out of a black hole” in Buñuel and Dalí’s Un chien andalou (1929).37 These insects of art history participate in the system of representation but also comment on it. They ground the idealizing and elevating aspects of artistic representation with the appearance of a contingent and modest materiality that all but demands tactile investigation. Boiffard’s photograph literalizes the representational tradition of the nature morte (still life) as stilled life, a dead nature that has an uncanny animating effect on its beholder. The flypaper photograph and the photograph as type of flypaper emphasize the points of contact between medium and world and also play on the way in which the beholder might get tangled up and directly implicated in them (Boiffard also produced a direct-­contact photogram of flies and flypaper around the same time).38 The sticky surface of the flypaper, like a photographic plate, captures something in particular, but its capacious nature also ensnares all manner of matter. It leaves a residue not only on that with which it makes direct contact but also on the beholder’s perceptual system, a residue that sticks to and into the eye: an image infection. Bataille’s “Modern Spirit and the Play of Transpositions” criticizes the tepidness of most contemporary art for lacking the courage to express its visceral potential. He dismissively compares fashionable galleries with the aseptic spaces of pharmacies. Elsewhere he expresses his distaste for art photography and his preference for what he refers to as a “second group of photographs” bearing the documentary qualities of press photography,

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cinema, and the work of Boiffard, which all minimize transposition, disavowal, and sublimation and frequently emphasize the seductive powers of the close-­up, as explored in Boiffard’s images of big toes discussed in chapter 1.39 In the late 1930s, Painlevé developed a complementary theory of photographic and cinematic media. In a review of a Fernand Léger’s March 1940 exhibition at the Galerie Mai published in Cahiers d’art as “À propos d’un ‘nouveau réalisme’ chez Fernand Léger” (Concerning a “new realism” in the oeuvre of Fernand Léger), Painlevé describes an experience of a visit to a hygienic gallery suddenly contaminated by a play of substitutions.40 Echoing the photographic interventions of Boiffard, Painlevé elaborates on the potential of certain visual documents to move the spectator through the jarring sensation of an irreducible materiality. Confronted with Léger’s large-­format paintings of the era—­including Araignée bleue (Blue spider, 1938), Composition au vase rouge (Composition with red vase, 1939), and Composition au réveille-­matin (Composition with alarm clock, 1939–­40), which are all characterized by their striking primary colors and plasmatic imagery where common objects take on animal shapes and seem to float in space—­Painlevé was struck by the “initial, always brutal, contact” he has with them, or rather with the play of substitutions they inaugurate.41 He explains that there is “something familiar” that only reveals itself to him bit by bit on a second visit: the swarms of amoebic and animal forms in Léger’s canvases recall Painlevé’s films. Léger held great admiration for Painlevé’s work, and this admiration manifests itself in the octopus-­esque spiders and colorful and interlacing amoeba animating these canvases.42 To strengthen this point, Painlevé paired his article with two of his photographs: the magnified close-­up of the structure of a shrimp’s nose from Crabs and Shrimp and a magnified close-­up of a grasshopper’s wing. Painlevé’s review continues: The dominant plastic aspects connect with something that emerges from many studies of animals and plants, and from the analysis of details or of the outlines of forms subject to frequent and rapid transformations. Photographs and films, particularly documents that are “unpleasing,” insufficiently fictionalized, not pretty enough, or too object-­like [trop objets], can provoke encounters with Léger’s paintings.43

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Léger’s paintings provided an uncanny refraction of his own efforts, such as Dr. Normet’s Serum and The Vampire, on which he was working at the time. The review reads as an indirect conceptualization of Painlevé’s own photographic and filmed documents of plasmatic animals and plants. According to Painlevé’s distinct and slightly agrammatical idiom, wherein the very phrasing performs its effects, these documents were “trop objets”: too object-­like, too concrete, too excessively present, too inassimilable or indigestible, and simply too much. The use of the plural form of objet, in agreement with documents, suggests these images maintain a multiplicity even in the collapse of substitution into identity. Painlevé’s sense of trop objets scientific documents also suggests the trop objectifs, the overly objective quality of lens-­based photographic media. The uncanny presence of the objects in certain photographic and cinematic documents—­produced through a maximization of the nonhuman gaze of the camera’s lens—­ lacerates both image and spectator. Film’s addition of motion and duration shifts from the fatal instant of the nature morte of Boiffard’s flypaper to the indelible passage of time, such as in the documentary footage of a Venus flytrap capturing and devouring a fly in F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922) or the “monstrous digestive coitus” that André Bazin saw in wildlife footage of interspecies carnivorism.44 Footage of animal predation encapsulated Bazin’s understanding of film, as conceptulized in his “Ontology of the Photographic Image,” as the “mummification of change”: its ability to capture and preserve contingent and irreversible events.45 The production of an impossible presence in the work of Boiffard and Painlevé culminated in the then Surrealist-­obsessed Bazin’s insistence that in photographic media, the image “is the model [elle est le modèle].”46 Bazin suggests a recapitulation and extension of Boiffard’s and Painlevé’s complementary theses regarding visual documents. In the 1945 version of the ontology essay, Bazin defined “representation” as that which is re-­presented, by which he meant “rendered present in time and space.”47 Hervé Joubert-­Laurencin notes that in the 1958 revision of this essay for Qu’est-­ce que le cinéma, Bazin added a dash between “re” and “presented” to emphasize this position.48 Photographic media provided Bazin with an experience of impossible presence to which he referred as ghostly and also, through the Surrealist appropriation of Hippolyte Taine,

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as “une hallucination vraie”: a true hallucination.49 While Bazin made this claim for all photographic media based on the ontogenesis of the medium, documentary Surrealism localizes the too object-­like/overly objective potential of the medium to particularly charged moments, when the play of substitution collapses into a non-­self-­identical identity. The red thread connecting the documentary Surrealism of Boiffard and Painlevé with Bazin’s earliest writing articulates a theory of photographic media born not of the logic of representation as a semiotic phenomenon premised on substitution or even analogy but rather of an impossible copresence where the imaginary and real, past and present, become momentarily coeval. Denis Hollier assesses a desire in Documents to breach distances, to produce a mode of proximal thinking and even direct contact with the objects of discourse. In this respect, Jacques-­André Boiffard’s photographs showed the way. In Documents, Hollier writes, “Science is dirtied by its object. Lets itself be contaminated by it. The object fails to keep its distance, abandons its reserve, overflows onto the page which describes it. I say ‘flower’—­and it appears. Things occur in the very place where they are narrated.”50 Hollier describes this effect as an “irruption of the referent” and “something that bites into the very page that wanted to appropriate it, something that is not in its place, something heterogeneous.”51 A similar intrusion is at play in the theorization of photographic and cinematic media that accumulates across Boiffard’s, Painlevé’s, and Bazin’s practices and writings. The photographic image, owing to its mode of generation, wherein the model and image share an existential bond facilitated by the caress of light and the chemical reactions it sets in motion, is possessed of a supernatural power. The image functions as a specter, something ghostly or, to return to Bazin’s idiom, fantomatique, a term that when spoken invokes the spectral, the machinic, and the automatic modes of inscription so dear to Surrealist modes of production.52 Documentary Surrealism occurs when the haunting presence of the referent (the model) lacerates or irrupts through the filmic signifier (the image), slitting the screen like so many eyeballs, and sparking materialist inquiry into the spectral presence of the strange creatures and estranged circumstances of global modernity.

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THE CIRCULATORY SYSTEMS OF MODERNITY

Dr. Normet’s Serum was formulated in a colony as a “solution” to the biopolitical imperatives of the Third Republic’s imperialist conquests.53 The play of substitutions of human and animal subjects and of blood and serum in the film provided a direct vision of the implications of research science in the project of colonial management and blood-­based racial ideologies. The Vampire, which began production a decade later in 1939, also explored the flow of blood between bodies, but it did so with a more reflexive attention to the production of its documents, their geopolitical conditions of possibility, and the histories of science, imperialism, and Surrealism in which it participated. Human affairs, namely, the Second World War, the Occupation, and mass extermination prosecuted by the Nazis, loomed large over the film, which used a surreal dark humor to document and explore vectors and the circulatory systems of modernity that served as their medium. The Vampire documents what Thomas Elsaesser, in the context of another vampire film—­F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu—­refers to as the “networks of contagion and contamination” that constitute global modernity and the entangled relations between metropole and colonized spaces that, as Boittin argues, can and did converge in the same location in the case of interwar Paris.54 The next two sections of this chapter read the film’s reflexive treatment of the conditions of possibility of its own coming into visibility, namely, the tangled networks of modern infrastructure and the biopolitics of imperialist hygiene. The nine-­minute film accomplishes such a mapping of its moment through an examination of vectors of contagion. In epidemiology, the term vector designates the agents that spread infections and disease. In mathematics and physics, vectors are phenomena that have both magnitude and direction. Both senses of vector inform the poetic documentation of the Brazilian vampire bat, Desmodus rotundus, and other hematophages. The film examines the modes of communication of infection among notorious vectors, developing an implicit consideration of the biopolitical magnitude and multidirectional transmissions of infection in colonial modernity. Celebrated by Bazin as simultaneously a precise “zoological

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document and the fulfillment of the great sanguinary mythology illustrated by Murnau in Nosferatu,” The Vampire explores the logics of contagion, transmission, and hygiene at the level of its content, form, and approach to the medium.55 The Vampire creates a montage from four regimes of hygiene: (1) the Pasteur Institute’s biological research and public health policies as well as its entanglement with the so-­called civilizing mission of the Third Republic’s colonialist enterprises, (2) the plaguelike spread of fascism in Europe and its particular presence in France (in both native forms and those implemented by the Occupation), (3) the film industry’s rounds of xenophobic purification purges (épuration) during the Occupation and the anticollaborationist purification purges that came with liberation, and (4) the counterhygiene of heterogeneous base materialism critical of any metaphysics of purity. This sense of counterhygiene was initially conceptualized across a set of texts in Documents that contested “an unhealthy need of cleanliness,” “the contempt that clean people have for dirty people,” and “stylistic purity” in favor of “elements impossible to assimilate” and “everything with this mixed, mixed-­blood dimension.”56 In developing an account of the fourth regime in The Vampire, this reading expands on Oliver Gaycken’s generative conceptualization of the film as a form of “Surrealist contagion” that develops a double discourse on contagion as both menace and potential inoculation.57 Attentive to the ambivalence of the film’s depiction of the bat and its relationship to various forms of exoticism circulating in the milieu in which the film was made, Gaycken reads The Vampire as a cabinet of curiosities modeled on the one found in Père Jules’s cabin in Jean Vigo’s L’Atalante, for which Painlevé furnished a jar of severed hands. The film collects together under the heading of “curiosity” a heterogeneous assemblage of phenomena that counter “the folly of purity.”58 This vision of counterhygiene in the film primarily operates through Painlevé’s montage practice and the introduction of improper and unassimilated elements into the textual body of the film. The grafting of footage from other films into The Vampire introduces moments of internal difference and strangeness that open up the conceptual scope and network of connections and contagion made visible by the film. The Vampire began as a commission from the Pasteur Institute to docu-

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ment a vampire bat, which coincided with new campaigns against sleeping sickness. Founded in 1888, the Pasteur Institute quickly became one of the most powerful nongovernmental organizations in France, exerting considerable influence on public health policy both in the metropole and in the colonies.59 The Pasteur Institute commanded a global network of researchers sharing the same training and methods, entailing a three-­prong epidemiological approach that commenced with exhaustive field research of the sources, vectors, symptoms, and course of a disease, followed by the development of experimental serums and inoculations, and then the implementation of broad-­ranging prophylactic initiatives and policies. The Pasteur Institute’s work performed a key role in the Third Republic’s so-­called civilizing mission in Africa, Asia, and Oceana.60 Their researchers executed an approach to colonization wherein medicine and hygiene were believed to be “vector[s] of civilization” following a hubristic belief that once exposed to the virtues of French science and order, indigenous populations’ desire to “modernize” would be contagious.61 Painlevé already had a relationship with the Pasteur Institute through his collaborations with Jean Comandon, and the Institut de cinématographie scientifique was located in the same neighborhood in Paris. Dr. Émile Roubaud, an expert in blood-­borne pathogens and insect vectors in French colonial Africa, initiated the film by requesting help from Painlevé.62 Roubaud was one of the lead investigators on two important field studies of sleeping sickness that helped establish the foundational knowledge about the causes and course of the disease: the 1906–­8 survey of the disease in French Equatorial Africa made with Gustave Martin and André Lebœuf and the 1909–­12 survey of the disease in French West Africa with G. Bouët. The first of these missions, which coincided with the establishment of the Pasteur Institute in Brazzaville, resulted in the publication of an extensive tome on sleeping sickness, La Maladie du sommeil au Congo Français. Roubaud, Martin, and Lebœuf opened their tome with the assertion that “the economic future of the Congo is linked to the problem of Human trypanosomiasis” caused by blood-­borne protozoa transmitted by the tsetse fly (Glossina palpalis).63 Their research on insect vectors was still one of the authoritative sources when, in fall 1938, the French colonial ministers called for renewed research into the

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disease and its vectors, launching an aggressive prophylactic campaign against sleeping sickness.64 At the time of the renewed campaigns against sleeping sickness, the proponents of the “contagion theory” of European civilization were beginning to admit that European expansion and intervention spread much more than “civilization” and uplift. In 1929, Eugène Jamot, architect of aggressive anti–­sleeping sickness campaigns in French colonial Africa in the 1920s, observed, An obvious parallel exists between European penetration and occupation of Black Africa and the spread of the endemic-­epidemic. In bringing peace to these countries, in breaking the barriers that once separated the diverse tribes and which allowed the disease to evolve in isolation, by establishing networks of communication and by creating the movement of commerce between the coast and the interior, by circulating with guards, porters and boys recruited from all over, by displacing populations, by mixing workers from healthy regions with those from contaminated zones, the European has been the veritable agent of the propagation of the scourge. By combatting it everywhere with fury, the Europeans from the metropoles do not only pay a debt to high humanity, but an obligation of strict justice.65

Modern infrastructure and transportation accelerated not only the transit of populations, cultures, raw materials, and consumer goods but also the flow of contagions. This double bind of civilization and contamination required further medical and sanitary intervention and, as Peter Bloom argues, perpetuated the discourse of medical humanitarianism as a pivotal aspect of colonialism.66 The Vampire participated in the diagnosis of European humanitarian discourses implicated in the uneven distribution of progress and immiseration. Painlevé reflected that “it must have been a premonition which made me film vampire bats in 1939. Just before the war.”67 The Vampire’s origins were more prosaic. On Friday, December 16, 1938, Painlevé received a letter from Roubaud announcing the arrival of “a rare and curious creature: a South American vampire bat” in his laboratory, one of the known vectors of mal de caderas or equine trypanosomiasis.68 The letter continued: This is the first time in France that one can directly study the vampire’s customary methods of sucking and attack. The animal in our possession is

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very docile. The department is eager to have a cinematographic recording of the comportment of the vampire encountering a guinea pig or a rabbit. Since our micro-­cinematographic department is not equipped for such a production, I thought that perhaps it would be possible for you to take some footage of this subject. In this case we could be at your disposal in the morning, between 10 and noon, primarily in order to introduce you to the animal so that you can judge for yourself whether it is possible to do this.69

The following Wednesday, December 21, 1938, Painlevé arrived at Roubaud’s laboratory at 96 rue Falguière at 11:00 a.m. to observe the specimen, and shortly thereafter in the new year, he began filming the bat, as well as several other vectors and pests being studied at the Pasteur Institute, including the Gambian rat, the Cameroonian cricket, the tick, and Gambian Trypanosoma, which all figure in the film’s bestiary.70 The footage was shot in early 1939. According to Roxane Hamery, a first edit was produced that same year.71 The outbreak of the Second World War on September 1, 1939, prevented completion of the film until 1945. Because of the fear that the bat might escape and spread disease if the Pasteur Institute’s laboratories were bombed, the creature was euthanized with gas shortly thereafter.72 Like Dr. Normet’s Serum, The Vampire presents an unsettling inquiry into anthropomorphism and the play of substitutions involved in using animals as experimental subjects. The gassing of the bat, a common way of euthanizing animals in laboratory settings, would shortly be applied to humans as one of the methods of genocide perpetrated in the Nazi concentration camps. Painlevé’s anecdote about the fate of the bat emphasized the grim extension of the logic of substitution at the base of experiments with animals: that which is established in test animals may later be applied to humans. These catastrophic events haunted Painlevé as he returned to the editing table in summer 1945. The Vampire made its debut at the seventh congress of the Association internationale de cinématographie scientifique (International Association of Scientific Cinema, AICS) in October 1945 at the Musée de l’homme (Museum of Man) in Paris. The production and content of the film bear the imprint of the Pasteur Institute and the colonial politics of the Third Republic during the 1930s. Painlevé’s activities during the intervening six years between the start

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and completion of The Vampire also shaped the film and its reception. Painlevé was evasive when speaking about his life during the war, and few archival traces for the time exist.73 But what is known of his wartime activities illuminates the film’s complex metaphors of contagion and vectors, while anchoring the antifascist stance of the film in unambiguous concrete actions. The spread of fascism, with its rhetorics of purity and contamination, constitutes the second regime of hygiene the film interrogates. When France entered the war on September 2, 1939, Painlevé was deployed with a mobile artillery unit stationed near Dijon. After the French defeat and surrender in June 1940, Painlevé deserted the army; moved whatever he could save of his films and affairs to the Hamons’ home in Brittany, where it seems likely Hamon spent most of the war; and then lived semiclandestinely in the southern part of France for the balance of the war, working for the Resistance in the Dordogne region while keeping touch with his film colleagues through the Réseau de résistance du cinéma français (French Cinema Resistance Network) organized by Jean-­Paul Le Chanois, a friend of Painlevé’s from their collaboration with Ciné-­liberté, the antifascist cinema endeavor of 1936.74 Prior to the war, Painlevé had used his father’s political connections to help refugees and foreigners find passage and papers in France, including the cinematographer Boris Kaufman and the photographers Philippe Halsman and Ylla (née Kamila) Koffler. During the 1930s, he was a member of the Association des écrivains et artistes révolutionnaires (Association of Revolutionary Writers and Artists) and Ciné-­liberté, and he worked with several international groups tasked with tracking the spread of fascism, including the Comité mondial contre la guerre et le fascisme (The Global Committee against War and Fascism), which went to Austria in 1934 to investigate the bombings in working-­class districts; the Ligue mondiale des droits de l’homme (The Global League for Human Rights); and the Amis de la nation polonaise (Friends of Poland), with whom he traveled to Poland in 1936 to document the conditions of Poland’s Jewish populations in the ghettos and the Bereza Kartuska camp for political prisoners.75 He also claimed that prior to the war, he regularly sent protest letters and telegrams directly to Hitler, and the combination of these activities, as

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well as his participation in several Resistance cells, made him a target of the Vichy and Gestapo during the war.76 When the German troops arrived in Paris in June 1940, an envoy purportedly went searching for him at the JHP boutique at Printemps department store, and this would be the first of several close calls for Painlevé. Using scuba gear, he collected and distributed intelligence along the French–­Spanish boarder, claiming the only “enemies” he encountered were tenacious octopuses.77 Known in arrest papers as the “man in brown,” he was detained by Occupation and German forces on three occasions: once when he was mistaken for the assassin “Jean Pain dit Jo” and twice for suspicion of sedition. As a result of his third arrest, in the Dordogne region, he was sentenced to death, but he was saved from his holding cell when his comrades raided the prison.78 During clandestine visits to Paris, Painlevé engaged with the Comité de Libération du Cinéma Français (Committee for the Liberation of French Cinema, CLCF), with whom he filmed the liberation of Paris and helped storm the offices of the Committee d’Organisation des Industrie Cinématographique (Committee for the Organization of the Cinema Industry, COIC). The CLCF tasked itself with freeing the film industry from the Vichy-­controlled COIC. COIC was founded early in the Occupation as a mediating institution between the industry and the state. Among its mandates was the reformation and rationalization of all aspects of film production, distribution, and exhibition, including a “purification” of the profession of Jewish and “undesirable” workers.79 COIC’s ideology of hygiene was summarized in an editorial published in the June 7, 1941, issue of the trade weekly Le Film: “Let’s ‘purge’ ourselves. Expelling unhealthy elements from the country is the job of authorities. Our job, as men of trade, is to adopt a proper attitude once again. Those who don’t feel up to it should get out of the trade, into jobs where they can’t contaminate anyone.”80 Painlevé’s Resistance ties, political and professional contacts, and long-­established activism in the domains of film technology and the independent cinema earned him a leadership position in the CLCF, and on August 15, 1944, he was nominated by the group to fill the role of director of French cinema, a position that took effect with the liberation of Paris days later. Liberation brought the third regime of hygiene into play: the counterpurification of the immediate postwar years.

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Painlevé’s tenure as director of French cinema lasted only nine months. He was tasked with jump-­starting film production and reorganizing the industry itself, which was suffering from damaged infrastructure and depleted material resources after four years of war and occupation. In an article in Le Film français, he outlined his priority as “recreating true cinema, which has practically been abolished since the talkie.”81 True cinema, in this case, meant technically and formally adventurous filmmaking. To do this, he founded the Commission supérieure technique (Commission for Advanced Technique, CST) to instigate research and experimentation for the improvement of French film production. He also announced intentions to modernize theaters and create a federation of film spectators to better represent the desires of popular audiences.82 The Résistant was charged with overseeing a counterpurification of the film industry, the distribution of new professional identification cards (a practice introduced by COIC with the objective of excluding Jewish, foreign, and refugee talent from working in the industry), and dealing with the censorship of purported collaborationist films, such as the Occupation-­era drama Le Corbeau (Henri-­Georges Clouzot, Continental Films, 1943), which Painlevé, against the opinions of many of his friends, favored sanctioning.83 The targets of the counterpurification were the pro-­Vichy and Germany collaborators within the industry. Part of a national effort that quickly became a narrowly targeted process encouraging a general amnesty for all but the most egregious acts of collaboration, the counterpurification adapted a similar vocabulary of purity and eradication as used in 1940 by their political and ideological enemies. Épuration shifted meaning from xenophobic and racist criteria to ones based on ideological and political conduct during the war. The CLCF had begun organizing a counterpurification prior to liberation along the lines of the Ordinance of June 27, 1944, that provided the legal means for prosecuting collaborators in metropolitan France. The execution of such a task proved to be just as difficult for the film industry as it was for the nation at large: the question of culpability under the Occupation was not cut and dry, and personal vendettas and recriminations clouded many of the accusations filed.84 However reticent Painlevé may have been to play the role of Fouquier-­

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Tinville in the administration of purges, he would not have to do so for long.85 He was fired from his post in May 1945. De Gaulle replaced Painlevé with Michel Fourré-­Cormeray, a decision that inspired a daylong general strike among laborers in the fields of film, radio, and theater. Painlevé credited his dismissal to De Gaulle’s anticommunism. While this certainly did not help Painlevé’s case, many leaders in the film industry also viewed Painlevé as too radical—­Jean-­Pierre Bertin-­Maghit notes that he ate in the canteen with the workers instead of in the executive’s dining room. His intransigence with regard to the still existent COIC, with which, as a matter of principle, he refused to engage, even though he knew this was necessary, also posed a considerable immediate problem. Under Fourré-­ Cormeray, the COIC would serve as the model for its Republican successor, the Centre National du Cinéma.86 From this point onward, none of Painlevé’s films were released theatrically in France. They relied instead on the newly rejuvenated network of ciné-­clubs that Painlevé had helped to establish under the aegis of the Fédération Française des Ciné-­clubs (French Federation of Ciné-­Clubs, FFCC) and for which he would serve as president beginning in 1947. VECTORS OF THE VAMPIRE

The Vampire generates what Bazin called an “inexhaustible swarm of metaphors” that go well beyond the study of a single species.87 The title is not “Chauve-­souris vampire” (Vampire bat) but rather the more general Vampire, which covers both the individual species and a broader mythology of vampirism. The Vampire provocatively juxtaposes the different regimes of hygiene, which suffuse its contexts of production while also becoming its objects of analysis and critique through its montage, which is where the work of counterhygiene intervenes. The associative montage of the film’s prologue introduces a fantastic bestiary, drawing on comparative anatomy and Surrealist juxtaposition as it catalogs the unsettling, voracious, and infectious appearances and behaviors of animals as well as the manners in which humans interpret them. The Vampire interweaves discourses on eating, contagions, vectors, and anthropomorphism, juxtaposing the dangers of plagues

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and contagions with the dangers of hygienic purity. Painlevé joked in an interview that the vampire bat’s calling card reads “Home delivery of paralytic rabies and sleeping sickness,” and a similar combination of anthropomorphism, biting humor, and contamination informed the film.88 If montage functions as a form of copulation, as Eisenstein suggested, it may also, to expand on Louis Aragon’s “image infections” and Georges Didi-­Huberman’s notion of contact images, act as a form of contamination and communicability, in the medical sense of the potential to transmit disease, wherein each audiovisual element infects and becomes infected by what it encounters.89 The film features a parade of close-­up views of strange creatures drawn from Painlevé’s extant corpus of popular and commissioned films, including Grillon du Cameroun (Cameroon Cricket, 1939), The Sea Urchins (1928), The Seahorse (1934), The Octopus (1928), and Tique (Tick, 1939). Its heterogeneous structure revives the program format of an earlier mode of cinema, as well as the use of the movie theater as analogical machine, wherein the different film texts blur and contaminate each other, maintaining their sense of stylistic variety while also accruing a shared significance and overlap by virtue of being shown together. In rapid rhythmic succession, the montage moves from the carapace of a cricket to a rockfish lying in wait, the undulating pallial tentacles of a large bivalve mollusk (a variety of scallop that looks like an aquatic Venus flytrap), the darting motions of aquatic larvae, the teeming pedicels of a sea urchin, a jittering transparent aquatic insect, the upright posture and melancholic gaze of seahorses, an octopus crawling over a human skull (compared with the iteration in The Octopus, the negative for the footage has been flipped), the balletic locomotion of an algae-­covered feather star, caterpillars ravenously denuding plants of their leaves, a mosquito feeding on palpitating flesh, a cluster of feeding ticks swollen to the point of bursting with the blood of animals, and the distinctive facelike and question mark–­shaped patterns on the thorax of a Cameroon cricket (see Figure 4.3, overleaf ). The animals all appear to move in coordination with the pulsing sound track of Duke Ellington’s “Black and Tan Fantasy” (1929) and “Echoes from the Jungle” (1930). The audiovisual synchronization astonished the critic Georges Sadoul, who praised the film’s montage as having “the

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mathematical precision of the best Disney cartoons.”90 Like a live action Silly Symphony cartoon, the images and sounds produce an uncanny synchrony between seemingly disparate elements. The flutter of respiration from the rockfish’s gills matches Ellington’s banging piano chords, and the tentacles of the scallop appear animated by the music’s current. The larvae switch direction to the crash of a cymbal, and the flesh of the victims of the mosquito and ticks pulsates to the beat like the plasmatic landscapes in early Mickey Mouse cartoons. The neozoological documents and the incredibly “catchy” hot jazz sound track appear to mutually infect each other and take aim at the spectators too. The juxtaposition of scientific documentation and popular music plays with the overdetermined cultural connotations of hot jazz, a style defined by its quick tempos and strong elements of group improvisation. Detractors and admirers of hot jazz in interwar France often echoed each other in a common reference to jazz’s racially charged address to the body and mind of its listener, and Painlevé tried to reactualize these discourses for his postwar films. In the derisive words of critic Alfred Flament, jazz was “a violent injection in the blood,” a description that evoked the bite of an infectious mosquito and the intravenous prick of needle drugs. In the high praise of the Documents-­affiliated musicologist André Schaeffner’s 1935 encyclopedia entry, jazz was an “art of contamination.”91 A longtime jazz fan, Painlevé’s use of jazz and its overtones of exotic contamination corresponded with the Documents circle, particularly Schaeffner and Leiris, who turned to exoticism as a means of denaturalizing and decentering European cultural perspectives and of critiquing fascist and imperialist politics of purity (of blood, race, and culture). While such evocations of jazz were frequently motivated by antiracist and anticolonialist sentiments, they also traded in essentializing fantasies about African and African American cultures as timeless, primitive, and exotic that perpetuated many of the racist assumptions the jazz enthusiasts sought to counter.92 Jane Nardal, an Antillean student of philosophy and literature at the Sorbonne, offered a cautionary note in La Dépêche africaine about the limits of the love at the heart of Parisian negrophilia and jazz fandom in her 1928 essay “Exotic Puppets.”93 Examining the complex interplay of sexism, racism, and exoticism of negrophilia, she

Figure 4.3. Opening montage of The Vampire ( Jean Painlevé, 1945) featuring a cricket, a rockfish (note the handprint on the aquarium’s surface), a bivalve, an octopus, ticks, and a Cameroon cricket. Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

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cautioned that the flattery of avant-­garde attention to people of color was a double-­edged sword that effectively reduced their social roles to being “amusement” for the white bourgeoisie. Literalizing the metaphor of cultural consumption, while also reversing the stereotype of the black cannibal to emphasize modes of European incorporation, she asked her readers, “With which sauce do we want to be eaten: the idealist sauce or the realist one?”94 Like the music in early animated films, Painlevé’s use of Ellington’s work was more than “sauce” slathered on the film as a finishing touch. It was integral to the structure of the work. The joyous, biting humor of “Black and Tan Fantasy” explicitly referenced the histories of appropriation that Nardal cautioned about in her text. Ellington appropriated sacred music for profane uses, juxtaposing extremes with a skill for provocation and comic surprise. Jeremy F. Lane, extending the insights of the Antillean philosopher, anticolonial activist, and Surrealist René Ménil, argues that Ellington’s composition functions analogously to Surrealist practices of the juxtaposition of incompossible realities.95 David Metzer summarizes the aesthetics of “Black and Tan Fantasy” as “a unique work in studies of borrowing” for the manner in which it alludes to, dismantles, and reinvents Stephen Adam’s “The Holy City” by way of the “sorrow song” “Hosanna” and Chopin’s Marche funèbre, Piano Sonata no. 2, such that white and black cultures interpenetrate.96 Ellington’s composition was purportedly named for the “black and tans” or mixed-­race nightclubs, such as the Cotton Club, where the band’s songs were often interspersed with “jungle skits” intended for white audiences, for which the band’s music, Lane argues, served as a critical retort. Ellington’s title explicitly referenced the phantasmatic negrophilia in vogue in interwar New York and Paris, peppering it, as Simon Baker observes, with a reflexive and ironic sensibility.97 Following Ellington’s lead, Painlevé’s commentary is spiked with ironic allusions that strike a similarly impure approach to cultural critique. It begins with a disjointed set of observations that accumulate into a frightful image: Armor-­plated animals. Beasts strange and terrifying in form and movement. Hieratic living sculptures. Frightening or graceful gestures. In-

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spiration for countless legends among poets and artists. Evil in the guise of complete and utter destruction. Diseases that ravage man and beast, spread by the sting of insects or by the fluid secreted from their haunches while they gorge themselves on blood. The African mask inspired perhaps by this cricket from Cameroon.

The film presents an inventory of strange creatures as the inspiration for poetry, art, and nightmares. The physical traits and behaviors of these animals evoke both an uncanny proximity to and radical difference from their human viewers. These are all creatures that resemble something besides themselves: an armor-­plated tank, a rocky milieu, a displaced and disembodied grin, formlessness itself, a mask. The voraciousness of these creatures poses numerous threats to human existence. The crickets and caterpillars, figures of biblical plagues, threaten to devour the landscape and livelihoods of humans with their “complete and utter destruction” (a literal translation of Painlevé’s “razzias méticuleuses et totales” would be “meticulous and total raids”), manifested in the shots of the caterpillar’s rapid and systematic defoliation of a branch. More frightening still are the “ravages” of humans and animals through the transmission of blood-­borne diseases and parasites by vector insects that feed upon warm-­blooded animals. These forms of consumption devour the victim from the inside out, turning the circulatory system against itself. Through this cinematic bestiary, the film develops the theme of vampirism promised by the title and revealed to be plural rather than singular. Like the famous Louis Feuillade crime serial Les Vampires (1915), Painlevé’s film suggests that vampires lurk everywhere. The prologue’s montage concludes with a sequence of four shots taken from F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu: eine symphonie des grauens (Germany, 1922) (Figures 4.4a and 4.4b). Linking the preceding string of audiovisual associations to Murnau’s symphony of horror, Painlevé remarks, “All of this explains why the human imagination has transformed the vampire into a human being who drinks blood from wounds it creates in the throats of humans, as seen in Murnau’s film Nosferatu.” The montage establishes patterns of contagious substitution that move from observation of animals to their application to human culture. Collapsing zoomorphism—­the

Figure 4.4. Grafts from Nosferatu: eine symphonie des grauens (F. W. Murnau, Germany, 1922) in The Vampire ( Jean Painlevé, 1945). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

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attribution of animal traits to humans and nonanimal entities—­and anthropomorphism, the film’s accumulation of examples provides evidence of how the overdetermined figure of the vampire has come to haunt our dreams and inspire our imaginations, including those of “poets and artists” such as Painlevé and mask makers in Cameroon, linked by the drawn out peut-­être of Painlevé’s commentary followed shortly afterward by the cricket turning around to reveal a question mark pattern on its back, as if the animal also posed this question. The relationship between Nosferatu and The Vampire is polyform and rich. The dark eroticism and strange bestiality of the German horror film were much beloved by the Surrealists. The inhuman Count Orlok is a great seducer and often strikes a mantis-­like spectral pose (Figure 4.4a), evoking parallels between the insect’s predatory copulation and that of the vampire.98 The target of his amour fou is Ellen Hutter, who is first pursued by Orlok but then turns the tables and fatally seduces the vampire. Orlok falls for Ellen through her photographic image, which he spots in the locket kept by Thomas Hutter, who has come to Orlok’s castle for what he believes to be a real estate transaction. Ellen eventually uses herself as bait in a trap, luring the vampire to feed on her right as the cock crows in a new day. Captured by his desire and the breaking light of day, Orlok fades out of the image. The appearance of fragments of Nosferatu in The Vampire is more than a sly cinephilic homage; it has a structural role, contributing to the open, heterogeneous form of the film. It provides a two-­way interpretive guide for reading The Vampire and Nosferatu together. Both films present the arrival of a vector of contagion carried from foreign shores. The xenophobic overtones of this mutual plot point—­the discourses of vampirism, vermin, and Orlok’s prominent nose and rapacious appetites distill anti-­Semitic stereotypes—­constitute part of the tangled network of influences Painlevé lays bare. Orlok makes the passage from the “wilds” of Transylvania, an internal other for Western Europe, and Desmodus rotundus is brought against its will from the “Green Hell” of Brazil (a likely allusion to the 1940 James Whale film). Painlevé locates the origins of the vampire bat in the jungles of Brazil and in the jungles of cinema and popular fantasy. The two films play on the porous relationship

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between documentary and fictional cinemas through the constitutions of their cinematic bestiaries. As Orlok makes his deathly voyage toward Wisborg, the Paracelsean scientist Professor Bulwer lectures on what Elsaesser terms a “malevolent genealogy” of the vampire comprising the found footage of a Venus flytrap and a polyp (a freshwater hydra) shown in close-­up digesting a daphnia that he refers to as “transparent, almost incorporeal . . . almost but a phantom.”99 The lecture is intercut with documentary footage—­Thierry Lefebvre speculates that it is either UFA or Pathé footage—­of the carnivorous plant eating a fly, the polyp eating a daphnia, and then spiders capturing insects, which Murnau uses at this pivotal point in his film to create what Michel Bouvier and Jean-­Louis Leutrat call the film’s processes of “metaphoric contagion.”100 The montage of The Vampire’s prologue reanimates Murnau’s genealogy of vampirism and its metaphoric contagions. It draws out the documentary aspects of Nosferatu, a position that the Surrealist Ado Kyrou adapted when he suggested that the “actor” Max Schreck was an alias for a genuine vampire appearing as himself in the film. Kyrou’s thesis transforms Murnau’s film into a fantastic and phantasmatic nature documentary about predation.101 Lefebvre emphasizes the self-­ reflexive aesthetic of display in Nosferatu and the manner in which the framing of Orlok frequently depicts him as “quasi-­cellular,” recalling the microscopic slides, terrariums, and aquariums of nature films.102 Set against a black fond and graphed by white window frames, a shot of Orlok slinking through an abandoned building appears as if it were part of a series of chronophotographic motion studies (Figure 4.4a). The sequence of footage from Nosferatu concludes with a shot of the wide-­eyed Orlok looking directly into the camera and trying to leave the frame in a manner similar to the many specimens featured in The Vampire’s opening montage that are captured by the camera and bright lights while being encouraged to feed (Figure 4.4b). The sly isomorphism between the two films, each drawing the complementary documentary and fictional qualities from out of the other, sets up the introduction of The Vampire’s main attraction: a hematophagic bat. With the assertion “but vampires really do exist,” the film makes a stylistic shift from the fast-­paced associative and vertical montage of the prologue to a more

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Figure 4.5. The bat sniffs out its prey in The Vampire ( Jean Painlevé, 1945). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

focused ethological study of Desmodus rotundus, its feeding habits and vector status. Like Dr. Normet’s Serum, The Vampire explores the play of substitutions involved in experimental biology. The main event of the film is the exsanguination of a guinea pig, which is ultimately meant to stand in for a human. The documentation of exsanguination is simultaneously a spectacle of feasting overdetermined by the very real experience of hunger endured during the Occupation, when Germany treated France as its breadbasket and food rations reduced intake to 1,180 calories per day in France, compared with rations of 2,570 calories per day in Germany.103 Nocturnal by nature and disoriented by the bright lights required for filming, the bat slowly sniffs out the guinea pig, crawling around the shivering animal, which, perhaps due to prey instinct, ignorance, or the small space, barely moves.104 A palpable tension mounts as the bat locates its victim and then selects a spot from which to feed. After removing a small patch of fur from the muzzle of the guinea pig, which is approximately double the size of the bat, the predator begins drinking its blood. The longer

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takes emphasize the tense duration of the feeding through exsanguination, offering the sorts of scene of mortal copresence of heterogeneous beings that Bazin placed at the center of his ontology of cinema, and one of the likely reasons he referred to The Vampire as one of the few “‘pure’ documentaries” made in France since the war.105 Alluding to the comingling of Eros and Thanatos in vampire mythology, Painlevé refers to the bat’s bite as “the vampire’s kiss.” This kiss spells certain death for the experimental subject, because the anticoagulant in its saliva helps the bat drain the guinea pig of two hundred cubic centimeters of blood. This explanation of feeding is complemented by intercuts to a second meal for the vampire bat: a bowl of sheep’s blood, from which the animal is shown lapping in extreme close-­up, and which, in a return to the methods of comparative anatomy, the film contrasts with a cat lapping milk from a saucer.106 The film notes that the loss of blood is negligible for the larger animals on which the vampire bat prefers to feed. The real menace of the vampire bat is its status as a vector, because it is a common carrier of rabies, Trypanosoma, and mal de caderas, a form of sleeping sickness that “ravages” horses and other large domestic animals. This information motivates a cut to footage recorded with a dark field microscope depicting Trypanosoma shimmying between blood globules. Painlevé once again injects foreign source material into the film, due to the fact that, in another set of substitutions, the Trypanosoma pictured are of African and not South American origin, but also because this footage is of uncertain provenance. Painlevé’s filmography lists a film called Trypanosoma gambiense (1939), but the footage appears identical to Jean Comandon’s 1910 film Trypanosoma gambiense, agent de la maladie de sommeil (Pathé), a print of which was in Painlevé’s possession.107 The scintillating paramecia are followed by two freeze-­frame photographs of a skeletal horse riddled with lesions and tumors caused by mal de caderas. The freeze-­frames first show a full shot of the horse and then a close-­up of its tumor-­riddled hindquarters. The sudden shift to a frozen image dramatizes the arresting and fatal powers of the animated microscopic beings. It also recalls, beyond the vampire mythology, one of the primary stakes of the research context in which this film was produced: the biopolitical link between

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the Pasteur Institute’s mandate to control trypanosomiasis and the economic development, imperial occupation, and colonial futures of tropical regions. The film immediately compounds the reference to its research contexts with a more obviously political one, nevertheless entangled with the first: it returns to motion with footage of the bat extending its right wing in a stretch (Figure 4.6). The commentary describes the animal’s gesture as “the vampire’s salute,” a clear reference to the infamous Nazi “Heil Hitler” salutation. Painlevé’s handwritten notes for the film reinforce this reading: they include a sizable “Heil!” written on the lower left half of the page, not far below an associative etymological analysis of le vampire, which Painlevé renders as le vent pire: “the worst wind” or, translated more loosely, “foul wind.”108 Coming on the heels of a freeze-­frame image of a cadaverous horse ravaged by mal de caderas, the film makes an analogy between the pestilent bat and the devastation wrought upon the globe by fascists. Audiences in 1945 would not miss the connection between the involuntary gesture of the brown bat and la peste brune, or the “brown plague,” as Nazis were called in colloquial French during the war, due to the brown shirts of the S.A. and their role as a menacing vector spreading a wave of death and devastation. This analogy placed French science embodied by the Pasteur Institute as the best antidote to this plague, a thesis made explicit in Painlevé’s commissioned propaganda film capturing the last snapshots of the Republic of Professors in Solutions françaises (French solutions), also made in 1939 but not projected until 1945, where it premiered alongside The Vampire at the AICS. At the same time, the analogy risked naturalizing fascism in its view of the fundamentally destructive qualities of animal life, which Painlevé summarized in 1931 with the quip “from the top of the food chain to the bottom, one is always eaten by someone else.”109 In a description that fits the film as well as its star, a critic for La Presse marveled at the fascinating and grotesque spectacle on screen: “The vampire is, moreover, admirably photogenic—­in the sense of horror.”110 The film multiplies its horrors, from the bestiary of creepy crawlies in the opening montage to the appearance of Count Orlok to the vampire’s grimace and the evidence of its lethal bites. The film introduces its bat

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Figure 4.6. The vampire’s salute in The Vampire ( Jean Painlevé, 1945). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

through a map of its habitat in the remote regions of the “Green Hell” of Chaco (the site of the Chaco War of 1932–­35 between Bolivia and Paraguay), setting up the creature as a disease-­ridden foreign scourge. The depiction of the animal as a grotesque predator contrasts starkly with the images of a shivering and defenseless guinea pig, introduced to viewers as the “docile auxiliary to man.” (Although viewers are told nothing about the guinea pig save for its role as experimental subject, the creature also originally hailed from South America.) The film’s allusions to fascist menaces rely, in part, on an opposition between a seemingly revolting and pestilent predator and a seemingly passive, “cute” victim. Cuteness, according to Sianne Ngai, is a profoundly anthropomorphic “aestheticization of powerlessness.”111 The asymmetrical distribution of strength and agency at play in the eye of the beholder of cute things harbors a potential for violence: cute things are readily consumed or crushed. Ngai conceptualizes cuteness as a minor aesthetic category that is riven with ambiguity. It may foster the much stronger affective and aesthetic experience of disgust, a learned repulsion that, for thinkers like Freud,

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was a mark of civilization.112 The easy empathy garnered by the guinea pig and the disgust generated by the bat heighten the tension and terror of the feeding. The helpless rodent trapped in a small terrarium is seemingly unaware of what the commentary informs spectators will be a certain death from exsanguination or infection, though neither fate is shown to completion: after several shots of feeding, the guinea pig is consigned to the edges of the frame, as good as dead. The antifascist allegory and its reliance on the opposition of ugly and cute is unstable and subject to reversals. Recalling that the Occupation and Gestapo troops referred to Painlevé as the “man in brown,” another variant of a brown pest, the film also sustains a second, if less evident, set of interpretive possibilities drawing on the slipperiness of its play of substitutions, the surreal dark humor of the film, and the resistant materiality of the cinematic images and their trop objets qualities. Careful scrutiny of the footage during the feeding scenes reveals the faint presence of the film crew reflected in the glass of the terrarium (one can make out a man’s forehead as well as an arm cranking the camera). If the camera were to dolly out, it might show the asymmetrical power dynamics between the grotesque predator and cute prey to be embedded within another set of incommensurate power relations, wherein the bat is also a grotesquely cute victim, subject to violence and coercion at the hands of the film­makers. The bat was also a “hostage,” kidnapped from its milieu, subjected to painful lights, and exposed to frightening conditions and deprivations. Nested in the horror of predation and the theater of experimentation are the horrors of the smaller-­scale totalitarianism of the exercise of asymmetrical power over the weak. The film’s documentary Surrealism complicates the tidiness of its own allegory of fascist contagion and contamination, which, if adapted uncritically, would perpetrate a logic of purity similar to that which it critiques. Unpacking the film’s form demands a dialectical approach, introducing a Resistant strain of contagion and contamination developed through the research of dissident Surrealists and their interest in a hybrid aesthetics of jazz as a cultural form. At the same time as the montage links the Pasteur Institute and the Hitler greeting into a chain of associations, it also provides the forum for a comparison between the two

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discourses of purification, implicating the Pasteur Institute in the racist logics of colonialism. This is not to claim that the film, as a product of the Pasteur Institute made by a member of the Resistance, was simply anti-­Pasteurian or that it flatly equates fascist social hygiene with that of the Third Republic. But it implies that they were not so easily disentangled. In the post–­World War II context, the contradictions of the Free French Forces fighting against occupying German forces and the Vichy while also insisting on the maintenance of colonies would finally become too visibly hypocritical not to be treated as a clear violation of the “rights of man.” The absurd presence of a vampire bat in Paris, bringing together of distant realities, calls attention to the infrastructural networks of contagion and contamination that connect the colonial endeavors of the Third Republic and its discourse of medical humanism and social hygiene with the spread of fascism in Europe. Situating the bat within these larger discourses of circulation, contamination, and contagion brings forth a latent image of biopolitics wherein the vampire bat at the Pasteur Institute provides an emblem of Paris as colonial metropolis. The film’s discourses of vectors and hygiene produce a figurative map of the conflicted historical specificity of its material and ideological conditions. The Vampire visualizes a hygiene and a counterhygiene at the formal level through the aesthetic heterogeneity of its audiovisual montage and found-­footage grafts, which try to inoculate the corpus against the dangers of monological notions of purity and of hygiene run amok. DEVOURING IMAGES

The penultimate shots of The Vampire show the bat rapidly cleaning itself as the commentary notes that its bedtime ritual includes taking a quick bath: even pests have their own hygiene. The film concludes with a close-­ up of the bat’s palpitating muzzle as the letters F, I, N (The End) fly out of its mouth accompanied by Ellington’s final measures of “Black and Tan Fantasy”—­a swinging interpretation of Chopin’s funeral march. As “FIN ” materializes from the bat’s bite, the film freezes on this image for several beats, reemphasizing the deathly power of the bat’s mouth. The

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Figure 4.7. The fatal ending of The Vampire ( Jean Painlevé, 1945). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

effect suggests that this animal’s bloodthirsty buccal cavity and vector of contagion can even stop the film—­and its phantasmatic promises of vital preservation and revivification—­dead in its tracks. The frozen image of “the end” coming out of the bat at the conclusion of The Vampire recalls Georges Bataille’s “The Mouth,” accompanied by Boiffard’s close-­up photograph of a lugubrious human mouth, a key entry in Bataille’s and Boiffard’s series of short surreal comparative anatomy studies in Documents. Bataille addressed the ambiguity of the beginnings and limits of humans through comparison to animals, stating that the mouth of an animal was at once its “beginning” and its “most living part, that is to say the most terrifying for its fellow creatures.”113 The mouth is terrifying because its vitality is realized through the devouring of its neighbors. But the mouth is also terrifying for its capacity to disfigure and animalize the face of humans. It can render human visages bestial and momentarily reconfigure the boundaries between animals and humans, beginnings and ends, entrances and exits, mouths and anuses. Bataille

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notes that the closed mouth of a human appears “constipated,” and in other contemporaneous writings, he insists on a homologous relationship between these two orifices.114 The Vampire’s freeze-­frame places the film’s play of substitutions into momentary suspended animation, holding the variables in a dialectical tension just at the point of their collapse into each other. It invites the spectator to contemplate, however briefly, the ease with which firm oppositions converge, revealing their separation to be far more contingent than previously suspected. The parting freeze-­frame in The Vampire also reanimates an earlier exploration by Painlevé of the play of substitutions in the form of the trop objets close-­up “portrait” Pince de homard (Lobster claw) (Figure 1.12). Painlevé subsequently appended the title with a variable, ou De Gaulle (or, De Gaulle), in mocking allusion to the national hero who had unceremoniously fired him, marginalized much of the left wing of the Resistance after liberation, pursued a national policy of postwar repression and amnesia regarding the complex question of collaboration, and maintained a grossly hypocritical position on colonialism with respect to the Brazzaville Declaration of 1944, when he promised greater self-­ determination and the cessation of exploration of colonialized peoples but insisted on the necessity of the French colonial system and its civilizing mission. Georges Didi-­Huberman reads the lobster claw photograph as a “predatory” image that dialectically brings together the human polarities of big toe and mouth that Bataille and Boiffard examined in Documents.115 The photograph, however, is not exactly of an animal or an animal part; it is rather a condensation of creaturely and human aspects. Like Boiffard’s contemporaneous photographs of big toes (Figure 1.11), the claw is situated in a decontextualized, abstract black space, allowing its estrangement, but also presenting it as if it were both a singular specimen of a phantasmatic organ and a perverse species of platonic ideal. The inversion of the claw playfully puns on the role of perspective and orientation in distinguishing animal and human, as if to say that simply by setting an animal on its head, it resembles not just any human but alternately an imperious head of state and a laughing witch. This photographic document dialectically brings together the delicacies of the sea—­in this case the claw is the remnant of a shellfish meal, the cruel castoff of a carnivorous culture—­

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and the potential play of substitutions whereby, by virtue of its uncanny reanimation, this close-­up of a claw becomes a species of devouring image seemingly capable of reversing the direction of the food chain by laughing at and biting into its beholder. The unsettling end points of The Vampire and Lobster Claw, or De Gaulle draw humans back into the vicinity of the mouths of animals. Part of the mythology of vampires and other anthropophagic monsters is that they move humans down a link in the food chain. Vampires violate the ideology of a natural order that narcissistically sets humans above and apart from nature and threaten through their bites to render humans as flesh, and consumable flesh at that, which is to say, they make things of us. The conclusion of the film resituates humans within the food chain—­not above, separate, or outside of it, as promised by the Augustinian tradition of Catholic theology.116 The film reanimates the morbid ecosystem imagined by Hugo in his consideration of vampires and octopuses in Toilers of the Sea: Death, occurring everywhere, involves burial everywhere. The devourers are also gravediggers. All beings enter into one another. Putrefaction is nutriment. A fearful cleansing of the globe. Man, being carnivorous, is also a burier. Our life is made up of death. Such is the terrifying law. We are all sepulchres.117

The Vampire implicates humans in animality, exploring the sepulchral aspect of existence in a manner that produces a Copernican reorientation of the relation of humans with their environments by not taking as a given that the telos of existence ends in and with humans alone. The film also invites consideration of vampirism as an overarching logic of organic life, including the forms particular to humans, directed at their own kind, at other species, and at consuming the resources of the planet. The Vampire’s vertiginous scalar perspectives of microscopic cinematography and world maps suggest a frightful image wherein there are vampires everywhere, all the way up and all the way down the so-­called chain of existence, rendered as a vampiric circuit. The film invites consideration of our own implications in structures of violence, be they experimental, colonial, fascist, totalitarian, or in other forms; our own vampiric behaviors; and

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the manners in which human beings are also vectors, sepulchres, and vampires. The title The Vampire describes the function of the film itself and the heterogeneous and contagious vision of cinema it inscribes in its form. For what is a vampire if not a medium, a vector, an agent of communication and exchange, a substitution that also becomes a catalyst of uncanny transmutation?

5

Carnivorous Cinema FRESHWATER ASSASSINS AND BLOOD OF THE BEASTS

Beauty will be edible, or it will not be. —­Salvador Dalí, “De la beauté terrifiante et comestible de l’architecture modern style,” 1933 The realist is an eater. —­Gaston Bachelard, La Formation de l’esprit scientifique, 1934

On June 14, 1930, before a small audience gathered at the Théâtre de Vieux-­Colombier for a screening of À propos de Nice (1930), Jean Vigo delivered his lecture “Toward a Social Cinema.”1 Vigo initially wished to show Buñuel and Dalí’s Un chien andalou alongside his and Boris Kaufman’s film, but failing to get permission, he filled the time with a sketch for an engaged cinema, which took documentary realism not as a mimetic attribute but as a mode of inquiry. His remarks called for cinema to do more than simply aid bourgeois ladies and gentlemen with their digestion. Rather than producing bodily comfort by easing overstuffed stomachs, Vigo imagined a cinema generative of disgust, outrage, and revolt. Social cinema aimed to cast a critical gaze on social life caught unawares, as if by the lens of a wildlife filmmaker in the field. Vigo warned in a flyer for a 1931 screening of À propos de Nice at his ciné-­club Les Amis du cinéma, “Prepare yourself, without knowing it you might be the star of this ‘documentary.’”2 The objective of social cinema was to recruit spectators confronted with their own unflattering image into becoming an “accomplice of a revolutionary solution,” both by revealing the 261

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audience’s implication in the film’s analyses of injustice and by producing perceptual and carnal implication through the sensual address of the film’s form.3 Eschewing concern for a proper method, aesthetic purity, or rigid medium specificity characteristic of the French cinematic avant-­gardes of the 1920s, Vigo welcomed all means of stimulating embodied and cognitive responses from spectators, which may explain his desire to place À propos de Nice into conversation with Un chien andalou as two models of social cinema. Social cinema should cultivate a “savage poetry”—­a poetics of the raw material rather than aestheticized elevation—­capable of delivering “a kick in the pants” to “open our eyes.”4 To have its intended effect, Vigo believed the films of social cinema must “provoke interest” by presenting “un sujet qui mange de la viande,” a subject that eats meat or bites into flesh: a carnivorous cinema.5 At the time of Vigo’s lecture, there was no film and no cinema, social or otherwise, without the slaughter and consumption of animal parts. Nicole Shukin demonstrates this simple fact in her materialist history of the medium in Animal Capital, tracking the processes by which animal by-­products rendered from abattoirs provided a key ingredient for the gelatin base of the emulsion on film stock.6 Vigo’s critical gaze did not pursue the path of his thought this far back into the material production of film, but this is one of the extensions taken in this chapter, which ends in the abattoirs of Paris. So what did Vigo mean by a cinema whose subjects bite and eat flesh? How, precisely, was social cinema to be carnivorous? In À propos de Nice, the documentation of the entanglements of leisure, misery, pleasure, and exploitation provides a blueprint for the emphasis on spectator implication key to a practice of social cinema. But a sharper sense of the carnivorous dimension of social cinema comes into view by putting Vigo’s idea into play in an analysis of the work of his close friend Jean Painlevé.7 Painlevé joked in a 1935 text that the one consolation for the many challenges of filming animals was “the ability to eat one’s actors—­crab, shrimp, sea urchins, squid, all finely cooked in new and unusual ways,” though this was not the sort of bite Vigo had in mind.8 Painlevé’s Assassins d’eau douce (Freshwater Assassins, 1947) and Georges Franju’s Le Sang des bêtes (Blood of the Beasts, 1949), featuring commentary written by Painlevé, clarify and expand the carnivorous dimension

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of social cinema as an exploration of banalized violence, creaturely life, and modes of historical analysis. The cinematic presentation of subjects that bite and eat flesh renders invisible forms of violence perceptible, concrete, and linked to a present moment, such as the chain of events that track back from the sublimated murder of a carnivorous meal to the abattoir. In producing a critical vision of violence, these films also model a practice of actualization, mobilizing aspects and energies of past events for present interventions. Painlevé and Franju produced untimely responses to Vigo’s call for a carnivorous social cinema in a context haunted by the catastrophic horrors of another world war, the Holocaust, and the continued crimes of colonialism, as if the revolutionary discourse of violence articulated in the early 1930s could somehow be critically redeemed in the post–­World War II era. It may be difficult for contemporary spectators to see in these films more than the satiation of sadistic pleasures and the contribution to an ethically dubious tradition of treating animals as “disposable subjects,” whose existences are hijacked and reduced to their use-­value for humans.9 The footage of lethally violent carnivorous behaviors in these films presents eating as a privileged instant when distinctions between animals and humans, nature and culture, get established and where violence at the heart of vital processes is most blatantly on display. Carnivorous behavior stands as one of the most common forms of violence, and one that palpably demonstrates the normalization and implication of one’s existence with another’s suffering. The carnivorous metaphor provided Vigo with a direct language for speaking of subjects concerned with carnality, strong appetites, and a willingness to sink one’s teeth into an issue without mediation. The films examine forms of violence, including violence against animals, that are frequently repressed or disavowed and, in this sense, form a first step in the critique of such violence. But the conditions of possibility of critique should not be taken for a disengagement from or rejection of violence but rather as the elaboration of counterviolence. Freshwater Assassins and Blood of the Beasts contributed to the cinematic elaboration of a surreal ethic of violence and cruelty whose objective was not bloodshed for bloodshed’s sake but rather the production of a rupture in the smooth operation of the “murderous humanitarianism” of contemporary culture.10

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Surrealist thought made violence a central tenet of its praxis. Under the banner of revolutionary aesthetic, perceptual, epistemic, and political upheavals, Surrealist violence took aim at the civilization responsible for war, oppression, repression, misery, and the perpetuation of the present social order. The iconoclastic gesture of Buñuel and Dalí’s laceration of an eyeball on-­screen in Un chien andalou—­an image equally telling for its violence to animal and explicitly gendered bodies, as the calf’s eye substitutes for that of Simone Mareuil—­distills this ethos of violence.11 Carnivorous culture also resonated strongly with the history of modern social control first rehearsed in the suppression of the French Revolution. Maurice Agulhon’s study of the nineteenth-­century debates over the welfare of domestic animals connects the establishment of abattoirs in Paris with concerns over controlling the passions of the populace.12 Abattoirs are a modern invention: their establishment in Paris was the result of a “gift” from Napoléon. Prior to this, the slaughter and butchering of animals and the flow of blood across the pavement was a relatively common sight on the city streets. In the aftermath of the Revolution and Terror, the imperial administration feared such spectacles of bloodletting would stoke the blood lust and revolutionary fervor of the populace. Removing the spectacle of animal slaughter from the scenography of everyday life and placing it behind the walls of quarantined spaces—­where the odor of death was less likely to perfume the air—­would “hide killing in order to not supply ideas.”13 In returning the subject of slaughter to full public view, Painlevé and Franju connected with the revolutionary aspirations of Vigo’s social cinema, but they also took the dramas of animal life and death as phenomena worthy of consideration in their own right. These darkly humorous and at times harrowing films deploy the too object-­like/overly objective qualities of documentary Surrealism to implicate the spectator’s own flesh within the examinations of the pleasures and pains of eating and the food chain at a moment when a generalized repression of the trauma and violence of the recent historical past was being adapted as a national strategy.14 These cinematic explorations of the carnivorous behaviors of human and nonhuman animals foment intensified temporal experiences—­a “meal time”—­characterized by the interplay of an immersive temporal urgency, historical reflection, and the

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opening of an untimely, spectral dimension in which a past event disturbs the continuity of the present. Conflicting temporal rhythms come to the foreground in the syncopation of the decisive instants of predation and hot jazz improvisation in Freshwater Assassins, in the fascination for the démodé and disavowed in the study of the abattoirs in Blood of the Beasts, and in the possibilities of a haunting reanimation particular to cinema, most strikingly rehearsed in the original, unused commentary that Painlevé drafted for Franju’s film, which considered carnivorous behavior from the perspectives of the animals being slaughtered. Freshwater Assassins and Blood of the Beasts inscribe the two contradictory forms of history that Amy Hollywood, reading Georges Bataille’s wartime writings, articulates as a history of salvific narrative and as encounters with the real.15 The first sense of history refers to the contextualized, narrative explanations of events that try to make sense of, to literally give direction to, the actions of men or microbes. The contrary understanding of history points to what is “unassimilable” to narrative or symbolization. It is history as the fractures of the real. This sense of history primarily manifests, according to Fredric Jameson’s well-­known formulation, as “what hurts,” or to return to Vigo’s idiom, the manner in which reality bites.16 As an instrument for sense making and the capture of raw sensual data, cinema is particularly adept at bringing the copresence of both forms of history into perception and, from them, producing an opening to another form of history, an unnatural or denatured natural history. THE SCENE OF THE CRIME: ACTUALIZING FRESHWATER ASSASSINS (1947)

Vigo’s warning to the audiences of À propos de Nice—­“Prepare yourself, without knowing it you might be the star of this ‘documentary’”—­could also be applied to Freshwater Assassins. The next two sections attend to the actuality of Freshwater Assassins and the manners in which it surreptitiously cast its spectators (and makers) as its costars. This section examines the actuality of its highly charged present tense of insect predation and its reflections on the human present. The following section explores the use of hot jazz as an immersive sound track for the images and in terms

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of reactualizing the “carnivorous” and revolutionary energies ascribed to the musical form during the interwar era for the postwar present. Zoological and wildlife films encompass several temporal registers: that of a “timeless,” eternal nature outside of the progressive temporality of human affairs; that of an intense, immersive, continuous now of animal life conceived as a perpetual struggle for survival; and that of their presentation through the latest technical means. Released just after the Second World War and temporally marked by its interwar-­era hot jazz sound track, Freshwater Assassins approached the animal film as a form of actualité. Actualité refers to something current, present, possessed of a now-­ness. In its plural form, it names the newsreels and current event films presented in cinemas. Walter Benjamin referred to “actualization”—­the task of mobilizing energies from out of the past for the present—­as the “founding concept” of historical materialism.17 To conceive of these films as having a dimension of politicized actualité may not seem strange in an era marked by intensified climate change that is producing increasingly surreal results, but in the contexts in which Painlevé worked, to assert the contemporaneity of natural history still held an air of provocation. Such is the gambit taken up on the back cover of the August 9, 1946, issue of Regards, which features a portrait of Painlevé leaning over the eyepiece of an unseen apparatus in intense concentration. The portrait is accompanied by bold text reading “A policier film about the freshwater shallows. Unpublished photos from upcoming films by Jean Painlevé.”18 A policier is a detection plot, a story that tries to reconstitute the details and protagonists of a past crime, submitting the evidence to a process of actualization (though unlike Benjamin’s conception of actualization as having a revolutionary aim, the actualization of detection may serve justice for victims or the order of the state). The publicity photograph cast Painlevé as a detective hard at work on a case. Taking cue from Regards, one may ask what mystery, what crime, and what energies of the past did Freshwater Assassins seek to actualize? In the first instant, Freshwater Assassins appears to actualize and make present by way of affective experience the natural history events captured on film. Painlevé’s exploration of insect predation emphasizes the immediacy of its action in terms of its assemblage of successive scenes of

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Figure 5.1. “A policier film about the freshwater shallows. Unpublished photos from upcoming films by Jean Painlevé.” Back cover of Regards 15, no. 53 (1946). Courtesy of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

life-­and-­death struggles. But the examination of lethal violence, almost by virtue of the context in which it was produced and received, also carries traces of the global catastrophes of the Second World War, which

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Painlevé declared “still not over” in a 1947 interview.19 The violence of the film does not allude to a distant or primordial elsewhere. It locates the primal, destructive appetites as a local and contemporary issue that reverberates between the ecosystems and carnivorous predatory behaviors of animals and humans. Freshwater Assassins continues the exploration of bleeding, hematophagy, and the use of jazz sound tracks initiated with The Vampire (1945). While The Vampire examined the politics of cross-­contamination by means of vectors—­be they vampire bats, mosquitos, ticks, fascists, or French colonial agents and the infrastructures of global modernity—­ Freshwater Assassins focuses on the spectacular violence within one of the common ecosystems of France: the ponds, marshes, and puddles in the countryside a short drive from Paris, which, in the style of a film noir opening, are presented as teeming with dramas of life and death driven by an insatiable hunger. Roxane Hamery identifies notable formal differences between the two films. The Vampire builds toward the fatal seduction of the vampire’s kiss. Freshwater Assassins focuses on a plurality of subjects all treated more or less equally, but with a pacing that Hamery describes as “frenetic, discontinuous, and composed of a succession of decisive instants.”20 The improvisation-­heavy hot jazz sound track amplifies the sensational qualities of the parade of death scenes. Where The Vampire draws heavily on techniques of associative and vertical montage to construct its constellation of ideas about the entangled histories of hygiene and counterhygiene, Freshwater Assassins aims its frenzied insect attractions primarily at the spectator’s nervous system. The opening lines of the film succinctly encapsulate everything that follows: “In a pond or simple marsh, fresh water harbors an intense life. This life can be summarized by two distinct phases: eat and be eaten. We will study here several forms of alimentary destruction.” The film had been in the works for nearly fifteen years before its release in 1947. Traces of the original production context remain enfolded in its final form as reread by an emergent post–­World War II sensibility, haunted by the recent past and sensitized to the rise of American economic and cultural hegemony as well as the increasing anticolonial struggles in France’s colonies and territories. In a 1933 profile of Painlevé for L’Intransigeant,

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Paule (Minot) Hutzler told of accompanying the filmmaker as he started work on Freshwater Assassins. The film was imagined at the time as the first entry in a serial to be produced under that title, endowing it with the aura of such celebrated serials as Les Vampires.21 Hutzler described accepting an invitation to accompany Painlevé on a picnic, only to find that the outing was an expedition to “cast” the stars for his next picture. Casting was made with a net and jars in the ponds and streams in the countryside. The objective was to procure the voracious “tiny monsters” that, when placed together in an aquarium, would devour each other. In a subsequent article published in Ciné-miroir, Hutzler reports that one of the “stars” of Freshwater Assassins, a water scorpion the director was lodging in an aquarium in his bedroom, bit Painlevé while he was sleeping, leaving his ear blistered.22 This injury was not, however, the cause of the deferred completion. Painlevé continued to speak of the film in interviews throughout the 1930s, noting that a series of dry years had made finding species difficult.23 But this bite from a carnivorous subject resonated with the film’s aesthetic objectives as well as its approach to history as an encounter with the real. Production resumed in 1946 when Painlevé, assisted by Hamon, began filming in his laboratory at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (National Conservatory of Arts and Trades, CNAM).24 Freshwater Assassins received its visa for exhibition on March 13, 1947, and premiered at the Global Festival of Film and Beaux-­Arts held in Brussels in June 1947, where it received a special prize as the best film for schoolchildren. The aftershocks of the Second World War informed Freshwater Assassins and also cued its initial reception. Writing in La Pensée: revue du rationalisme, Pol Gaillard declared the film a “masterpiece” and a “frightening poem, full of humor, on the ferocity of the benevolent nature created by God” that effectively used jazz as a way of “encouraging us to make comparisons with our own times.”25 Georges Sadoul, writing in Les Lettres françaises, also called the film a “masterpiece” and admired its biting humor. He praised the film for combining “an aspect of ‘eternal nature’” with “a metaphoric vision of the contemporary world,” with clear allusions to the horrors of total war.26 The film also drew appreciation from certain quarters of the right, such as the royalist Catholic and former Resistant

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Michel de Saint-­Pierre. In “Apologie du documentaire” (The glorification of the documentary), Saint-­Pierre offered an inverse interpretation to that of Gaillard—­or Painlevé for that matter—­seeing it as capturing insects red-­handed in transgressions and “hideous crimes” against a normally tranquil nature.27 Its twenty-­four-­minute duration makes Freshwater Assassins one of Painlevé’s longer films. It is notable for being the first film to credit Geneviève Hamon in the role of “biological assistant.” The film is divided into eight segments. It opens with an establishing shot of a pond in the French countryside that then cuts to a surface view of a pond ecosystem re-­created in an aquarium at CNAM. The camera descends below the water’s surface, cutting from exterior establishing shots of ponds to a camera situated exterior to an aquarium that pedestals down below the water level, to reveal the protagonists of the “intense life” defined by “two distinct phases: eat and be eaten.” The following seven segments are each devoted to different acts of insects devouring and being devoured. They address the respiration, locomotion, eating apparatus, and methods of attack of dragonfly and damselfly larvae (Odonata), hydrophilidae beetle larvae (Hydrophilidae), two types of water scorpion (the sticklike Renatra and the leaflike Nepa cinerea), caddisfly larvae (Phryganea), alderfly larvae (Sialidae), and water beetle larvae (Dytiscidae), plus their victims, midges (Chironomus plumosus), freshwater snails, newts, and each other: the film ends with a prolonged fight between water beetles. The film is fascinated with the spectacle of insects’ frenzied digestive assaults. In a lecture accompanying a screening of the film in Switzerland, Painlevé summarized the diversity of techniques that all produce a single result: “Shelling, chewing, breaking, sucking, crushing, piercing, grazing, swallowing: a thousand different methods exist. Some have mouths, others do not, but everything ends in the stomach.”28 Painlevé gives the vampiric ingestive and digestive mechanisms of water scorpions and water beetles special attention. After presenting a microscopic tour of the water scorpion’s “rapacious claspers,” which it likens to those of a praying mantis, the film describes the insect’s rostrum, a dagger-sharp beak that serves as a penetrating weapon and mouth. The rostrum injects poison into the prey, allowing the water scorpion to suck up its liquefied insides. The

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Figure 5.2. Combat between water beetles in Freshwater Assassins ( Jean Painlevé, 1947). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

film cuts to a set of extreme magnifications of the rostrum penetrating another insect, pumping it with poison, and then sucking out the juices of its living meal, “like a cocktail through a straw,” as Painlevé quipped in a 1946 interview.29 The commentary describes the eating apparatus of the “perpetually famished” water beetle larva as a pair of hooks directly linked to its digestive tract. A transparent water beetle larva can be seen injecting its digestive fluids into a midge, liquefying the worm’s insides so they can be sucked back through the beetle’s hollow hooks and straight into its stomach. The process completely dissolves the insides of the worm, leaving behind a hollow, transparent shell. In a scene inspired by Jean-­ Henri Fabre’s account of the water beetle larva’s hunting prowess, the film next shows the water beetle larva catch the tail of a significantly larger newt.30 The water beetle larva’s tug-­of-­war with the newt synchronizes with the call and response of Ellington’s “Stompy Jones.” The outcome of this particular match is left in suspension, like a cliffhanger, as the film cuts to the climactic battle between water beetle larvae.

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The film’s succession of violent meals has an almost arbitrary organization. The form recapitulates what Jennifer Lynn Peterson calls the “string of pearls” structure of “the collection system of editing” common to the program format of early film presentation.31 The film does not develop in a progressive manner so much as it suggests the terror of a perpetual present tense. The series of singular events and decisive instants accumulate into a generalized image, a picture of a near-­universal cycle of violent predation, struggle, and death. The eight segments of Freshwater Assassins condense an entire serial into a single film. During a lecture given in Angers in December 1947, Painlevé explained the loosely associative logic of its structure: it begins with the dragonfly because it is commonly known to spectators; it then moves from the sticklike Renatra to the leaflike Nepa cinerea based on a visual pun (leaves come at the end of sticks) and ends with water beetles due to their frenetic movements and wide-­ranging hunger.32 The film’s attractions produce a vision of existence plagued by an insatiable appetite for destruction. Any sense of the food chain as unidirectional and hierarchical is displaced by visions of a “general economy” of eating, to use Bataille’s contemporaneous term for an unreserved expenditure of energy and resources, which finds one of its basic expressions in the “luxury” of one species eating another.33 Appetite has no single object—­a perspective dramatically embodied by the water beetle, who, the film suggests, from the moment of its birth, will set upon anything it can sink its claspers into regardless of size, including the director’s ear. Appetite is also without sentiment: the commentary observes that a mother Renatra, who attaches herself to aquatic vegetation and lies motionlessly in wait in the spectral pose, has no qualms about “snacking on her brats” (croquer ses marmots, a play on the phrase croquer le marmot, or “to wait around”). Cutting to microscopic images of parasites embedded in the thighs of a water scorpion, the commentary proclaims, “Those who suck on others will be sucked on in turn,” suggesting the universal condition of being eaten. The film returns to this point in its final shot, an extreme close-­up of the quivering facial mask of one of the film’s “assassins” from which—­in direct address to the spectator—­the letters F-­A-­I-­M, “hunger,” emerge before transforming into “FIN.” The title’s equivalence of insect predation with assassination blatantly

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Figure 5.3. FAIM (hunger)/FIN (end) title card in Freshwater Assassins ( Jean Painlevé, 1947). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

projects human actions and moral evaluations upon nonhuman animals. It treats murder as natural, returning to the terrifying view of existence as an orgy of carnivorous killing that Painlevé first explored, with many of the same species, in “Neozoological Dramas” in 1924. As a title, Freshwater Assassins has a surrealizing effect similar to that of the words lent to a René Magritte painting: it offers an interpretive key for the images that puts meaning into motion rather than anchoring it. In modern usage, assassin refers to a category of killers who perform targeted, premeditated murders for financial, political, ideological, or even aesthetic reasons, as in Thomas de Quincy’s famous treatise, much beloved by the Surrealists, “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts.”34 In French, the term is also used to pejoratively refer to doctors, particularly unskilled ones. The assignation of “assassin” changed valences between the interwar era when Painlevé devised the title and the postwar years when he completed and released the film. The Surrealists were fascinated with assassins and other criminals, and as Jonathan P. Eburne argues, murder and spectacular

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crime provided fertile models of antisocial violence through which the Surrealists thought aesthetics and politics together against the current of normative social orders.35 Breton’s “Second Manifesto of Surrealism” famously opens with minutes of a meeting of psychoanalysts debating the danger of his advocacy of murdering doctors in Nadja. Several pages later, he proclaims that the “simplest surrealist act” would be firing a pistol into a crowd at random, which he then follows with the much more targeted character assassinations of his former colleagues.36 Painlevé’s evocation of assassination in the title echoes the gesture of Breton’s recipe for Surrealism in the successive sequences of seemingly random acts of lethal predation. The juxtaposition of distant realities through the application of a taxonomic label—­not from Linnaean natural history but from the criminology of Bertillon—­transforms the referents, such that insect predation takes on a political and ethical valence and human behavior finds an uncanny continuum with nature. The film gives aquatic insects a mythic treatment inspired by Louis Feuillade’s cinematic geniuses of the art of crime and assassination: Fantômas and Irma Vep. Painlevé presents the eating and digestive apparatus of insects with the same fetishistic fascination that Feuillade gave to his master criminals’ instruments of effraction and destruction. But these interwar allusions are compounded by a postwar context haunted by fascist and imperialist genocides. Following from the title, the analogies between insect predation and assassination multiply. The frenzy of feeding set to rapid-­fire rhythms discovers in the microcosm of pond life a mirror image of the total war that ravaged the planet. The title also implicates the filmmakers as a species of freshwater assassin. If the production still of Painlevé featured on the back cover of Regards reads as a scene of detection, it may also read as a scene from a film noir, requiring a revision that reveals the image to be the scene of the crime itself. The certain deaths of the prey and likely deaths of the predators placed together in the aquariums are solely due to the desires and whims of the filmmaker. The predatory sequences in Freshwater Assassins connect with a filmmaking tradition of interspecies blood sport films that reaches back to the earliest films and lives on in such television programs as Monster Bug Wars (2011–­12).37 In a typed document in Painlevé’s archives titled “Présentation de

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[sic] Assassins d’eau douce” (Introduction for Freshwater Assassins), Painlevé addressed his discomfort regarding the film’s allusions to murder. He disavowed the descriptions of insects’ cruel and impassive natures as “the worst anthropomorphism, since they kill only in order to eat. They do not kill for justice, love, hatred, morality, or vengeance. They do not have any elevated sentiments. They kill only because they are hungry.”38 Their “forms of alimentary destruction” were beyond good and evil. The anthropomorphic projection of assassination refracts back on human existence. The evidence of human affairs in 1947 did not offer much encouragement. Despite Painlevé’s disavowals, the connection to murder lingers and is not so easily dismissed once introduced. Paired with the nonnarrative repetition of scenes of predation, the film’s structure and title take on an air of a traumatized repetition complex. For a former Resistant making a film for populations haunted by the violence of the war, the visions of ubiquitous killing as naturalized and easily justified may have offered strange comfort. But by making the violence of predation as actual as possible, and inviting spectators to make connections with human behavior, the film also invited a desublimation of eating in carnivorous culture. JAZZ MAD: THE CARNIVOROUS SOUNDS OF HOT JAZZ

The hot jazz sound track in Freshwater Assassins contributes to the possible actualizations in two key forms: cinematic and contextual. The cinematic actualization primarily works through the use of music to enliven and intensify the footage. The fast-­paced rhythms and wailing ensembles confer greater urgency to the on-­screen action and aim to innervate spectators, lending the “eternal” images of nature a contemporary air. The contextual actualization takes advantage of the historical coincidence of presenting violent scenes of animal behavior in the immediate aftermath of cataclysmic global events. But actualization is also driven by the reanimation of the interwar discourses surrounding hot jazz and its culture for the post–­World War II present. Pairing wildlife footage with “race music” was not an innocent gesture in 1933 or 1947 and entailed numerous risks. The interwar reception of jazz was shaped by a cocktail

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of (1) European negrophilia, or an exoticizing and often essentialist enthusiasm for the expressive cultures of the African diaspora; (2) negritude, broadly conceived as an affirmation of African, African American, and Caribbean identities and the elaboration of an antiracist and anticolonial philosophy and politics among black diaspora intellectuals based in Paris, such as the sisters Jane, Paulette, and Andrée Nardal; Aimé Césaire; Léopold Sédar Senghor; Léon Damas; and René Ménil; and (3) French cultural and racial chauvinism. Just as both enthusiasts and denigrators wrote of hot jazz as a type of contagion, the music was also conceived of as “predatory,” “bestial,” “animalizing,” and the “music of the stomach.” The Antillean philosopher, poet, and critic René Ménil, who spent the early 1930s in Paris studying at the Sorbonne, conceptualized jazz as engaged in similar cultural work as Surrealism. Emphasizing jazz’s improvisatory immersion in the present moment and its “biting” humor, he wrote of Ellington and Armstrong as developing a sensual and cognitive anti-­imperialism that in the post–­World War II era took on an increasing urgency, suggesting another context for thinking through the associations made between insect predation, jazz culture, and political violence.39 Painlevé, with assistance from Pierre Bertrand, assembled an audio montage of seven hot jazz compositions for the film. The sound track includes, in order of first appearance, Fletcher Henderson’s “Just Blues” (1931), Baron Lee and His Blue Rhythm Band’s “The Growl” (1931), Duke Ellington and His Orchestra’s “Stompy Jones” (1934) and “Drop Me Off in Harlem” (1933), Louis Armstrong’s “Mahogany Hall Stomp” (1933), Gene Krupa and His Orchestra’s “Wire Brush Stomp” (1938), and Jimmie Lunceford’s “White Heat” (1934). Passages from all of the pieces, save for “White Heat,” repeat multiple times in the film. This list of song credits differs from the attributions given in Painlevé’s filmographies, which erroneously include Duke Ellington and His Orchestra’s “Slippery Horn” (1932) and Mills Blue Rhythm Band’s “Rhythm Spasm” (1932) in place of “Just Blues” and “The Growl.”40 It is difficult to ascribe full intentionality to the selection of recordings when more than one recorded interpretation existed, but Painlevé tended to privilege the recordings made around the time he first started working on the film in 1933. For example, by 1947, there were four rather different

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versions of Armstrong’s “Mahogany Hall Stomp,” recorded in 1929, 1933, 1935, and 1946. The film features the most frenetic version, which was recorded in 1933 (RCA Victor). With respect to “The Growl,” the film uses the slower rendition performed by Baron Lee and His Orchestra in 1932 and released on the Warner-­Brunswick label (a year later, the group was rechristened the Mills Blue Rhythm Band, after publisher Irving Mills, and recorded a considerably faster version of the track for RCA’s Bluebird imprint released in 1934).41 While less aggressive, the Baron Lee version fills the slower tempo (still rather speedy) with more pronounced horn growls. These corrections to the sound track credits are not merely antiquarian concerns; “Just Blues” and “The Growl” contribute significantly to the film’s tone through their dialogical call–­response structures and performance techniques. When the camera begins its descent “into” the water, the sultry and laid-­back “Just Blues” gives an initial welcome to the aquatic milieu. In the case of “The Growl,” the recorded performance showcases a set of alternately anthropomorphic and zoomorphic trumpet and trombone parts that evoke the sounds of human voices, roaring engines, and wild animals through the technique of “growling”: an effect produced when a horn player rolls or flutters the tongue while blowing through the mouthpiece, often accentuated by the use of mute or plunger. The players create an artificial, second nature suffused with a cocktail of human artistry, technical innovation, and animal imagery that listeners often conflated with nature itself. The audio montage alternates between the use of the cooler and more frenzied numbers. The former style—­heard in “Just Blues” and “Drop Me Off in Harlem”—­is used for the introductions of various species and at moments when they are involved in nonlethal activities. The more aggressive numbers are deployed when the insects attack and eat each other. During two sequences when dragonfly larvae quickly gobble up midges, the extracts from “The Growl” and “Stompy Jones” tightly synchronize with the motions of the predator. Close-­up footage of a dragonfly larva holding the wriggling midge to its mouth with its claspers evokes a jazz musician taking a solo on a bleeding horn. The footage of the Nepa cinerea attacking a damselfly uses a passage from the 1933 recording of “Mahogany Hall Stomp” featuring Armstrong’s trumpet glissandos

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that buzz like a mosquito around a brief solo by guitarist “Big Mike” McKendrick, which the film runs through twice to draw a comparison between the aggressive, buzzing quality of the sounds and images. The film’s final sequence, featuring two water beetle larvae locked in mortal combat, also manipulates the source music, splicing together most of Gene Krupa’s drum solo from “Wire Brush Stomp” with Sy Oliver’s trumpet solo in “White Heat,” the latter of which was marketed in its day as the fastest tempo ever recorded.42 The writhing legs of a water beetle larva attempting to devour its own kind in the final sequence of the film finds an uncanny degree of synchronization with Krupa’s drum improvisations in “Wire Brush Stomp,” producing the found “Mickey Mousing” effect of which Painlevé was so fond. Painlevé referred to the forty-­five-­second sequence as an “accident of editing” that “no orchestra could ever . . . be capable of post-­synchronizing.”43 As with The Vampire, the use of hot jazz in Freshwater Assassins draws on the juxtaposition of sound and images to produce an uncanny synchrony reminiscent of early sound cartoons that explicitly played with the cultural investments in jazz, such as in Jazz Mad (Frank Moser and Paul Terry, USA, 1930), where the sounds of a canine jazz band reanimate gutted animal carcasses in a butcher’s shop and inspire them to dance like Josephine Baker. Painlevé referred to his song selection process as motivated by the search for “the most powerful” and “the most violent” hot jazz recordings, which were chosen to emphasize the seemingly “cruel” and “impassive” nature of insects.44 In addition to provocatively aligning natural history and popular culture, and providing an internal interpretation of the images, the use of aggressive hot jazz airs targeted the sensory systems of the spectator. In a 1935 essay on hot jazz, the Egyptian-­born Surrealist Georges Henin wrote that its defining trait was “a direct assault on the senses.”45 Henin meant this as high praise. The frenetic tempos, wild runs and solos, and pounding rhythms not only added an ironic commentary to Painlevé’s images but also produced a strong physiological effect in the spectator, raising the pulse and animating the body. Jazz was, after all, more than records. It was a cultural form that included dancing, celebration, protest, and the allure of contact between the different races, ethnicities, classes, and cultures brought together in

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Figure 5.4. A dragonfly larva eating a midge in Freshwater Assassins ( Jean Painlevé, 1947). Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

the “colonial metropolis” and that played a key role, as Jennifer Anne Boittin argues, in the “sensory transformation of colonial Paris.”46 Jazz was an eminent form of “vernacular modernism,” Miriam Bratu Hansen’s conceptualization of a mass culture modernism encompassing “a whole range of cultural and artistic practices that register, respond to, and reflect upon processes of modernization and the experience of modernity,” including how expressive culture organizes “vision and sensory perception.”47 Jazz paralleled cinema in its use of new technologies of mechanical reproducibility, including the temporal manipulations of recording and the effects of microphones and amplification on its creation and as part of its performance. Many jazz compositions addressed the contradictions, displacements, and violence of global modernity, producing unexpected encounters between sounds and tempos that engaged with the new energies and demands of contemporary life. Duke Ellington and His Orchestra made this spirit of hybrid encounters central to their aesthetic, as evident in their witty combination and reinvention of spiritual, profane, and

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“serious” music. The musicians used syncopation, accelerated tempos, and experimentation with their instruments as the foundation for wide-­ ranging improvisations, from the growls and glissandos of brass instruments to the reedy squeaks and wails of the woodwinds and percussive strumming, slides, and bends on stringed instruments. In its performed and recorded forms, jazz engaged the perceptual sensorium in a distinctly different manner than the popular and classical traditions of European music. In its broadest sense, as Michael Denning argues—echoing Ménil and Boittin—jazz contributed to a transnational expression of an anti-­imperial political unconscious that aspired to the decolonization of the senses.48 The Belgian poet, music critic, and Surrealist Robert Goffin, in his landmark 1932 study Aux frontières du jazz, suggested that the collective and spontaneous creation of jazz, where improvisations seem to flow out of and exceed any single individual, produced the “first Surrealism.”49 To Goffin’s ear, jazz provided a valuable model for Surrealism’s automatic writing and their research into modes of expression at the limits of the subject. That this emphasis on instinct overlooked or minimized the authorial inventions of its mostly African American performers was a point lost on Goffin, whose concern was with the modern attributes of cultural production idealized by the Surrealists. Goffin’s connections between jazz and Surrealism, as Jeremy F. Lane notes, related to the manner in which the music was understood to render its dancing listeners as types of exquisite corpses. Lane reads Goffin’s description of jazz bands as violently and erotically “strafing” dancing female jazz fans through Amy Lyford’s optic of the Surrealist “aesthetic of dismemberment.”50 Jazz dissects and even insects—­to recall an obscure meaning of the term as an act of cutting into pieces—­its listeners, reorganizing them according to drive. Hot jazz, with its pronounced sensuality, air of impropriety, and productive contaminations, heightened the potential for cognitive and sensory dislocations and embodied responses. Its most rabid fans and nervous critics described jazz along a similar set of tensions: it traversed European and African-­diasporic cultures, the sacred and profane, the modern and the primitive, the machine and the animal, the urban and the exotic, subjectivity and subjugation, and slaughter and eating. Painlevé’s apologetic explanations of the film’s anthropomorphic use

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of jazz made a repeated historical slippage: in two instances, he referred to the songs as coming from the “belle époque of 1925,” “when it [hot jazz] was not yet a carnival of soloists and exhibitionists, and when the performers seemed to transmit a cosmic message.”51 The ambivalence of his description reductively pits an overly individualist approach against the image of an anonymous black collective working as a creative unit. All the recordings used in the film actually date from the 1930s, coinciding with the initial production for Freshwater Assassins in 1933. The selection of songs reverberates with the discursive context of their initial reception, when the enthusiasm and debate over hot jazz in France were at their height. André Bazin wrote in fall 1947 that audiences of the film in neighborhood cinemas “protested against the jazz music as if it were a sacrilegious profanation.”52 This claim may be slightly hyperbolic. Bazin’s review was of the film screenings associated with the Association Internationale de Cinématographie Scientifique (International Association of Scientific Cinema, or AICS), so it is likely that Painlevé was Bazin’s source for this anecdote. The evocation of scandalized unrest nevertheless provides a clue as to what Painlevé may have desired the sound track to muster: the contradictory responses to jazz during the period of 1925–­35, prior to the tempering of the ferocious voice of American jazz by adaptation into mainstream swing and by a more “French” localized symphonic form.53 During the 1920s and 1930s, French critics across the spectrum of taste and ideology evoked the “jazz subject” as an entanglement of animal and machine that stretched, if not fell outside of, the idealized human subject of the Third Republic.54 A brief literary montage brings into sharper focus the “black and tan fantasies” that the sound track for Freshwater Assassins reanimated. Reviewing La Revue nègre in Le Figaro in 1925, Jacques Patin wrote enthusiastically of the music expressing “the thousand cries of the wild jungle.”55 The critic Charles Teissier, writing in Le Télégramme in November 1930, made a similar comparison, but in the negative: “pounding the nervous system, it revives the senses by imitating the diverse cries of the wild beasts of the jungle on the prowl.”56 The commentary moves from jazz music as mimicry (the supposed echoes from the jungle heard in the mosquito buzz of Louis Armstrong’s trumpet glissandos and the popular “wah-­wahs” of muted trumpets) to a metamorphic mimicry reviving our

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dulled senses, but in a manner similar to the nervous attention of prey on the lookout for predators, which, perhaps, expresses the paranoia of auditors confronted with the sounds of anticolonial liberation. André Suarès expressed a disdain for the embodied address of jazz and its origins in both the assembly line and jungle in a set of texts published in 1930–­31. In Jazz-­Tango, a magazine whose editorial politics were aligned with the protectionist labor efforts of white French musicians, Suarès derided jazz as the music of the belly and of revulsion (if not revolt): “Jazz is made of only five or six formulas, two inept and two of ipecac to make one vomit: jazz is the music of the stomach and for all those who carry their beautiful soul between the liver and the thigh. There you have it, the music of musicians and men made on assembly lines.”57 A few months later, Suarès described jazz as “an orchestra of brutes with non-­opposable thumbs and prehensile feet in the Voodoo forest. It is all excess.”58 The mixture of ingestion and expulsion, assembly line and jungle, emphasized the purported excessive effects of jazz upon the listener. The recurrent allusions to the entanglement of jazz with predation, slaughter, and devouring cast the listener as the victim, be it Goffin’s images of eroticized strafing or the food chain of Teissier’s and Saurès’s primordial jungle. Hot jazz threatened to decivilize—­and potentially decolonize—­the listener, which, according to the imperial ideologies of Third Republic France, was a step toward dehumanization. Georges Duhamel’s Scènes de la vie future (1930), a pessimistic cautionary tale about the American future of France, synthesized these perspectives, while amplifying the connection to slaughter and deadly consumption. Having visited the stockyards and jazz boxes of Chicago, Duhamel described the cries of animals subjected to industrialized death on the assembly lines in the “kingdom of death” as the raw material for jazz. “The cry is so strong and lively that we will make something of it one day. It is absurd that this enormous sum of energy evaporates in this manner, lost in space. We will make music from it, beautiful airs for jazz-­bands.”59 Closer to Painlevé’s aesthetic and political sensibilities were the writings of the ethnographic thinkers affiliated with Documents. Lane characterizes these intellectuals as possessed of an admirable “openness to black cultural forms and a regrettable reliance on primitivist stereotypes.”60

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With notable consistency, they evoked jazz as positively animalistic. André Cœuroy and André Schaeffner celebrated jazz’s “animal joy of supple movements,” and their 1926 monograph on jazz’s hybrid origins concluded by affirming its impure status as being part of its desirable modernity, writing, “It is us today.”61 Michel Leiris praised jazz as the sacred music of the machine age expressive of sacrifice, ecstasy, blood, and communal entrancements. He described his generation’s encounters with jazz as eliciting “abandonment to the animal joys of experiencing the influence of a modern rhythm.”62 In a review of recordings by Lew Leslie’s Black Birds and Duke Ellington and His Orchestra in Documents, Leiris evoked the fleeting metamorphic power of jazz on its listeners in a manner that could easily apply to a sequence out of Freshwater Assassins. He claimed these records produced “an unrestrained eroticism” of “wholly animal pulsations—­stitched together from frightful hiccups far more similar to the convulsions of microscopic creatures than those of a drunkard—­conferring a character of grandiose horror, unsettling like the larvae that swarm obscurely within us.”63 The syncopated hiccups of jazz produced images resembling microcinematography footage, such as the quivering jumps of the water fleas in Painlevé’s The Daphnia or the shimmying Trypanosoma of Comandon’s dark field microcinematography footage that would later appear in The Vampire. These musical images have the power to plasmatically animate and move us in a profound manner, to agitate and unsettle us—­producing sensations of a continuous motion like the larvae he imagined swarming within us. Harkening back from 1947 to the 1920s and early 1930s, Painlevé tried to recover and actualize the energies of jazz at its “hottest,” when jazz culture’s potential to upset and disturb the categories of the ideal human subject of the Third Republic was taken most seriously. Its utopian promise was what Painlevé referred to as its “cosmic message,” which is to say a message that rethinks the French ideal of universality in a far more cosmopolitan and cosmological sense. Georges Sadoul recognized a double function in the sound track. “The music, matched with the primitive convulsions, becomes ‘bestial’ while bursting with a humor proper to man.”64 In the face of imperial repression, racist lynching, and unashamed structural racism, the celebration of the “bestial” and

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“inhuman” aspects of jazz by white critics risked reproducing racist discourses of dehumanization. At its best, it also voiced demands for a conception of being beyond the limits and exclusions upon which the human was secured. Not everybody saw the abandonment of the traditional sense of “man” as a loss. In the intellectual circles of the Surrealists, the need for a new declaration of the rights of man coincided with a growing antihumanism that countered the violence of the “murderous humanitarianism” of the French civilizing mission with an acerbic critique of the abusive and limited notion of the human at the base of the humanist project.65 The resonance of this critique only grew stronger, if more vexing, in the aftermath of the Second World War. The dehumanization and mass murder of the victims of the Holocaust and atomic bombs deprived many critics of an unquestioned faith in the humanist tradition, which had failed so many. Aimé Césaire would note in 1950 that people in the colonized world had endured these experiences for centuries.66 The hot jazz in Freshwater Assassins actualizes the music’s interwar reception, when it was considered a devouring “music of the stomach.” The sound track creates a parallel between the musical form and Vigo’s call for a social cinema featuring subjects that bite the flesh. The aura and energies of the interwar reception of jazz that Painlevé mobilized resonated with a theorization of the biting humor and inventiveness of jazz. The immediacy, contemporaneity, and actuality of hot jazz rehearsed anti-­ imperialist futures, as experienced both in the music and in its reception at such events as the Bal nègre and Bal colonial dances hosted at 33 rue du Blomet. René Ménil theorized the critical and political dimensions of jazz in the pages of Tropiques, the Antillean anticolonial review that he coedited with Aimé and Suzanne Césaire during World War II. Ménil heard in the music of Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong the articulation of Surrealism, shattering humor, and an anticolonialist expression. Hot jazz instantiated a cultural form that, unlike the appeals to hybridity among many Surrealists, did not reify European culture as the grounding referent.67 Jazz’s improvisatory base instantiated an aesthetic experience characterized by radical contemporaneity. Ménil saw this as an “antidote” to “the poison of eternity” of imperialist culture. In his account, the cutting humor in Ellington’s and Armstrong’s music ruptured the colonized

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conscious and revealed present (colonial) circumstances to be arbitrary and absurd, rather than timeless, necessary, and the epitome of rational civilization.68 Ménil’s take on l’humour noir, and particularly the bitter and biting laughter articulated in direct opposition to the Vichy government and French colonial system, reverberated for him with the radical actualité of the improvisational approach of hot jazz. The best jazz produced a critical response to, rather than an embodiment of, exoticist and racially essentialist fantasies of primordial jungle rhythms. The humor in jazz emphasized its capacity for irony, unexpected juxtapositions, and an accent on becoming and metamorphosis rather than stable essences. For the audiences of Freshwater Assassins, the experience of looking upon larger than life carnivorous insects animated and commented on by the frenetic, sultry, and bitingly humorous jazz airs entailed a double implication with the images. The direct address of the film’s conclusion, like the parting shot of The Vampire, positioned spectators as vulnerable potential targets of the insect’s hunger but also as vulnerable to potential insects (incisions), to being or becoming insected and metamorphically remade. The film’s anthropomorphic discourses encouraged consideration of the economies of mortal violence that composed existence, from the near-­microscopic insects to the human societies just barely out of a totalizing world war and fracturing along new fault lines, from Cold War realignments to global anticolonial struggles. The use-­value of hot jazz for Painlevé’s film, even as late as 1947, aimed to heighten its carnal implications, while producing a sardonic commentary on the affairs of human existence, seizing on and actualizing the music’s overdetermined associations with predation, slaughter, biting, eating, humor, and lacerating laughter. Reflecting on these sound tracks much later in his life, Painlevé explained that these songs were integral to his conceptions of The Vampire and Freshwater Assassins. He claimed to have already had them in mind during the filming. Distilling his interest in pairing and comparing the footage of insects with hot jazz, he mused, “Jazz is cruel.”69 Le Grand Robert de la langue française defines cruelty as “the tendency to make suffer” and links it to barbarism, hardness, ferocity, inhumanity, wickedness, sadism, savagery, indifference, insensitivity, rigor, severity, and excess. It gives as its etymological root the Latin word crudelis, a term

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linked to raw meat, blood, and animal savagery. The historian of science Monique Sicard’s brief but generative consideration of the links between Painlevé’s films and Antonin Artaud’s conception of a “theater of cruelty” from Theater and Its Double notes that crudelis also refers to that which “makes the blood flow.”70 That which makes blood flow often means the rupture of the internal milieu and the spilling of blood, such as in the feeding scene in The Vampire. The anticoagulant in vampire bat saliva gives a striking example of a purely physiological cruelty that literally makes blood flow while also denaturing it. But the cruelty of jazz, and of jazz-­ infused social cinema, may be attentive not only to how blood is spilled or spent but also to how it flows, gathers, and circulates in a multitude of directions and between bodies, including in the blush of eroticism and the raising of sensuous passions. Cruelty, as traced to the etymological origins of crudelis, refers to two economies of blood flow. One encompasses the automatic and biological forces that act on blood. The other is biopolitical and refers to the willed forces that redirect, accumulate, distribute, direct, and spend the flow of blood through and out of bodies. The carnivorous behavior of the insects as presented in Freshwater Assassins accorded with cruelty as a thirst for blood. This was a common perspective of nature as perpetual struggle between predators, prey, and milieu, which Painlevé first voiced in “Neozoological Dramas” and recapitulated in the orchestration of lethal encounters between animals on film. Interwar critics nervously likened jazz to the sonic equivalent of slaughter and predatory devouring. Painlevé’s post–­World War II films actualize this nervous energy in their immediate contexts, when the “menace” and “hunger” of jazz no longer evoked a simple binary between foreign vectors and local victims but imagined systems of entanglement. Freshwater Assassins deployed a “cruel” form in its mode of display of the violent scenes of eating and in its use of disjointed montage and hot jazz sounds to jolt and innervate spectators. The focus on the decisive instant that reverberated between the predatory strike in the images and the brilliant improvisations of the sound track emphasized the singular moments of documentary Surrealism when representation and presence converge. When an insect in extreme close-­up expresses its hunger ( faim) in a direct address during the final frames of Freshwater Assassins, the film

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implicates its spectators in the food chain by momentarily turning the boundaries of the cinematic spectacle inside out. The film’s microcosmic vision of existence as driven by a ceaseless appetite provides an education in cruelty that also stokes a demand to take on the task of deconstructing what seems almost undeconstructable: eating, particularly in its carnivorous forms. Franju and Painlevé’s work on Blood of the Beasts intensified this project, developing a film form attentive to both “narratable” history and its shadowy double “that hurts”—­an unassimilable real. The copresence of the two historiographical approaches opens up a spectral dimension, a mode of historical haunting whose ghostly voices index unaccounted for injustices and call for intervention into and with the past. INSIDE OUT: BLOOD OF THE BEASTS (1949)

Vigo’s social cinema and the cultural milieu in which it emerged also informs Blood of the Beasts. Vigo’s evocation of a carnivorous cinema was but one of a set of texts that turned to animal slaughter to think through cultural politics, including Duhamel’s Scènes de la vie future, with its gruesome accounts of the American meatpacking industries, and Michel Leiris’s “L’homme et son intérieur” (Man and his interior), an article on the strange beauty of anatomical drawings that begins with the window display of a butcher shop. Leiris cites an extract from Émile Colombey’s Les Originaux de la dernière heure, a collection of anecdotes from “deathbed eccentrics.” Titled “Excès de propreté” (Excess cleanliness), the extract tells of a woman who swoons upon seeing a butcher splitting and emptying the carcass of a steer. Responding to inquiries about the cause of her spell, she asks if human bodies contain similarly vile abominations in their interiors. Her idealist vision of a distinct nature of human interiority shattered, she decides to refrain from eating.71 This “eccentric” scenario provides a brief exercise in a cruel comparative anatomy, which considers the animal corporeality of human beings but also the contingency of fortunes that distribute investments in life and proximity to death. The commonalities between animal and human flesh prove too much to bear in this instant when the woman takes full consciousness of their implications in terms of the treatment of animals and her own

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being. The woman in this little theater of cruelty decides that the only way to rise above the animal nature of human corporality and the terror of consuming creatures whose interiors and possible interiorities are little different from her own is to refuse to feed such vileness by abstaining from incorporating anything at all, severing her ties with the viscera of fleshy animal existence and the food chain.72 Leiris’s appropriation of this parable of “excess cleanliness” puts forth the idea that to be human was also to be animal, and one was most human when one was most profoundly touched in a corporeal, creaturely sense, by what Anat Pick refers to as a strong sense of the creature as “living body—­material, temporal, and vulnerable,” which provides the basis of a “creaturely poetics” attentive to the fragile beauty of living things.73 In contrast to the fatal idealism of the anecdote, Leiris praised the salutary effects of masochism, sadism, and all manner of vices—­to which the trop objet aesthetics of documentary Surrealism may be added—­productive of experiences where interior and exterior, inside and outside, come into contact and the felt experience of fleshy existence erupts forcefully into consciousness.74 Leiris, like his contemporaries left and right, saw in the butcher’s stall and abattoir the site from which to begin radical cultural critique and to perform the job of turning perspectives inside out. Few films have engaged the capacity to turn life inside out, or cast such an unflinching gaze upon practices and politics of a carnivorous culture, than Georges Franju’s Blood of the Beasts. Franju’s short film documents the labor and material infrastructure necessary for the large-­scale daily killings at La Villette and Vaugirard, the abattoirs at opposite edges of Paris that feed the capital. Franju’s film was a direct outcome of Painlevé’s early work, and it reflected his contributions to documentary Surrealism and postwar French cinema more broadly. One of the few reviews published following the premiere of Blood of the Beasts at the Venice Film Festival in 1949 assessed, “It would appear difficult to accumulate more somber compositions and to mix them with a humor any darker in twenty-­four minutes.” The reviewer emphasized “Jean Painlevé’s acerbic commentary” as a key element of the film.75 At the time of its premier, when Franju was all but unknown, the connection to Painlevé offered an important guide for the reception of the film’s Surrealist touches.

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Franju worked closely with Painlevé for seven years as the secretary general of the ICS. He referred to this post as part of “a sacred historical education” in the cinema—­the other elements being his parallel work with Henri Langlois on the Cinémathèque française and as secretary general of the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF).76 Franju’s understanding of Surrealism and scientific cinema was indebted to Painlevé’s filmmaking and curatorial sensibilities as a film programmer for the ADPCS before the war and for the AICS after the war. Traces of this sensibility appear throughout Franju’s subsequent films, particularly Les Yeux sans visage (Eyes without a Face, 1960), which restaged the mise-­en-­ scène of Dr. Normet’s Serum and the surgical footage of Charles Claoué. Franju credited Painlevé’s name and influence with opening doors for him on the production of Blood of the Beasts, referring to his mentor as “the greatest figure in French documentary cinema”—­a title the journal Positif would in turn confer on Franju in 1956 based on his impressive set of short films.77 Blood of the Beasts completes the geographical and political trajectories tracked through the consideration of Dr. Normet’s Serum and The Vampire in the previous chapter, moving through the infrastructure of modernity from the laboratories in the colonial dominions and territories, the jungle regions where the raw materials of capitalist modernity, from rubber to pharmaceutical ingredients, were (and are) extracted, to the strange microscopic dramas of the French countryside of Freshwater Assassins, arriving at the capital and the register of everyday life with Franju’s documentary. The presence of modern infrastructure exists primarily at the level of cinematic enunciation in Painlevé’s films, requiring a reading to draw it out. In Blood of the Beasts, attention to infrastructure is an explicit part of the analysis. The film also turns its attention to victims of violence to a greater extent than any of Painlevé’s films had done up to that date. After its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, Blood of the Beasts was mostly screened in ciné-­clubs. Press coverage was limited, but most early reviews read the film in the tradition of Surrealist dark humor. François Timmory, writing in L’Écran français, mused that any cinema deciding to show the film would do well to replace its usual staff with nurses to help care for traumatized audiences.78 Jean Cocteau praised the film for

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pushing cinematic experience to the limits of the perceptible.79 The Surrealist Ado Kyrou considered Franju’s film as the revivification of the spirit of Vigo and lauded the film “as a bomb that troubled the stagnant waters of the screens. It dissected the cruelty of the abattoirs with a poetic scalpel, implicating life itself.”80 Unlike the reception of The Vampire and Freshwater Assassins, the initial reception of Franju’s film did not emphasize the allegorical or figural dimensions of the film, even though Painlevé’s commentary compared the sheep to hostages and alluded to the train transporting victims. Yet the film is profoundly figural, to draw on a modified form of Erich Auerbach’s figura as a mode of historical interpretation of “something real and historical which announces something else that is also real and historical.”81 The latent figural dimensions of Blood of the Beasts, particularly its relationship to the Holocaust, came into sharper relief in subsequent years (Sylvie Lindperg notes that Painlevé was next in line to be asked to direct Nuit et brouillard if Alain Resnais had not taken the job).82 Allegorical readings of the film have dominated subsequent interpretations. In drawing out the historical allusions in the film, these readings often risk disavowing the slaughter of animals on-­screen, as if the turn to historical allegory made the bare facts of carnivorous cultures more bearable and spectators less accountable. Jeannette Sloniowski, in her insightful account of an “extraordinary” but also disturbingly pointless film—­in terms of offering no orientation for one’s moral compass—­cautions against allegorical readings given the lack of explicit reference—­raising an interesting question as to whether allegory must announce itself to function.83 Figural reading insists on maintaining attention to the level of literal enunciation in conjunction with the allegorical dimensions, allowing the presentational horror to be considered without comforting transposition. Painlevé, writing in defense of Blood of the Beasts, speculated that the problems viewers had with the film were not the perceived sadism of showing slaughter but rather the cognitive dissonance it forces them to confront: “I love meat and I love animals.”84 Painlevé referred to this attitude as a hypocritical cowardice, which he admitted he also suffered from. The cowardice was rooted in a wish to disavow the violence on which ordinary gustatory pleasures rely, and Painlevé’s commentary for the film (including the versions not used

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by Franju) meditates on unassimilable suffering. Anat Pick’s analysis of Blood of the Beasts, drawing on Walter Benjamin’s nonanthropocentric sense of natural history, argues that an allegorical or symbolic reading “leaves interpretation with a questionable notion of history and historicity: still a firmly human and humanist understanding of the historical as a coherent if not teleological narrative at the center of which operate privileged human subjects.”85 Extending Pick’s insights, it must be noted that allegorical readings often downplay the film’s presentational aspects as a document of animal slaughter and the labor behind commodity fetishism, as well as the deeply Copernican tradition of cinematography that Franju, through Painlevé’s tutelage, put to further work. Engaging with the presentational and figural aspects offers a pathway for considering the two modes of history—­as narrative and as the nonanthropocentric unassimilable real—­present in the film. Earlier drafts for the commentary, in which Painlevé made extensive use of prosopopoeia to “speak” from the perspective of the dying and dead animals, further draw out the productive tension between the presentational and figural dimensions of the film and the manner in which it opens up an other mode of historical address. A reconstruction of an unrealized draft of the film that could have been alongside the extant version provides a sense of how the imagined interventions of Painlevé’s documentary Surrealism might work, even as this aspect of the oeuvre has remained mostly virtual. Blood of the Beasts belongs to a tradition of cultural critique for which abattoirs were objects of considerable fascination. From the interwar period onward, abattoirs were often seen as both an unending reservoir of shocking images and a bellwether of a threatened tempo and nature of the French way of life in the face of an ascendant American-­style Fordist capitalism exemplified by the rationally organized disassembly lines of Chicago’s slaughterhouses. In 1929, Éli Lotar documented a visit to La Villette in a set of images that anticipated and likely inspired the aesthetic of Blood of the Beasts.86 Lotar’s Aux abattoirs de la Villette (At the La Villette abattoirs) featured carefully composed still life imagery with an antiseptic geometric order, juxtaposed with bloody visions of the aftermath of slaughter. The tension between rational order and violence is visible in the photographs of a neat row of twenty-­four severed cattle

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legs leaning against an exterior stone wall (with the name PICHARD crudely scratched into it two times); six rolled-­up animal hides with tonguelike flaps that appear to be lapping up their own leaking blood, all neatly arranged at the edge of a curb; and a close-­up of a decapitated calf’s head—­the first of what appears to be a row of heads—­with its tongue hanging out and its eye locked in a gaze toward the camera. Lotar’s high-­ angle shots maintain a cool, detached perspective on the blurred bodies of workers moving around bovine carcasses in a manner that recalls motion study photographs by Étienne-­Jules Marey and Frank and Lilian Gilbreth. Selections for Aux abattoirs de la Villette were published in various avant-­garde journals and popular magazines over the next two years, including Documents, the Belgian avant-­garde journal Variétés, and VU. In a rare reversal of his method at the time, Georges Bataille wrote his critical dictionary entry “Abattoir” in response to Lotar’s photographs, three of which appeared in Documents 6 (1929), mixed in with stills from Painlevé’s Crabs and Shrimp made with Lotar’s assistance, Jacques-­André Boiffard’s Big Toe, and a film frame of seemingly detached chorus girls’ legs from Fox Movietone Follies of 1929 (David Butler and Marcel Silver, USA, 1929).87 Bataille’s paragraph-­long text opens with a reflection on the relation between abattoirs and temples as chaotic sites imbued with mystery, horror, and fascination due to the presence of flowing blood. If such sites consecrated to cruelty were once central to human society, the present cultural order has “quarantined” these heterogeneous spaces to the margins of society, which, as Maurice Agulhon argued, was part of the repression of revolutionary energies. Bataille believed this sequestering of cruel spectacles was due to “an unhealthy need for cleanliness” that inspired people to “vegetate as far as possible from the slaughterhouse, to exile themselves, out of propriety, to a flabby world in which nothing fearful remains and in which, subject to the ineradicable obsession of shame, they are reduced to eating cheese.”88 His Documents-­era writings often incited intellectual and perceptual violence as an end unto itself. But his inquiries fostered a demand to make visible and explicit the exnominated or invisible forms of violence structuring modern social existence, as a first step toward altering it. In May 1931, Carlo Rim published “La Villette Rouge” in VU. His

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article was illustrated with Lotar’s images and described many of the scenes later documented in Blood of the Beasts. Rim, who had previously referred to abattoirs as among the modern attractions of Paris in his essay on Luna Park, evokes the cinematic aspects of a visit to La Villette. Perhaps with Dziga Vertov’s Kino-­Glaz in mind—­the Soviet director presented the film at Studio 28 in July 1929—­Rim opens his article by recommending that the best way to take in the “magnificent and terrifying spectacle” of the abattoirs is to “start at the end, like watching a film in reverse,” so that one goes from steak to full animal.89 Rim describes being confronted by the surreal beauty of a decapitated veal head with a parsley mustache (tête de veau was a republican figure for the revolutionary decapitation of Louis XVI). He is fascinated by the lethal ballet of sheep led into the slaughterhouse by a “traitor” of their own kind, lined up in an orderly row to have their throats slit with a fluid and efficient gesture.90 Like Bataille, Rim compares La Villette to a sacrificial temple suffused with “blood and its mysterious attraction.”91 Similar to Duhamel’s Scènes de la vie future, his article reflects on the differences between an increasingly rationalized American-­style assembly-­line, mass-­produced death and the more artisanal French approach. Writing of Chicago’s “famous meat factories,” Rim recounts scenes “where the animals enter as a herd, bells around their necks, and when they exit, in less time than it takes us to slaughter a pig, they are canned, labeled, and ready to satisfy the hearty appetites of pretty girls.”92 Rim observes that in the confines of the abattoir, cadavers are transformed into “consumable meat.” “Capital punishment turns into gastronomy. The executioner has become the master chef.”93 By what magic did this metamorphosis happen? What cultural operations enabled these transformations? The perceived use-­value of various cadavers and the cultural taboos that restrict use produces the difference between execution and slaughter, cadaver and carcass, flesh and meat, inedible and edible, human and animal, for as Bataille wrote in Theory of Religion, “even hardened materialists are still so religious that in their eyes it is always a crime to make a man into a thing—­a roast, a stew.”94 The point of this line of comparative inquiry is not to advocate cannibalism. It is, rather, to interrogate the cultural systems that so confidently separate corps and chair, the body as an ideal unity invested with spirit and flesh as

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potential meat, that define who counts as expendable and how some acts of killing are made banal while others are considered murder. The limits of exchange were also interrogated in two unsigned entries placed in Documents’s “Critical Dictionary” under “Homme” [Man] in issues 4 and 5 of the journal’s first year (1929). The entries on “Man” examines the often absurdly arbitrary foundation for the calculation of exchange-­value by extending to European men the treatment typically reserved for women, people of color, and animals. The first entry cites the attempts of the English chemist Dr. Charles Henry Maye to determine the precise chemical composition and economic worth of the human body. Maye proposed that the average man has enough fat to make seven bars of soap, enough iron to produce an average-­sized nail, and enough sugar to sweeten a cup of coffee. There was enough phosphorous in a man for 2,200 matches and enough magnesium for a photographic flash. Potassium and sulfur existed, but only in modest quantities. He calculated the value of the average man to thus be around twenty-­five francs in 1929.95 The second entry, excerpted from William Earnshaw Cooper’s vegetarian treatise The Blood-­Guiltiness of Christendom (1922), asserts the “known truth” that not a single one of the millions of animals slaughtered for meat and goods is necessary for human survival. The entry refers to Cooper’s reproach of the “red and ugly bloody splatter on the face of humanity” by presenting the following calculations: if one were to line up tail to snout all the animals slaughtered on a daily basis in Christian countries, one could make a line 1,322 miles long. Likewise the blood from the animals slaughtered in Chicago every year could float five large transatlantic liners.96 The Bataillean perspective was not, like Cooper’s, an outright plea for vegetarianism or even for the better treatment of animals, though in Theory of Religion, he notes that the denigration and objectification of animals is a cultural practice not based in any natural order.97 Critiques of carnivorous culture are nevertheless possible to develop from this montage of documents. They displace humans from any stable ontological grounding and called into question economies of value and exchange based on a universal and idealist abstraction orchestrated by man. In doing so, they also offer prophetic visions of the worst possible human futures.

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THE JOLLY BUTCHERS

Blood of the Beasts intervened into these interwar discourses but reinterpreted them and sought to actualize their critical energies with the compounded experience of another world war. Like his interwar predecessors who delighted in drawing back the curtain on the abattoirs, Franju attempted to turn beings, things, and cultural systems inside out and see them anew through the inhuman gaze of the camera. The film explores the internal milieu, the passages between interior and exterior, and the relationship between the quarantined world of the abattoirs and that of the city surrounding them. Franju’s internal milieu combines the Bernardian conceptualization of blood and other vital bodily fluids with a broadly anthropological concern for the inner workings of institutions of human sociality and human–­animal relations, in this case in the abattoirs. Literalizing Bernard’s metaphor for the experimental method, the film takes a passage through the “bloody kitchen” of modern society. Franju explained the origins of the film as emerging from his Surrealist-­ inspired wanderings through the peripheral zones of the city, where the flea markets and slaughterhouses were located: At that time it [La Villette] was a very strange and poor wasteland. I walked around the walls of the abattoirs at Vaugirard. Then I came here [La Villette], where I wandered the Ourcq canal, from this bridge all the way to the Pantin mills. I walked around the abattoirs and then went inside. I started from the exterior. I decided to make Blood of the Beasts the moment when I understood that at certain times of the day, and particularly in certain seasons and through cinematographic processes that no longer exist today, that what happened inside was in a somber and cruel harmony with the romanticism of the surrounding landscape.98

Franju’s inspiration was also the film’s task: exposing the somber and cruel harmonies between exterior and interior, and doing so with “cinematic processes” no longer available, and then at the edge of disappearance, such as the film stocks and techniques but also an approach to filmmaking rooted in documentary Surrealism’s strange encounter with impossible presence. These somber and cruel harmonies were rendered visible by the

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film’s fascination with vapors produced by the exposure of the inside to the outside, from the clouds of steam produced by the fresh animal blood hitting the cold concrete killing floors (an effect accentuated by filming the killing floor between six and nine in the morning, when the temperature and light were most conducive to manifesting these vapors), to the mixture of condensation and cigarette smoke coming from the mouths of the laborers, the ominous clouds hanging low over the landscapes, the smoke clouds rising from factory chimneys, and the billowing exhaust of a steam engine with which the film concludes.99 This attention to the exposure of the internal milieu also brings to view a broader set of correspondences between inside and outside beginning with animal bodies and extending to the relation of the quarantined space of the abattoir with the city center, connected through footage of the networks of rail lines, canals, bridges, and roads that are intercut between each segment depicting the different scenes of slaughter. The film’s structure, as Roxane Hamery trenchantly analyzes, consists of five parts: (1) the landscapes and flea markets “At the Gates of Paris”; (2) the abattoir for horses at Vaugirard near the Porte de Vanves; (3) the abattoir for beef and veal at La Villette; (4) the abattoir for sheep at Vaugirard; and (5) the terrains vagues landscapes at dusk, which are strung together with picturesque shots of the neighborhoods surrounding the abattoirs, including the flea market at the Porte de Vanves at the borders of the fourteenth and fifteenth arrondissements and the Ourcq canal in the nineteenth arrondissement.100 The opening segment pays homage to the Surrealist flâneurie among the city’s flea markets, where “the gardens of poor children are scattered with the singular debris from waves of wealth.”101 The film presents a series of poetic juxtapositions of outmoded and castaway objects that await the eyes of poets and strolling lovers in search of enchantment: a solitary denuded tree in front of a distant row of apartment buildings, an armless female mannequin with a large Victrola bell set up in front of a passing train, children playing ring-­around-­the-­rosie with a large uncoiled spring in the foreground, and lamps hung from tree branches and other fragments of bourgeois living rooms—­the objective correlatives of bourgeois interiority—­installed outside in vacant lots.

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Adam Lowenstein interprets Blood of the Beasts as engaging in the politicized fascination with the outmoded that Walter Benjamin recognized in Louis Aragon’s Paysan de Paris and Breton’s Nadja and which he developed into his theory of profane illumination as a mode of historical thinking rooted in shock.102 Anat Pick productively and critically extends such a perspective but demands its allegory be deanthropocentrized in order to consider history, along with Benjamin, in both its anthropological and nonanthropocentric iterations.103 Lowenstein observes that the opening prologue takes the classical Surrealism of Breton and Aragon as its point of departure, understood as both starting point and also what it quickly leaves behind. The Surrealist search for the strange turns to an explicitly politicized engagement with history when it enters the abattoirs. The fascination with outmoded and exhausted use-­value continues in the examination of the manual labor of the men and women in the abattoirs—­ embodied by Maurice Griselle, a one-­time professional boxer turned killing floor worker—­whose artisanal labor was being replaced by forms of mechanization and Americanization (critically and comically explored at the same moment by Jacques Tati). Blood of the Beasts contributes to a genealogy of Surrealist fascination with corps morcelés, the cut-­up and fragmented bodies of industrial labor during the transition from manual to fully mechanized and industrialized forms of slaughter and disassembly. The specificity of the documentary Surrealism of Blood of the Beasts articulates a classical Surrealist fascination with dépaysement and the insolite (the unexpected) with the dissident Surrealist interest in the particular materiality and corporeality of experience, which extends to the strange connections made possible by modern infrastructure. For Franju, Surrealism was a matter of the unexpected outcomes of the interplay between contextualization and displacement. Surrealism was born of a rupture within everyday realism, which revealed a fundamental instability. The basic Surrealist situation occurred when, “situated in a strange milieu, the object regains the qualities proper to the object.”104 Franju sought out such moments and images, which emphasized the strangeness of the world as reencountered through film. He explained this aesthetic approach as “giving the documentary real an artificial aspect” and an “artificial appearance.”105 Kate Ince, who emphasizes Franju’s difference from Surrealism

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as much as his debts to it, draws from Gérard Leblanc to summarize Franju’s notion of the insolite as “the eruption of the discontinuous in familiar continuity . . . a dislodging of the everyday which mobilizes the viewer’s imagination and sensibility.”106 The classic example Franju and his critics give for the insolite in Blood of the Beasts is the play of perspectives that produce the true hallucination of a barge shot from a low angle that appears to cut across a field as if it were traversing dry land. Blood of the Beasts not only discovers but also invents such destabilizations of the perception of everyday order. The film depicts the rationalization and banality of lethal violence, wherein the banality of killing heightens the shock effect. The laborers, whose gestures suggest the skill and even grace of a long apprenticeship, whistle and sing while they toss veal heads into an orderly row. The film makes sardonic use of a supposedly spontaneous rendition of Charles Trenet’s “La Mer” by a “jolly butcher” on the killing floor. The montage during this sequence juxtaposes the sentimental images of the song’s lyrics with the sea of blood spilled in the abattoirs. Trenet’s evocations of “the white sheep” of clouds mixing in a summer sky are matched to images of the sheep—­whose blood will soon flow together—­awaiting death in a pen. The song’s visual imperatives “see near the ponds these large damp reeds” and “see the white birds and these rusty houses” are matched with a composition of a bucket of reeds (a thin, sharpened pipe inserted into animals to sever their central nervous systems) next to the pooled blood of slaughtered animals and then the flapping habits of two nuns strolling toward a tidy pile of fresh animal hides stacked on a sidewalk in a manner recalling Lotar’s photographs. The popular song provides an ironic complement to the images of slaughter, and the associations produced by the audiovisual montage pollute the song, producing an emblem of the pervasive violence latent in even the most anodyne cultural artifacts. (Boris Vian’s 1954 song “Les Joyeux bouchers” might be treated as an exemplary reinterpretation of this scene, and the film in general. The refrain to Vian’s tango—­“faut qu’ ça saigne”—­compares the tacit acceptance of killing that feeds the gustatory pleasures of Parisians with the tacit acceptance of killing in imperialist wars, through the notion that both are people just doing their jobs. He brings this point home by

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concluding the song with the opening lines of the French foreign legion anthem “Le Boudin” [Blood pudding].) Strange phenomena also rupture the coherence of events caught on camera, as in the sequence of cattle slaughter at La Villette. After the slaughtered carcass of a steer has been suspended on a hook, the commentary introduces spectators to “Henri Fournel, a man who can split a side of beef during the twelve strikes of noon.” The camera is positioned as if inside the steer being halved, producing a composition in which the two sides of beef form an internal frame.107 As Fournel begins to cut a suspended carcass in half with a hacksaw, a bell begins to toll the hour. The film then cuts from Fournel to shots of the rooftops of Paris, city streets, a busy square, industrial buildings, and finally back to Fournel finishing his task. The sequence portrays an inside-­out movement from interior milieu of organisms and the inside of abattoirs to larger social relations and structures, mapping the interconnection between the work in the slaughterhouse, the modes of transportation that bring animals in and meat out, and the people who the meat will feed going about their everyday lives in the city. The sequence presents a double scenario: one in which Paris is literally inside the steer, as if the cut into the animal’s carcass is an exploratory edit of an interior monadic space, revealing a city within, and another scenario in which it presents the jarring distinction between the bloody work of the abattoir and the tranquil shots of the city’s inhabitants going about their business completely unaware of the death that surrounds and sustains them. As Hamery observes in her reading of the film, the clock bells toll fourteen times. This odd occurrence was written into the draft editing script, confirming an intentional temporal manipulation.108 The disconnect that opens up clock time to an impossible surplus temporality alerts attentive spectators to approach the stability of perceived reality, or at least its documentary presentation, with skepticism. Hamery argues that this subtle perceptual manipulation raises an ontological point about reality, wherein the film “allows facts to unveil their own incoherence.”109 Blood of the Beasts makes the very Painlevéan point that the phenomena of the material world—­be it the natural world or human society—­are far stranger and more surreal than the emissions of the unconscious. The sequence figures time as non-­self-­identical—­

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Figure 5.5. Henri Fournel turning things inside out in Blood of the Beasts (Georges Franju with commentary by Jean Painlevé, 1949).

twelve is not fourteen—­and open to the irruptions of another time, the unfolding of another historical register. For viewers who, like Bataille’s aforementioned flabby cheese-­eaters, tend to vegetate far from the walls of the abattoirs, the most jarring scenes show the slaughter of animals and the immediate aftermath of writhing bodies, quivering flesh, and vaporous clouds produced by the spilling of fresh blood. Contrasted with the Surrealist touches of the prologue, the footage of the slaughter of the horse, steer, calves, and sheep has the too object-­like/overly objective quality that Painlevé described as a new realism. It is characterized by a lacerating effect, both in terms of the slitting of the representational system of the screen with a near-­unbearable presence of the real in witnessing the actual deaths of individual animals and in terms of the lacerating address to the spectator as corporeal, fleshy subject. These images counter Surrealist edible beauty with an indigestible sort that refuses full sublimation: it is unprocessed, difficult to swallow, and not easily disavowed. The spectator is blunted with footage of a white

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horse calmly led into the abattoir, turned around as if being positioned to have its portrait taken—­it is—­and then killed with a captive bolt pistol. Upon the application of this fatal blow to the head, the horse drops to its knees in what Franju described as a “curtsey.”110 The sequence is made all the more terrible by the anticipation leading up to this event. This same pattern is followed for the steer, calves, and sheep, which upon slaughter writhe violently while the commentary describes the proceedings with a dispassionate tone. The film documents the slaughtered victims and the workers with equal fascination. Whatever condemnations it implies are targeted at the complacency of the spectator rather than at the men and women working on the line, who also bear wounds—­obviously less catastrophic—­of this dangerous and physically taxing work, illustrated by the wooden leg of the horse slaughterer Ernest Breuillet and the large cyst produced by repetitive motion on the wrist of an unnamed flayer. Observing these laborers at work, the commentary cites the opening lines of Charles Baudelaire’s “L’Héautontimorouménos” (The self-­torturer): “I will strike you without anger and without hatred, like a butcher.”111 Like a butcher. Baudelaire treated this profession as a model for the cruel autoeroticism of his poem, which cuts both ways: “I am the wound and the knife . . . the victim and executioner!”112 The appearance of this couplet in Blood of the Beasts also cuts two ways, it splits: it addresses the dispassionate manner in which the animals are slaughtered, deflecting accusations of sadism from the laborers while simultaneously addressing the victims with an intimacy and familiarity, using the informal second person singular tu form. But the ambiguous “you” posited as the addressee of Baudelaire’s lines also reflects the film’s intended effects on the spectator, the target of the film’s cruel, dispassionately delivered cuts and blows. Franju had long held the cruelty of blows that make an unexpected address to the spectator in high regard. In his article “Réalisme et Surréalisme,” he suggested that a model for the convergence of realism and Surrealism and the type of cinematic experience he sought could be found in a film that he discovered with Painlevé: Dr. Thierry de Martel’s Trépanation pour crise d’épilepsie Bravais-­Jacksonnienne, a color film document of a trephination of the brain of a patient suffering from epilepsy that

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Figure 5.6. André Brunier striking you like a butcher in Blood of the Beasts (Georges Franju with commentary by Jean Painlevé, 1949).

greatly affected Franju. “The patient,” who Franju asserted felt no pain as his skull was drilled through and his brain operated upon, “gazes into the lens at the sickened spectator and smiles at him.”113 At such moments, representation collapses into presentation, producing an experience of uncanny presence and an unsettling direct address. Franju imagined the screen as a two-­way portal capable of an impossible copresence across space and time established at the instant when the spectator, in the throes of a strong physiological response to the images, becomes the object of the patient’s gaze and the cause and addressee of his smile. The film’s objectivity provided Franju with the cinematic ideal he aspired to re-­create. The multiple addressees of the “you” in Baudelaire’s verse converge in a low-­angle shot of the butcher, André Brunier, lifting his poleax and swinging it directly at the camera. In this fleeting instant, as Sloniowski notes, the spectator occupies the position and perspective of the victim.114 The blow is addressed at us, and we are addressed momentarily as potential meat, before the fatal gesture is relocated as destined for the skull of a steer in the following shot.115

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Figure 5.7. Early draft of Painlevé’s commentary for Blood of the Beasts. Copyright Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris.

If Painlevé had had his way, this perspective and direct address would have been carried further throughout the film. An early draft of Painlevé’s commentary for Blood of the Beasts mobilized not only the passion stirred by a cinema of cruelty but also the compassion elicited by it.116 In an act of anthropomorphic incorporation uncharacteristically direct when compared to the use of anthropomorphism in his earlier films, Painlevé scripted a version of the commentary entirely in the voices of the animals being slaughtered. It is unclear why this version was abandoned, though a note included in the draft of the editing script suggests Franju preferred a more detached commentary, even after Painlevé had produced a version quite close to the final form. Franju instructed Painlevé, “For the commentary I believe that we must not make the animals say phrases such as ‘Like the men they follow, they bleat like hostages sing, knowing it is to no avail.’ . . . It’s important that the text before be incisive and precise, one could say ‘they know very well . . . ?’ above all if one says that they do not suffer.”117 Painlevé seems to have won out in keeping that line of dialogue in the finalized film but otherwise produced a more detached commentary. Painlevé’s alternate draft of the commentary contains four sections.

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Figure 5.8. The sheep disassembly line in Blood of the Beasts (Georges Franju with commentary by Jean Painlevé, 1949).

It opens with an evocative description of the abattoirs as the place where “the gods of death, cheery and signing, destroy the work of life in a single blow, a caress” shrouded in “perpetual fog, blood vapors, the heat of open entrails.”118 He then gives voice to the sheep, the steers, and the horses. The sequence on the sheep at the Vaugirard abattoir (the penultimate sequence in the film’s release print) depicts a herd being led into a pen inside the abattoir by the “Judas sheep,” which is spared slaughter for its service. They are then picked up by one of the workers and ten of them are laid side by side, belly up, on a slatted table. A worker moves down the line slicing through their throats almost as quickly as they are laid on the table. The slaughtered sheep shake their legs in a frenzied manner as their blood spills out. The sequence cross-­fades from the chaos of the twitching animals to a nature morte composition of the dead sheep, their heads hanging by a mere thread of connective tissue, and then cuts to the sheep with their heads and feet completely removed. The alternate commentary proclaims,

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Figure 5.9. “This time we are dead.” Slaughtered sheep in Blood of the Beasts (Georges Franju with commentary by Jean Painlevé, 1949).

We are the poor sheep, all curly and white, so cherished by little girls—­ who also love meat. We were collected from the country, from atop of mowed fields, from the bottoms of valleys where streams flow, from the lengths of wind-­swept hills, from lands fertile from rain. The fragrances of the world have ceased to exist for us. A single one fills our noses and our eyes: blood, flowing everywhere. The traitor leads us with his yellow ribbon, eternal protection around his neck. Like men, we follow. We bleat like singing hostages, knowing nothing will come of it. There are two ways of dying: obediently and without torture, [or] kicking and subjected to vengeance. Man must eat. We offer our throats in a row but who says that we do not think, that we do not know, that we do not suffer? Because one man had his throat slit without wishing to speak? But that was to settle a score. . . . In the end, our score is settled. And who said we are dead? No, we are not dead yet. . . . It would still be sufficient to stitch us up and give us back some blood, just a bit from the flowing river of our mixing blood. But our hooves no longer quiver with the same desperate plea. To live, to still live, life is fleeting ever more quickly; this time we are dead.119

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Painlevé initially put the sequence of sheep slaughter before that of the steers and ended with the horse (in the release print, this order is reversed). Like the sheep, Painlevé granted the steers knowledge of their sacrificial role and had them innocently voice their status as beings whose existence is completely subordinated to the needs and wishes of humans: We are the steers, packed with a power of which the peasant is so proud. . . . We work slowly, simply, steadily, all the time. We have become steer [e.g., castrated] in order to provide good meat, since only cows like the meat of bulls. . . . This also keeps us calm and well suited to pulling the plow. You cannot work if you are distracted by other thoughts—­if your body is aflame. In his infinite kindness, our master has spared us the sting of his whip, so that our skins provide flawless leather. Across the fields, our muzzles wet, we have depleted our strength, and now, in order to spare man any trouble, we only bellow in the long funereal convoys, abandoned day and night, all along the railways, packed into these wagons that also transport men to their own slaughter. At the last instant we become frightened with a panicked gaze upon seeing the executioner and the decapitated heads of our brothers, all lined up in row. A head without a body: derision. But what can be done . . . ? The victims do not budge.120

The steers narrate the conditions of an existence reduced to bare, expropriated utility. The bitter irony of this ghostly chorus of steers is that they have no agency in this arrangement. Their self-­sacrificing account is for our comfort. Painlevé emphasizes this point in the sequence on horses too, mentioning that man uses every part of the horse, but sensitive people would never dream of eating them, because they are such “dear friends to man. Carnivorous man.”121 The unused commentary voices back to us our own disavowals of exploitation and terror at the heart of carnivorous cultures. Painlevé connected the rationalized transportation system and infrastructure of the abattoirs with those of the war machine—­be it the trains transporting troops to the front lines or the trains that deported millions of victims to the Nazi concentration and extermination camps. The analogy does not conflate the slaughter of animals with that of humans as one and the same thing—­asserting equivalence between holocausts suggests too tidy a quantification of incommensurate horrors—­but it establishes a continuity in their rationalized techniques, crystalized in

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the geometric arrangement of decapitated heads that allowed for such monstrous parallels to collapse into each other. The haunting image of the neatly arranged body parts of those subjected to the butcher’s block and disassembly line echoes Walter Benjamin’s summary of Mickey Mouse cartoons: “here we see for the first time that it is possible to have one’s own arm, even one’s own body, stolen.”122 The convergence of human and animal suffering, and the notion that the violation of one’s bodily autonomy counts for mice, cattle, and people, unsettles the confidence of the disavowal that “it’s only an animal.” Painlevé’s alternate commentary, spoken from the perspective of creatures that are both dead and dying, draws on prosopopoeia: the highly theatrical rhetorical device of giving voice to dead beings or inanimate things, of animating or reanimating them so that they may instruct or judge the living.123 Tracing the etymology of the term, Paul de Man notes that prosopon poiein means “to confer a mask or a face,” offering that it “deals with the giving and taking away of faces, with face and deface, figure, figuration, and disfiguration.”124 The slaughterhouse disassembly line, as seen in Lotar’s photographs of formless animal hides and Franju’s film, is a rationalized form of defacing and disfiguration, of removing the face and all that comes with it, to get down to the base use-­value of bodies as flesh, bone, and viscera. Blood of the Beasts, through its moments of documentary Surrealism, produces a parallel disfiguration of the representational system of film, attempting to confront the spectator as an embodied self with the force of a nonhuman spectral presence. From the shock of this encounter, this moment of profane illumination, as Walter Benjamin called his Surrealist-­inspired concept of the shock of historical insight drawn from forms of intoxication redirected toward revolutionary thought, the film may spark historical-­material inquiry and a nonprescriptive call for an ethical response.125 At the instant that the spectator is confronted by processes of disfiguration, Painlevé, drawing on a long practice of filming strange creatures, imagines the release of a chorus of phantasmatic voices coming from an abyssal facelessness. This reading of Blood of the Beasts explicates a cinematic practice that draws together the two modes of history. It engages an instrumental history that attempts to narrate and make sense of events and produce from them a generalizable or abstract

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knowledge for future application. It simultaneously retains the presence of the inassimilable particularity of individual experience—­the history that hurts—­beyond the grasp of any redemptive project. The juxtaposition of the prosopopoeitic appeal of the spectral animal chorus with the radical singularity of footage of the decisive instances of the death of individual animals, resisting transposition, offers a historiographical approach born of catastrophe but refusing to be subsumed by it. “THE REAL FACE OF THINGS”

In his brief consideration of Blood of the Beasts, Siegfried Kracauer argues that the film’s terrible imagery redeems repressed violence. The film provides a view of “the real face of things” that might otherwise be too terrible to contemplate in a direct manner, such as the face of Medusa, the production of meat, or the images of the Nazi death camps.126 Kracauer’s “redemption,” in this instant, might be better termed a weak actualization, because it refers to a process of bringing repressed or invisible phenomena back into the realm of perception but not necessarily into social or political action. Although he confidently dismisses as “preposterous” any notion that Franju’s film advocates vegetarianism or sadism, Kracauer sees historical importance in Blood of the Beasts’s unvarnished focus on visualizing forms of violence typically hidden from view or impossible to take in directly, owing to their traumatic force. Miriam Hansen, in her study of two decades’ worth of drafts for what eventually became Kracauer’s Theory of Film, draws out the radical materialist threads prevalent in earlier versions written in Marseille in 1940, as Kracauer was fleeing the Nazis and trying to secure passage to the United States. She cites his striking formulation: “[Film] does not aim upward, toward intention, but pushes toward the bottom, to gather and carry along even the dregs. It is interested in the refuse, in what is just there—­both in and outside the human being. The face counts for nothing in film unless it includes the death’s-­head beneath.”127 Reading his earlier formulations back into Kracauer’s phrase “the real face of things” shatters the anthropomorphic mirror that reveals or confers a face on objects and phenomena. The overlay of these two formulations produces a concept of cinematic realism that passes through

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rather than resting on anthropomorphic perspectives. The haunting of the face by the skull emphasizes the precariousness of any face or facing, as a conferral and an orientation. In the context of catastrophe, Kracauer sketched an approach to film that sought also to consider and analyze the disfigurements and facelessness of the real. The “very long study of the blood of animals and men” that Painlevé announced in 1934 and its expansion into questions of bleeding, eating, and violence at the heart of a carnivorous social cinema spurred by world historical events from the crisis of February 6, 1934, through the spread of fascism, the outbreak of war, the Holocaust, the atomic bombs, the maintenance of imperialism, and so on, come to a conclusion with two points, two lessons made possible by the play of figuration, disfiguration, anthropomorphism, and anti-­anthropocentrism.128 The first point returns to the Copernican vocation of cinema. In opening our eyes through a gaze whose indifference may produce visions both cruel and tender, Copernican perspectives foster the possibility of an ethics that questions the presumptions of a politics of the face and whether the other must have a face to matter or be worthy of concern, an idea Franju would explore further through the crisis of facelessness in his 1960 feature Eyes without a Face. The nonanthropocentric capacities of the camera’s gaze may be tuned and attuned to defaced, faceless, or inhuman subjects, to an I without a face. It may cultivate itineraries of life and the world beyond human being alone, because, lofty and worthy ideals aside, the category “humanity” guarantees nothing. The second point draws from the pleas of the ghostly voices of Painlevé’s alternate commentary. In the final lines voiced by the chorus of sheep, the spectator is implored to intervene. “It would still be sufficient,” the voices plea, “to stitch us up and give us back some blood.” It is as if, with a dose of Dr. Normet’s blood serum, an almost certain death could be forestalled and these sheep, like the dog who received a suture and a dose of blood in Painlevé’s 1929 demonstration film, could get up and walk off-­frame. The sheep communicate an insistent sense that even the documentary images being projected, for all their implacable historical particularity subjected to the merciless temporal thrust forward, might all the same remain unsettled or even open up another sense of time and

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another, spectral, form of historical experience. This point is emphasized in the sheep’s final phrase: “This time [cette fois] we are dead.” These scenes have the brutal facticity and cruel necessity of the charge of the surreal-­ real. But they suggest that things are capable of being otherwise. Painlevé’s alternative commentary is suffused with what Walter Benjamin referred to as Jetztzeit, or “now-­time”: a temporal experience that shatters the sense of the present as self-­identical, homogenous, and progressive.129 Now-­time seizes on revolutionary energies in the past made actual. Benjamin uses a predatory animal metaphor—­the Tigersprung, or tiger’s leap into the past—­to describe the decisive instant of seizing on the past and opening it to the present. Leaps also occasion transformations, tearing other possibilities from impossible presents. Now-­time avails itself to ghosts, phantoms, specters, and other figures for non-­self-­identical senses of time, history, and experience. This is one of the historical promises of film: a miraculous and at times terrifying reanimation of the dead, a communion with them, that implores the living to respond. This is one of the promises of film history attuned to the Copernican gaze: a present vision of the past capacious enough to see beyond the narrowest conceptions of “man” to a broadened sense of milieu and worlds, to neozoological dramas. To come back to the question of social cinema, Painlevé’s uncanny alternate commentary for Blood of the Beasts asserts that the final outcome of all this bloody business, living on-­screen and out of frame, is contingent on one appetite for life, one direction of the flow of blood, being decisively privileged over another. From the severity of a too object-­like cruel practice of cinema flicker other possibilities, suffused with unexpected tenderness and compassion. Faced with unspeakable horror, and perhaps haunted by his own implications in systems of violence, Painlevé attempted to articulate a social cinema that would sensitize spectators to look and listen with eyes and ears wide open to the strange and fragile beauty of a cinematic nature. Between the film screen and the archive, a spectral call beckons. With an untimely urgency, it invites us to respond. It implores us to be responsible to its appeals, to activate its histories, and also to feel through a common creatureliness—­as perhaps only cinema makes possible—­its real, surreal bite.

Conclusion UNFINISHED REVOLUTIONS, UNTIMELY NATURE Je suis un horsin. Je reste un “hors sein.” —­Jean Painlevé, 1935 and 1963

In the immediate post–­World War II years, the production and reception contexts in which Painlevé worked were in flux. Neo-­Lamarckian comparative anatomy and zoology were overtaken by genetics and the proliferation of specializations in biology. The most vital energies of Surrealism in Paris had shifted to other global contexts. The culture of cinematic exhibition was also undergoing changes. The prospects for popular distribution of Painlevé’s films diminished, while ciné-­clubs and nontheatrical venues became the primary sites where his films were seen. These shifting contexts, which require their own careful elaboration, provide an end point for this study and, it is hoped, a point of entry for subsequent research. These changes by no means signified the end of Painlevé’s career. With assistance from Hamon, the pair produced films for another three decades, releasing some of their finest work, including Oursins (Sea urchins, 1954), Comment naissent des méduses (How some jellyfish are born, 1960), Histoires de crevettes (Shrimp stories, 1964), and the later-­era masterpieces Les amours de la pieuvre (The love life of the octopus, 1967), Acéra ou le bal des sorcières (Acera, or the witches’ dance, 1972), Diatomées (Diatoms, 1974), and Transition de phase dans les cristaux liquides (Phase transitions in liquid crystals, 1978). From How Some Jelly­ fish Are Born onward, Painlevé and Hamon shared credit as codirectors. Painlevé continued his institutional work with the ICS, AICS, and CNAM and as the founder and president of the French Federation of 311

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Ciné-­Clubs (1946–­56), supporting experiments on and by cinema. He was one of the signatories of the Groupe des Trente’s December 20, 1953, manifesto in defense of the short film, participating as an elder statesman in what is now recognized as a key reference point for the emergence of a new generation of formally and politically adventurous filmmakers.1 Painlevé also became active in the new medium of television. As early as 1932, he predicted television’s cultural importance in delivering the living present to audiences. In 1933, he spoke of the medium as potentially revolutionizing filmmaking, returning to this theme in 1945 when he declared that, thanks to television, “soon cinema will be dead.”2 He performed live scientific demonstrations of microscopy on television in 1948 in both Paris and London, and as a guest on the program Sciences d’aujourd’hui (Today’s science, 1956), he presented a bronchoscopy procedure live on television.3 He and Hamon held regular residencies at the field stations at Roscoff and Banyuls-­sur-­mer from the 1950s through the 1970s, offering film support and training to researchers. Hamon, in addition to collaborating with Painlevé on numerous films, remained an assiduous photographer, made several small-­gauge films, raised animals, and produced textiles. She died in 1987 and was interred in Port-­Blanc. Painlevé, expressing his deep debts to Hamon, placed a plaque at her grave site that reads: “To Geneviève, who, since 1928, collaborated with Jean Painlevé on his scientific films and other artistic expressions, notably the Palace of Discovery in 1937.” Painlevé died on July 2, 1989. He was interred at the Montparnasse cemetery, where Jean Rouch delivered his eulogy. His grave bears the inscription “Jean Painlevé: Cinéaste.” In the obituary for Painlevé published in an insert in Cahiers du cinéma, Jean-­Jacques Henry offered a belated apologia on behalf of the journal for its critical neglect of Painlevé: In a world that reassures itself with classifications, nominations, attributions, divisions, and structure, Painlevé always provoked some irritation. His life was unsettled, it always exceeded the context that one wished to assign to him. Too much to say, too quickly, as a sort of response to everything. . . . As for the silence of Cahiers for almost forty years . . . we’ll not boast about it.4

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If a lack of critical imagination resulted in a slightly marginalized position for Painlevé’s and Hamon’s work, at least in many histories of cinema, such a position on the edges was one frequently claimed by Painlevé as necessary and productive. In a letter to his childhood friend Armand Moss dated November 25, 1963, Painlevé revised a small bit of wordplay he had made nearly three decades earlier in an interview with Charles Chassé, where he declared, “I am a stranger/a sea urchin” (see the first epigraph). Reflecting on nearly four decades of professional activity, Painlevé reaffirmed, “I remain an ‘hors sein’” (see the second epigraph). I remain an outsider, off-­center, decentered, a sea urchin, a stranger. A sea urchin is a strange and prickly creature, whose piercing spines make it difficult to handle and penetrate. It is an object of fascination sought out by gourmands and beloved by Surrealists. Painlevé’s imagined position as a stranger, an outsider, and a sea urchin encapsulated his desire to look upon and visualize phenomena from extraordinary vantages, from positions beyond habituated perception, and to exert a decentering force. As a loose frame for Painlevé’s early films, this doubled self-­identification and autobiographical assertion as an outsider/sea urchin summarizes, in Painlevé’s own terms, the Copernican aspirations at play in this work. Through their explorations of scale and comparison, metamorphosis and anthropomorphism, sex and gender, vectors, the food chain, eating, the politics of violence, and modalities of history, Painlevé’s films, and subsequently Painlevé and Hamon’s films, carefully document biological and zoological phenomena while also using the cinema as an experimental milieu in which to imagine other arrangements and ways of being. The films complicated unreflective anthropocentrism and the notion of “the human” as an isolated end unto itself or an apex of evolutionary development. These cinematic studies of animal life also contain an anthropological dimension. They archive a documentary record of attempts to see “mankind” from a critical, exterior position developed in relation to and through the opacity of animals. These reflections on “mankind” and people are sometimes the actual reflections of the filmmaker captured and refracted in the surfaces of the aquariums and terrariums used in the films. If, throughout this book, the term Copernican vocation has

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been favored over Copernican revolution, it is because of the appealing modesty of vocation as a calling or, in more secular language, an ordinary job of the cinema. The Copernican vocation of cinema has a revolutionary potential to help rehearse and radically rethink the relations of humans, animals, and milieu. Painlevé’s oeuvre archives energies of an unfinished revolution, an aspect that may belong most powerfully to the afterlife of this work and its reception in the present, when it is enjoying its widest circulation yet. Cinema’s Copernican vocation is more than a matter of spatial orientation and perception; it also has a temporal axis that grows stronger as films become separated from their original contexts—­part of what this book has endeavored to assemble—­so long as spectators make the “tiger’s leap” into the past. The temporal dimension produces the conditions of possibility for the development of a second-­order cinematic natural history. Animal films, in their afterlives, have become unintended wildlife preserves, a Noah’s archive of threatened species and environments on the brink of extinction. Painlevé’s films participate in this natural history of cinema, offering a disquieting address to a present marked by ecological precarity. The long-­held distinctions between the geological time of classical natural history and human history have collapsed, heralding what Dipesh Chakrabarty refers to as the emergence of a “negative universal history,” driven by entropic forces of global climate change and attendant ecological catastrophes rather than the synthesizing uplift of Hegel’s vision of a universal history of human progress.5 Even at their most visibly surreal and artificial, Painlevé’s films, alongside many other wildlife media, have begun to take on the appearance of ecological ruins—­but also ruins of a mentalité regarding animals and nature—­as their original referents have disappeared or become critically endangered. The films teach ways of seeing strangely, encouraging forms of curiosity and wonder, much like they solicited from their original audiences, while also providing archival evidence for tracking and reflecting on planetary ecological shifts. All films, as they age, become natural history films. Their environments become increasingly legible as historically contingent negotiations of the created and the found, of artificial and organic ecosystems. But wildlife films, as they age, become more visibly human, cultural, and

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expressive of the filmmakers’ fantasies about animals, milieux, and the universe beyond the human being. The work of these films is far from over: cinema’s Copernican revolution may be still to come. Looking back at the forward-­looking films of Painlevé, we may learn to see our own troubled present with the eyes of natural historians, which is also to say through a Surrealist optic. This may become a strategy of survival in an era when the transformations of milieux, ecosystems, and the planet trigger increasingly surreal events. The philosopher Vinciane Despret writes of the shared political projects of the radical antifoundational thought of queer and trans theorists and examinations of animal life at a moment of accelerated precarity. These practices of thought can teach us “to cultivate an appetite for metamorphoses, and to forge multiple affiliations.”6 The cultivation of appetites for metamorphoses encapsulates the ethos of Painlevé assisted by Hamon. They carefully documented a world that now appears increasingly remote from our own but also produced experiments in a denatured natural history, a zoological Surrealism that displaces us from the world we think we know and offers it to be encountered anew, so as to be conceived otherwise. In holding these two facets together, the films generate untimely returns, while maintaining a capacity for actuality: they are our contemporaries too. The place of Painlevé’s oeuvre in history, its critical role for theorizing photographic media, and for thinking through and with animals, remains productively unsettled. These films and their fascinating subjects offer models for critically repositioning the frames by which fields of inquiry get conceived and extend what they enable to enter the realm of the sensible and perceptible. Painlevé’s films configure cinema’s Copernican vocation as a gay science that makes a virtue of learning to become—­and of remaining—­an hors sein.

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Acknowledgments Many people helped me over the decade it took to write this book, and it’s a pleasure to formally (and finally) express my gratitude. Akira Mizuta Lippit has had a singular impact on this work. He has been an extraordinary mentor since my days as a graduate student: providing sage and timely advice on thinking, research, writing, and style that always seems to reach well beyond academic concerns. He is a model of generosity, imagination, ingenuity, and good humor whom I strive to emulate. His faith in my work taught me to trust my thinking but also to continuously demand more from it. The other members of my dissertation committee—­Michael Renov and Vanessa Schwartz—­merit special thanks for their time, critical insights, and generosity. I continue to draw on lessons from Lynn Dumenil, Anne Friedberg, Nina Gelbart, Ken Hillis, David E. James, Rick Jewel, Victoria Johnson, Bliss Lim, Carol Mavor, Fred Moten, Fatimah Tobing Rony, and Samuel Weber. I hesitate to call any of them former teachers. Brigitte Berg and the staff at Les Documents Cinématographiques/ Archives Jean Painlevé in Paris provided access to archival materials and images for this book. I am grateful for their expertise, time, hospitality, and patience, while noting they bear no responsibility for my arguments and interpretations, or for any errors this manuscript may contain. I am also grateful for aid given by archivists and librarians at the Bibliothèque du film; L’Institut Pasteur; Fondation Jerôme Sedoux; the Bibliothèque Nationale de France; the Centre National du Cinéma et de l’image animée Archives françaises du film, particularly Daniel Brémaud; and the Halsman Archive. Damarice Amao helped me locate several images and offered counsel. A number of people in France provided hospitality, great company, friendship, and advice on navigating la vie quotidienne during lengthy research stays: Isabel Bourigaud, Martine Colarossi and Jean-­ Michel Colarossi, Mariola Rouletta, and Krister Wahlin and Frédérique 317

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Robin. At the University of Toronto, former Innis College librarian Len Ferstman and the staff of the Robarts Library Media Commons and the Interlibrary Loan and Documents Delivery services all helped me to extend the reach of my research across the Atlantic. Funding in the form of a Connaught New Researcher Award from the University of Toronto and a Social Science and Humanities Research Council Insight Development Grant supported parts of this research. Janet Paterson and Charlie Keil, successive principals of Innis College, as well as Corinn Columpar, director of the Cinema Studies Institute, and Pascal Michelucci, chair of French at the University of Toronto, all offered support as well as patience and faith. I am particularly grateful for the late-­stage teaching release that allowed me to complete this manuscript. Further thanks are due to my colleagues and friends at the Cinema Studies Institute and the Department of French, who have provided a welcome and stimulating atmosphere in which to work, including Kay Armatage, Kass Banning, Angelica Fenner, Barbara Havercroft, Brian Jacobson, Patrick Keilty, Julie LeBlanc, Alice Maurice, Brian Price, Scott Richmond, Pascal Riendeau, Sara Saljoughi, Nic Sammond, Meghan Sutherland, Alexie Tcheuyap, Bart Testa, and Alberto Zambenedetti. In the Department of History of Art, Jordan Bear and Elizabeth Legge have been wonderful interlocutors. I have rarely taught a class that did not in some way touch upon this project. Courses on animals and cinema, French cinema, Surrealism, film theory, history and historiography, and montage provided opportunities to rehearse ideas and discuss Painlevé’s films and the contexts constructed for their interpretation. My students energized and nourished my thinking through their questions, reminding me what a privilege it is to teach. A number of student research assistants helped track down sources and aided me with the more mundane but essential aspects of research, including Frenand Léger, Miriam Siegel, Daniel Laurin, Marie Pascal, and Nick Shaw, who, along with Dylan Cousineau, also assisted with cinemetric analyses that provided a skeleton for thinking about the form of these films. Simon Lüling helped me decrypt a few of Painlevé’s more inscrutable handwritten notes related to The Vampire. This work has benefited from criticism, advice, and conversation

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with Martin Arnold, Luka Arsenjuk, Nathan Blake, Marta Braun, Jordi Cat, Steven Choe, Catherine Clark, Heidi Cooley, Angela Dalle Vacche, Kristin Fuhs, Alla Gadassic, Mark Hayward, Maggie Hennefeld, Daniel Herbert, Selmin Kara, Ari Laskin, Michael Lawrence, Jean-­Claude Lebensztejn, Nam Lee, Tiffany Lee, Joshua Malitsky, Laura McMahon, Daniel Morgan, Guinevere Narraway, Joshua Neves, Anat Pick, Inga Pollmann, Paul Reinsch, Theresa Scandiffio, Greg Siegel, Tess Takahashi, Pao-­chen Tang, Genevieve Yue, Ling Zhang, and Mike Zryd. René Thoreau Bruckner, Oliver Gaycken, Timothy Holland, Juan Carlos Kase, and Jennifer Wild were a first audience for many of these ideas. They inspire me through their own work and show me, time and again, that friendship is a form of wide-­ranging thinking together. Invitations to speak from the History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine and Media School at Indiana University, the Animal Studies Workshop and Neubauer Collegium at the University of Chicago, the Graduate Students of the Program in Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University, the Visual Studies Speakers Series in the Department of Art History at Manchester University, the Departments of Film and Media Studies and French at UC Berkeley, the English and Film Studies programs at the University of Maryland, the Colloquium in Art History and Visual Studies at Lund University, the Department of History of Art and the Jackman Humanities Centre at the University of Toronto, and the Toronto Film and Media Seminar all provided productive forums for discussing parts of this book. Questions and feedback from audiences at the World Picture Conference, Visible Evidence, and the Society for Cinema and Media Studies helped improve the work. I am grateful to my editor Danielle Kasprzak, editorial assistant Anne Carter, and the design team at the University of Minnesota Press as well as David Fideler, copy editor Holly Monteith, and indexer Jay Marchand for bringing this book to completion. Jennifer Fay and Jennifer Peterson revealed themselves as referees for this manuscript. I am deeply grateful for the attention, time, and support these two brilliant scholars gave to this project. This is a much better book thanks to their interventions. My extended family has offered moral and material support as well as love and needed distraction. Even when they weren’t quite sure what

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I was doing or why, they helped me do it. Countless thanks to my father, John D. Cahill, my siblings John, Sara, Elizabeth, and Mary, plus Rob, Rachel, Rosada and Harris, Carl, Muhtar, Idris, Stacy, and all my nephews and nieces. My mother, Elizabeth Stock Cahill, helped to cultivate my curiosity for the world. A box of shark’s teeth she collected as a child and kept in her desk sparked my own childhood reveries of the deep and the past as well as the enchantments of assembling their fragments into imaginative wholes. I wish I could have shared all that I have discovered with her. Most of all, I thank Mufridah Nolan. Your intelligence, humor, patience, companionship, care, and love have meant the world to me. They have been the primary condition of possibility for this work, and the most difficult part of writing it has been the time it has kept us apart. I hope that this work, now completed, will serve as the condition of possibility for the singular gift of time together with you. I dedicate this book to you with all my love.

Notes INTRODUCTION

  1 Charles Chassé, “Chez Jean Painlevé, cinéaste de l’invisible,” Dépêche de Brest, February 13, 1935, 2.   2 Richard Abel, French Cinema: The First Wave, 1915–­1929 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1987), 241–­75.   3 Léo Sauvage, “Jean Painlevé ou, subversion dans la science,” Regards 4, no. 67 (1935): 8.   4 Clément Chéroux and Damarice Amao, Jacques-­André Boiffard, la parenthèse surréaliste (Paris: Centre Pompidou/Xavier Barral, 2014), 44.   5 André Breton, “Max Ernst,” 1922, in The Lost Steps, trans. Mark Polizzotti (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996), 61.   6 On biography as mediating irreducible particularity with historical generality, see Dana Polan, Julia Child’s “The French Chef” (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2011), 39–­40.   7 Biographical information on Painlevé comes from Brigitte Berg, “Contradictory Forces: Jean Painlevé, 1902–­1989,” in Science Is Fiction: The Films of Jean Painlevé, ed. Andy Masaki Bellows and Marina McDougall, with Brigitte Berg (San Francisco: Brico, 2000), 3–­48; Roxane Hamery, Jean Painlevé, le cinéma au cœur de la vie (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2008), esp. 21–­27; Jean Painlevé, interviewed by Philippe Ensault, “La Vie de Jean Painlevé,” 1982, unpublished transcript held in Archives Jean Painlevé (AJP), “Radio et télévision” dossier; Jean Painlevé, interviewed by Hélène Hazéra and Dominique Leglu, “Jean Painlevé Reveals the Invisible,” in Bellows and McDougall, Science Is Fiction, 170–­79; interviews with Jean Painlevé in the television series produced by Denis Derrien and Hélène Hazéra Jean Painlevé au fil de ses films (1988); and Anne-­Laure Anizan, “Paul Painlevé (1863–­1933): un scientifique en politique” (PhD diss., Science Po, 2006), esp. 113–­15 and 807–­8.   8 Berg, “Contradictory Forces,” 7.   9 Sergei Eisenstein, Beyond the Stars: The Memoirs of Sergei Eisenstein, ed. 321

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  11   12   13

  14   15

  16   17   18   19

  20   21   22   23

  24

NOTES TO INTRODUCTION

Richard Taylor, trans. William Powell (London: British Film Institute, 1995), 203–­4. Berg, “Contradictory Forces,” 31–­34; Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 106–­7; Painlevé, interviewed by Ensault, “La Vie de Jean Painlevé,” 24–­26; and Painlevé, interviewed by Hazéra and Leglu, “Jean Painlevé Reveals the Invisible,” 178. Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 138–­49. “État Civil: Naissances,” L’Ouest-­éclair, July 20, 1905, 3. On the Hamons, see Pierre Le Peillet, Port-­Blanc et Buguélès, vol. 2 of Figures du Trégor-­Goëlo (Perros-­Guirec: Anagrammes, 2005), 50–­58, and Michel W. Pharand, Bernard Shaw and the French (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2000), 101–­28. Louis Guilloux, L’Herbe d’oubli (Paris: Gallimard, 1984), 234–­52, and Le Peillet, Port-­Blanc et Buguélès, 55. According to Armand Moss, Painlevé and Hamon went to see Augustin Hamon to declare their commitment to an “open union” and to ask for his benediction. See Moss, “Ginette,” in Jean Painlevé, ed. Brigitte Berg (Paris: Les Documents Cinématographiques, 1991), 51. See Hamon’s Bulletin d’adhésion, Club des Scaphandres et de la Vie Sous L’Eau, undated circa 1935–­36, held in AJP: Club des Sous l’Eau dossier. Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 17. Painlevé, “Les Pieds dans l’eau,” Voilà 215 (May 4, 1935): 5–­6, and Léo Sauvage, “L’Institut dans la cave,” Regards 4, no. 70 (1935): 10–­11. Painlevé, “Les Films biologiques,” Lumière et radio, no. 1 (September 10, 1929): 15–­18, and Painlevé, “Feet in the Water,” in Bellows and McDougall, Science Is Fiction, 131. Léo Sauvage, “Institute in the Cellar,” in Bellows and McDougall, Science Is Fiction, 126. Painlevé, interviewed in Denis Derrien and Hélène Hazéra, Jean Painlevé au fil de ses films (France, 1988). Heather Love, Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007), 34, 40. Work by feminist, queer, and animal studies scholars has been particularly germane. See Cynthia Chris, Watching Wildlife (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006), and Susan McHugh, “Queer (and) Animal Theories,” GLQ 15, no. 1 (2009): 153–­69. Jonathan Burt, “Das Leben im Meer in Kunst und Wissenschaft: Jean Painlevé’s L’Hippocampe, ou ‘Cheval Marin,’” in Der Film und das Tier: Klassifizierungen, Cinephilien, Philosophien, ed. Sabine Nessel, Winfried Pauleit, Christine Rüffert, Karl-­Heinz Schmid, and Alfred Tews (Berlin: Bertz + Fischer, 2012), 46.

NOTES TO INTRODUCTION

323

  25 Burt, and Donna J. Haraway, When Species Meet (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008).   26 Painlevé, interviewed by Philippe Jerôme, “La Science est une fiction,” Patriote Côte d’Azur, November 28, 1986, 16.   27 Nicolaus Copernicus, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, trans. and ed., with an introduction by, Alistair Matheson Duncan (1543; repr., New York: Barnes and Noble, 1976).   28 Robert M. Wallace, translator’s introduction to Blumenberg, Genesis of the Copernican World, xiv, and Blumenberg, Genesis of the Copernican World, 625.   29 Blumenberg, 624, 623.   30 Blumenberg, 629.   31 Blumenberg, 642–­43.   32 Blumenberg, 81, 101.   33 Paul-­Laurent Assoun, Freud and Nietzsche, trans. Richard L. Collier Jr. (1980; repr., New York: Continuum, 2002), 187–­88, and Friedrich Nietz­ sche, Gesammelte Werke (Munich: Musarion, 1925), 16:64.   34 Sigmund Freud, “Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis,” Standard Edition 16 (1963): 284.   35 Stefanos Geroulanos, An Atheism That Is Not Humanist Emerges in French Thought (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2010).   36 Geroulanos, 3–­4.   37 Geroulanos, 50–­51.   38 On the histories of scientific and medical filmmaking and its role in scientific popularization and education, see Pierre Thévenard and G. Tassel, Le Cinéma scientifique français, preface by Jean Painlevé (Paris: La Jeune Parque, 1948); Lisa Cartwright, Screening the Body: Tracing Medicine’s Visual Culture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995); Hannah Landecker, “Cellular Features: Microcinematography and Early Film Theory,” Critical Inquiry 31 (2005): 903–­37; Landecker, “Microcinematography and the History of Science and Film,” Isis 97 (2006): 121–­32; Kirsten Ostherr, Medical Visions: Producing the Patient through Film, Television, and Imaging Technologies (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013); Oliver Gaycken, Devices of Curiosity: Early Cinema and Popular Science (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015); Scott Curtis, The Shape of Spectatorship: Art, Science, and Early Cinema in Germany (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015); and Inga Pollmann, Cinematic Vitalism: Film Theory and the Question of Life (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2018).   39 Painlevé, “Scientific Film (1955),” in Bellows and McDougall, Science Is Fiction, 162.

324

NOTES TO INTRODUCTION

  40 Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison, Objectivity (New York: Zone, 2007), esp. 115–­90.   41 Louis Delluc, “From Orestes to Rio Jim,” in French Film Theory and Criticism: A History/Anthology, vol. 1, 1907–­1929, ed. Richard Abel (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1988), 256.   42 Jean Epstein, “L’Objectif lui-­même,” Cinéa-­ciné pour tous 53 ( January 15, 1926): 8. Emphasis added.   43 Epstein, quoted in Yves Dartois, “L’Œil et l’objectif,” Comœdia, March 29, 1926, 2.   44 Epstein.   45 Henri Focillon, “Le Cinématographe et l’enseignement des arts,” in Hommage à Louis Lumière: Ville de Paris Musée Galliera: le cinématographe appliqué à l’education, à l’enseignement et à la recherche scientifique et artistique (Paris: Musée Galliera, 1935), np.   46 André Bazin, “Ontologie de l’image photographique,” in Problèmes de la peinture, ed. Gaston Deihl (Paris: Confluence, 1945), 406; Bazin, “Théâtre et cinéma (suite),” Esprit 7–­8 (1951): 244, 240; and Bazin, “Theater and Film (2),” in What Is Cinema?, trans. Timothy Barnard (Montreal: Caboose, 2009), 200, 194. Translations slightly modified.   47 Bazin, “Théâtre et cinéma (suite),” 238, and Bazin, “Theater and Film (2),” 190–­91.   48 Bazin, 194, 240. Translation slightly modified; emphasis added. See also Angela Dalle Vacche, “The Difference of Cinema in the System of the Arts,” in Opening Bazin: Postwar Film Theory and Its Afterlife, ed. Dudley Andrew with Hervé Joubert-­Laurencin (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 142–­52.   49 On treating the past as a foreign language, see Rick Altman, “Part I: Methodology,” in Silent Film Sound (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), 12.   50 Georges Canguilhem, “The Living and Its Milieu,” in Knowledge of Life, trans. Stefanos Geroulanos and Daniela Ginsburg, ed. Paola Marrati and Todd Meyers (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008), 98–­120. On milieu as a key concept in interwar cinema, see Dudley Andrew, Mists of Regret: Culture and Sensibility in Classic French Film (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1995), 238, and Margaret C. Flinn, The Social Architecture of French Cinema, 1929–­1939 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2014), 38.   51 Canguilhem, “The Living and Its Milieu,” 117.   52 Canguilhem, 119.   53 Thierry Lefebvre, “Introduction: images du réel/non-­fiction,” 1895 18 (1995): 7–­8.

NOTES TO CHAPTER 1

325

  54 Bazin, “Le Réalisme cinématographique et l’école Italienne de la libération,” in Qu’est-­ce que le cinéma?, vol. 4, Une Esthétique de la réalité: le néo-­réalisme (Paris: Cerf, 1962), 15, and Bazin, “Cinematic Realism and the Italian School of the Liberation,” in What Is Cinema?, 221. 1. NEOZOOLOGICAL DRAMAS

  1 Adam Lowenstein, Dreaming of Cinema: Spectatorship, Surrealism, and the Age of Digital Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015), esp. 20–­23.   2 On the importance of cinematic perception to Surrealist practice, see R. Bruce Elder, Dada, Surrealism, and the Cinematic Effect (Waterloo, Ont.: Wilfred Laurier Press, 2013).   3 Berg, “Contradictory Forces,” 9, 11–­12; Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 26.   4 Paul Wintrebert, Titres et travaux scientifiques (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1922); Christophe Charle and Eva Telkes, Les Professeurs de la Faculté des Sciences de Paris: dictionnaire biographique 1901–­1939 (Paris: CNRS, 1989), 265–­66; Jacques Boyer, “Paul Wintrebert: Membre de l’Académie des Sciences,” La Nature 67, no. 3040–­3051 (1939): 55–­56; Cédric Grimoult, Histoire de l’évolution contemporain en France, 1945–­ 1995 (Geneva: Librairie Droz, 2000), 44–­50; and Jean-­Louis Fischer, “Experimental Embryology in France (1887–­1936),” International Journal of Developmental Biology 34, no. 1 (1990): 19–­20.   5 Almost 60 percent of the students in the photograph appear to be women, which was above statistical norms at a time when, according to Carole Christen-­Lécuyer, women made up 15 to 22 percent of the total enrollment at the university and comprised approximately 20 percent of the students in math and sciences. Christen-­Lécuyer, “Les premières étudiantes de l’Université de Paris,” La Découverte 2, no. 4 (2000): 37, 42.   6 Hannah Landecker, Culturing Life: How Cells Became Technologies (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007), 35.   7 Mario A. Di Gregorio, “Zoology,” in Modern Life and Earth Sciences, vol. 6 of The Cambridge History of Science, ed. Peter J. Bowler and John V. Pickstone (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 205–­24.   8 Auguste Chauveau, Saturnin Arloing, and François-­Xavier Lesbre, Traité d’anatomie comparée des animaux domestiques, 5th ed. (Paris: J.-­B. Baillière, 1903), 1.   9 Curtis, Shape of Spectatorship, 6–­7.   10 Claude Bernard, Introduction à l’étude de la médicine expérimentale (1865; repr., Paris: Delagrave, 1898), 180.   11 Wintrebert, Titres et travaux scientifiques, 11.

326

NOTES TO CHAPTER 1

  12 Wintrebert, 14.   13 Wintrebert, 67–­68. Jean Comandon cites Wintrebert’s use of media in research and teaching in a letter to Luciano de Feo, director of l’Institut international du cinématographe éducatif, April 4, 1933. Held in Fonds Jean Comandon, Dossier: COM.B2, L’Institut Pasteur, Paris.   14 Wintrebert, Titres et travaux scientifiques, 9–­10.   15 Rémy Perrier, Éléments d’anatomie comparée (Paris: J.-­B. Baillière, 1893), 1. Biographical information comes from Charle and Telkes, Les Professeurs de la Faculté des Sciences de Paris, 221–­23. On the university science curricula in Paris in the 1920s, see Raoul M. May, “French Instruction and Research in Biology,” Science 65, no. 1673 (1927): 53–­55.   16 Perrier, Éléments d’anatomie comparée, 20–­21, and Carl Vogt and Émile Yung, Traité d’anatomie comparée practique (Paris: C. Reinwald, 1888), 5–­8.   17 Georges Cuvier, L’Introduction, les mammifères, et les oiseaux, vol. 1 of Le Règne animal, distribué d’après son organisation (Paris: Deterville, 1817), 6, and editor’s preface to Cuvier, Leçons d’anatomie comparée, 2nd ed., (Paris: Crochard, 1835), 1:xviii–­ix.   18 Vogt and Yung, Traité d’anatomie comparée practique, 1; Martin J. S. Rudwick, Bursting the Limits of Time: The Reconstruction of Geohistory in the Age of Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), 358; and Cuvier, “Sur un nouveau rapprochement à établir entre les classes qui composent le règne animal,” Annales du Muséum d’histoire naturelle 19 (1812): 73–­84.   19 Dorinda Outram, Georges Cuvier: Vocation, Science, and Authority in Post-­ revolutionary France (Oxford: Manchester University Press, 1984), 175.   20 Outram, 176.   21 Rudwick, Bursting the Limits of Time, 415, 506.   22 Georges Cuvier, Discours sur le révolutions de la surface du globe, 6th ed. (Paris: Edmond D’Ocagne, 1830), esp. 97–­102.   23 Cuvier, 102. See also Eric Buffetaut, A Short History of Vertebrate Paleontology (Wolfeboro, N.H.: Croom Helm, 1987), 55–­58.   24 Perrier, Éléments d’anatomie comparée, 3.   25 See Laurent Loison, Qu’est-­ce que le néolamarckisme? Les Biologistes français et la question de l’évolution des espèces (Paris: Vuibert, 2010).   26 Raf de Bont, Stations in the Field: A History of Place-­Based Animal Research, 1870–­1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), 1, and Wintrebert, Titres et travaux scientifiques, 13.   27 Giard, quoted in de Bont, Stations in the Field, 73.   28 May, “French Instruction and Research in Biology,” 54.   29 Maurice Parat and Jean Painlevé, “Constitution du cytoplasme d’une

NOTES TO CHAPTER 1

  30   31

  32   33   34   35

  36

  37

  38   39   40

  41   42

327

cellule glandulaire: la cellule des glandes salivaires de la larve du Chironome,” presented by Félix Henneguy, séance of September 15, Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des sciences 179 (1924): 543–­ 44; Parat and Painlevé, “Observation vitale d’une cellule glandulaire en activité. Nature et rôle de l’appareil réticulaire interne de Golgi et de l’appareil de Holmgren,” presented by Félix Henneguy, séance of September 29, Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des sciences 179 (1924): 612–­14; and Parat and Painlevé, “Appareil réticulaire interne de Golgi, trophosponge de Holmgren et vacuome,” presented by Félix Henneguy, séance of October 27, Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des sciences 179 (1924): 844–­46. Wintrebert, Titres et travaux scientifiques, 12. Wintrebert, 13, and H. J. Conn and R. S. Cunningham, “History of Staining: The Use of Dyes as Vital Stains,” Biotechnic and Histochemistry 7, no. 3 (1932): 81–­90. Parat and Painlevé, “Constitution du cytoplasme d’une cellule glandulaire,” 543. Parat and Painlevé, “Observation vitale d’une cellule glandulaire en activité,” 614. Parat and Painlevé, and Parat and Painlevé, “Appareil réticulaire interne de Golgi, trophosponge de Holmgren et vacuome,” 844–­46. Marcel Avel, “Vacuome et appareil de Golgi chez les Vertébrés,” presented by M. F. Mesnil, séance of March 23, Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des sciences 180 (1925): 959–­61. See “L’Académie des Sciences s’intéresse aux recherches d’un savant de vingt ans, M. Jean Painlevé,” Le Petit Parisien, September 30, 1924, 1, and “M. Painlevé savant de 20 ans,” Paris soir, October 1, 1924, 2. For Painlevé’s remarks on the misprinted age, see Berg, “Contradictory Forces,” 11, and Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 26. Painlevé, “Neozoological Drama,” in Bellows and McDougall, Science Is Fiction, 117; “Drame néo-­zoologique,” Surréalisme 1 (1924): 12; and “Courrier des lettres: À propos des débuts de M. Jean Painlevé,” Éclair, October 10, 1924. Held in AJP: Press Clippings. Painlevé, “Neozoological Drama,” 117, translation slightly modified. Pollmann, Cinematic Vitalism, 151–53. Claude Maillard-­Chary, Le Bestiaire des surréalistes (Paris: Presses de la Sorbonne Nouvelle, 1994), 40. The quotation from Breton comes from Introduction au discours sur le peu de réalité. Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 31. Canguilhem, “The Living and Its Milieu,” 117; on creative geography, see

328

  43

  44   45   46   47

  48   49

  50

  51

  52

  53

NOTES TO CHAPTER 1

Lev Kuleshov, Kuleshov on Film: The Writings of Lev Kuleshov, trans. and ed. Ronald Levaco (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974), 52. A marc valve (soupape de marc) presumably refers to a drainage system for separating liquid from marc, such as the skin and pulp of wine grapes, or from other forms of residue. Marc also refers to liqueurs made from marc. A marc valve may also be a dispenser of liqueur, which may allude to the alcohol preservatives used with specimens. Painlevé seems to be making an anatomical comparison here between the valve and male sexual anatomy (a locus of spermatozoa) as well as a self-­referential allusion in the spirit of ’pataphysics. Marcel Parat—­marc for short—­was the chef de travaux in Wintrebert’s laboratory, and Painlevé was his assistant, or sous-­pape de Marc (assistant to the “pope” Marc). Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 32. Painlevé, “Neozoological Drama,” 117, translation slightly modified. See Gavin Parkinson, Surrealism, Art, and Modern Science (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2008), esp. 11–­46. Alfred Jarry, Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, Pataphysician, a Neo-­ Scientific Novel, trans. Simon Watson Taylor, with an introduction by Roger Shattuck (Boston: Exact Change, 1996), 21–­22. On the gift of Ubu Roi, see the letter from Geneviève and Mary-­Yvonne Hamon to Jean Painlevé, September 20, 1923, held in AJP: Correspondences. Canguilhem, “The Living and Its Milieu,” 99. Amy Lyford, Surrealist Masculinities: Gender Anxiety and the Aesthetics of Post–­World War I Reconstruction in France (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007). “Editorial: la volonté du pays,” L’Indochine nouvelle, January 2, 1925, 1. For critiques of “Neozoological Drama,” see “Cinq minutes chez . . .  Jean Painlevé (Surréaliste),” Canard enchaîné, 1924; P., “Un Début dans les Lettres,” Soliel du midi, October 13, 1924; Désiré Lacoudre, “Une École,” Harvre éclair, March 5, 1925; and Jean-­Bernard, “Le Phénomène Painlevé,” Journal de la Marne, November 6, 1924. All held in AJP: Press Clippings. Albert Thibaudet claimed he coined the term Republic of Professors on May 12, 1924, at 1:10 p.m. Thibaudet, La République des Professeurs (Paris: Bernard Grasset, 1927), 11. On the Surrealist fights, see Gérard Durozoi, History of the Surrealist Movement, trans. Alison Anderson (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 51–­52, 65–­66, 90–­92. Louis Aragon, “Une vague de rêves,” in Œuvres poétiques complètes, ed. Olivier Barbarant (Paris: Gallimard, 2007), 1:79–­97; André Breton, “Manifesto of Surrealism,” in Manifestoes of Surrealism, trans. R. Seaver and

NOTES TO CHAPTER 1

  54

       

55 56 57 58

  59            

60 61 62 63 64 65

  66

  67

329

H. R. Lane (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997), 3–­47; and Manifeste du Surréalisme, in Œuvres complètes, ed. Marguerite Bonnet with Philippe Bernier, Étienne-­Alain Hubert, and José Pierre (Paris: Gallimard, 1988), 1:309–­46. Subsequent citations will be made first to the English and then to the French, with modifications in translation indicated. Louis Aragon, “Les Buvards du conseil des ministres,” Révolution Surréaliste 6 (1926): 15–­17. Aragon ends his presentation with the Fantômas-­esque warning that the publication of these blotters is proof that the Surrealists have ears and eyes everywhere. Durozoi, History of the Surrealist Movement, 66. Yvan Goll, “Manifeste du Surréalisme,” Surréalisme 1 (1924): 2. Goll, 1. Letter from Guillaume Apollinaire to Paul Dermée, March 1917, published in Surréalisme 1 (1924): 6. Apollinaire used the term in print shortly thereafter in his review of the avant-­garde ballet Parade and in the preface to his play Les Mamelles de Tirésias: drame surréaliste en deux actes et un prologue. Apollinaire, “Parade (1917),” in Apollinaire on Art: Essays and Reviews 1902–­1918, ed. Leroy C. Breunig, trans. Susan Suleiman, with a foreword by Roger Shattuck (Boston: ArtWorks and MFA Publications, 2001), 452. Apollinaire, “Préface aux Mamelles de Tirésias,” in Œuvres complètes, ed. Michel Décaudin (Paris: André Balland et Jacques Lecat, 1966), 609. Goll, quoted in Durozoi, History of the Surrealist Movement, 65. Goll, “Manifeste du Surréalisme,” 1. Goll, “Exemple de Surréalisme: le cinéma,” Surréalisme 1 (1924): 3. Goll, 3–­4. Goll, 4. Pierre Reverdy, “L’Image,” Nord-­sud 13 (March 1918): 3, and Goll, “Manifeste du Surréalisme,” 1. Chéroux and Amao, Jacques-­André Boiffard, 120; Henri Béhar, André Breton: le grand indésirable (Paris: Fayard, 2005), 39–­42; and Philippe Forest, Aragon (Paris: Gallimard, 2015), 98–­103. Breton began the PCN in October 1913, Aragon enrolled in 1914, and Boiffard and Painlevé enrolled in 1921. According to a letter Boiffard sent to Painlevé dated Tuesday, July 29 [1924], held in AJP: Correspondences, he quit his medical studies in 1924 to pursue Surrealist revolution full time (he signs his letter “Vive la Révolution Surréaliste et l’autre”). Boiffard later returned to his medical studies in 1935, becoming a researcher with the Laboratory of Comparative Anatomy and Histology in 1940 and a specialist in radiology in 1951. Lyford, Surrealist Masculinities, 47.

330

NOTES TO CHAPTER 1

  68 Lyford, 54.   69 Lyford, 48–­49.   70 Future work can expand this thesis with respect to the Surrealist-­aligned physicians Théodor Fraenkle, Pierre Mabille, and Jacques Lacan as well as with Georges Bataille and Roger Caillois, who encountered comparative anatomy in part through Surrealism.   71 Aragon, quoted in “Préférences,” Littérature 2 (April 1, 1922): 1; Aragon, Paysan de Paris, in Œuvres poétiques complètes (Paris: Gallimard, 2007), 1:234; and Maillard-­Chary, Le Bestiaire des surréalistes, 4.   72 Louis Aragon, “Une vague de rêves,” 85. Outside of the context of the natural sciences, the phrase espèce de has the colloquial meaning of “kind of” or “type.”   73 Aragon, 87.   74 Jacqueline Chénieux-­Gendron, Surrealism, trans. Vivian Folkenflik (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990), 59.   75 Breton, “Manifesto of Surrealism,” 24, and “Manifeste du Surréalisme,” 327.   76 Breton, “The Mediums Enter,” in Lost Steps, 90.   77 Breton, “Manifesto of Surrealism,” 14, and “Manifeste du Surréalisme,” 319. The editors of Breton’s Œuvres complètes, 1348n2, date Breton’s reading of Hegel to 1924.   78 Breton, “Manifesto of Surrealism,” 26, and “Manifeste du Surréalisme,” 238, translation slightly modified.   79 Comte de Lautréamont, Les Chants de Maldoror, ed. Daniel Oster (Paris: Presses de la Renaissance, 1977), 199.   80 Breton, “Max Ernst,” in Lost Steps, 60.   81 Breton, “Manifesto of Surrealism,” 19–­20, 21, and “Manifeste du Surréalisme,” 323–­24, 325.   82 Oliver Gaycken, “The Beauty of Chance: Film Ist,” Journal of Visual Culture 11 (2012): 311.   83 David Lomas, “‘Modest Recording Instruments’: Science, Surrealism, and Visuality,” Art History 27, no. 4 (2004): 628, 632–­36.   84 Breton, “Manifesto of Surrealism,” 27–­28, and “Manifeste du Surréalisme,” 330, translation modified.   85 Breton, L’Amour Fou, in Œuvres complètes, 2:697.   86 Lomas, “Modest Recording Instruments,” 637.   87 Aragon, “On Décor,” in The Shadow and Its Shadow: Surrealist Writings on the Cinema, 3rd ed., ed. and trans. Paul Hammond (San Francisco: City Lights, 2000), 50–­54; Aragon, “Du décor,” Le Film 131 (September 16, 1918): 8–­10; and Aragon, Paysan de Paris, 166.

NOTES TO CHAPTER 1

       

88 89 90 91

  92   93   94        

95 96 97 98

  99 100 101 102

103

104 105 106 107 108 109

331

Aragon, “On Décor,” 50, and “Du décor,” 9. Aragon, “On Décor,” 50, and “Du décor,” 9. Aragon, “On Décor,” 52, and “Du décor,” 9. Aragon, “On Décor,” 51; “Du décor,” 9; and Lowenstein, Dreaming of Cinema, 12, 20–­23. Lowenstein does not engage with Aragon, but the poet’s work is exemplary of the concept of “Surrealist enlargement.” Aragon, “On Décor,” 53, and “Du décor,” 9, translation slightly modified. Aragon, “On Décor,” 53–­54, and “Du décor,” 10. Jennifer Wild, The Parisian Avant-­Garde in the Age of Cinema, 1900–­1923 (Oakland: University of California Press, 2015), 212. Wild, 213–­14. Wild, 212. Aragon, Paysan de Paris, 191. Breton, Nadja, trans. Richard Howard (Grove: New York, 1960), 32–­39; Breton, Nadja, in Œuvres complètes, esp. 1:663–­668; and Breton, “As in a Wood,” in The Shadow and Its Shadow, 72–­77. Breton, “As in a Wood,” 73. Jacques-­André Boiffard, Paul Éluard, and Roger Vitrac, preface to La Révolution Surréaliste 1 (1924): 2. Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 35–­42. “M. Jean Painlevé, fils de M. Paul Painlevé, minister de la guerre, va faire du Cinéma,” Paris-­Times, January 9, 1926; “M. Jean Painlevé cherche dans le cinéma des ressources pour nos laboratoires,” Le Quotidien, January 10, 1926, 1–­2; and Painlevé, “Pourquoi je vais faire du cinéma,” Le Soir, January 14, 1926, held in AJP: Press Clippings. Dates established through “Petit courrier,” Comœdia, November 25, 1926; “Après le film Painlevé du fils Painlevé voici la farce Painlevé?,” D’Artagnan, December 1926; and “Sans titre,” Avenir, January 5, 1927, all held in AJP: Press Clippings. Max Frantel, “Le Loup blanc a donné son premier spectacle,” Comœdia, March 12, 1927, 2. Painlevé, “Films biologiques,” 15. Painlevé. Advertisement for the Studio Diamant in La Semaine à Paris, December 21–­28, 1928, 87. Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 64–­65, 67. Pierre Lazareff, “M. Paul Painlevé, minister de la Guerre, assiste à la presentation d’un film de son fils, Jean Painlevé,” Paris-­midi, December 15, 1929. Held in AJP: Press Clippings.

332

NOTES TO CHAPTER 1

110 Lazareff. 111 Maurice Bourdet, “Le Film au service de la science: La Pieuvre de Jean

Painlevé,” Le Petit Parisien, December 16, 1928, 1–­2. 112 Natascha Adamowsky, The Mysterious Science of the Sea, 1775–­1943 (Lon113 114 115 116

117

118 119 120 121 122 123 124

125 126 127 128 129

130 131

don: Pickering and Chatto, 2015), 98. Adamowsky, 102–­3. Bourdet, “Film au service de la science,” 2. Adamowsky, Mysterious Science of the Sea, 96. Painlevé mentions the green tint in the first episode of Jean Painlevé au fil de ses films, ep. 1. The version of the film released by Les Documents Cinématographiques on DVD includes the green-­tinted footage. Paul Werrie, “Le Film scientifique: l’œuvre documentaire de Jean Painlevé, ou la plus haute forme du cinématographe,” Le Vingtième siècle, December 23, 1932. Held in AJP: Press Clippings. Painlevé, “Films biologiques,” 16. Bourdet, “Film au service de la science,” 2. Wild, Parisian Avant-­Garde in the Age of Cinema, 188–­224. Hazéra and Leglu, “Jean Painlevé Reveals the Invisible,” 174–­75. Painlevé, “Films biologiques,” 17. Painlevé, 17. Charles de Saint-­Cyr, “Un Nouveau studio est ouvert! Une salle curieuse. Un hallucinant documentaire de Jean Painlevé. Quelques mot à propos de Crise,” La Semaine à Paris 343 (December 21–­28, 1928): 55. Charles de Saint-­Cyr, “Cinéma: les monographies documentaires de M. Jean Painlevé,” La Semaine à Paris, January 11–­18, 1929, 36. Charles de Saint-­Cyr, “Cinéma: un programme très copieux pour la réouverture des Ursulines,” La Semaine à Paris, October 11–­18, 1929, 14. Werrie, “Film scientifique.” Georges Le Fèvre, “Micro-­cinématographie: l’œil de la daphnie et la mort de la pieuvre,” Le Journal, April 9, 1929, 6. J. V., “Jean Painlevé, metteur en scène et homme de science,” Pour vous 14 (February 21, 1929): 14, and L., “Jean Painlevé et le film scientifique,” Le Petit Niçois, November 13, 1931. Held in AJP: Press Clippings dossier. De Saint-­Cyr, “Cinéma: les monographies documentaires de M. Jean Painlevé,” 36. Margaret Cohen, The Novel and the Sea (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2010), 197; Victor Hugo, The Toilers of the Sea, trans. James Hogarth (New York: Modern Library, 2002); and Hugo, Les Travailleurs de la mer (Paris: Hugues, 1883). Subsequent citations will be made first to the English and then to the French.

NOTES TO CHAPTER 1

132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141

142 143 144 145 146

147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154

333

Breton, “Manifesto of Surrealism,” 26, and “Manifeste du Surréalisme,” 329. Hugo, Toilers, 359, and Travailleurs, 419. Hugo, Toilers, 82–­83, and Travailleurs, 41, translation modified. Hugo, quoted by Jean-­François Chevrier, L’Hallucination artistique de William Blake à Sigmar Polke (Paris: l’Arachnéen, 2012), 217. Laurent Jenny, La Terreur et les signes: poétique de rupture (Paris: Gallimard, 1982), 100. Hugo, Toilers, 349, and Travailleurs, 408. See the entry for pieuvre in the Grand Robert de la langue française and Jenny, La Terreur et les signes, 100. Roger Caillois, La Pieuvre: essai sur la logique de l’imaginaire (1973), in Œuvres, ed. Dominique Rabourdin (Paris: Gallimard, 2008), 976. Hugo, Toilers, 351, and Travailleurs, 410–­11, translation modified. Jenny, Terreur et les signes, 102. See also the Grand Robert entry and Jacques Derrida, “The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow),” trans. David Wills, Critical Inquiry 28, no. 2 (2002): 369–­418. Hugo, cited in Caillois, Pieuvre, 977. See also Jenny, Terreur et les signes, 105. Hugo, Toilers, 349, and Travailleurs, 408. Painlevé credits Boiffard with this role in Painlevé au fil de ses films, episode 1. Painlevé, “La Pieuvre,” undated typed manuscript, 1. Held in AJP: Écrits dossier. Hugo, L’Archipel de la Manche, in Œuvres complètes de Victor Hugo (Paris: J. Hetzel, 1883), 10:23; Hugo, Toilers, 13; and Georges Bataille, “L’Informe,” Documents 7 (1929): 382. Jenny makes this connection in Terreur et les signes, 109, as does Fiona Cox, “The Formlessness of Hugo’s Epic World,” in Formless: Ways in and Ways out of Form, ed. Patrick Crowley and Paul Hegarty (New York: Peter Lang, 2004), 161–­72. Cox, “Formlessness of Hugo’s Epic World,” 168. Bataille, “Formless,” trans. Dominic Faccini, October 60 (1992): 27, and “Informe,” 382. Hugo, cited in Cox, “Formlessness of Hugo’s Epic World,” 165. Cohen, Novel and the Sea, 196; Breton, “Manifeste du Surréalisme,” 319, and “Manifesto of Surrealism,” 14. Bataille, “Formless,” 27, and “Informe,” 382. Hugo, Toilers, 350–­52, and Travailleurs, 410–­12. Hugo, Toilers, 353, and Travailleurs, 412. Allen S. Weiss, “The Epic of the Cephalopod,” Discourse 24, no. 1 (2002): 151.

334

NOTES TO CHAPTER 1

155 156 157 158 159

Hugo, Toilers, 354, and Travailleurs, 413–­14. Hugo, Toilers, 353, and Travailleurs, 412–­13. Hugo, Toilers, 353, and Travailleurs, 412–­13. Hugo, Toilers, 358, and Travailleurs, 418, translation modified. Hippolyte Taine, De l’Intelligence, 3rd ed. (Paris: Hachette, 1878), 2:13, 25. Painlevé, “Films biologiques,” 17; Painlevé, “Pieuvre,” 1; and Marcel Perin, “Jean Painlevé et le cinéma documentaire,” La Petite Gironde, February 3, 1933. Held in AJP: Press Clippings. Hugo, Toilers, 353, and Travailleurs, 413. Hugo, Toilers, 353–­54, and Travailleurs, 413. Chevrier, L’Hallucination artistique de William Blake à Sigmar Polke, 216. Werrie, “Film scientifique.” According to Hamery’s research in Jean Painlevé, 66, The Daphnia opened at Studio Diamant on February 15, 1929, and The Sea Urchins screened at the Studio des Ursulines on October 11, 1929. The Sea Urchins was also screened at Alain Jef’s “Festival of Short Films,” which ran from June 25 to 28, 1929, at the Studio Diamant. See Émile Vuillermoz, “Chronique cinématographique: concision,” Le Temps, June 29, 1929, 6. Georges Didi-­Huberman, La Ressemblance informe: ou le gai savoir visuel selon Georges Bataille (Paris: Macula, 1995), 60. Painlevé, “Films biologiques,” 17. Painlevé, “Du faux dans le documentaire,” Instruire et plaire 1, no. 2 (1938): 25. Le Fèvre, “Micro-­cinématographie,” 6. “Écran du jour: science et cinéma: Jean Painlevé,” Lectures pour tous, April 1929, 9. Le Fèvre, “Micro-­cinématographie,” 6. Vuillermoz, “Chronique cinématographique: concision,” 6. Paul Werrie, “Échos: une belle étude de Paul Werrie,” La Métropole, April 26, 1931. Held in AJP: Press Clippings. Béla Balázs, Béla Balázs: Early Film Theory, ed. Erica Carter, trans. Rodney Livingstone (New York: Berghahn, 2010), 46, 60–­61. Balázs, 60, 61. The filming location is mentioned in de Saint-­Cyr, “Cinéma: un programme très copieux pour la réouverture des Ursulines,” 17. Painlevé, “Films biologiques,” 17. Painlevé, “Un Monde inconnu: les oursins,” Zoo: la revue du monde animal, April 1, 1934, 8–­9. Le Fèvre, “Micro-­cinématographie,” 6.

160

161 162 163 164 165

166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179

NOTES TO CHAPTER 2

335

180 Painlevé, “Un Monde inconnu,” 8. 181 Franz Kafka, “A Report to an Academy,” in Kafka: The Complete Stories,

182

183 184 185 186 187 188 189

ed. Nahum N. Glatzer (New York: Schocken Books, 1976), 250–­62, esp. 258. Georges Bataille, “The Big Toe,” in Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927–­1939, ed. with an introduction by Allan Stoekl, Carl Lovitt, and Donald M. Leslie Jr., 20–­23 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985), and Bataille, “Le gros orteil,” Documents 6 (1929): 297–­302. Bataille, “Big Toe,” 20, and “Gros orteil,” 297. Bataille, “Big Toe,” 22, and “Gros orteil,” 302. Bataille, “Big Toe,” 22, and “Gros orteil,” 302. Bataille, “Big Toe,” 22, and “Gros orteil,” 302. Bataille, “Big Toe,” 23, and “Gros orteil,” 302. Painlevé, “La bande de la ‘Maison du Diable,’” in Chéroux and Amao, Jacques-­André Boiffard, 130. Painlevé, Pénétration pacifique (Dieppe: Laboratoires la Biomarine, circa 1936), 15.

2. METAMORPHOSES

  1 The woman in the photograph might be Daisy Banié, who was close with Painlevé during that period.   2 Ralph Rugoff, “Fluid Mechanics,” in Bellows and McDougall, Science Is Fiction, 55, and Michael Richardson, Surrealism and Cinema (New York: Berg, 2006), 84.   3 Eva S. Hayward, “Enfolded Vision: Refracting The Love Life of the Octopus,” Octopus 1 (2005): 29–­44.   4 Brett A. Berliner, “Mephistopheles and Monkeys: Rejuvenation, Race, and Sexuality in Popular Culture in Interwar France,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 13, no. 3 (2004): 320.   5 Breton, “Max Ernst,” 60–­61.   6 Sergei Eisenstein, Disney, ed. Oksana Bulgakowa and Dietmar Hochmuth, trans. Dustin Condren (San Francisco: Potemkin Press, 2012), 15.   7 Maurice Bourdet, “Science et cinéma: comment M. Jean Painlevé ‘filme’ la vie des crustacés,” Ciné-­miroir, January 11, 1929, 30.   8 Lorraine Daston and Gregg Mitman, introduction to Thinking with Animals: New Perspectives on Anthropomorphism, ed. Lorraine Daston and Gregg Mitman, 1–­14 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005); Kari Weil, Thinking Animals: Why Animal Studies Now? (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), xx, 19; Erica Fudge, Animal (London: Reaktion,

336

  9   10   11   12

  13

  14   15

  16   17   18   19   20          

21 22 23 24 25

  26   27

NOTES TO CHAPTER 2

2002), 67–­112; and Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2010), esp. xvi, 18, 25, 98–­99, 119–­20. Daston and Mitman, Thinking with Animals, 6. Weil, Thinking Animals, 20. Bennett, Vibrant Matter, xvi, 99, 119–­20. On the economic and aesthetic impact of the coming of sound, see Jean-­ Pierre Jeancolas, Le Cinéma des français: 15 ans d’années trente (1929–­1944) (Paris: Nouveau Monde 2005), 51–­78. For its impact on avant-­garde and independent filmmakers, see Noureddine Ghali, L’Avant-­garde cinématographique en France dans les années vingt: idées, conceptions, théories (Paris: Paris Expérimental, 1995), 305–­17, and Richard Abel, French Film Theory and Criticism, 1907–­1939, vol. 2, 1929–­1939, 5–­37 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1988). Jeancolas, “N. V. D. 28, appel à témoins,” in 100 anées lumière: rétrospective de l’œuvre documentaire des grands cinéastes français de Louis Lumière jusqu’à nos jours, ed. Sylvie Tremblay (Paris: Intermédia, 1991), 20. Claude Vermorel, “Une enquête de Pour vous: pour des films d’éducation,” Pour vous 250 (August 31, 1933): 2. See Painlevé, “Relevé des frais nécessité pour la réalisation de L’Hippo­ campe,” undated budget statement (circa autumn 1934). Held in AJP: L’Hippocampe dossier. In subsequent interviews, Painlevé referred to the cost for the film as ninety thousand francs, which may account for costs of printing and distribution. See Philippe Ensault, “La Vie de Jean Painlevé,” unpublished transcript, 1982. Held in AJP. Painlevé, “Le Documentaire ne peut pas vivre,” Pour vous 520 (November 2, 1938): 8. Painlevé. Painlevé, and Painlevé, “Comment le cinéma nous révèle l’invisible,” Le Figaro, November 3, 1935, 8. Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 73. Painlevé, “Films biologiques,” 18, and Painlevé, “Cinéma,” unpublished manuscript, 1930, 2–­3. Held in AJP: Écrits dossier. Painlevé, “Films biologiques,” 18. Painlevé, “Cinéma,” 2. Painlevé, “Films biologiques,” 18. Painlevé. Painlevé, “La Beauté du film documentaire, le film biologique,” Monde 18, no. 85 (1930): 6. Painlevé, “Films biologiques,” 18. Painlevé also wrote on the dangers of “counterfeit” and “false” documen-

NOTES TO CHAPTER 2

  28

  29   30   31   32

  33

  34   35

  36

  37   38   39   40   41   42   43

337

taries in “Beauté du film documentaire,” 6, and Painlevé, “Du faux dans le documentaire,” Instruire et plaire 1, no. 2 (1938): 24–­25, 41. Letter from Henri Diamant-­Berger to Jean Painlevé, April 9, 1930, 1. Held in AJP: Correspondences. On Diamant-­Berger’s cinema, see his autobiography Il était une fois le cinéma (Paris: Jean Claude Simoën, 1977), 154–­56. Painlevé, “Cinéma,” 1. Painlevé, 3. Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 61–­62, and Damarice Amao, Éli Lotar et le mouvement des images (Paris: Textuel, 2017), 140–­45. See Pierre Lazareff, “Jean Painlevé a présenté à la Sorbonne d’émouvants films chirurgicaux, et il a fait une brillante plaidoirie en faveur du film documentaire,” Paris midi, May 10, 1930, held in AJP: Press Clippings, and Charles E. Stenhouse, “En Sorbonne, Jean Painlevé a parlé de ses acteurs . . . ,” Pour vous 79 (May 22, 1930): 11. Mention of the second silent screening in July appears in “Notes et échos: le cinéma à la Chambre,” L’Économiste parlementaire, July 1930, 9. Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 80–­81, and François Porcile, Maurice Jaubert musicien populaire ou maudit? (Paris: Les Éditeurs français réunis, 1971), 48, 202, and appendix. “Ce qu’on pourra voir aux ‘Miracles,’” Pour vous 109 (December 18, 1930): 2. Painlevé, “Images parlantes: à propos du maintien des sous-­titres dans un documentaire parlant,” TSF Program, January 3, 1931. Held in AJP: Press Clippings dossier. See Béatrice de Pastre, “L’École, le cinéma et l’histoire: le rendez-­vous manqué de l’entre-­deux guerres,” in Lorsque clio s’empare du documentaire, vol. 1, Écriture de l’histoire, ed. Jean-­Pierre Bertin-­Maghit (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2011), 63–­74. “La Saison des conférences: la nature dévoilée par le cinéma,” Petit Comtois: Journal Républicain Démocratique Quotidien, March 2, 1930, 1. Werrie, “Film scientifique.” See Alexandre Arnoux, “Ub Iwerks, maître de ballet des dessins animés sonores,” Pour vous 79 (May 15, 1930): 8–­9. Pierre Scize, “Le Cinéma,” Jazz: l’actualité intellectuelle, December 15, 1929, 547. Benjamin Fondane, “Du muet au parlant: grandeur et décadance du cinéma,” Bifur 5 (1930): 148. Arnoux, “Ub Iwerks,” 9. Sergei M. Eisenstein, “Les Principes du nouveau cinéma Russe,” La Revue du cinéma 2, no. 9 (1930): 24, and Eisenstein, “The Principles of

338

  44

  45              

46 47 48 49 50 51 52

  53   54   55

  56        

57 58 59 60

  61   62   63   64

NOTES TO CHAPTER 2

New Russian Cinema,” in Sergei Eisenstein: Selected Works, vol. 1. Writings, 1922–­1934, ed. and trans. Richard Taylor (London: I. B. Taurus, 2010), 200–­201, translation modified. Sergei M. Eisenstein, Nonindifferent Nature, trans. Herbert Marshall (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 389. See also Eisenstein, Disney, 36; and for an analysis of The Skeleton Dance and its inspiration for Eisenstein and his collaborator Grigori Alexandrov, see Ann Nesbet, Savage Junctures: Sergei Eisenstein and the Shape of Thinking (London: I. B. Tauris, 2003), 157–­84. Les Deux Aveugles, “Inauguration: un entr’acte aux ‘Miracles,’” L’Intran­ sigeant, December 23, 1930, 6. Les Deux Aveugles. Les Deux Aveugles. Les Deux Aveugles. Michael Cary, “Tentacle Erotica,” Art in America 8, no. 99 (2011): 104–­10. Florent Schmitt, “Les Concerts,” Le Temps, April 11, 1931, 3. Documents 6 (1929): 331. Jacques Baron, “Crustacés,” Documents 6 (1929): 332, and Baron, “Crustaceans,” in Encyclopedia Acephalica, ed. Alastair Brotchie, trans. Iain White, Dominic Faccini, Anette Michelson, John Harman, and Alexis Lykiard (London: Atlas, 1995), 39. Painlevé, “La Vie des animaux: les vulgaires crabes et crevettes,” Le Journal, February 15, 1936, 11. Painlevé, 11. André George, “La Musique: Rivier, Delannoy, Beck,” Les Nouvelles littéraires, artistiques et scientifiques, April 4, 1931, 1. See also René Dumesnil, “Concerts Walter Straram,” Esprit français, January 10, 1931, 295, and Pierre-­Octave Ferroud, “La Musique,” Paris soir, March 31, 1931, 5. Maurice Imbert, “Concerts et récitals: concerts Straram,” Journal des débats politiques et littéraires, March 30, 1931, 4. Schmitt, “Concerts.” Schmitt. Painlevé, “Vie des animaux,” 11. Painlevé, “Feet in the Water,” 132 (translation modified); Painlevé, “Pieds dans l’eau,” 5. Jean Cassou, “L’Art Sous-­Marin,” Art et décoration: revue Mensuelle d’Art Moderne, May 1931, 143–­50. Claude Doré, “Jean Painlevé, la crevette et le Bernard l’ermite,” Ciné-­ miroir, July 24, 1931, 478. Doré. H. Berger, “M. Jean Painlevé et ses films scientifiques devant les enfants,”

NOTES TO CHAPTER 2

  65   66

  67        

68 69 70 71

  72   73          

74 75 76 77 78

  79   80   81   82   83

  84

339

Excelsior, March 15, 1935. Fond Painlevé ( Jean) RK503, Bibliothèque National de France, Richelieu. Berger. See Étienne Rabaud, L’Adaptation et l’évolution (Paris: Étienne Chiron, 1922), 37, 39, and Rabaud, Éléments de biologie générale (Paris: Félix Alcan, 1920), 378, 386, 388, 391, 399–­400, 414. Pierre Abraham, “Synthèse,” Europe: revue mensuelle 132 (December 15, 1933): 575–­87. Abraham, 582. Abraham, 585. Abraham, 587. Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, book II, trans. Cyril Baily (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1950), 72–­74. See also Louis Marin, “The Fabulous Animal,” in Food for Thought, trans. Mette Hjort (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989), 44; and William F. Motte Jr., “Clinamen Redux,” Comparative Literature Studies 23, no. 4 (1986): 263–­81. Jarry, Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, 88–­89. Scott MacDonald, “Up Close and Political: Three Short Ruminations on Ideology in the Nature Film,” Film Quarterly 59, no. 3 (2006): 18. Painlevé, “Beauté du film documentaire,” 6. Painlevé. Painlevé, “Films biologiques,” 17. Painlevé, “Beauté du film documentaire,” 6. Jean Vigo, “Jean Painlevé à Nice,” Le Petit Niçois, November 6, 1931, 8. The photograph accompanying the article is not of Jean Painlevé but rather of a local scientist, who, egged on by Vigo’s love of pranks, arrived at the screening, newspaper in hand, claiming to be Painlevé and accusing Painlevé of being an imposter. J. Stan, “Les Grands Films: les films de J. Painlevé,” Éclaireur du soir, November 13, 1931. Held in AJP: Press Clippings. Gy., “Les Merveilleuses réalisations de M. Jean Painlevé,” Petit Provençal, November 14, 1931. Held in AJP: Press Clippings. Chamine, “Jean Painlevé et la vie mystérieuse des bêtes,” Pour vous 186 ( June 9, 1932): 11. Chamine. Painlevé, quoted in Claude Vermorel, “Une enquête de ‘Pour vous’: des films d’éducation,” Pour vous 250 (August 31, 1933): 2. In 1933, UFA become officially aligned with the Nazi Party, and this is likely why Painlevé saw fit to accuse the studio of cultural imperialism and target its output as dangerously vitalist and anthropomorphic. Painlevé, “Feet in the Water,” 136.

340

NOTES TO CHAPTER 2

  85 “Nous faisons de l’anthropomorphisme. Nous avons le droit de faire de l’anthropomorphisme. Nous avons le devoir de faire de l’anthropo­ morphisme. Sinon nous ne serions pas capables d’apprécier aucun element autour de nous.” Painlevé says this in episode 1 of the series, with reference to his film The Octopus (1928).   86 L’Habitué du Vendredi, “Le Bernard l’hermite,” Cinémagazine 9, no. 7 (1929): 300.   87 L., “Jean Painlevé et le film scientifique,” Le Petit Niçois, November 13, 1931. AJP: Press Clippings.   88 Painlevé, “Beauté du film documentaire,” 6. A film with the same title played at the Vieux-­Colombier from March 27 to April 2, 1925. That film, or another film bearing the same title—­La Vie au fond des mers (Ministry of Agriculture, France, 1911)—­featured many of the same creatures documented by Painlevé but does not match Painlevé’s description, suggesting that he may have taken a bit of poetic license.   89 Painlevé.   90 Painlevé, “Films biologiques,” 17.   91 Painlevé, “Beauté du film documentaire,” 6.   92 Florian LeRoy, “Le Cinéma documentaire: apôtre du film documentaire M. Jean Painlevé propose au spectateur de féeriques voyages,” Ouest journal, March 28, 1931. Held in AJP: Press Clippings.   93 Painlevé, “Films biologiques,” 17.   94 Anat Pick, Creaturely Poetics: Animality and Vulnerability in Literature and Film (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011).   95 De Saint-­Cyr, “Cinéma: un programme très copieux pour la réouverture des Ursulines,” 15.   96 Marcel Perin, “Jean Painlevé et le cinéma documentaire: comment recréer par l’image la vie des êtres,” La Petite Gironde, February 3, 1933. Held in AJP: Press Clippings.   97 Stenhouse, “En Sorbonne,” 11.   98 Painlevé, “Films biologiques,” 17.   99 See Henri Bergson, L’Évolution créatrice (1907; repr., Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2013). 100 On the debates over different causes and explanations of evolution in French thought of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, see Lucien Cuénot, Invention et finalité en biologie (Paris: Flammarion, 1941); Loison, Qu’est-­ce que le néolamarckisme?; and Grimoult, Histoire de l’évolution contemporain en France. On the Surrealist fascination with mimesis and mimicry, see Roger Caillois, “Mimétisme et psychasthénie légendaire,” Minotaure 7 (1935): 5–­10; Caillois, “Mimicry and Legendary

NOTES TO CHAPTER 2

101

102 103

104 105 106 107 108

109 110 111 112

113 114

341

Psychasthenia,” in The Edge of Surrealism: A Roger Caillois Reader, ed. Claudine Frank, 91–­103 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2003); Joyce Cheng, “Mask, Mimicry, Metamorphosis: Roger Caillois, Walter Benjamin, and Surrealism in the 1930s,” Modernism/Modernity 16, no. 1 (2009): 61–­86; and Laurent Jenny, “Le Principe de l’inutile ou l’art chez les insectes,” Critique 788–­89 (2013): 70–­80. On Carl Aurivillius, see Paul Vignon, Introduction à la biologie expérimentale. Les êtres organisés, activités, instincts, structures (Paris: Paul Lechevalier, 1930), 339–­48. See also Félix Le Dantec, Lamarckiens et Darwiniens (Paris: Félix Alcan, 1899), 135. On neo-­Lamarkian thinkers prior to World War II, see Grimoult, Histoire de l’évolutionnisme contemporain en France, esp. 25–­26, 40–­41. Rabaud, Élements de biologie générale, 418. Le Dantec defined Lamarckian variation as under direct influence of the milieu in Lamarckiens et Darwiniens, 132. Georges Canguilhem identified the turn to mechanist explanations as constituting one of the defining characteristics of the neo in neo-­Lamarckism—­defining Lamarck’s work as concerned with “a bare vitalism.” See Canguilhem, “The Living and Its Milieu,” 104. Rabaud, Élements de biologie générale, 378–­401. Rabaud, 384. Vignon, Introduction à la biologie expérimentale, 334, 348, and Lucien Cuénot, Invention et finalité en biologie (Paris: Flammarion, 1941), 144–­46. Vignon, Introduction à la biologie expérimentale, 343. Painlevé’s commitment to neo-­Lamarckian mechanism appears in his scathing review of the spiritualist and racist elements of Alexis Carrel’s L’Homme, cet inconnu published in Vendredi, November 29, 1935. Held in AJP: Écrits dossier. Pierre Mac Orlan, “Grandville le Précurseur,” Arts et métiers graphiques, December 15, 1934, 19–­25, esp. 22, 24. Walter Benjamin, Arcades Project, trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin Mc­ Laughlin (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002), 8. Jean Cassou, “L’Art Sous-­Marin,” 144. Charles de Saint-­Cyr, “Excellent spectacle aux Ursulines,” La Semaine à Paris, December 2–­7, 1929, 15, and G. H., “La nature dévoilée par le cinéma,” Étoile Belge, March 5, 1930. Held in AJP: Press Clippings. Werrie, “Film scientifique.” Held in AJP: Press Clippings. Marcel Griaule, “Métamorphose: Jeux abyssins,” Documents 6 (1929): 332–­33; Michel Leiris, “Métamorphose: Hors de soi,” Documents 6 (1929): 333; and Georges Bataille, “Métamorphose: Animaux sauvages,” Documents 6 (1929): 333–­34. For English translations, see Griaule et al.,

342

115 116 117 118

119 120

121 122

123

124 125 126 127 128

129

NOTES TO CHAPTER 2

“Metamorphosis,” in Brotchie, Encyclopedia Acephalica, 58–­60. The formulation of previously surmounted beliefs comes from the anthropological component of Sigmund Freud’s “The Uncanny” (1919), Standard Edition 17 (1953): 249. The French edition was published in 1933. Leiris, “Out of the Self,” 59–­60, and “Hors de soi,” 333. Leiris, “Out of the Self,” 59–­60, and “Hors de soi,” 333. Bataille, “Wild Animals,” 60, and “Animaux sauvages,” 333–­34. Walter Benjamin, “Surrealism: The Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia” (1929), in Selected Writings, vol. 2, part 1, 1927–­1930, trans. Edmund Jephcott, ed. Michael W. Jennings, Howard Eiland, and Gary Smith (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999), 208. Bourdet, “Science et cinéma,” 30. See also Roger Allard, “La Comédie animale: mimes et grotesques dans la nature,” Voilà 5 ( June 1, 1935): 5–­6. Allard argued for mimesis as a luxury and an expression of a generalized drive of artistic expression, and one that worked against the principle of identity. Cheng, “Mask, Mimicry, Metamorphosis,” 65. Siegfried Kracauer, “The Mass Ornament,” in The Mass Ornament: Weimar Essays, ed. and trans. Thomas Y. Levin (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1995), 75–­86; Maurice Bardèche and Robert Brasillach, Histoire du cinéma, cited in Alice Y. Kaplin, Reproductions of Banality: Fascism, Literature and French Intellectual Life (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986), 142–­60, esp. 155. See also Dudley Andrew, “Praying Mantis: Enchantment and Violence in French Cinema of the Exotic,” in Visions of the East: Orientalism in Film, ed. Matthew Bernstein and Gaylyn Studlar (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1997), 232–­52. Caillois, “Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia,” 97; Jenny, “Le Principe de l’inutile ou l’art chez les insectes,” 72; and Le Dantec, Lamarckiens et Darwiniens, 140. Caillois, “Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia,” 100. Caillois, 100, 102, and Caillois, “La Mante Religieuse: de la biologie à la psychanalyse,” Minotaure 5 (1934): 23–­26. Caillois, “Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia,” 100. Caillois, Méduse et cie (Paris: Gallimard, 1960), 19–­21. This perspective is strongly aligned with that of Rabaud, Élements de biologie générale, 399–­400. Paula Amad, “‘These Spectacles Are Never Forgotten’: Memory and Reception in Colette’s Film Criticism,” Camera Obscura 59, no. 2 (2005): 118–­63, esp. 139–­41. Caillois, “Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia,” 99.

NOTES TO CHAPTER 2

130 131 132 133

134 135

136

137

138 139 140

141

142 143 144 145 146 147

343

Caillois, 99. Amad, “These Spectacles Are Never Forgotten,” 140–­41. Lowenstein, Dreaming of Cinema, 53–­54, 59. Cheng, “Mask, Mimicry, Metamorphosis,” 80, and Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility [First Version],” trans. Michael W. Jennings, Grey Room 39 (2010): 31. Caillois, “Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia,” 102. As this book was going to press, an article appeared that further concretizes this line of thought: Marie Rebecchi, “Sergei Eisenstein and Jean Painlevé: Science Is Animation,” Critical Quarterly 59, no. 1 (2017): 47–­59. Eisenstein, Beyond the Stars, 184–­257, and Oksana Bulgakowa, Sergei Eisenstein: A Biography, trans. Anne Dwyer (San Francisco: Potemkin Press, 2001), 94–­107. On the plasmatic, see Sergei Eisenstein, “Notes on Drawing” (1932), in The Eisenstein Collection, ed. Richard Taylor, 186–­94 (London: Seagull, 2006); Eisenstein, Disney; and the related concepts of pathos and ecstasy in Eisenstein, Nonindifferent Nature. On the place of the plasmatic in a refined theory of attractions, see Jacques Aumont, Montage Eisenstein, trans. Lee Hildreth, Constance Penley, and Andrew Ross (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987), 50, 64. Letter from Jean Painlevé to Sergei Eisenstein, March 27, 1930, held in Eisenstein’s archives at RGALI, Moscow, fonds 1923-­1-­2058. Bulgakowa, Sergei Eisenstein, 105. The information on the rendez-­vous in Guingamp comes from a letter from Painlevé to Eisenstein, March 15, 1930, held in the Eisenstein archives at RGALI, Moscow, fonds 1923-­1-­2058. There are four letters from Painlevé to Eisenstein, dated March 1930 to January 1931, held in the Eisenstein fonds at RGALI, Moscow, and two letters and eight postcards from Eisenstein to Painlevé, dated 1930–­33, held at AJP: Correspondences. Eisenstein’s postcards are also reprinted in Bellows and McDougall, Science Is Fiction, 198–­201. Letter from Eisenstein to Painlevé, 1930. Held in AJP: Correspondences. Eisenstein, Beyond the Stars, 203–­4. Eisenstein. Eisenstein, diary entry for January 2, 1930, cited in Rebecchi, “Sergei Eisenstein and Jean Painlevé,” 56. See the letter from Upton Sinclair reprinted in Mary Seton, Sergei M. Eisenstein, rev. ed. (London: Dennis Dobson, 1978), 516. “Notes et échos: le cinéma à la Chambre,” L’Économiste Parlementaire, July 1930, 9.

344

NOTES TO CHAPTER 2

148 Letter from Painlevé to Eisenstein, June 7, 1930, verso, held in the Eisen-

149 150

151 152

153

154 155 156

157 158 159 160 161

162 163

stein archives at RGALI, Moscow, fonds 1923-­1-­2058. Painlevé accidentally wrote the date for the screening as June 10, 1930, but notices in “Le Cinéma au Palais-­Bourbon,” Le Journal, July 11, 1930, 5, and “Le Cinéma à la Chambre des Députés,” Les Spectacles cinématographiques, July 25, 1930, 2, list the event as occurring on July 10, 1930. Eisenstein, Beyond the Stars, 208–­9. Antonio Somaini, “Généalogie, morphologie, anthropologie des images, archéologie des médias,” in Sergei Eisenstein, Notes pour une histoire générale du cinéma, ed. Naoum Kleiman and Antonio Somaini, trad. Catherine Perrel (Paris: Association Française de Recherche sur l’Histoire du Cinéma, 2013), 248, 286n34. Akira Mizuta Lippit, The Electric Animal: Toward a Rhetoric of Wildlife (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000), 195. Sergei Eisenstein, “Beyond the Shot,” in Selected Works, 1:139, and Eisenstein, “Le Principe cinématographique et la civilisation Japonais,” Cahiers d’art 5, no. 1 (1930): 31. Eisenstein, “Beyond the Shot,” 144. In summer 1929, Eisenstein worked on Frauennot-­Frauenglück (Women’s misery/women’s fortune), a Swiss pedagogical film advocating for modern obstetrics and safe abortions performed in clinics. Nesbet, Savage Junctures, 140–­42, notes that during the production of this film, Eisenstein became fascinated with fetuses—­ particularly with a premature fetus he held in his hands as it expired. Masha Salazkina, In Excess: Sergei Eisenstein’s Mexico (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 125. Eisenstein, “Notes on Drawing,” 186. Robert Brain, The Pulse of Modernism: Physiological Aesthetics in Fin-­de-­Siècle Europe (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2015), esp. chapters 2 and 6. Brain, 37–­38, 47, 56. Loison, Qu’est-­ce que le Néolamarkisme, 64–­65. Brain, Pulse of Modernism, 44. Painlevé’s Mouvement du protoplasme d’Elodea Canadensis was unavailable for study. Paul Wintrebert and Yung Ko-­Ching, “La Contraction protoplasmique des ébauches embryonaires chez l’Épinoche et l’Épinochette,” transmitted by F. Henneguy, séance August 23, 1926, Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des sciences 183 (1926): 455–­56. See Painlevé, “L’Œuf d’épinoche,” in Berg, Jean Painlevé, 73; Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 54–­56; and Berg, “Contradictory Forces,” 17. Painlevé, Paul Wintrebert, and Yung Ko-­Ching, “Le Développement de

NOTES TO CHAPTER 2

164 165 166

167

168

169 170

171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186

345

l’Épinoche (Gasterosteus aculeatus L.) analysé par la chronophotographie. Contractions protoplasmiques et circulation embryonnaire,” transmitted by M. F. Mesnil, séance July 22, 1929, Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des sciences 189 (1929): 208–­10. Painlevé et al., 208–­9. Werrie, “Film scientifique.” Painlevé, “Le Cinéma au service de la science,” La Revue des vivants 10 (October 1931): 490, and Painlevé, “Montage de séquences filmée en 1925,” in Berg, Jean Painlevé, 69. Painlevé, “L’Œuf d’épinoche,” in Berg, Jean Painlevé, 73. In Jean Painlevé au fil de ses films, the producers show the footage in question forward and in reverse. Research on the “biologically immortal” Turritopsis dohrnii, a jellyfish that can revert back to its polyp state, redevelop into a medusa, and revert back to a polyp in a theoretically eternal cycle of maturation and rejuvenation suggests Eisenstein’s plasmatic temporality has a biological precedent. See Nathaniel Rich, “Forever and Ever,” New York Times Magazine, Decem­ber 2, 2012, MM32. Brain, Pulse of Modernism, 175. The Grand Robert de la langue française credits the adjectival use of protoplasmic as emerging in the twentieth century, citing Maurice Bedel’s Jérôme 60º latitude Nord 2 (1927). Nesbet, Savage Junctures, 143. Jean Mitry, “Les Dessins Animés,” Lumière et radio 9 (May 1930): 8. Jacques Bernard Brunius, “L’Humour et l’Amour Chez Les Animaux,” Cahiers d’art 5, no. 6 (1930): 334. Eisenstein, “Notes on Drawing,” 189. Eisenstein, 190. Eisenstein, Disney, 12. Eisenstein, 38. Eisenstein, 14, 65, 91. Eisenstein, 35. Eisenstein, 14–­15. Eisenstein, 28, 32. Eisenstein, 42. Eisenstein, 11. See Lucien Lévy-­Bruhl, Les Fonctions mentales dans les sociétés inférieurs, 7th ed. (Paris: Librairie Félix Alcan, 1922), 68–­110. Eisenstein, Disney, 84, and Lévy-­Bruhl, Fonctions mentales dans les sociétés inférieurs, 77. Charles Chassé, “Visites: Chez Jean Painlevé, cinéaste de l’invisible,” La

346

187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194

195

196 197 198 199

200 201 202

203 204

NOTES TO CHAPTER 2

Dépêche de Brest et de l’Ouest 13 (February 1935): 2. Held in AJP: Press Clippings. Yann Barazavet ( Jean Painlevé), “La Fin des robots,” VU 259 (March 1, 1933): 306–­9. On Kertész’s “Distortions,” see Lyford, Surrealist Masculinities, 82–­114. Carlo Rim, “Luna Park ou la clef des songes,” VU 125 (August 6, 1930): 786–­87, quoted in Lyford, Surrealist Masculinities, 97, 111. Barazavet (Painlevé), “Fin des robots,” 309. Barazavet (Painlevé). Barazavet (Painlevé). Painlevé, “L’Homme, cet inconnu,” Vendredi, November 29, 1935. Held in AJP: Écrits dossier. Anne Mounier, “Avec Jean Painlevé, au pays de ‘Barbe-­Bleue,’ et de la féerie,” Pour vous 427 ( January 21, 1937): 6; W. Fritsch, “Quand les statuettes font du cinéma: Barbe-­Bleue se marie pour la septième fois,” Regards 225 (May 5, 1938): 11; and Patricia Hutchins, “A Clay Blue Beard,” Sight and Sound (1938), reprinted in Bellows and McDougal, Science Is Fiction, 142. Émile Vuillermoz, “Le Cinéma: ‘Le Déserteur’—­‘Barbe-­Bleue,’” Le Temps, April 15, 1939, 5, and Paul Werrie, “Jean Painlevé nouveau Méliès: un force d’exactitude scientifique et de réalité,” Le Vingtième siècle 6 (November 1936). Held in AJP: Press Clippings. Hutchins, “A Clay Blue Beard,” 142. Hutchins, 141. Georges Sadoul, “Barbe-­Bleue,” Regards 226 (February 16, 1939): 18. François Porcile, “Barbe-­Bleue,” in Du praxinoscope au cellulo: un demi-­ siècle de cinéma d’animation en France (1892–­1948) (Paris: CNC, 2007), 99, and Richard Neupert, French Animation History (Malden, Mass.: Wiley-­Blackwell, 2011), 81. Painlevé’s remarks about blood appear in Werrie, “Jean Painlevé nouveau Méliès.” Painlevé, quoted in Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 120. Charles Perrault, Contes, ed. Marc Soriano (Paris: Flammarion, 1989), 262. See also Marina Warner, “Bluebeard’s Brides: The Dream of the Blue Chamber,” Grand Street 9, no. 1 (1989): 121–­30, and Maria Tatar, The Secrets behind the Door: The Story of Bluebeard and His Wives (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2004). Warner, “Bluebeard’s Brides,” 130. Mounier, “Avec Jean Painlevé,” 6.

NOTES TO CHAPTER 3

347

3. AMOUR FLOU

  1 Louis Roule, “L’Hippocampe ou cheval marin,” in Les Poissons et le monde vivant des eaux: études ichthyologiques et philosophiques, vol. 1, Les Formes et les attitudes, 202–­17 (Paris: Delagrave, 1926). A copy of this book is in Painlevé’s personal library.   2 Painlevé, Pénétration pacifique, 11.   3 Painlevé, “The Seahorse,” in Bellows and McDougall, Science Is Fiction, xiii, and Painlevé, “L’Hippocampe,” undated promotional text, circa 1935–­1936 (author’s collection).   4 Painlevé, quoted in Brigitte Berg, “Contradictory Forces: Jean Painlevé, 1902–­1989,” in Bellows and McDougall, Science Is Fiction, 23.   5 On Barbette, see Jean Cocteau, “Le Numéro Barbette (1926),” in Œuvres complètes (Geneva: Marguerat, 1950), 9:262, and Amy Lyford, Surrealist Masculinities, 165–­83. The “sphinx of transformists” comes from an anonymous source cited by Lyford.   6 For glosses of the pro-­natalist movements and the repression of neo-­ Malthusianism, see Mary Louise Roberts, Civilization without Sexes: Recon­structing Gender in Postwar France, 1917–­1927 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 89–­147; Christine Bard, Les filles de Marianne: histoire des feminismes, 1914–­1940 (Paris: Fayard, 1995), 209–­17; and James F. McMillan, Housewife or Harlot: The Place of Women in French Society 1870–­ 1940 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1981), 189–­90.   7 [ Jean Marguet], “Un Film de Jean Painlevé,” Le Petit Parisien, May 10, 1935, 6.   8 Germaine Decaris, “L’Hippocampe,” La Lumière, May 18, 1935. Held in AJP: Press Clippings.   9 André Lang, “Chronique des salles obscures: L’Hippocampe,” Gringoire, May 17, 1935. Held in AJP: Press Clippings.   10 Painlevé, “L’Hippocampe,” undated promotional text.   11 Noël Burch and Geneviève Sellier, The Battle of the Sexes in French Cinema: 1930–­1956, trans. Peter A. Graham (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2013).   12 De Bont, Stations in the Field, 1.   13 Adamowsky, Mysterious Science of the Sea, 103, 105, 131.   14 Lucie Derain, “Jean Painlevé . . . au fond des mers,” Cinémonde 156 (Octo­ ber 15, 1931): 666.   15 Herman Frenay-­Cid, “Entre le miracle et le mystère: Jean Painlevé,” Le Meuse, December 15, 1932, held in AJP: Press Clippings, and Claude

348

  16   17

  18

  19

  20

  21   22   23

NOTES TO CHAPTER 3

Aveline, “Le Cinéma: Documentaires,” La Revue hebdomadaire 40 (October 1, 1932): 238. Georges Gréville, “Nouveautés de la semaine: les animaux en famille et à l’écran,” TSF Program, October 8, 1933, 4, held in AJP: Press Clippings. Letter from Charles David, Director of Production Pathé, to Jean Painlevé, June 6, 1933, held in AJP: L’Hippocampe dossier; also cited in Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 84. These figures are repeated in a letter from Painlevé to O. Jacquemin, Chief of Commercial Services for Pathé, October 26, 1938, held in AJP: L’Hippocampe dossier. In the handwritten notes recorded for the September 20, 1935, “Procès verbal de la réunion du Conseil d’Administration de Pathé-­Consortium-­Cinéma” recorded in the ledgers of the Séances du Conseil d’Administration, Mai 1935 à Juillet 1938, 17, held in the archives of the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux, slightly different figures are given, with PCC taking 25 percent of rentals of the standard format sound version and 10 percent of the sale of silent versions struck by the producer: “L’Hippocampe: distribution en format standard pour la France, Belgique, Luxembourg, Suisse, Colonies. Commission: 25% sur locations sonores et 10% sur les ventes des copies muettes faites par le producteur.” For the twenty thousand franc figure, see Claude Vermorel, “Une enquête de Pour vous: pour des films d’éducation,” Pour vous 250 (August 31, 1930): 2. For the sixty thousand franc figure, see Painlevé, “Relevé des frais nécessité pour la réalisation de L’Hippocampe,” undated budget statement (circa autumn 1934), held in AJP: L’Hippocampe dossier. Painlevé confirmed these figures in a letter to the lawyer aiding him in his case to regain the rights to The Seahorse. See letter from Painlevé to M. Faucheux, March 3, 1942, held in AJP: L’Hippocampe dossier. This figure also gets cited in Merry Bromberger, “Mise en scène aux rayons X,” Ciné France, October 22, 1937, 10. In subsequent interviews, Painlevé referred to the cost for the film as ninety thousand francs. Painlevé, “Comment fut tourné L’Hippocampe,” undated typed manuscript with handwritten note “article donnée à M. Servanne le 4 décembre 1934,” 1, held in AJP: L’Hippocampe dossier. Painlevé, 1, and Madeleine Epron, “Le Cinéma au service de la science,” Balzac, February 15, 1935. Held in AJP: Press Clippings. Letter from Roland Tual, Pathé, to Jean Painlevé, June 29, 1934, held in AJP: L’Hippocampe dossier. See letters from Painlevé to Tual, Pathé, November 28, 1934, and Painlevé to Usines Pathé-­Cinéma, February 8, 1935, held in AJP: L’Hippocampe dossier.

NOTES TO CHAPTER 3

349

  24 Letters from Painlevé to M. Condom at the Station biologique, Arcachon, May 5, 1934, and from Condom to Painlevé, May 11, 1934, held in AJP: L’Hippocampe dossier.   25 Letter from Painlevé to Condom, June 12, 1934, and telegram from Painlevé to Condom, July 3, 1934, held in AJP: L’Hippocampe dossier.   26 Painlevé, “Feet in the Water,” 131–­32, and “Pieds dans l’eau,” 5.   27 Letter from Painlevé to Fumerand, July 21, 1934, held in AJP: L’Hippo­ campe dossier.   28 Painlevé, “Feet in the Water,” 139, and “Pieds dans l’eau,” 6. See also Painlevé, “Comment fut tourné L’Hippocampe,” 1–­3.   29 Letter from M. Condom, Université de Bordeaux, Société scientifique d’Arcachon (Station biologique) to Painlevé, May 11, 1934, held in AJP: L’Hippocampe dossier.   30 Painlevé gave thirty-­six hours as the duration in his interviews with Epron, “Cinéma au service de la science,” and Lang, “Chronique des salles obscurs,” both held in AJP: Press Clippings. In his “Feet in the Water,” 139, he gives forty-­eight hours but then describes the wait as “three days and three nights” to Sauvage, “Institute in the Cellar,” 128, finally settling on sixty hours in Painlevé, “Comment le cinéma nous révèle l’invisible,” Le Figaro, November 3, 1935, 8. In “Comment fut tourné L’Hippocampe,” 4, he mentioned they waited completely still for thirty-­six hours, missed the births due to deadened reflexes, and then had to wait another forty-­eight hours.   31 Sauvage, “Institute in the Cellar,” 128, and Sauvage, “L’institut dans la cave,” 11.   32 See Yves Le Prieur, Premier de plongée (Paris: Editions France empire, 1956), and the coverage of Beebe and Barton’s descent by Ernest Laut, “Recherches au fond de la mer,” Le Monde illustré, September 1, 1934, 717, and by John Forester, “1000 mètres sous les mers,” Voilà 203 (February 9, 1935): 8–­9.   33 Ferdinand Reyna, “La Féerie au fond des mers: les amours de l’hippo­ campe,” VU, December 15, 1934, 28.   34 Painlevé described the Fernez diving system in Berg, Jean Painlevé, 58, and in episode 3 of Jean Painlevé au fil de ses films. Painlevé’s production budget for The Seahorse is also listed the Fernez apparatus as a line item costing fifteen hundred francs in “Relevé des frais nécessité pour la réalisation de L’Hippocampe,” undated budget statement (circa fall 1934), held in AJP: L’Hippocampe dossier.   35 Painlevé described the camera in episode 3 of Jean Painlevé au fil de ses films. See also Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 85, and Eric Lange’s website

350

  36   37

  38   39   40

  41   42   43

  44   45   46   47   48        

49 50 51 52

NOTES TO CHAPTER 3

Cinématographes: Les appareils de cinéma muet en France, 1895–­1930, http://cinematographes.free.fr/debrie-sept.html. Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 85. Noëlle Margaritis, a war widow, befriended Painlevé when he was still a teenager. He maintained a close relation with her and her sons Florent and Gilles, the latter of whom starred as the traveling salesman in Vigo’s L’Atalante and became a pioneer of French television with his circus program La Piste aux étoiles. Letter from Painlevé to Noëlle Margaritis, Hôtel Bristol, the Pyrénées, August 1, 1934. Held in AJP: Correspondences. Letter from Painlevé to Noëlle Margaritis, San Sebastian, Spain, August 12, 1934. Held in AJP: Correspondences. Georges Sinclair, “Les Membres du club des ‘Sous l’eau’ fondé par Jean Painlevé vont vivre dans les profondeurs marines,” Paris soir, June 2, 1935, held in AJP: Press Clippings; Jean Berty, “Sous la présidence de M. Jean Painlevé on a inauguré à Saint-­Raphaël le club des ‘Sous l’Eau,’” Paris soir, August 2, 1935, held in AJP: Press Clippings; and Barza, “Le Club des Sous L’Eau,” Voilà 230 (August 17, 1935): 7. See also Berg, “Contradictory Forces,” 27–­29. Georges Genet, “Une Nouveauté de vacances: Le tourisme sous l’eau,” Je sais tout, August 1936, 240–­42. Sinclair, “Membres du club des ‘Sous l’eau.’” Painlevé, “Présentation de L’Hippocampe ou Cheval Marin,” undated, held in AJP: L’Hippocampe dossier. This document comes from the postwar era, evidenced by its references to Dr. Bogomoletz’s and Jacques-­Yves Cousteau’s sixty-­meter dives. Painlevé, “Feet in the Water,” 131, and “Pieds dans l’eau,” 5. Sauvage, “Institute in the Cellar,” 126–­27, and “Institut dans la cave,” 10. Epron, “Cinéma au service de la science.” Epron, “Jean Painlevé, l’homme au microscope,” Marianne 123 (February 27, 1935): 12. Jean Painlevé au fil de ses films, Denis Derrien and Hélène Hazéra, ARTE, Les Documents Cinématographiques, and GMT, 1988. Painlevé, Pénétration pacifique, 4. Painlevé, “L’Hippocampe,” in Berg, Jean Painlevé, 58. On these comparisons, see Roule, Les Poissons, 210–­11. Painlevé, “Problème du documentaire scientifique,” VU, December 15, 1934, 38. Painlevé was bemoaning the support among “elites” for documentary films, which they would wish to see overtake all other forms of

NOTES TO CHAPTER 3

  53   54

  55

  56

  57

       

58 59 60 61

  62

  63

351

cinema and, in so doing, “throw cinema’s magnificent erotics into the same bag with smut and debauchery.” Sauvage, “Jean Painlevé ou, subversion dans la science,” Regards 4, no. 67 (1935): 8. Letter from Irwin Esmond, Director, State of New York Education Department, Motion Picture Division to Rose Tapernoux, Secretary, French Motion Picture Corp., August 14, 1936, held in the New York State Archives, Series A1418, Motion Picture Division, #31517, L’Hippocampe dossier (Box 462). Jean Vidal, “Les Films nouveaux: L’Hippocampe,” Pour vous 340 (May 23, 1935): 12. André Lang’s review in Gringoire also remarks on the position of the film in the program at the Omnia, wedged between the celebration of the jubilee of Georges V and the French football championship, but feared this diminished the merit and effort of the film. The contagious dimension of the cinematic experience was a hallmark of the program format that was common through the early 1920s and survived in some of the specialty theaters of Paris. In “Le Mythe du documentaire,” an article illustrated with a still from Painlevé’s Assassins d’eau douce (Freshwater Assassins), Raymond Queneau described sitting behind a woman and her son who treated an entire evening’s program as if it were one continuous film, and then admitted to also occasionally engaging in this mode of spectatorship. Queneau, “Le Mythe du documentaire,” Labyrinthe 22 (December 1946): 28. See also Gaycken’s discussion of the effect of the popular science program format and the blurred textual boundaries in Devices of Curiosity, 125–­28. Robert Desnos, “L’Érotisme,” Paris-­Journal, April 20, 1923, reprinted in Les Rayons et les ombres: cinéma, ed. Marie-­Claire Dumas with Nicole Cervelle-­Zonca, 29–­31 (Paris: Gallimard, 1992). Desnos, 29. Desnos. Desnos, 30–­31. Desnos, “Réponse à une enquête sur ‘Les Lettres, La Pensée Moderne, et Le Cinéma’ (1925),” in Les Rayons les ombres, 77. Comte de Lautréamont, Les Chants de Maldoror, 199. Claude Maillard-­ Chary catalogs the many aberrant and scandalous couples that fascinated the Surrealists, starting with Leda and the Swan, in Le Bestiaire des surréalistes (Paris: Presses de la Sorbonne Nouvelle, 1994), esp. 138–­39. Annette Michelson, “Surrealism and Cinema: A Conversation with Annette Michelson,” interview by Stuart Liebman and David Shapiro, Millennium Film Journal 1 (1977–­78): 57.

352

NOTES TO CHAPTER 3

         

Apollinaire, Mamelles de Tirésias, 635. Apollinaire, preface to Mamelles de Tirésias, 609, 611, 612. Apollinaire, Mamelles de Tirésias, 622–­23, 634. Apollinaire, 637. Collective, “Recherches sur la sexualité, part d’objectivité, déterminations individuelles, degré de conscience,” La Révolution Surréaliste 11 (March 15, 1928): 32–­40. The full series of these investigations has been collected and translated as José Pierre, ed., Investigating Sex: Surrealist Discussions, trans. Malcolm Imrie, introduction by JoAnn Wypijewski, afterword by Dawn Ades (New York: Verso, 2011). Subsequent citations will be to the English and then the French version. Sexual education in the first half of the twentieth century was frequently couched within sexist double standards and moralistic and pro-­natalist language that prepared girls for pregnancy and warned boys about venereal disease (secular feminist educators and neo-­Malthusians were key exceptions to this tendency). See McMillan, Housewife or Harlot, 167–­71; Bard, Filles de Marianne, 223–­26; Mary Lynn Stewart, “‘Science Is Always Chaste’: Sex Education and Sexual Initiation in France, 1880s–­1930s,” Journal of Contemporary History 32, no. 3 (1997): 381–­94; Anne-­Claire Rebreyend, Intimités amoureuses: France, 1920–­1970 (Toulouse: Presses universitaires du Mirail-­Toulouse, 2008), 61–­98; and Virginie De Luca Barrusse, “The Concerns Underlying Sex Education for Young People in France during the First Half of the 20th Century: Morality, Demography, and Public Health,” Hygiea International 10, no. 1 (2011): 33–­52. Encyclo­pédie de la vie sexuelle (Paris: Tessier, 1934) was ghostwritten by Arthur Koestler with contributions on pregnancy and childbirth and venereal disease from the German Dr. Levy-­Lenz (not Lery-­Lenz as published) and an appendix on prostitution by the publisher (under the name A. Wily). See Koestler, The Invisible Writing (Boston: Beacon Press, 1955), 212–­13. Lyford, Surrealist Masculinities, 15, 122ff. Collective, “First Session” and “Second Session,” in Pierre, Investigating Sex, 2, 27; and Collective, “Recherches sur la sexualité,” 33, 38. Collective, Investigating Sex, 24, 31, translation modified, and Collective, “Recherches sur la sexualité,” 37, 39. Collective, 61, emphasis added. Dawn Ades, afterword to Pierre, Investigating Sex, 193–­94. In addition to the pieces mentioned directly in this chapter, see Kurt Seligmann’s photo collage “Les Animaux surréalistes,” in André Breton and Paul Éluard, Dictionnaire abrégé du Surréalisme (1938; repr., Mayenne: José Corti, 1991), which features a seahorse among its category-­breaching

64 65 66 67 68

  69

  70   71   72   73   74   75

NOTES TO CHAPTER 3

       

76 77 78 79

  80

  81

  82   83   84   85

  86

  87   88

353

animals; Desnos’s repeated references to seahorses in La Liberté ou l’amour (1927); as well as his poem “Hippocampe” (1944) from the epigraph to this essay; Breton, Char, and Éluard’s “Natural History,” in Ralentir travaux, trans. Keith Waldrop (Cambridge: Exact Change, 1990), 43; and Raymond Queneau’s poem “Hippocampes/Seahorses,” in the 1943 collection Les Ziaux [Eyeseas], trans. Daniela Hurezanu and Stephen Kessler (Boston: Black Widow, 2008), 16–­17. Maillard-­Chary, Bestiaire des surréalistes, 40. Maillard-­Chary, 2. Adamowsky, Mysterious Science of the Sea, 102. Le “Parvo” Debrie modèle L, user’s manual (1927), 3–­5. A copy of the user’s manual is posted on Eric Lange’s website Cinématographes: Les appareils de cinéma muet en France, 1895–­1930, http://cinematographes.free.fr /debrie-parvo-l-notice.html. Breton, Mad Love, trans. Mary Ann Caws (1937; repr., Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1987), and Breton, L’Amour fou, in Œuvres complètes, 2:673–­785. Subsequent references will be made to the English and then to the French edition. On Surrealist engagements with leftist politics, see Robert Short, “The Politics of Surrealism, 1920–­1936,” Journal of Contemporary History 1, no. 2 (1966): 3–­25, and Steven Harris, Surrealist Art and Thought in the 1930s: Art, Politics, and the Psyche (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004). Breton, “Manifeste du Surréalisme,” 238; Breton, “Manifesto of Surrealism,” 26; and Breton, Mad Love, 42, and Amour fou, 713. Breton, Mad Love, 76–­77, and Amour fou, 744–­45. Breton, Mad Love, 78–­79, and Amour fou, 746–­47. Breton, Nadja (1928), in Œuvres complètes, 1:753. Breton returned to this idea in “La Beauté sera convulsive . . .” Minotaure 5 (May 1934): 8–­16, which reappears as the first chapter of Mad Love. Louis Aragon and André Breton, “Le Cinquantenaire de l’hysterie (1878–­ 1928),” La Révolution Surréaliste 11 (March 15, 1928): 20–­22. See also the editor’s notes in Breton, Nadja, in Œuvres complètes, 1:1564–­65n8. Rosalind E. Krauss, The Optical Unconscious (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1993), 152–­55. Breton, Mad Love, 8, 10, 11, 13–­14, and Amour fou, 678, 680, 681, 682, 692. On the history of the Williamson picture and its creative misappropriation by Breton, see Ann Elias, “Sea of Dreams: André Breton and the Great Barrier Reef,” Papers of Surrealism 10 (2013), http://www.surrealismcentre .ac.uk/papersofsurrealism/journal10/index.htm. Breton’s original essay

354

  89   90   91

       

92 93 94 95

  96

  97   98   99

100 101 102 103 104

NOTES TO CHAPTER 3

in Minotaure includes a series of six close-­up images of coral and crystals photographed by Brassaï. Breton, Mad Love, 8, and Amour fou, 678. Breton, Mad Love, 9, 19, and Amour fou, 679, 687. Breton, Mad Love, 25, and Amour fou, 679. On chance, Surrealism, and the aesthetics of the science film, see also Oliver Gaycken, “Beauty of Chance,” 307–­27. Breton, “La Beauté sera convulsive . . . ,” 8, 15, 16. Breton, Mad Love, 25, and Amour fou, 697. Breton, Mad Love, 10, and Amour fou, 680. Breton, “Manifeste du surréalisme,” 319, and Breton, “Manifesto of Surrealism,” 14. Acknowledging the often-­treacherous path of finding justification for human behavior in the rest of the animal kingdom, such a reading of The Seahorse was not without precedent. For example, in the first issue of Inversions, the pioneering and ultimately censored openly gay magazine, B. P. Montreal argued for homosexual acts (inversions) as a universal phenomenon based upon observation of homosexual behavior in pigeons in “Inversions chez les Pigeons,” Inversions 1, no. 1 (1924): 14; and Willy (a shared pen name, managed by Henri Gauthier-­Villars) included a section titled “Chez nos frères inférieurs” on animal homosexuality in Le Troisième sexe, introduction by Louis Estève (Paris: Paris-­Éditions, 1927), 98–­105. Willy concluded that most instances of same-­sex activities in animals are due to a lack of a thumb, which was for him the precondition of auto-­eroticism. Cocteau, “Le Numéro Barbette,” 261. Brassaï, The Secret Paris of the 1930s (London: Thames and Hudson, 1976). Painlevé was not immune to his own lapses into heterosexism and even homophobia, as expressed regarding Boiffard’s appreciation of male caresses. See Painlevé, “La Bande de la ‘Maison du Diable,’” in Jacques-­André Boiffard, la parenthèse surréaliste, ed. Clément Chéroux and Damarice Amao (Paris: Centre Pompidou/Xavier Barral, 2014), 130. These lines come from Painlevé’s recollection “Femmes” held in AJP. Painlevé, “Seahorse,” xiii. André Gide, Les Nourritures terrestres (1897; repr., Paris: Gallimard, 1921), 69–­70. Gide, 136. Desnos, “Amour et Cinéma (1927),” in Cinéma, ed. André Tchernia (Paris: Gallimard, 1966), 159, 160. Claude Cahun, “Beware of Domestic Objects,” trans. Guy Ducornet, in Surrealist Women: An International Anthology, ed. Penelope Rosemont

NOTES TO CHAPTER 3

105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112

113 114 115 116 117 118

119

120 121

122

355

(Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998), 60; Claude Cahun, “Prenez Garde aux objets domestiques,” Cahiers d’art 11, no. 1–­2 (1936): 45–­48. Lang, “Chronique des salles obscures,” np. Letter from the director of the St. Marcel Cinema to Painlevé, November 18, 1935. Held in AJP: L’Hippocampe dossier. Letter from the Jury of the Festival International de Cinéma to Painlevé, November 6, 1935. Held in AJP: L’Hippocampe dossier. Hazéra and Leglu, “Jean Painlevé Reveals the Invisible,” 176. Burch and Sellier, Battle of the Sexes, 10. Burch and Sellier. See Joan Scott, “Gender: A Useful Category for Historical Analysis,” American Historical Review 91, no. 5 (1986): 1053–­75. For an examination of the pervasive voyeurism of wildlife media, particularly with respect to the sex lives of animals, and the dangers of allegorical readings of wildlife behavior, see Chris, Watching Wildlife, 122–­66. McMillan, Housewife or Harlot, 177, and Roberts, Civilization without Sexes, 107, 121. McMillan, Housewife or Harlot, 189, and Roberts, Civilization without Sexes, 107. Bard, Filles de Marianne, 209, and McMillan, Housewife or Harlot, 189. Dr. Michael Bourgas, Le Droit à l’amour pour la femme (Paris: Vigot Frères, 1919), 12. Bourgas, 191–­92. Advertisement for Lery, Costler, and Willy’s L’Encyclopédie de la vie sexuelle in Le Populaire, April 11, 1935, 4; advertisement for Institut de recherches opothérapiques in Voilà 199 ( January 12, 1935): 11; advertisements for Institut d’hormonothérapie and Pilules Orientales in Voilà 200 ( January 19, 1935): 11. Advertisement for l’Ormosan-­A and l’Ormosan-­B in Voilà 217 (May 18, 1935): 11; advertisement for Super l’Ormosan-­A in Détective 354 (August 8, 1935): 10. Advertisements for the Periodique and Madame Florène’s in Détective 354 (August 8, 1935): 4. Advertisements for the Periodique and Madame Florène’s in Détective 354 (August 8, 1935): 4. On the obsessive discourse on breasts in the popular press, see Bard, Les Garçonnes, 26–­30. See Jean Réal, L’Homme et la bête (Paris: Stock, 1999); Réal, Voronoff (Paris: Stock, 2001); David Hamilton, The Monkey Gland Affair (London: Chatto and Windus, 1986); and Michael A. Kozminski and David A. Bloom, “A Brief History of Rejuvenation Operations,” Journal of Urology 187 (2012):

356

123 124 125 126 127

128 129 130

131 132 133 134

135 136 137 138

NOTES TO CHAPTER 3

1130–­34. The statistics on testicular grafts come from Réal, Voronoff, 191–­ 92, 207. Nikolai Kremenstov, Revolutionary Experiments: The Quest for Immortality in Bolshevik Science (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 149–­52. Eisenstein, “Béla Forgot the Scissors,” in Selected Works, 1:80. Letter from Édouard Monod-­Herzen to Jean Painlevé, October 17, 1938. Held in AJP: Correspondences. Letter from Édouard Monod-­Herzen to Jean Painlevé, October 17, 1938. Held in AJP: Correspondences. Letter from Jean-­Louis Vallos to Jean Painlevé, undated, 3. Held in AJP: L’Hippocampe dossier. Capturing the spirit of this poem requires an interpretive translation with a slightly altered meter. The original reads: “Quel argument c’est évident / Trouveraient là les feministes / Si quelque Voronoff aidant / Après la greffe trop simpliste / Qui servant à rendre leur dents / Aux vieux fauves encore en piste / Un jour le ventre des adams / Avait la poche hippocampiste. / J’entends déjà, qui sait demain? / Pour obtenir le droit de vote / Les suffragettes de tout crin / Parcourir à mignonnes bottes / Urbains et vicinaux chemins / Au cri qui fait frémir la côte / Que je n’ai plus de par leur faute / “Hippocampons le mâle humain.” Roberts, Civilization without Sexes, 123, and Bard, Filles de Marianne, 209. Burt, “Das Leben im Meer in Kunst und Wissenschaft,” 54. See Amanda Vincent, “A Seahorse Father Makes a Good Mother,” Natural History, December 1990, 10, and Sara A. Lourie, Seahorses: A Life-­Size Guide to Every Species (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016). G. d’Aguilar, “L’Hippocampe porte Bonheur,” Le Monde illustré, February 11, 1939, 17. Roule, Les Poissons, 209. Jules Sageret, “Les Poissons pères de famille,” La Revue de Paris, September–­October 1934, 180–­98, esp. 193–­94. Berg, “Contradictory Forces,” 6; Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 21–­24; and Burt “Das Leben im Meer in Kunst und Wissenschaft,” 51–­52. Hamery observes that Painlevé almost exclusively focuses on his male lineage in his own biographical accounts despite the fact that he spent much of his childhood with his aunt and female cousins. Painlevé, “Femmes” (unpublished document), 1, AJP. Linda Williams, Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the “Frenzy of the Visible” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), esp. 48–­50. Lyford, Surrealist Masculinities, 7. Lang, “Chronique des salles obscurs.”

NOTES TO CHAPTER 4

139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146

147 148 149

150 151 152 153 154

357

Lang. Lang. Decaris, “L’Hippocampe.” Decaris. Decaris. Decaris. Decaris. Berg, “Contradictory Forces,” 25–­27; Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 87; and letter from Jean Painlevé to Edgar Verèse, n.d., circa 1936. Held in AJP: Correspondences. Painlevé, “Seahorse,” xiii. On the seahorse trade and conservation efforts, see Lourie, Seahorses, 48–­67. Jacques de Brùssey-­Malville, “Avec Jean Painlevé,” Marianne, August 9, 1939, 16. Desnos, La Liberté ou l’amour (1927), in Œuvres, ed. Marie-­Claire Dumas (Paris: Quarto Gallimard, 1999), 335. See also the discussions of Desnos and advertising in Lyford, Surrealist Masculinities, 41, and Katharine Conley, Robert Desnos, Surrealism, and the Marvelous in Everyday Life (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003), 7, 64. Desnos, “Le Troisième manifeste du surréalisme (1930),” in Œuvres, 487, and Desnos, “Pygmalion et le sphinx,” Documents 1 (1930): 36, 38. Conley, Robert Desnos, 7. D’Aguilar, “L’Hippocampe porte Bonheur,” 17. D’Aguilar. D’Aguilar.

4. SUBSTITUTES, VECTORS, AND THE CIRCULATORY SYSTEMS OF MODERNITY

  1 Letter from Jean Painlevé to Alfred Stoessel of the Institut für volkstümliche Naturkunde, Berlin, October 16, 1934. Held in AJP: Correspondences.   2 Georges Canguilhem, “Experimentation in Animal Biology,” in Knowledge of Life, 6, 8–­9. See also Elisabeth de Fontenay, Le Silence des bêtes: la philosophie à l’épreuve de l’animalité (Paris: Fayard, 1998), 767.   3 Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life, trans. E. F. N. Jephcott (New York: Verso, 2005), 112.   4 This approach is a slight pivot from the interesting reading of Painlevé’s treatment of animals as stars rather than guinea pigs in Marie Berne, “Ne pas cobaye mais vedette: gros plan sur l’animal vivant chez Jean Painlevé,” Studies in French Cinema 14, no. 3 (2014): 216–­31.

358

NOTES TO CHAPTER 4

  5 Rosalind Krauss, “The Photographic Conditions of Surrealism,” October 19 (1981): 3–­34; Linda Williams, Figures of Desire: A Theory and Analysis of Surrealist Film (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), esp. 48–­49; and Painlevé, “À propos d’un nouveau réalisme chez Fernand Léger,” Cahiers d’art 3–­4 (1940): 70–­71.   6 See James Lastra, “Why Is This Absurd Picture Here? Ethnography/ Equivocation/Buñuel,” October 89 (1999): 51–­68.   7 Brian Larkin, Signal and Noise: Media, Infrastructure, and Urban Culture in Nigeria (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2008), 5–­6.   8 Jennifer Anne Boittin, Colonial Metropolis: The Urban Grounds of Anti-­ imperialism and Feminism in Interwar Paris (Lincoln: University of Nebra­ska Press, 2010), xiv, xxi.   9 Boittin, xxiii.   10 Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000).   11 Kirsten Ostherr, Cinematic Prophylaxis: Globalization and Contagion in the Discourse of World Health (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2005), 11.   12 Bernard, Introduction à l’étude de la médicine expérimentale, 27.   13 Bernard, 17.   14 Bernard, 27.   15 Léon Normet, “Traitement des hémorragies expérimentales chez le Chien par un sérum artificiel à base de citrates,” presented by M. Charles Richet, séance of January 21, 1929, Extrait des comptes rendus des séances de l’Académie des sciences (1929), 1–­3.   16 “Sérum Normet,” pamphlet, July 26, 1929. Held in AJP: Traitement d’une hémorragie expérimentale chez le Chien dossier.   17 G. Haslé and Ngyen-­Duy-­Ha, “Traitement des splenomegalies chroniques paludéennes par le serum Normet medical,” Bulletin de la Société medico-­ chirurgicale de l’Indochinie 8, no. 4 (1930): 308–­13; M. Amigues, “Deux cas de bilieuse hémoglobinurique traités par le sérum médical de Normet, avec résultats très favorables,” Bulletin de la Société de pathologie exotique 23 (1930): 999–­1000.   18 Léon Normet, “Le Traitement des hémorragies graves et des états de choc chez l’homme par le sérum citraté de Normet,” presented by M. Cunéo, séance of June 12, 1929, Bulletins et mémoires de la Société nationale de chirurgie 55, no. 21 (1929). Held in AJP: Traitement d’une hémorragie expérimentale chez le Chien dossier; and Normet, “Traitement des hémorragies expérimentales,” 1–­3.   19 Letter from Painlevé to Madame Margeurite Mesureur, April 22, 1939.

NOTES TO CHAPTER 4

  20

  21   22   23   24   25

  26

  27

  28

359

Held in AJP: Traitement d’une hémorragie expérimentale chez le Chien dossier. Painlevé claimed that a laboratory assistant adopted the dog featured in the film, thereby sparing it the typical fate of laboratory specimens. Pierre Lazareff, “Jean Painlevé a présenté à la Sorbonne d’émouvants films chirurgicaux, et il a fait une brillante plaidoirie en faveur du film documentaire,” Paris midi, May 10, 1930, held in AJP: Press Clippings; Herman Frenay-­Cid, “Entre le miracle et le mystère: Jean Painlevé,” La Meuse, December 15, 1932, held in AJP: Press Clippings; and Association pour la Documentation Photographique et Cinématographique dans les Sciences: compte rendu du Premier Congrès de la Section Médicale et Biologique les 5, 6 et 7 octobre 1933 au Musée pédagogique de l’état, 29 rue d’Ulm, Paris Ve (Bordeaux: J. Bière, 1933), held in AJP: ADPCS dossier. “Le Médecin général Normet,” L’echo d’Alger, July 30, 1933. Held in AJP: Press Clippings. Claude Aveline, “Le Cinéma: documentaires,” La Revue hebdomadaire 40 (October 1, 1932): 239, and Frenay-­Cid, “Entre le miracle et le mystère.” Bernard, Introduction à l’étude de la médicine expérimentale, 100–­101. Thierry Lefebvre, La Chair et le celluloïd: le cinéma chirurgical du docteur Doyen (Saint-­Paul, France: Jean Doyen, 2004), 39. See also the filmed documentation of Sergei Brukhonenko’s research Experiments in the Revival of Organisms (Brukhonenko and Tchetchuline, USSR, 1940). Brukhonenko depicts the total exsanguination of a dog, which is purportedly left dead for ten minutes (indicated by the lapse of a stopwatch) and then revived by means of his autojector machine. The film depicts how a dog’s lung, heart, and decapitated head could be kept “alive” and responding to stimuli even when removed from the body (the latter a repeat of his famous 1925 experiments). Painlevé, quoted in Association pour la Documentation Photographique et Cinématographique dans les Sciences: compte rendu du Premier Congrès de la Section Médicale et Biologique les 5, 6 et 7 octobre 1933 au Musée pédagogique de l’état, 29 rue d’Ulm, Paris Ve (Bordeaux: J. Bière, 1933), 14. Nikolai Krementsov, “Off with Your Heads: Isolated Organs in Early Soviet Science and Fiction,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 40, no. 2 (2009): 87–­100. Brukhonenko, quoted in Krementsov, 91; Brukhonenko, “Appareil pour la circulation artificielle du sang des animaux à sang chaud,” Journal de Physiologie et de Pathologie Générale 27 (1929): 12–­18; Brukhonenko and Sergei Tchetchuline, “Expériences avec la tête isolée du chien (1926),” Journal de physiologie et de pathologie générale 27 (1929): 31–­45; and Brukhonenko, “Circulation artificielle du sang dans l’organisme entier d’un

360

  29

  30   31

  32   33

  34

  35   36   37   38   39

  40   41   42   43   44   45

NOTES TO CHAPTER 4

chien avec cœur exlcu,” Journal de physiologie et de pathologie générale 27 (1929): 257–­72. Alfred W. Gaspart, “Peut-­on prolonger la vie dans une tête séparée du tronc?,” L’Homme libre, February 13, 1929, 2, and André Botta, “Si on vous coupait la tête celle-­ci pourrait vivre séparée de votre corps . . . ,” Le Populaire, April 6, 1929, 1–­2. Philippe Soupault, “Un Évadé,” La Revue de Paris, May–­June 1930, 157–­58. Lo Duca, “La Science par le cinéma,” La Revue du cinéma 12 (April 1948): 57. See also Jean Cabrerets, “Quand le cinema fait des ‘maths’: voit revivre la tête coupée d’un chien et ‘file’ des assassins d’eau douce,” L’Écran français 71 (November 5, 1946): 12. Normet, “Traitement des hémorragies expérimentales,” 2. Painlevé, interviewed in episode 2 of Jean Painlevé au fil de ses films, and Painlevé, “Experimental Treatment of a Hemorrhage in a Dog (the Normet Serum),” in Berg, Jean Painlevé, 84. Bataille, “Modern Spirit and the Play of Transpositions,” trans. Krysztof Fijalkowski and Michael Richardson, in Undercover Surrealism: Georges Bataille and Documents, ed. Dawn Ades and Simon Baker (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2006), 242. Boiffard’s photograph appears in Documents 8 (1930): 488, followed by Bataille’s “L’Esprit moderne et le jeu des transpositions,” 489–­92 (the quotation is from 490). Bataille, “Modern Spirit and the Play of Transpositions,” 242, and Bataille, “Esprit moderne,” 490. Didi-­Huberman, “Images-­Contacts,” in Phasmes: essais sur l’apparition (Paris: Minuit, 1998), 29. Didi-­Huberman, 29. See Sans titre (circa 1930) printed in Chéroux and Amao, Jacques-­André Boiffard, la parenthèse surréaliste, 111. Bataille, “Modern Spirit and the Play of Transpositions,” 242; Bataille, “Esprit moderne,” 490; and Bataille, “Deuxième groupe de photographes: Galerie d’art contemporian,” in Œuvres complètes, vol. 2, Écrits posthumes (Gallimard: Paris, 1970), 122. Painlevé, “À propos d’un ‘nouveau réalisme’ chez Fernand Léger,” 70–­71. Painlevé, 71. Les Deux Aveugles, “Un Entr’acte aux ‘Miracles,’” L’Intransigeant, December 23, 1930, 6. Painlevé, “À propos d’un ‘nouveau réalisme’ chez Fernand Léger,” 71. André Bazin, “Sables de mort: un admirable documentaire,” L’Écran français 56 ( July 24, 1946): 14. Bazin, “Ontologie de l’image photographique” (1945), 405–­11; and in

NOTES TO CHAPTER 4

  46

  47   48   49

  50   51   52   53

  54

  55

  56

361

slightly revised form, Bazin, “Ontologie de l’image photographique,” in Ontologie et langage, vol. 1 of Qu’est-­ce que le cinéma?, 11–­19 (Paris: Cerf, 1958). Subsequent citations will refer to the 1945 and 1958 versions, respectively, which have small but important differences. Bazin, “Ontologie de l’image photographique” (1945), 409, and Bazin, “Ontologie de l’image photographique” (1958), 16; and Bazin “Ontology of the Photographic Image,” 8. This reading draws on insights from Daniel Morgan, “Rethinking Bazin: Ontology and Realist Aesthetics,” Critical Inquiry 32 (Spring 2006): 443–­81; Tom Gunning, “Moving away from the Index: Cinema and the Impression of Reality,” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 18, no. 1 (2007): 29–­52; and Lowenstein, Dreaming of Cinema, 12–­17. On Bazin’s fascination with Surrealism, see Dudley Andrew, André Bazin (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990), 58–­59. Bazin, “Ontologie de l’image photographique” (1945), 409; Bazin, “Ontologie de l’image photographique” (1958), 15. Hervé Joubert-­Laurencin, Le Sommeil paradoxal: écrits sur André Bazin (Montreuil: Oeil, 2014), 16ff. Bazin, “Ontologie de l’image photographique” (1945), 410; Bazin, “Ontologie de l’image photographique” (1958), 18; and Bazin, “Ontology of the Photographic Image,” 10 (translation modified). Denis Hollier, “The Use Value of the Impossible,” October 60 (1992): 16. Hollier. Bazin, “Ontologie de l’image photographique” (1945), 409, and Bazin, “Ontologie de l’image photographique,” (1958), 16. See Michel Foucault, Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975–­1976, trans. David Macy, ed. Arnold I. Davidson (New York: Picador, 2003), 247–­56. Thomas Elsaesser, “No End to Nosferatu,” in Weimar Cinema: An Essential Guide to Classic Films of the Era, ed. Noah Isenberg (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008), 83, and Boittin, Colonial Metropolis. Georges Bazin, “Beauté du hasard: le film scientifique,” L’Écran français 121 (October 21, 1947): 10, and Bazin, “The Science Film: Accidental Beauty,” trans. Janine Herman, in Bellows and McDougall, Science Is Fiction, 147. Georges Bataille, “Abattoir,” Documents 6 (1929): 329; Bataille, “Slaughterhouse,” trans. Annette Michelson, October 36 (1986): 10; Michel Leiris, “Hygiène,” Documents 1 (1930): 44; Bataille, “La Structure psychologique du fascisme,” in Œuvres complètes, vol. 1, Premiers écrits, 1922–­1940 (Paris: Gallimard, 1970), 344; and Leiris, “Exposition Kalifala Sidibé,” Documents 6 (1929): 343.

362

NOTES TO CHAPTER 4

  57 Oliver Gaycken, “Surrealist Contagion: Le Vampire,” Screen 56, no. 1 (2015): 88–­94.   58 Gaycken, 94.   59 See Bruno Latour, The Pasteurization of France, trans. Alan Sheridan and John Law (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989).   60 Anne Marcovich, “French Colonial Medicine and Colonial Rule: Algeria and Indochina,” in Disease, Medicine, and Empire: Perspectives on Western Medicine and the Experience of European Expansion, ed. Roy Macleod and Milton Lewis (New York: Routledge, 1988), 109–­10.   61 Marcovich, 104; Jean-­Pierre Dozon, “Quand les Pastoriens traquaient la maladie du sommeil,” Science sociales et santé 3, no. 3–­4 (1985): 28; Anne Marie Moulin, “Patriarchal Science: The Network of the Overseas Pasteur Institutes,” in Science and Empires: Historical Studies about Scientific Development and European Expansion, ed. Patrick Petitjean, Catherine Jami, and Anne Marie Moulin (Boston: Kluwer Academic, 1992), 307–­22; and Peter Bloom, French Colonial Documentary: Mythologies of Humanitarianism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008), 95–­152.   62 Information on the relationship between Comandon and Painlevé comes from materials held in Fonds Jean Comandon: COM.B1, COM.B2, and COM.C2, L’Institut Pasteur, Paris.   63 Gustave Martin, André Lebœuf, and Émile Roubaud, La Maladie du sommeil au Congo Français, 1906–­1908 (Paris: Masson, 1909), v.   64 See Dozon, “Quand les Pastoriens traquaient la maladie du sommeil,” 44–­47, and D. Domergue, “La lutte contre la trypanosomiase en Côte D’Ivoire, 1900–­1945,” Journal of African History 22, no. 1 (1980): 67–­72.   65 Eugène Jamot, quoted in Dozon, “Quand les Pastoriens traquaient la maladie du sommeil,” 39. See also Bloom, French Colonial Documentary, 114.   66 Bloom, French Colonial Documentary, viii, 96.   67 Painlevé, “Le Vampire,” in Berg, Jean Painlevé, 85.   68 Letter from Dr. Émile Roubaud, l’Institut Pasteur, to Painlevé, December 16, 1930. Held in AJP: Vampire dossier.   69 A film of a vampire bat had already been successfully made in 1934 by Raymond L. Ditmars, curator of mammals and reptiles at the New York Zoological Society. See Ditmars and Arthur M. Greenhall, “The Vampire Bat: A Presentation of Undescribed Habits and Review of Its History,” in Annual Report to the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1937), 277–­300.   70 Letter from Painlevé to Dr. Émile Roubaud, l’Institut Pasteur, December 19, 1938. Held in AJP: Vampire dossier. For a list of the vectors and

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pests filmed in 1939, see the filmography in Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 279.   71 Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 168. Principal editing may have taken place in 1939, but its completion seems to have occurred after the war. This was not only due to the fact that sonorization would require some refashioning but rather was based on a set of editing notes held in the Vampire dossier written on the back of scrap paper with the typewritten date April 16, 1940.   72 Hazéra and Leglu, “Jean Painlevé Reveals the Invisible,” 177.   73 Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 135–­138; Berg, “Contradictory Forces,” 33; and Philippe Ensault, “Entretiens avec Jean Painlevé,” transcript of unpublished interview (1982), AJP.   74 Jean-­Pierre Bertin-­Maghit, Le Cinéma français sous l’Occupation (Paris: Perrin, 2002), 173–­74.   75 Berg, “Contradictory Forces,” 31.   76 G. G., “De 1940 à 1944, ‘l’homme brun’ fut pourchassé nuit et jour par la Gestapo,” L’Illustré, November 20, 1947, 10.   77 “Pécheur d’images sous-­marines: Jean Painlevé a filmé sous les eaux l’oursin, la pieuvre, et l’hippocampe,” La Presse, April 2, 1946. Held in AJP: Press Clippings.   78 G. G., “De 1940 à 1944,” 10, and “Untitled clipping,” La Sentinelle, November 1, 1947. Held in AJP: Press Clippings.   79 Bertin-­Maghit, Cinéma français sous l’Occupation, 70–­75, 174–­75, 191–­216; Evelyn Ehrlich, Cinema of Paradox: French Filmmaking under the German Occupation (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985), 13–­56; Colin Crisp, Classic French Cinema: 1930–­1960 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), 45–­65; and Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 138–­47.   80 Quoted in Crisp, Classic French Cinema, 59.   81 Painlevé, “Jean Painlevé nous parle,” Le Film français 2 (December 15, 1944): 5.   82 Painlevé; Bertin-­Maghit, Cinéma français sous l’Occupation, 248; Berg, “Contradictory Forces,” 34–­35; and Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 143.   83 Bertin-­Maghit, Cinéma français sous l’Occupation, 224, and Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 141.   84 Bertin-­Maghit, Cinéma français sous l’Occupation, 217–­39.   85 Painlevé refers to himself as occupying the role of the infamous Reign of Terror prosecutor Antoine Quentin Fouquier-­Tinville in a short text published in a pamphlet of the third Propaganda Commission of the Artists’ Syndicate in November 1944, reprinted as “Épuration chez les acteurs,” in Berg, Jean Painlevé, 52–­53.   86 Bertin-­Maghit, Cinéma français sous l’Occupation, 253–­56.   87 Bazin, “Sables de mort,” 14.

364

NOTES TO CHAPTER 4

  88 Painlevé, cited in “Pécheur d’images sous-­marines,” and Painlevé, “L’Enfer Vert,” in Berg, Jean Painlevé, 85.   89 Eisenstein, “Beyond the Shot,” 1:139, and Didi-­Huberman, “Images-­ Contacts,” 29.   90 Georges Sadoul, “Merveilles de la sciences: Solutions françaises et Le vampire de Jean Painlevé,” in Chroniques du cinéma français: 1939–­1967 (Paris: Union générale d’éditions, 1979), 69.   91 Alfred Flament and André Schaeffner, quoted in Matthew F. Jordan, Le Jazz: Jazz and French Cultural Identity (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2010), 109, 172. In his earlier monograph Le Jazz, cowritten with André Cœuroy, Schaeffner celebrated jazz’s hybrid quality and its status as an elemental and alive rather than “pure” form of music. See Cœuroy and Schaeffner, Le Jazz (Paris: Claude Aveline, 1926), 9–­14.   92 For overviews of the vexed cultural politics of the interwar tumulte noire and negrophilia, see Petrine Archer-­Straw, Negrophilia: Avant-­Garde Paris and Black Culture in the 1920s (London: Thames and Hudson, 2000); Brett A. Berliner, Ambivalent Desire: The Exotic Black Other in Jazz-­Age France (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2002); Boittin, Colonial Metropolis; and Marianna Torgovnick, Gone Primitive: Savage Intellects, Modern Lives (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990).   93 Jane Nardal, “Exotic Puppets,” in Negritude Women, by T. Denean Sharpley-­ Whiting (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002), 108–­13.   94 Nardal, 110.   95 Jeremy F. Lane, Jazz and Machine-­Age Imperialism: Music, “Race,” and Intellectuals in France, 1918–­1945 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013), 175–­76, and René Ménil, “Sur un certain effet Ellingtonien dans la créolité,” in Antilles déjà jadis, précédé par Tracées (Paris: Jean Michel Place, 1999), 252–­58.   96 David Metzer, “Shadow Play: The Spiritual in Duke Ellington’s ‘Black and Tan Fantasy,’” Black Music Research Journal 17, no. 2 (1997): 146.   97 Duke Ellington, “My Hunt for Song Titles (1933),” in The Duke Ellington Reader, ed. Mark Tucker (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 89; Lane, Jazz and Machine-­Age Imperialism, 174; and Simon Baker, “Variety [Civilizing ‘Race’],” in Undercover Surrealism, ed. Dawn Ades and Simon Baker (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2006), 67.   98 On the Surrealist response to Nosferatu, see Elsaesser, “No End to Nosferatu,” 86, and Kevin Jackson, Nosferatu—­eine Symphonie des Grauens (London: BFI/Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).   99 Elsaesser, “No End to Nosferatu,” 83. Thierry Lefebvre identifies the polyp as a freshwater hydra in “Les Métamorphoses de nosferatu,” 1895 29 (1999): 72.

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100 Michel Bouvier and Jean-­Louis Leutrat, Nosferatu (Paris: Gallimard,

101 102 103 104

105 106

107

108

109 110 111 112 113 114

1981), 183. Lefebvre writes of the importance of this borrowed footage in “Les Métamorphoses de nosferatu.” Tom Gunning makes a similar set of observations in “To Scan a Ghost: The Ontology of Mediated Vision,” Grey Room 26 (2007): 94–­127. Kyrou, Le Surréalisme au cinéma (Paris: Arcanes, 1953), 85. Lefebvre, “Métamorphoses de nosferatu,” 76. Kenneth Mouré, “Food Rationing and the Black Market in France (1940–­ 1944),” French History 24, no. 2 (2010): 262–­82. Ditmars described the challenges of filming a vampire bat, which required slowly introducing greater amounts of light necessary for film exposure over the course of two weeks, when finally a five hundred watt bulb could be used to capture exposures of sufficient clarity through a four-­inch Zeiss lens on 35mm panchromatic film. Ditmars and Greenhall, “Vampire Bat,” 282. Bazin, “Sables de mort,” 14. Painlevé admitted this comparison was faulty in episode 4 of Painlevé au fil de ses films. See also Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 168–­69. Ditmars noted that bats lap like cats rather than sucking as if through a straw. Raymond L. Ditmars, “Animals: Zoo Stories,” Time, November 12, 1934, 65. Bloom suggests in French Colonial Documentary, 97–­102, that the footage comes from Comandon. The footage also resembles Comandon’s 1929 film Trypanosomes produced for Albert-­Kahn. See Béatrice de Pastre and Thierry Lefebvre, eds., Filmer la science, comprendre la vie: le cinéma de Jean Comandon (Paris: Centre national du cinéma, 2012), 119, 358. Painlevé, untitled, undated editing notes (circa 1940–­45). Held in AJP: Vampire dossier. While these notes are undated, they were written on the back of scrap paper, including an abandoned letter from April 16, 1940, suggesting that they date from during or just after the war. Gaycken provides a synthetic overview of the interpretations of this shot in “Surrealist Contagion,” 89–­90. Painlevé, “Mystères et miracles de la nature,” VU 158 (1931): 421. “Pécheur d’images sous-­marines.” Sianne Ngai, Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2012), 64. Sigmund Freud, “Civilization and Its Discontents,” 1927–­31, Standard Edition 21 (1961): 99n1. Bataille, “Bouche,” Documents 5 (1930): 299, and Bataille, “The Mouth,” in Visions of Excess, 59 (translation modified). Bataille, “L’Œil pinéal,” in Œuvres complètes, 2:33, and “The Pineal Eye,” in Visions of Excess, 88–­89.

366

NOTES TO CHAPTER 4

115 Didi-­Huberman, La Ressemblance informe, 58. 116 See Andrea Nightingale, Once out of Nature: Augustine on Time and the

Body (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), 15. 117 Hugo, Toilers, 355, and Hugo, Travailleurs, 415. 5. CARNIVOROUS CINEMA

  1 Jean Vigo, “Toward a Social Cinema,” trans. Stuart Liebman, in French Film Theory and Criticism, vol. 2, ed. Richard Abel (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1993), 60–­63, and Vigo, “Vers un cinéma social,” in Jean Vigo, œuvre de cinéma: films, scénarios, projets de films, textes sur cinéma, ed. Pierre Lherminier (Paris: Cinémathèque française, 1985), 65–­68. Subsequent citations will be to the English and then to the French.   2 Vigo, “Toward a Social Cinema,” 63, and “Vers un cinéma social,” 65. The handbill for the screening at Les amis du cinéma is reproduced in Jean Vigo, œuvre de cinéma, 41.   3 Vigo, “Toward a Social Cinema,” 63, and “Vers un cinéma social,” 65.   4 Vigo, “Toward a Social Cinema,” 62, 63, and “Vers un cinéma social,” 65, 66. Steven Ungar distills Vigo’s argument in the phrase “a kick in the pants to open the eyes.” Ungar, “Jean Vigo, L’Atalante, and the Promise of Social Cinema,” Historical Reflections 35, no. 2 (2009): 65.   5 Vigo, “Toward a Social Cinema,” 62, and Vigo, “Vers un cinéma social,” 67, translation modified.   6 Nicole Shukin, Animal Capital: Rendering Life in Biopolitical Times (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009), esp. 104–­14.   7 Painlevé furnished Vigo with the pickled severed hands for Père Jules’s cabinet of curiosities in L’Atalante, and he also wrote the script for the slapstick comedy Café du bon accueil, which Vigo wished to film, had he not died shortly after completing L’Atalante. See P. E. Salles Gomes, Jean Vigo (London: Farber and Farber, 1998), 164.   8 Painlevé, “Feet in the Water,” 136–­38.   9 “Disposable subjects” comes from Derek Bousé, Wildlife Films (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000), 42.   10 Collective, “Murderous Humanitarianism,” trans. Samuel Beckett, in Surrealism against the Grain: Tracts and Declarations, ed. Michael Richardson and Krzystof Fijalkowsky (London: Pluto Press, 2001), 190–­93.   11 See Robin Walz, Pulp Surrealism: Insolent Popular Culture in Early Twentieth Century Paris (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), and Jonathan P. Eburne, Surrealism and the Art of Crime (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2008).

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  12 Maurice Agulhon, “Le Sang des bêtes: le problème de la protection des Animaux en France au XIXe siècle,” in Histoire vagabonde, vol. 1, Ethnologie et politique dans la France contemporaine (Paris: Gallimard, 1988), 248–­49.   13 Agulhon, 249.   14 Henry Rousso, The Vichy Syndrome: History and Memory of France since 1944, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991), esp. 16–­18.   15 Amy Hollywood, Sensible Ecstasy: Mysticism, Sexual Difference, and the Demands of History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 83.   16 Fredric Jameson, The Political Unconscious: Narrative as Socially Symbolic Act (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1981), 102.   17 Benjamin, Arcades Project, 460, N2,2.   18 Back cover of Regards 15, no. 53 (1946).   19 Painlevé, quoted in G. G., “De 1940 à 1944, ‘l’homme brun’ fut pourchassé nuit et jour par la Gestapo,” L’Illustré, November 20, 1947, 10.   20 Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 172.   21 Paule Hutzler, “Assassins d’eau douce: lorsque Jean Painlevé va pêcher les vedettes de son prochain film,” L’Intransigeant, August 16, 1933, 2.   22 Hutzler, “Dans le studio de celui qui fait tourner les microbes et les insects,” Ciné miroir, 1933. Held in AJP: Press Clippings.   23 Epron, “Cinéma au service de la science,” and Sauvage, “Institute in the Cellar,” 126.   24 Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 171–­74.   25 Pol Gaillard, “Films de festival . . . et quelques autres,” La Pensée: revue du rationalisme 14 (1947): 97.   26 Georges Sadoul, “Jean Painlevé et les ciné-­clubs,” Les Lettres françaises, July 18, 1947, 8.   27 Michel de Saint-­Pierre, “Apologie du documentaire,” Études 80, no. 253 (1947): 395.   28 A. M., “M. Jean Painlevé à Sion,” Le Confédéré: organe du Parti Radical-­ Démocratique Valaisan 188 (November 26, 1948): 1.   29 Painlevé, quoted in Louis Duchesne, “Jean Painlevé fait ‘tourner’ des larves de dytiques et réalise le cinéma en relief,” Regards 17, no. 53 (1946): 8.   30 Henri Fabre, Souvenirs entomologiques: études sur l’instinct et les mœurs des insectes (Paris: Librarie Delagrave, 1924), 7:312–­14. In 1911, Jean Comandon made Le Dytique, and in 1912, Éclaire made a film of the same title—­both feature a similar scene. See De Pastre and Lefebvre, Filmer la science, comprendre la vie, 124, and Gaycken, Devices of Curiosity, 122.   31 Jennifer Lynn Peterson, Education in the School of Dreams: Travelogues and Early Nonfiction Film (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2013), 149.

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NOTES TO CHAPTER 5

  32 Painlevé, “Au Congres d’Angers: le film d’enseignement,” Ligue française de l’enseignement 8, supplement to L’Écran français (December 1947): 2.   33 Georges Bataille, The Accursed Share, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Zone, 1991), 1:33.   34 Eburne, Surrealism and the Art of Crime, 54–­56.   35 Eburne, 1.   36 Breton, “Second Manifesto of Surrealism,” in Manifestos of Surrealism, 125, and “Second manifeste du Surréalisme,” in Œuvres complètes, 1:782–­83.   37 See Gaycken, Devices of Curiosity, 90–­128; Jennifer Lynn Peterson, “Glimpses of Animal Life: Nature Films and the Emergence of Classroom Cinema,” in Learning with the Lights Off: Educational Film in the United States, ed. Devin Orgeron, Marsha Orgeron, and Dan Streible (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 146, 149, 158; and Monster Bug Wars, http://www.sciencechannel.com/tv-shows/monster-bug-wars/.   38 Painlevé, “Présentation de Assassins d’eau douce,” undated manuscript (circa 1947). Held in AJP.   39 See René Ménil, “L’humour: introduction à 1945,” Tropiques 12 ( January 1945): 188–­203.   40 See untitled notes on ARTEM stationery held in AJP: Vampire dossier and the filmographies in Bellows and McDougall, Science Is Fiction, 183, and Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 271.   41 Brian Rust, Jazz and Ragtime Records (1897–­1942), vol. 2, L–­Z, ed. Malcolm Shaw (Denver, Colo.: Mainspring Press, 2002), 1161–­63.   42 Eddy Determeyer, Rhythm Is Our Business: Jimmie Lunceford and the Harlem Express (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan University Press, 2006), 67.   43 Painlevé, “Au Congrès d’Angers,” 2.   44 Painlevé, “Présentation de Assassins d’eau douce,” 1, and Painlevé, “Au Congrès d’Angers,” 2.   45 Georges Henin, “Hot Jazz” (1935), in Black, Brown, and Beige: Surrealist Writings from Africa and the Diaspora, ed. Franklin Rosemont and Robin G. D. Kelley (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2009), 152.   46 Boittin, Colonial Metropolis, 39.   47 Miriam Bratu Hansen, “The Mass Production of the Senses: Classical Cinema as Vernacular Modernism,” in Reinventing Film Studies, ed. Christine Gledhill and Linda Williams (London: Arnold, 2000), 333.   48 Michael Denning, Noise Uprising: The Audiopolitics of a World Musical Revolution (New York: Verso, 2015), 135–­40.   49 Robert Goffin, Aux frontières du jazz (Paris: Sagittaire, 1932), 255, quoted in Yannick Séité, Jazz à la lettre (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France,

NOTES TO CHAPTER 5

  50   51

  52   53

  54

  55   56   57

  58   59   60   61   62

       

63 64 65 66

  67

369

2010), 133. For critiques of the Surrealist’s reception of jazz, as modeled by André Schaeffner and Robert Goffin, see Jeremy F. Lane, Jazz and Machine-­Age Imperialism: Music, “Race,” and Intellectuals in France, 1918–­ 1945 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2014), 35–­64. Lane, Jazz and Machine-­Age Imperialism, 42–­43. Painlevé, “Présentation de Assassins d’eau douce,” 1–­2, and Painlevé, “Au Congrès d’Angers,” 2. Both texts refer to the “jazz-­hot de la belle époque” and specify the year 1925. The description of his preferred jazz comes from “Présentation.” Bazin, “Accidental Beauty,” 147, translation modified, and “Beauté de hasard,” 320. See Jeffrey H. Jackson, Making Jazz French: Music and Modern Life in Interwar Paris (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2003), and Matthew F. Jordan, Le Jazz: Jazz and French Cultural Identity (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2010), 141–­84. The term jazz subject—­the product of misrecognition of one’s own disenfranchisement as a form of freedom—­comes from Theodor Adorno, “On Jazz” (1936), trans. Jamie Owen Daniel, Discourse 12, no. 1 (1989–­90): 45–­69. Patin, quoted in Jordan, Le Jazz, 106. Teissier, quoted in Jordan, Le Jazz, 148. André Suarès in Jazz-­Tango, December 25, 1930, quoted in Hugues Panassié, Douze années de jazz (1927–­1938): souvenirs (Paris: Corrêa, 1946), 66–­ 67. On the politics of Jazz-­Tango, see Boittin, Colonial Metropolis, 55–­56. Suarès, “Pensées sur la musique,” La Revue musicale, March 1931, 238. Georges Duhamel, “Scènes de la vie future, VIII: royaume de la mort,” La Revue de Paris 33, no. 3 (1930): 105. Lane, Jazz and Machine-­Age Imperialism, 63. André Cœuroy and André Schaeffner, Le Jazz (Paris: Claude Aveline, 1926), 145. Michel Leiris, Manhood, trans. Richard Howard (1939; repr., Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 109. See also Andy Fry, Paris Blues: African American Music and French Popular Culture, 1920–­1960 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014), 55. Michel Leiris, “Disques nouveaux,” Documents 1 (1930): 48. Sadoul, “Jean Painlevé et les ciné-­clubs,” 8. Collective, “Murderous Humanitarianism,” 190–­93. Aimé Césaire, Discours sur le colonialisme (1950/1955), in Poésie, théâtre, essais et discours (Paris: CNRS Éditions, 2013), 1450. René Ménil, “Humour: introduction à 1945,” Tropiques 12 ( January 1945):

370

  68

  69   70

         

71 72 73 74 75

  76   77

  78   79   80   81

  82

NOTES TO CHAPTER 5

195–­96, and Ménil, “Sur un certain effet ellingtonien dans la créolité,” in Antilles déjà jadis, précédé de Tracées (Paris: Jean Michel Place, 1999), 252–­58. See also Lane’s discussion of Ménil in Jazz and Machine-­Age Imperialism, 160–­73. Ménil, “Poetry, Jazz, and Freedom” (1944), in Rosemont and Kelley, Black, Brown, and Beige, 84–­85, and Lane, Jazz and Machine-­Age Imperialism, 172. Hélène Hazéra, “Jean Painlevé: la science et l’image,” Positif 348 (February 1990): 33. Emphasis added. Monique Sicard, La Fabrique du regard (Paris: Odile Jacob, 1998), 196, and Daniel Baraz, Medieval Cruelty: Changing Perceptions, Late Antiquity to the Early Modern Period (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2003), 182. A fuller exploration of the deep connections between Artaud’s, Bataille’s, and Painlevé’s conceptions of cruelty is beyond the scope of this book but will be the subject of future work. Leiris, “L’Homme et son intérieur,” Documents 5 (1930): 261. Nightingale, Once out of Nature, 15, 21, 25. Pick, Creaturely Poetics, 3–­5. Leiris, “L’Homme et son intérieur,” 264–­66, and Bataille, “Abattoir,” 329. François Timmory, “Le Sang des bêtes: la caméra à La Villette,” L’Écran français 219 (September 12, 1949): 12. Jean-­André Fieschi and André-­S. Labarthe, “Nouvel entretien avec Georges Franju,” Cahiers du cinéma 149 (November 1963): 4. Georges Franju, interviewed by François-­Xavier Bouchart, “Tueurs sans haine,” in Georges Franju, cinéaste (Paris: Maison de la Villette, 1992), 20–­21, and Jacques Demeure and Ado Kyrou, “Le Plus grand cinéaste français,” Positif 16 (May 1956): 37. Timmory, “Sang des bêtes,” 12. Jean Cocteau, “Sur le sang des bêtes,” Paris Presse Instransigeant, September 8, 1949, reprinted in Cahiers du cinéma 149 (November 1963): 18–­19. Kyrou, Le Surréalism au cinéma, 165. Erich Auerbach, “Figura,” in Scenes from the Drama of European Literature, trans. Paolo Valesio (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), 29, 53–­54, 58–­59. See Siegfried Kracauer, Theory of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality, with an introduction by Miriam Bratu Hansen (Princeton, N.J.: University of Princeton Press, 1997), 305; Raymond Durgnat, Franju (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967); Adam Lowenstein, Shocking Representation: Historical Trauma, National Cinema, and the Modern Horror Film (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005), 17–­53; Nicolas Berthelot,

NOTES TO CHAPTER 5

  83

  84

  85   86

  87

  88   89        

90 91 92 93

  94

371

“Abattoirs, images impossibles: Le Sang des bêtes, Georges Franju,” Vertigo: esthétique et histoire du cinema 19 (1999): 81; and the allusion to such a reading in Paula Amad, Counter-­archive: Film, the Everyday, and Albert Kahn’s Archives de la Planète (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010), 257. Demeure and Kyrou read Franju’s 1955 fictional short Mon Chien as allegorical of the gas chambers but curiously do not extend this reading to Le Sang des bêtes, which they see more as a general study in suffering. Sylvie Lindeperg, Night and Fog, trans. Tom Mes (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014), 37. Jeannette Sloniowski, “‘It Was an Atrocious Film’: George Franju’s Blood of the Beasts,” in Documenting the Documentary: Close Readings of Documentary Film and Video, ed. Barry Keith Grant and Jeannette Sloniowski (1998; repr., Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 2014), 159–­77, esp. 174. Painlevé, “Un cinéaste est allé aux abattoirs . . . ‘Le Sang des bêtes’ va maintenant affronter les réactions du public,” Le Figaro littéraire, August 13, 1949, 5. Pick, Creaturely Poetics, 136. On the Surrealist fascination with the abattoirs, see Ian Walker, City Gorged with Dreams: Surrealism and Documentary Photography in Interwar Paris (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002), 114–­43; Georges Didi-­Huberman, La Ressemblance informe, 159–­62; and Yve-­Alain Bois, “Abattoir,” in Formless: A User’s Guide (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1997), 43–­51. See Documents 6 (1929): 298–­301, 328, 330, 331, 344. Walker, who interviewed Michel Leiris on the subject in 1979, notes that Lotar’s images were the exception to the rule in that they inspired Bataille’s text rather than being selected, as many of the images in Documents were, to comment about the texts. Walker, City Gorged with Dreams, 127. Bataille, “Abattoir,” 329; “Slaughterhouse,” trans. Anette Michelson, October 36 (1986): 11; and Yve-­Alain Bois, “Abattoir,” 44–­46. Carlo Rim, “Luna Park ou la clef des songes,” VU 125 (August 6, 1930): 786, and Rim, “La Villette rouge,” VU 166 (May 20, 1931): 698. Rim, “La Villette rouge,” 699–­700. Rim, “La Villette rouge,” 699. Rim, “La Villette rouge,” 700. Rim, “La Villette rouge,” 700. In Scènes de la vie future, Duhamel jokes in recounting his meal at the Chicago stockyards: “Between Chicago and me, there is a cadaver: the cadaver of a steer” (103). Bataille, Theory of Religion, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Zone, 1989),

372

  95   96

  97   98   99 100

101

102

103 104 105

106

107 108 109 110

NOTES TO CHAPTER 5

40. This work was written in 1948 but not published until after the author’s death. “Homme,” Documents 4 (1929): 215. For the original, see “La Valeur d’un homme,” Journal des débats politiques et littéraires, August 13, 1929, 2. “Homme,” Documents 5 (1929): 275. The entry in Documents took slight liberties in translating the English, which reads “this blood-­lust, this red, ugly blood-­splash on the face of Christendom.” Sir William Earnshaw Cooper, The Blood-­Guiltiness of Christendom (London: Order of the Golden Age, 1922), 33–­34. Bataille, Theory of Religion, 39. Franju, “Tueurs sans haine,” 17. Painlevé also recounted the film’s origins in Franju’s “long peregrinations” in “Un cinéaste est allé aux abattoirs,” 5. Franju, “Tueurs sans hain,” 17. Hamery, “Le Sang des bêtes: quand le documentaire absorbe la vie à l’état de traces,” in Le Court Métrage français de 1945 à 1968: de l’âge d’or aux contrebandiers, ed. Dominique Bluher and François Thomas (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2005), 230. The locations of the abattoirs and surrounding environs have been confirmed through reference to the draft of the editing script for Le Sang des bêtes, undated, AJP. Citations from the film refer to the English translations on the Criterion Collection DVD of Les Yeux sans visage/Le Sang des bêtes, though minor modifications have been made. Lowenstein, Shocking Representation, 18–­27. Franju expressed his love for the Surrealism of primitive cinema as an outmoded form that has something untimely about it in “Réalisme et Surréalisme,” reprinted in Gabriel Vialle, Georges Franju (Paris: Seghers, 1968), 84–­87. Pick, Creaturely Poetics, 136. Franju, “Tueurs sans haine,” 18. See also Freddy Buache, “Entretien avec Georges Franju,” Positif 25–­26 (September 1957): 15, and Franju, “Intérieurs/extérieurs,” in Georges Franju, cinéaste, 13. Kate Ince, Georges Franju (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005), 119, and Gérard Leblanc, Georges Franju: une esthétique de la déstabilisation (Paris: Maison de la Villette, 1992). Thanks to Pao-­Chen Tang for an illuminating conversation on this sequence. Hamery, “Le Sang des bêtes,” 231, and “Le Sang des bêtes,” typed draft of the editing script, AJP, 4–­5. Hamery, “Le Sang des bêtes,” 231. Franju, quoted in Durgnat, Franju, 17.

NOTES TO CHAPTER 5

373

111 Charles Baudelaire, “L’Héautontimorouménos,” in Œuvres completes, ed.

Claude Pichois (Paris: Gallimard, 1975–­76), 1:78. 112 Baudelaire. 113 Franju, “Réalisme et Surréalisme,” 86–­87. See also Bazin, “Accidental

Beauty,” 147. 114 Sloniowski, “It Was an Atrocious Film,” 169. 115 Franju used a similar shot–­reverse shot sequence of the bludgeoning of

a salmon in À propos d’une rivière (1955). 116 Painlevé, typed two-­page draft of commentary for Le Sang des bêtes, un-

dated, AJP. 117 Draft for the editing script for Le Sang des bêtes, undated, AJP, 7. 118 Painlevé, typed two-­page draft of commentary for Le Sang des bêtes, un-

dated, AJP, 1–­2. 119 Painlevé, 1. My emphasis. 120 Painlevé, 1–­2. The ellipsis in the first sentence refers to a set of puns that

121 122

123

124 125 126 127 128 129

are difficult to translate into English but play upon the difference in pronunciation of the singular and plural forms of the words bœuf (beef ) and œuf (egg), to which he added the humorous mistake veuf/vœux (widower/ wishes). Painlevé, 2. Painlevé hand wrote and underlined the final two words: “l’homme carnivore.” Walter Benjamin, “Mickey Mouse (1931),” in Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, 1931–­1934, ed. Michael W. Jennings, Howard Eiland, and Gary Smith (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999), 2:545. Paul de Man, “Autobiography as De-­facement,” MLN 94, no. 5 (1979): 919–­30, and Michael Riffaterre, “Prosopopoeia,” Yale French Studies 69 (1985): 107–­23. Thanks to Debarati Sanyal for encouraging this line of analysis. De Man, “Autobiography as De-­facement,” 926. Benjamin, “Surrealism,” 207–­21. Kracauer, Theory of Film, 305–­6. Miriam Bratu Hansen, introduction to Kracauer, Theory of Film, vii. Letter from Painlevé to Alfred Stoessel of the Institut für volkstümliche Naturkunde, Berlin, October 16, 1934. Held in AJP: Correspondences. Benjamin, “On the Concept of History,” in Selected Writings: 1938–­1940, ed. Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003), 4:395.

374

NOTES TO CONCLUSION

CONCLUSION

  1 Collective, “Déclaration du Groupe des Trente,” La Cinématographie française, no. 1550, January 9, 1954.   2 Berg, “Contradictory Forces,” 39, and Hamery, Jean Painlevé, 194–­98.   3 André Bazin, “Television as Cultural Medium and The Sociology of Television (1956),” in André Bazin’s New Media, ed. and trans. Dudley Andrew (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014), 129–­30.   4 Jean-­Jacques Henry, “Jean Painlevé: voir d’abord,” Le Journal des cahiers, no. 95, vi, insert in Cahiers du cinéma 423 (September 1989).   5 Dipesh Chakrabarty, “Climate of History: Four Theses,” Critical Inquiry 35 (2009): 201, 222.   6 Vinciane Despret, What Would Animals Say If We Asked the Right Questions?, trans. Brett Buchanan, foreword by Bruno Latour (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016), 137.

Index AICS (International Association of Scientific Cinema), 237, 253, 281, 289, 311 Alexander Nevsky (Eisenstein), 154 Alexandrov, Grigory, 136 Alexeieff, Alexandre, 59 Allard, Roger, 342n120 All Quiet on the Western Front (Milestone), 103 Amad, Paula, 134–­35 “Amour et cinéma” (Desnos), 195 amour flou (blurred love), 160, 186, 188, 190, 194, 214 amour fou (mad love), 160, 190–­91, 193–­95, 249 Andrieu, Roger, 59 Animal Capital (Shukin), 262 animal needs of humans, 132 animation: Bluebeard, 149, 152–­ 56; Eisenstein and “plasmatic anthropomorphism,” 96–­97, 136, 139, 145, 147; within the mind, 38; and protoplasm, 136, 140–­41, 145, 148; and reanimation through film, 222–­23, 225, 258–­59, 265, 310. See also cartoons Annenkov, Yuri, 145 anthropocentrism, 152; avoiding through prosopopoeia, 291; cinema and, 21–­22, 56, 313; destructive hubris of, 152;

Page numbers in italic refer to photographs. abattoirs: Chicago slaughterhouses, 146; established to reduce bloodlust, 264; as Parisian attraction, 293; philosophical meaning of, 264–­65, 291–­93, 295; as shown in Aux abattoirs de la Villette, 291–­92; as shown in Blood of the Beasts, 288, 290–­91, 295–­ 96, 298–­306; as source for film emulsion, 262; Surrealist interest in, 297; workers in, 297–­99 Abel, Richard, 4 Abraham, Pierre, 114 “Abyssinian Games” (Griaule), 131 Acéra ou le bal des sorcières (Acera, or the witches’ dance; Painlevé and Hamon), 311 actualité, 266, 285 actualization, 263, 266, 275, 308, 315 Adam, Stephen, 246 Adamowsky, Natascha, 61, 63, 164 Adorno, Theodor W., 217 Africa, 235–­36, 243, 247, 276 African diaspora, 243, 276, 280. See also hot jazz Âge d’or, L’ (Buñuel and Dalí), 103, 191 Agulhon, Maurice, 264, 292 375

376

INDEX

displacement from, 3, 18–­21, 55, 134, 152, 214; dissociated from anthropomorphism, 26, 98; Eisenstein and, 147; knowledge derived from senses, 17; “nongeocentric Humanist,” 16; and “skeptical anthropology,” 16; unthinking, 25 anthropomorphism, 48, 124, 216; barbarism of, 156–­57; Callois on, 134; clinamen and, 114–­16, 136; critics on, 117–­18, 123; dissociated from anthropocentrism, 26; in Hermit Crab, 119–­24; invertebrates as movie stars, 113; invitation in The Seahorse, 181–­82; metamorphic qualities of, 94–­96, 119, 216; Painlevé and, 94, 104, 112, 114–­19, 122; plasmatic, 96–­97, 136–­37, 147–­51, 156, 159–­60, 206; prosopopoeia, 307; scholarship on, 97–­98; as “unprofessional,” 98; and zoomorphism, 147. See also metamorphosis; plasmatic anthropomorphism anti-­anthropocentrism, 16, 18–­20, 22, 309 Anti-­Imperialist Exposition, 219 aphrodisiacs, 211 Apollinaire, Guillaume, 50, 53, 184–­ 85, 329n58 À propos de Nice (Vigo), 261–­62, 265 Apuleius, 131 aquariums: camera adjustments for, 188; capturing reflections of people, 313; filming issues caused by, 187–­89, 244; football match in, 122; heat management of, 167; as “invented realities,” 187; as medium of visibility, 61–­62;

as research instruments, 164; as scene of the crime, 274; as stage/ milieu, 65, 68, 70–­71, 81, 110, 183, 269–­70; as world of dreams, 69 Aragon, Louis: on centrifugal spectatorship, 56; Chénieux-­ Gendron on, 53; on children’s animistic perception, 135; “image infections,” 57, 66, 242; on magnification, 56; on “normal man,” 186; “On Décor,” 55–­57, 135; Paysan de Paris, 52, 55, 57, 297; PCN studies, 51, 57, 329n66; on “purity,” 57; and Surrealism, 4, 31, 49, 51–­52, 297, 329n54; “Une vague de rêves,” 49, 52 arc light projection, 147 Armstrong, Louis, 276–­77, 281, 284 Arnoux, Alexandre, 105 Artaud, Antonin, 59, 286 Arthur with the Long Arm (Trier), 146, 149 “Art sous-­marin, L’” (Underwater art; Cassou), 113 “As in a Wood” (Breton), 57 Assoun, Paul-­Laurent, 18 Atalante, L’ (Vigo), 234 Auerbach, Erich, 290 Aufhebung (Hegel), 86, 147–­48 Aurivillius, Carl Wilhelm, 127 automatic writing, 54–­55, 280 Aux abattoirs de la Villette (At the La Villette abattoirs; Lotar), 108, 291–­92 Aux frontières du jazz (Goffin), 280 availability (disponibilité), 55, 57, 115, 192, 195 avant-­garde film, 22–­23, 59, 66, 100, 134, 262

INDEX

Avel, Marcel, 42 Aveline, Claude, 165, 222 Bachelard, Gaston, 261 Baker, Josephine, 59, 219, 278 Baker, Simon, 246 Balázs, Béla, 80, 84 banality of killing, 298 Banié, Daisy, 95, 335n1 Barbette, 161, 194 Barbusse, Henri, 225 Bardèche, Maurice, 133 Baron, Jacques, 108–­10, 131 Barton, Otis, 169 base materialism, 72, 73, 88, 234 Bataille, Georges, 4, 28, 108; “Abattoir” dictionary entry by, 292; big toes and close-­ ups, 85–­88, 90, 230, 258, 292; on eating, 272, 292–­93, 294, 300; formlessness and base materialism, 72–­73; and metamorphic mimicry, 130–­31; “Modern Spirit and the Play of Transpositions,” 227, 229; “The Mouth,” 257–­58; Theory of Religion, 293; wartime writings of, 265; “Wild Animals,” 132 battle of the sexes, 26, 157, 162, 197–­ 98, 202, 214 Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein), 139 Baudelaire, Charles, 301–­2 Bazavet, Yann, 149, 151 Bazin, André, 21–­22, 29, 231–­33, 241, 252, 281 “Beauté du film documentaire, La” (Painlevé), 116–­17, 121 Bébé Cadum, 213 Beebe, William, 169 Belle Époque style, 113, 281

377

Bellini, Vincenzo, 120 Benjamin, Walter, 130, 132, 135, 266, 291, 297, 307, 310 Bennett, Jane, 97 Berg, Brigitte, 14 Berger, H., 113 Bergsonian creative evolution, 125, 128–­29 Berliner, Brett A., 95 Bernard, Claude, 35–­36, 140, 220–­ 21, 295 Bernard l’ermite, Le. See Hermit Crab, The Bernhardt, Sarah, 65 Bertin-­Maghit, Jean-­Pierre, 241 Bertrand, Germaine, 149 Bertrand, Pierre, 276 Bertrand, René, 149, 152–­55 Bestiaire des surréalistes, Le (Maillard-­Chary), 187 “Beware of Domestic Objects” (Cahun), 195 “Beyond the Shot” (Eisenstein), 139 “Big Toe, The” (Bataille and Boif­ fard), 85–­88, 87, 90, 230, 258, 292 “biomorphic hallucination,” 139 biopolitics, 233, 252, 256, 286 “Black and Tan Fantasy” (Ellington), 242, 246, 256 Blaringhem, Louis, 143 blood: artificial serum, 220–­23; filming of, 222–­23, 225; ideologies of, 218; showcasing color of, 154; study of, 216–­18 Blood-­Guiltiness of Christendom, The (Cooper), 294 Blood of the Beasts (Le Sang des bêtes; Franju), 262–­63, 265, 287–­91, 295; abattoirs, 288, 290–­91,

378

INDEX

295–­96, 298–­306; commentary for, 216, 301; horse slaughtered, 301; Kracauer on, 308–­9; manual laborers in, 297–­302; Painlevé’s alternate commentary, 303–­10; sheep slaughtered and disassembled, 304–­6; shots of Paris, 299; songs of laborers, 298; steers slaughtered and disassembled, 306–­7 Bloom, Peter, 236 Bluebeard (Barbe-­bleue; René Bertrand and family with Painlevé), 149, 152–­56 “Bluebeard of Gambais” (Henri Désiré Landru), 156 Blum, Léon, 48 Blumenberg, Hans, 16–­17, 22 “blurred love” (amour flou), 160, 186, 188, 190, 194, 214 Bô, Sonika, 23, 113 Bohr, Niels, 47 Boiffard, Jacques-­André, 71, 102, 257; “The Big Toe,” 85–­88, 90, 230, 258, 292; in Documents journal, 49, 85, 88, 227, 232, 257–­58; and homosexuality, 186, 354n99; medical studies of, 329n66; Papier collant et mooches, 227–­31, 228; superimposition with Painlevé, 5–­6, 7; and Surrealism, 31, 49–­52, 58, 232. See also “Neozoological Drama”; Révolution Surréaliste, La Boittin, Jennifer Anne, 219, 233, 279–­80 Bororo people of Brazil, 148 “Boudin, Le” (Blood pudding) anthem, 299 boundary of self, 133–­34

Bourdet, Marcel, 66, 97, 132 Bourgas, Michel, 199 Bouvier, Michel, 250 Brain, Robert, 140–­41, 144 Brasillach, Robert, 133 breast treatments, elective, 200 Breton, André, 4, 160, 185; and amour fou, 26, 160, 190–­91, 193, 195; on convulsive beauty, 160, 191–­93; and disponibilité, 192, 195; Goll response to, 50; manifestos, 49, 52–­53, 54, 68, 185, 190, 193, 274; as medical intern, 51; Nadja, 57, 274, 297; naturalized heterosexism of, 195; on nature denying kingdoms, 44; on “principle of identity,” 6; and Robert Desnos, 213; on sense of the marvelous, 214; as Surrealist, 49, 51–­53, 72, 274, 297; on techniques of visualization, 31, 32; undecidability, 192–­93; on Victor Hugo, 68; violence as surrealist, 274 Breuillet, Ernest, 301 Brubach, Marius, 201 Bruegel, Pieter, 45 Brukhonenko, Sergei, 225, 227, 359n25 Brunier, André, 302 Brunius, Jacques Bernard, 145 Bull, Lucien, 20 Buñuel, Luis, 103, 191, 218, 229, 261, 264 Burch, Noël, 162, 197 Burt, Jonathan, 13, 203–­4 Butler, David, 292 Cahun, Claude, 195 Caillois, Roger, 133–­35, 330n70

INDEX

Calmettes, André, 65 cameras, 23, 168, 170–­73, 188 Canguilhem, Georges, 28, 217, 341n103 Caprella and Pantopoda (Caprelles et Pantopodes; Painlevé), 26, 96, 102–­6, 139 carnivorous cinema, 262–­63 carnivorous culture, 216, 258, 264, 275, 288–­90, 294, 306 Carrel, Alexis, 152 Carroll, Lewis, 146 cartoons, 96–­97, 99, 105–­7, 145–­47, 243, 278. See also Mickey Mouse Cassirer, Ernst, 19 Cassou, Jean, 113, 131 Cendrars, Blaise, 31–­32, 45, 76 centrifugal spectatorship, 56 cephalopods, 70, 75, 84, 88 Césaire, Aimé, 276, 284 Césaire, Suzanne, 284 Chagall, Marc, 107 Chakrabarty, Dipesh, 219, 314 Chamine (Geneviève Dunais), 117–­18 Chanois, Jean-­Paul Le, 238 Chaplin, Charlie, 56 Chassé, Charles, 149, 313 Chauveau, Auguste, 34 Chenal, Pierre, 99 Cheng, Joyce, 125, 135 Chénieux-­Gendron, Jacqueline, 53 Chevrier, Jean-­François, 76 Chevroton, Lucienne, 20 Chiappe, Jean, 137 chien andalou, Un (Buñuel and Dalí), 229, 262, 264 childhood forms of play, 135 Choisy, Maryse, 200 Chopin, Frédéric, 124, 246, 256 Cimabue trompe l’oeil story, 229

379

“Cinéma, Le” notes (Painlevé), 101–­2 cinema/film: anthropomorphic powers of, 96; as “artificial night,” 183; conveying passage of time, 231; counterpurification purges, 240–­41; emulsion containing animal byproducts, 262; experiments in attending, 57–­58; freeze-­frame of convulsive beauty, 183; portraying sex in, 177–­84; purification purges of industry, 234; rejected as “not serious” science, 143; representation and perception in, 134–­35; revelatory capacities of, 209; scientific and sexually explicit gazes in, 207; screen as two-­way portal, 302; as technology of preservation and reanimation, 225; underwater cinematography, 164, 170–­74, 177, 191; for vital visualization, 42. See also cameras “cinematic novels,” 113 Cinémonde, 165 civilization/contamination, 236 Claoué, Charles, 117, 222, 289 CLCF (Committee for the Liberation of French Cinema), 239–­40 climate change, 22, 211, 266, 314 clinamen and anthropomorphism, 114–­15, 136 close-­ups, 109; in Crabs and Shrimp, 108, 109; in The Daphnia, 77–­80; in The Octopus, 65–­66, 70–­71, 77; in The Sea Urchins, 81–­84; in “The Big Toe,” 85–­ 88, 90, 230, 258, 292. See also microcinematography

380

INDEX

Club des sous l’eau (Underwater Club), 95, 173–­74 CNAM (National Conservatory of Arts and Trades), 269–­70, 311 Cocteau, Jean, 161, 194, 289–­90 Coeuroy, André, 283 Cohen, Margaret, 68, 72 Cohl, Émile, 154 COIC (Committee for the Organization of the Cinema Industry), 239–­41 Colette, 61, 134–­35 “collection system of editing,” 272 Colombey, Émile, 287 colonialism, 234–­36, 243, 256, 258, 263, 284 Comandon, Jean, 20, 142, 154, 235, 252, 283, 365n107, 367n30 commentary in sound films, 104 Comment naissent des méduses (How Some Jellyfish Are Born; Painlevé and Hamon), 12, 311 Commission for Advanced Technique (CST), 240 Committee for the Liberation of French Cinema (CLCF), 239–­40 Committee for the Organization of the Cinema Industry (COIC), 239–­41 comparative anatomy discipline: in Bataille’s “The Mouth,” 257; and big toes, 85–­86, 90; in Blood of the Beasts, 287; in Caprella and Pantopoda, 102; and cinema, 58, 60; and Copernicanism, 55; and Hugo, 73; in lab and field, 40; as Neo-­Lamarckian, 311; and neozoology, 47–­48; and observer bias, 114–­15; in The Octopus, 62–­64, 73; Painlevé and, 43, 45, 48–­49, 60; in The Sea Urchins, 80;

sequential arrangement, 52; and shared vocabulary, 90; similarity to Surrealism, 31, 48, 52, 58; Surrealist enlargement of, 31–­32; as taught at the Sorbonne, 33–­41, 51; in The Vampire, 241, 252 Condom, M., 167–­68 Conley, Katharine, 213–­14 “contact images,” 229, 242 “contagion theory” of civilization, 236 contagious substitution, 247 Contes de ma mère l’oye, Les (Perrault), 152 “Contradictory Forces, 1902–­1989” (Berg), 14 convulsionnaires, 191 convulsive beauty, 160, 162, 190–­93 Cooper, William Earnshaw, 294 Copernican Revolution: in 1920s and­30s, 94; cinematic responses to, 19–­23, 214; possible responses to, 16–­19 Copernican vocation, cinema’s, 3, 16–­25, 27, 309, 313–­15 corps morcelés, 297 Costler, Alfrède, 185 counterhygiene, 234, 241, 256 counterpurification, 239–­40 counterviolence, 263 Cox, Fiona, 72 Crabs and Shrimp (Crabes et crevettes; Painlevé), 26, 102, 107, 110–­12, 118, 154, 177, 292 Crayssac, Roger, 201 crickets, 242, 244, 247–­49 crudelis, 285–­86 “Crustaceans” (Baron), 108–­9 CST (Commission for Advanced Technique), 240 Curtis, Scott, 34–­35

INDEX

cuteness and “aestheticization of powerlessness,” 254 Cuvier, Georges, 36–­39, 52, 73, 78, 84, 90 Dada and Dadaists, 44, 48, 49, 52 D’Aguilar, G., 214 Dalí, Salvador, 103, 145, 191, 229, 261, 264 Damas, Léon, 276 Dame aux Camélias, La (Calmettes and Pouctal), 65 Danou, Ben, 177 Danse Macabre, La, 105. See also skeleton dance Daphnia, The (La Daphnie; Painlevé), 25, 33, 60, 77–­79, 81, 84–­85, 283 Darwinian evolution, 18, 37, 125, 128, 147, 187 Daston, Lorraine, 20, 97 David, Charles, 165, 170 da Vinci, Leonardo, 32 deanthropocentrism, 135, 297 death scenes, 45, 65–­68, 74, 110, 223–­26, 268 de Bont, Raf, 40, 63 de Broglie, Louis, 47 Decaris, Germaine, 162, 207, 209–­10 declaration of the rights of man, 136, 256, 284 deep-­sea expeditions, 169 De Gaulle, Charles, 241, 258–­59 Delannoy, Marcel, 107, 111, 177 Delluc, Louis, 20–­22 de Man, Paul, 307 Denning, Michael, 280 dépaysement (disorientation), 33, 43, 57, 76, 162, 202, 297 “depersonalization through assimilation into space,” 134

381

Derain, Lucie, 165 De Rerum natura (Lucretius), 115 Dermée, Paul, 50, 53 de Saint-­Cyr, Charles, 66–­67, 123, 131 Desnos, Robert, 159, 183, 195, 213–­ 14 Despret, Vinciane, 315 Deux Aveugles, Les, 107 dialectical interplay, 18, 22, 28, 55, 192–­93, 255 dialectical materialism, 190 dialectics, 86, 135 Diamant-­Berger, Henri, 60–­61, 101, 107 Diatomées (Diatoms; Painlevé), 311 Didi-­Huberman, Georges, 77, 229, 242, 258 Digitaline nativelle, La (Painlevé), 216 disgust, 254–­55 Disney (Eisenstein), 145 Disney, Walt, 105, 130, 132, 145–­48, 154, 243 “dispersed subjectivity,” 135 displacement: anthropocentric, 3, 18–­20, 134, 214; cinematic powers of, 62, 103, 134–­35, 160, 196, 214; nonanthropocentric capacity for, 21–­22, 55 disponibilité (availability), 55, 57, 115, 192, 195 distorted mirror (miroir déformé), 149–­50, 150, 160 diving equipment, 169–­70 Documents journal, 131; Bataille contributions to, 85, 88, 257–­58, 292; Boiffard contributions to, 49, 85, 88, 227, 232, 257–­58; and counterhygiene, 234; ethnography in, 282–­83; and jazz, 243, 283;

382

INDEX

Leiris contributions to, 108, 131–­32, 243, 283, 287–­88; Lotar contributions to, 292; Painlevé contributions to, 72, 108 dogs, filmed vivisection of, 222–­25 Doré, Claude, 113 Doyen, Eugène-­Louis, 224 “Drame néo-­zoologique” (“Neozoological Drama”; Painlevé), 33, 43–­49, 51, 58, 273, 286 dreams: aquarium and, 61, 69–­70; cinema and, 183; Painlevé and, 97; Surrealism as dream state, 53; and surreality, 53, 72; “A Wave of Dreams,” 49, 52 Dr. Normet’s Serum (Le Sérum du docteur Normet; Painlevé), 223; deaths of patients treated with, 226; dog restored at end, 309; focus on animal experimentation, 216–­17; ideologies of blood in, 218; intended audience for, 221; Painlevé on “sincerity” of filmmakers, 224; production issues, 224; synopsis of, 219, 222–­23 Droit à l’amour pour la femme, Le (Woman’s right to love), 199 “Drunken Boat” (Rimbaud), 68 ductility, 195 Duhamel, Georges, 282, 287, 293 Dulac, Germaine, 61 Dumas, Marie-­Claire, 213 Dunais, Geneviève (Chamine), 117–­18 Duvernois, Henri, 61 Eburne, Jonathan P., 273 ecological perspective, 22, 25, 40, 216, 314

Einstein, Albert, 47 Eisenstein, Sergei: Alexander Nevsky feature, 154; on montage, 202, 242; nature and human culture, 139; and Painlevé, 8, 26, 136–­40, 148; and the plasmatic, 96–­97, 136, 140, 144–­48; and plasmatic anthropomorphism, 148; on The Skeleton Dance, 106; on sound film, 106 Eleftheriadis, Stratis (Tériade), 107 Éléments d’anatomie comparée (Perrier), 37 Ellington, Duke: “Black and Tan Fantasy,” 242–­43, 246, 256; “Echoes from the Jungle,” 242; hot jazz sound track for Freshwater Assassins, 275–­76, 279, 283; Ménil on, 246, 276, 284–­85; “Stompy Jones,” 271, 276 Elsaesser, Thomas, 233, 250 Eluard, Paul, 52, 58 “End of Robots, The” (“La Fin des robots”; Painlevé pseud. Bazavet), 149, 151–­52, 156 enlargement, cinematic, 32, 75–­76, 81–­84, 88, 90 Epron, Madeleine, 176 Epstein, Jean, 1, 20–­22 épuration, 234, 240 equivalence of the sexes, 199 Ernst, Max, 58 erotic contagion, 182 Esmond, Irwin, 182 ethology, 19, 40, 68, 120, 130, 251 Étude du sang (Study of blood; Painlevé), 216 eugenics, 151–­52 Évadé, Un (Soupault), 225 evolution: and comparative anatomy, 86; conflicting theories on, 125,

INDEX

128–­29, 141, 148; Eisenstein on plasmicity and, 146–­48; films of animal life supporting, 313; versus Genesis creation myth, 187; homologous relations, 37; and protoplasm, 151; and seahorses, 187; vestigial organs, 39. See also neo-­Lamarckism “Exotic Puppets” (Nardal), 243–­46 Experiments in the Revival of Organisms (La Réanimation de l’organisme; Brukhonenko and Tchetchuline), 225 exquisite corpses, 187, 207, 218, 280 “extreme seduction,” 86 Eyes without a Face (Franju), 289, 309 Fabre, Jean-­Henri, 271 faces, 80–­81, 307–­10 facial recognition, 80–­81, 84 famille nombreuse (large family), 161 Fantômas, 45, 274 fantomatique, 232 fascism, 125, 133–­35; hygiene regimes, 221, 233–­35, 238–­39, 241, 256; as infection, 135, 218, 234, 253–­56 fashion, 113, 120, 124–­27, 130 father, role of, 205 Fédor, Tania, 59 “Feet in the Water” (Painlevé), 118–­19, 175 feminism: activism in 1920s and 1930s, 94; and battle of the sexes, 26, 202–­3; Bourgas on, 199; versus equivalence of the sexes, 199; and male seahorses giving birth, 162, 184–­85, 210; redefining gender and sex, 161–­62; role of cinema in, 209; womb strikes, 26, 184, 203–­5. See also sexuality

383

Fernez diving system, 169–­70, 349n34 “fetish jewelry” (bijou-­fétiche), 213 Feuillade, Louis, 247, 274 FIAF (International Federation of Film Archives), 289 “Films biologiques, Les” (Painlevé), 60, 66, 83, 100 fixism, 39, 187, 195 Flament, Alfred, 243 flatworms (Prorhynchus), 43–­48 flesh, humans as, 259 Flip the Frog (Iwerks), 107 flypaper effect, 227, 229, 231 Focillon, Henri, 21 Fondane, Benjamin, 105 food chain: humans as part of, 74, 253, 259, 264, 288; jazz and, 282; reversing direction of, 259, 272; as shadow and prey, 193; turning spectacle inside out, 287 formless, octopus as, 67, 72 fossil reconstructions, 38–­39 Fournel, Henri, 299, 300 Fourré-­Cormeray, Michel, 241 Fox Movietone Follies of 1929 (Butler and Silver), 292 France. See Third Republic François-­Franck, Charles Albert, 20 Franju, Georges, 216, 262, 265, 287–­ 89, 295, 297–­98, 301, 309 Frederick, Pauline, 183 Free French Forces, 256 Frenay-­Cid, Herman, 165, 222 French Federation of Ciné-­Clubs, 312 French solutions (Solutions françaises; Painlevé), 234, 237, 253 Freshwater Assassins (Assassins d’eau douce; Painlevé), 216, 271, 273, 279; carnivorous metaphor in,

384

INDEX

262–­63; F-­A-­I-­M becoming F-­I-­N, 272, 273, 286; as form of actualité, 266; and forms of history, 265; hot jazz soundtrack to, 268, 275–­ 77, 281, 284–­87; as humorous, 269; origins and premiere of, 166, 269; presenting insect violence, 267–­68, 270–­74; synopsis of, 270, 272; treating murder as natural, 273; use of term “assassin,” 272–­73; use of term “murder” regarding, 275 Freud, Sigmund, 18, 52–­54, 133–­34, 190, 254 Fudge, Erica, 97 Fumerand aquariums, 167, 173

Goffin, Robert, 280, 282 Golgi, Camillo, 42 Goll, Yvan, 4, 33, 43, 49–­54, 59 Grandville, J. J., 130, 146 Gréville, Edmond, 61 Griaule, Marcel, 108, 131 Grigoriev, Boris, 145 Grillon du Cameroun (Cameroon Cricket; Painlevé), 242 Gringoire, 162 Griselle, Maurice, 297 Groupe des Trente, 312 guinea pigs: filming vampire bat killing of, 237, 251–­55; humans as, 217; as substitutes for humans, 217, 254

Gaillard, Pol, 269–­70 Galileo, 17, 20 Galison, Peter, 20 Gance, Abel, 51, 209 Garçonne, La (Margueritte), 161 Gaudry, Albert, 52 Gaycken, Oliver, 54, 234, 365n108 gender and sex roles: gay/lesbian subcultures, 94, 194; interwar crisis of masculinity, 198–­201; in The Seahorse, 156, 159–­61, 175, 189, 194–­99. See also feminism “general economy” of eating, 272 Genesis of the Copernican World, The (Blumenberg), 17 George, André, 111 Geroulanos, Stefanos, 18 Gestes et opinions du Docteur Faustroll ( Jarry), 115 Giard, Alfred, 40, 128 Gide, André, 195 Gilliatt (in Toilers of the Sea), 69, 72, 74–­75

hallucinations: “biomorphic,” 139; flypaper and flies photograph, 227, 231–­32; natural, 68–­70, 73–­75, 83, 85; sound-­image contradictions, 99; true, 74–­75, 298; zoological Surrealism and, 68–­70, 83, 85, 227, 232 Halsman, Philippe, 212, 213, 238 Hamery, Roxane: on Blood of the Beasts, 296, 299; on Freshwater Assassins, 268; on Hamon, 10; on “Neozoological Drama,” 45; on Painlevé, 14, 16, 99, 356n134; surreal forces in nature, 44; on The Vampire, 237, 268 Hamon, Augustin, 9, 322n15 Hamon, Geneviève “Ginette,” 3, 11; as assistant/collaborator to Painlevé, 10, 14, 59–­60, 99, 113, 269, 311–­13, 315; burial plaque of, 312; credited in Freshwater Assassins, 270; credited in The Seahorse, 106, 165, 175, 176; family

INDEX

of, 9–­10, 174; JHP jewelry and fabrics by, 210; “miroir déformé” snapshots of/by, 149–­50, 156, 160; Painlevé staying in family home of, 238; personal relationship with Painlevé, 205; questions remaining regarding, 12; in scuba diving club, 174; vanishing of into background, 13–­15 Hamon, Mary-­Yvonne, 10, 174 Hamon, Viviane, 10 Hansen, Miriam, 135, 279, 308 Hayward, Eva S., 94 “Héautontimorouménos, L’” (The self-­torturer; Baudelaire), 301 Hegel, G. W. F., 53, 72, 86, 147, 190, 314 Heidegger, Martin, 19 “Heil Hitler” salute, 253, 254 Heisenberg, Werner, 94 hemodynamics, 217 Henderson, Fletcher, 276 Henin, Georges, 278 Henri, Victor, 20 Henry, Charles, 61 Henry, Jean-­Jacques, 312 Hergé, 139 Hermit Crab, The (Le Bernard l’ermite; Painlevé), 95–­96, 119–­24 Herriot, Éduard, 48 heterosexuality, 155, 160, 182, 185, 190, 197–­99 Hippocampe, L’. See Seahorse, The (Painlevé) “Hippocampe, L’” (Desnos), 159 “Hippocampe, opus 137, L’” (Milhaud), 177 Histoire du cinéma (Bardèche and Brasillach), 133 historical materialism, 266

385

history, first sense of, 265 Hollier, Denis, 232 Hollywood, Amy, 265 Holocaust, 290, 306 “Holy City, The” (Adams), 246 homosexuality, Surrealists’ views on, 186 horsin/hor sein, Painlevé as, 1, 311, 313, 315 hot jazz: audience for, 280–­81; as decivilization threat, 282; as “direct assault on the senses,” 278; as music of predation and the belly, 282; Painlevé on, 283, 285; as “race music,” 243, 275–­ 76; as soundtrack to Freshwater Assassins, 265–­66, 268, 275–­78, 281, 284–­87; as soundtrack to The Vampire, 243. See also Ellington, Duke How Some Jellyfish Are Born (Comment naissent des méduses; Painlevé and Hamon), 12, 311 huei-­i (“copulative”) script, 140 Hugo, Victor, 68–­76, 78, 84, 259 humanizing of sea urchin, 84 humans: economic worth of human body, 294; human face in close-­ up, 84; as meat, 293; as pestilent species, 220; sensorium of, 32 humour noir, l’, 285 Hutter, Ellen (in Nosferatu), 193, 249 Hutzler, Paule (Minot), 269 Hyas and Stenorhychus, Marine Crustaceans (Hyas et Sténorinques, crustacés marins; Painlevé), 25, 60, 96, 107, 118, 124–­30 hygiene regimes, 221, 233–­35, 238–­ 39, 241, 256

386

INDEX

ICS (Institute for Scientific Cinematography), 5, 9, 13, 167, 189, 289, 311 “image infections,” 57, 66, 242 Imbert, Maurice, 111 impossible copresence, 232, 302 impossible presence, 231, 295 Ince, Kate, 297 incompossible realities, 189–­90, 246 indexes of authentication, 224 insect, to, 280, 285 insect vectors, 235–­36 insolite (the unexpected), 297–­98 Institute for Scientific Cinematography (ISC), 5, 9, 13, 167, 189, 289, 311 internal milieu, 223, 225, 226, 286, 295 International Association of Scientific Cinema (AICS), 237, 253, 281, 289, 311 International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF), 289 Introduction to the Study of Experi­ mental Medicine (Bernard), 35–­36, 220 irruptions, 232, 300 Iwerks, Ub, 105, 107, 133, 145 Jacob, Maxime, 59 Jameson, Fredric, 265 Jarry, Alfred, 47, 115 Jaubert, Maurice, 102, 104, 111, 120, 124, 152 jazz: cruelty of, 285–­86; as cultural form, 278–­82; as dangerous and animalistic, 282–­83; derided by French critics, 281–­82. See also hot jazz Jeancolas, Jean-­Pierre, 98

Jean de la Croix, Saint, 139 Jean Painlevé, le cinéma au coeur de la vie (Hamery), 14, 16 Jean Painlevé au fil de ses films (TV interviews), 12, 119, 176 Jenny, Laurent, 69–­70, 133 Jerôme, Philippe, 15 Jetztzeit (now-­time), 310 JHP jewelry and fabric line, 161, 210–­14 Joubert-­Laurencin, Hervé, 231 Journal littéraire, Le, 50 Kafka, Franz, 84 Kaufman, Boris, 238, 261 Kertész, André, 150 Khlebnikov, Velimir, 145 Kino-­Glaz (Vertov), 293 Koffler, Ylla (née Kamila), 238 Kracauer, Siegfried, 133, 308–­9 kraken, 70 Krauss, Rosalind, 191, 218 Krementsov, Nikolai, 225 Krupa, Gene, 276, 278 Kyrou, Ado, 250, 290 Lacan, Jacques, 28, 330n70 Lacaze-­Duthiers, Henri de, 40 Lamarck, Jean-­Baptiste: and comparative anatomy, 36–­40, 73; and milieu, 47; and protoplasm, 144; and transformisme, 37, 39, 125, 145, 187, 195. See also neo-­ Lamarckism Lamy, Marie, 8 Landru, Henri Désiré, 156 Lane, Jeremy F., 246, 280, 282 Lang, André, 47, 162, 207–­9, 351n55 Langevin, Paul, 114 Laquer, Ernst, 201

INDEX

Laurens, Henri, 107 Lautréamont, Comte de, 54, 184, 192, 196, 207 “law of participation,” 148 Lazareff, Pierre, 59, 61 Leboeuf, André, 235 Lebrun, Charles, 61 Le Dantec, Félix, 128, 133, 341n103 Lee, Baron, 276, 277 Lefebvre, Thierry, 28, 250 Le Fèvre, Georges, 67, 78, 80, 84 legendary psychasthenia, 134 Léger, Fernand, 107, 230–­31 Leiris, Michel, 108, 131–­32, 243, 283, 287–­88 Le Prieur, Yves, 93, 95, 149, 166, 169–­75 Lery-­Lenz, Ludwig, 185 Leslie, Lew, 283 Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim, 17 Leutrat, Jean-­Louis, 250 Lévy-­Bruhl, Lucien, 139, 147–­48 Liberté ou l’amour, La (Desnos), 213 Lindperg, Sylvie, 290 Lipchitz, Jacques, 107 Lippit, Akira Mizuta, 139 Lobster claw, or De Gaulle (Pince de homard, ou De Gaulle; Painlevé), 88, 89, 258–­59 lobsters, 108–­9 Lo Duca, 225 Lomas, David, 54–­55 “long and dreadful kitchen,” 220, 295 Lotar, Éli, 88, 102, 108, 291–­93, 298, 307, 371n87 Love, Heather, 13 Love life of the Octopus, The (Les amours de la pieuvre; Painlevé and Hamon), 311

387

Lowenstein, Adam, 31, 56, 134–­35, 297 Loyola, Ignatius, 139 Lucretius, 115 Lunceford, Jimmie, 276 Lyford, Amy, 47, 49, 51–­52, 185, 207, 280 MacDonald, Scott, 116 Mac Orlan, Pierre, 130 “mad love” (amour fou), 160, 190–­ 91, 193–­95, 249 magnification, 55–­56, 77–­82, 109 Magritte, René, 273 Maillard-­Chary, Claude, 44, 187 Mamelles de Tirésias, Les (Apollinaire), 50, 184 Man, the unknown (L’Homme, cet inconnu; Carrel), 152 “Manifesto of Surrealism” (Breton), 49, 52–­53, 68, 185, 190, 193 Man Ray, 192 marc valve (soupape de marc), 45, 328n43 Mareuil, Simone, 264 Marey, Étienne-­Jules, 20, 54, 141, 152, 292 Margaritis, Noëlle, 170, 350n37 Margueritte, Victor, 161 Martel, Thierry de, 301 Martin, Gustave, 235 masculinity crisis, 198 “Mass Ornament” (Kracauer), 133 Maye, Charles Henry, 294 McKendrick, “Big Mike,” 278 McMillan, James, 198 Mdivani, “Prince,” 61 “meal time,” 264 meat, animals transformed into, 293. See also abattoirs

388

INDEX

Medgyès, Ladislas, 59 Méduse et cie (Caillois), 134 Méliès, Georges, 121, 130, 138, 224, 226 Ménalque, 195 Ménil, René, 246, 276, 280, 284–­85 Mentalité primitive, La (Lévy-­Bruhl), 139 Merbabies (Disney), 146 Mesureur, Maguerite, 221 metamorphic mimicry, 124, 131–­32, 135, 281 Metamorphoses (Ovid), 93 metamorphosis: in 1920s and 30s, 94; of crustaceans, 95–­96; defined, 93; promise of, 147; and properties of protoplasm, 136; scholarship on, 94, 131–­32; by water and lens, 95. See also mimicry/mimesis “metaphoric contagion,” 250 Methuselah, or the Eternal Bourgeois (Mathusalem, ou l’éternel bourgeois; Goll), 59 Metod (Eisenstein), 140 Metzer, David, 246 Meunier, Gaston, 61 Michelson, Annette, 184 Mickey Mouse, 105–­6, 135, 145, 148, 176, 243, 307 “Mickey Mousing,” 96, 278 microcinematography, 10, 32–­33, 61; in Caprella and Pantopoda, 103; in The Daphnia, 77–­79, 283; paired with jazz, 283; in Sea Urchins, 76–­ 83; in Stickleback’s Egg, 142 midges, 41, 270–­71, 277, 279 Milestone, Louis, 103 Milhaud, Darius, 177 milieu, 27–­28, 63–­64

Mills Blue Rhythm Band, 277 “Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia” (Callois), 133 mimicry/mimesis: in Hyas and Stenorhynchus, Marine Crustaceans, 124–­30, 132–­33; scholarship on, 125, 133–­36; and Surrealism, 125; as unconscious, 133. See also metamorphosis miroir déformé (distorted mirror), 149–­50, 160 Mitman, Gregg, 97 Mitry, Jean, 99, 145 modernity, circulatory systems of, 233–­41 “Modern Spirit and the Play of Transpositions” (Bataille), 229 “monde inconnu, Un” (Painlevé), 84 Monod-­Herzen, Édouard, 202 Monster Bug Wars (TV series), 274 Montfort, Denis, 73 Montreal, B. P., 354n96 Morocco, 8, 94 Morris, Violette, 200 Moss, Armand, 313, 322n15 mouths as terrifying, 256–­58 movement of protoplasm, 141 “mummification of change,” 231 Munch, Edvard, 144 Murat, 133 Murnau, F. W., 215, 231, 233, 247, 250 Nadja (Breton), 57, 191, 274, 297 Napoléon, 264 Nardal, Jane, 243, 246, 276 National Conservatory of Arts and Trades (CNAM), 269–­70, 311 Nature unveiled by cinema (“La

INDEX

Nature dévoilée par le cinéma”), 117 Nazimova, Alla, 183 Nazism, 133, 233, 253, 255, 306, 308 “negative universal history,” 314 Negri, Pola, 61 negritude and negrophilia, 276 neo-­Lamarckism, 47, 140; and comparative anatomy, 39–­40, 311; and evolution of “third sex,” 194; at the French academy, 128; milieu, 27–­28; and Painlevé’s training, 33, 125, 128, 130; at the Sorbonne, 33, 130; transformisme, 37, 187 “Neozoological Drama” (“Drame néo-­zoologique”), 33, 43–­49, 51, 58, 273, 286 “neozoology,” 31, 34, 47–­48, 51–­53, 58, 187, 243 Nerval, Gérard de, 108–­9 Nesbet, Anne, 144, 344n153 Neupert, Richard, 154 new realism, 300 Newtonian laws, 94 Ngai, Sianne, 254 Nietzsche, Friedrich, 1, 18 Nonindifferent Nature, 145 Normet, Léon, 220. See also Dr. Normet’s Serum Nosferatu (Murnau), 231, 233, 247–­50 Nourritures terrestres, Les (Gide), 195 Novalis, 113 now-­time, 310 Octopus, The (La Pieuvre; Painlevé), 4, 33, 242; allusions to Hugo, 74–­ 76; audience reactions to, 66–­67; “death” scene, 65–­68; detached

389

arm, 65; milieu in, 64; octopus as monster, 74–­75; plot synopsis, 62–­63; premiere and reviews of, 60–­61; scientific taxonomy in, 75; technical difficulties in filming, 66; visuals, 62–­65, 75 octopus in Hugo’s Toilers on the Sea, 71–­74 Œuf de l’épinoche, L’. See Stickle­ back’s Egg, from Fertilization to Hatching, The Oliver, Sy, 278 “On Décor” (Aragon), 55–­57, 135 “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts” (Quincy), 273 On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres (Copernicus), 16 “Ontology of the Photographic Image” (Bazin), 231 Oppenheim, Méret, 192 Originaux de la dernière heure, Les (Colombey), 287–­88 Orlok, Count, 193, 249–­50, 253 Ostherr, Kirstin, 219 Oursins, Les. See Sea Urchins, The “Out of the Self” (Leiris), 131–­32 Outram, Dorinda, 38 Ovid, 93, 131, 146–­47 “Pagure dit, Le” (Soupault), 159 Painlevé, Jean, 1–­4, 22, 137–­38, 171–­72; on accidental reversal in Stickleback film, 143–­44; on American film, 154; on animals not cooperating, 112; on anthropomorphism and anthropocentrism, 114, 115–­19, 122; approach to filmmaking, 60, 64, 100; on artificial nature of filming, 164; audience disposition

390

INDEX

toward, 117; on biological films, 60, 64; birth and childhood, 6, 8; on Blood of the Beasts, 290; death of, 312; as director of French cinema, 9, 239–­241; early filmwork, 59; on eating his actors, 262; and ethics of treatment of animals, 165, 176–­77, 357n4; father’s death, 205; on the food chain, 253; interwar work, 19; “La fin des robots,” 151–­52; on Léger’s work, 230; “making films politically,” 164; as “man in brown,” 239, 255; and meaning of sincerity, 224; performing live film commentaries, 103–­4; postwar counterpurification activities, 239–­40; postwar films and institutional work, 311–­12; postwar firing by De Gaulle, 241; on “sausage music,” 177; showcasing color of blood, 154; sojourn in Port-­Blanc, 59–­60; on sound in films, 99–­102; studying blood, 215; as a Surrealist, 48–­ 49; on television, 312; training in comparative anatomy at Sorbonne, 31, 33–­34; vampire bat joke, 242; wartime activities of, 238–­39; writing style in “Neozoological Drama,” 45 Painlevé, Paul, 6, 42, 48, 61, 205 Parat, Maurice, 33, 41–­42, 47, 141 Paris: abattoirs as attraction, 293, 299; interwar culture of, 219; negrophilia in, 243, 246 Paris-­cinéma (Chenal and Mitry), 99 Pasteur Institute, 234, 237, 253, 255 ’pataphysics, 47 Pathé, Charles, 61, 142

Pathé-­Natan, 165–­67, 177 Patin, Jacques, 281 patriarchy, Surrealists’ views on, 186 Paysan de Paris (Aragon), 52, 55, 57, 297 PCN (physiques, chemiques, et naturelles) Sorbonne curriculum, 32, 33, 37, 52, 90 Pénétration pacifique (Painlevé), 90, 93, 177 Pérez, Charles, 34, 36 Perin, Marcel, 123 Perrault, Charles, 152, 154–­55 Perrier, Rémy, 37, 39 perspective, shifts in, 84 Peterson, Jennifer Lynn, 272 Petit de Villeneuve, Julie Marie Marguerite “Gaette,” 6–­7, 205 Petite Gironde, La (Perin), 123 Petit Parisien, Le, 162 Petit Provençal, Le, 117 Phase transitions in liquid crystals (Transition de phase dans les cristaux liquides; Painlevé), 311 physiques, chemiques, et naturelles (PCN) Sorbonne curriculum, 32, 33, 37, 52, 90 Picasso, Pablo, 107, 145 Pick, Anat, 123, 288, 291, 297 pieuvre, la, 70, 75 plasmatic animation, 147 plasmatic anthropomorphism, 96–­ 97, 136–­37, 147–­51, 156, 159–­60, 206 plasmatic temporality, 345n168 “plasmation”/“plasmatic,” 145–­47 “poetic adventure,” 68 Poirion, Daniel, 213 Poissons et le monde vivant des eaux, Les (Roule), 159

INDEX

policier/detection plot, 266, 267 Pollmann, Inga, 44 Porcile, François, 154 pornographic gaze, 207 Pouctal, Henri, 65 poulpe, octopus as, 64, 70, 75 Pour vous (Arnoux), 105 power–­knowledge complexes, 156 profane illumination, 297 Prorhynchus (flatworms), 43–­48 prosopopoeia, 291, 307 protoplasm, 140–­44, 151 Protoplasmic movement of the Canadian waterweed (Mouvement du protoplasme d’elodea Cana­ densis; Painlevé), 141 provincialization, 219 psychic automatism, 53, 133

391

Queneau, Raymond, 186, 351n56 Quincy, Thomas de, 273

Reverdy, Pierre, 51, 54, 183 Révolution Surréaliste, La, 49, 52, 58, 136, 185, 191 Reyna, Ferdinand, 169–­70 Richardson, Michael, 94 Ries, Julius, 20 Rif War, 8 Rim, Carlo, 150, 292–­93 Rimbaud, Arthur, 57, 68 Rio Jim film serials (Delluc), 22–­23 Roberts, Mary Louise, 198 rock urchins, 81 Romains, Jules, 118 Roscoff marine research station, 33, 40, 130, 312 rostrum, 112, 270–­71 Roubaud, Émile, 235–­37 Roue, La (The Wheel; Gance), 51 Roule, Louis, 159, 204, 214 Roussel, Nelly, 203–­4 Rugoff, Ralph, 94

Rabaud, Étienne, 114, 128, 133 “race music,” hot jazz as, 275 radical openness, 55 Raymond, André, 12, 59, 106, 141–­ 42, 170, 173, 175–­76 Raynal, Maurice, 107 “real face of things,” 308–­10 “Réalisme et Surréalisme” (Franju), 301 reanimation through film, 222–­23, 225, 258–­59, 265, 310 Rebecchi, Marie, 138 Red Peter, 84 reel (real), 27–­28 Renoir, Jean, 61 “repopulation” problem, 184 “representation,” 231 Resnais, Alain, 290

Sadoul, Georges, 154, 242, 269, 283 Saint-­Hilaire, Étienne Geoffroy, 36, 39, 73 Saint-­Pierre, Michel de, 270 Saint Theresa, 139 Salazkina, Masha, 140 Salpêtrière, La, 191 sand urchins, 81 Sargeret, Jules, 204 Sauvage, Léo, 5–­6, 10, 13, 168, 175, 180 Sauvy, Élisabeth (Titaÿna), 174 “savage poetry,” 262 Savoir, Alfred, 61 scale: cinematic enlargement, 32, 75–­76, 81–­84, 88, 90; in The Octopus, 71, 76; shifting registers, 78, 82–­83; surrealism of, 76–­85;

392

INDEX

transitions of, 84–­85; vertigo, 76 Scarlatti, Domenico, 102, 104 Scènes de la vie future (Duhamel), 282, 287, 293 Schaeffner, André, 243, 283 Schmitt, Florent, 107, 111 Schreck, Max, 250 Science Is Fiction (Bellows and McDougall), 14 Scize, Pierre, 105 Scott, Joan W., 197 scuba system, 169, 172, 173–­74 sea anemones, 110, 120–­22 Seahorse, The (L’Hippocampe ou cheval marin; Painlevé), 159–­64, 208, 242; anthropomorphic invitation in, 181–­82; attempt at underwater cinematography, 168; box office success of, 196–­97; as commodity form, 196–­210; convulsive beauty and amour fou, 193; displacement of “man” in, 160, 214; footage costs of, 99; gender and sex roles in, 156, 159–­61, 175, 189, 194–­99, 204; JHP jewelry/fabrics based on, 161, 210–­14; letters to Painlevé from admirers of, 202; males giving birth, 159, 179–­82, 186–­87, 202–­9; metanarrative on filmmaking within, 164; and New York State Censors, 182; Painlevé on, 160; Painlevé’s immersion in milieu of, 94; plot synopsis and style of, 178; and popular culture, 201–­ 2; principal filming of, 167–­68, 169; reviews and popularity of, 162, 196–­210; roles of females deemphasized, 204; scenes of copulation, 179–­80; source

material for, 159; as substitute for canceled Assassins film, 165–­66; superimpositions in, 181, 182; vivisection in, 206–­7, 208 Sea Urchins, The (Les Oursins; Painlevé), 33, 77, 80–­84, 242; surrealism of scale in, 81–­84 seduction, 86, 88, 90, 94, 222, 268 Sellier, Geneviève, 162, 197 Senghor, Léopold Sédar, 276 “sensuous thinking,” 147 Seton, Mary, 138 sexuality: battle of the sexes trope, 157, 162, 197–­98, 202, 214; and declining birthrates, 48; and male seahorses in labor, 206; sex manuals and self-­help products, 199–­201; sexual education, 352n69; transvestism, 161; womb strikes, 26, 184, 203–­5. See also feminism; Seahorse, The Shrimp stories (Histoires de crevettes; Painlevé and Hamon), 311 Shukin, Nicole, 262 Sicard, Monique, 286 signifiers, 218, 232 silence, use of in sound films, 104 Silly Symphonies, 105, 146, 243 Silver, Marcel, 292 similar, 134 Simon, Michel, 59 Sinclair, Upton, 138 skeleton dance: in Caprella and Pantopoda, 104–­7; La Danse Macabre, 105–­6, 132–­33 skeleton shrimp. See Crabs and Shrimp sleeping sickness, 235, 252 Sloniowski, Jeannette, 290, 302

INDEX

social cinema, 261–­62, 264, 284, 286–­87, 309–­10 Somaini, Antonio, 139 sound: commentary, 104; cost of, 98–­99; musical scores, 104; Painlevé and, 99–­102, 107, 110; silence as sonic space, 104; versus talking film, 106 Soupault, Philippe, 159, 225 spirograph worm, 129, 131 spittle as welcome from audience, 56–­57 Stalling, Carl, 106 static power (puissance statique), 66 Steinach, Eugen, 201 Sti, René, 59 Stickleback’s Egg, from Fertilization to Hatching, The (L’Œuf de l’épinoche, de la fécondation à l’éclosion; Painlevé), 141–­43 still life (nature morte) as stilled life, 229 Stoessel, Alfred, 215–­16 stop-­motion animation, 167, 178 Straram, Walther, 111 Strindberg, August, 144 Study of blood (Étude du sang; Painlevé), 216 Suarès, André, 282 substitution of animals for humans, 217–­20, 232 superimpositions, 160, 177–­78, 180–­83 Surrealism: amour fou and amour flou, 190; attempts to define, 53–­54; Boiffard’s facts of, 88; centrality of violence in, 264–­65, 274; cinema and, 48, 55–­58; and cinema’s research on sexuality, 184–­96; coining of term, 50;

393

competing factions within, 49–­ 53; on the concept of love, 160; criticized for homophobia, 186; documentary, 218, 227–­33, 264, 295; as fallen into public domain, 213; in Hyas and Stenorhynchus, Marine Crustaceans, 130; jazz as, 280, 284–­85; and metamorphic phenomena, 58; “poetic adventure” of, 68; as received not produced, 54; from rupture within everyday realism, 297; of scale in The Daphnia, 77–­80; and “scandalous couples,” 184; syllabus for living, 54; urban beach combing, 58 Surréalisme (Goll), 33, 49–­50 Surrealist Masculinities (Lyford), 49 surreality, 72 Taine, Hippolyte, 74, 231 Tardieu, André, 137 Tati, Jacques, 297 Tedesco, Jean, 61 Teissier, Charles, 281 Tériade (né Eleftheriadis, Stratis), 107 Theater and Its Double (Artaud), 286 “Theater and the Cinema” (Bazin), 21 “theater of cruelty,” 286 Theory of Film (Kracauer), 308 Theory of Religion (Bataille), 293–­94 Thérèse/Tirésias, 50, 184, 200 Third Republic: ideology of, 233–­35, 237, 256, 281–­83; neo-­ Lamarckism during, 39; postwar censorship by, 47–­48, 185; Surrealism during, 218–­19 “third sex,” 194

394

INDEX

“This time we are dead,” 305, 310 Tigersprung (tiger’s leap), 310 time-­lapse imagery, 66, 142, 152–­54 Timmory, François, 289 Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (Hergé), 139 Tique (Tick; Painlevé), 242 Tirésias/Thérèse, 50, 184, 200 Tisse, Eduard, 136 Titaÿna (Élisabeth Sauvy), 174 title cards in sound films, 103–­4 Titres et travaux scientifiques (Wintrebert), 36 Toilers of the Sea (Travailleurs de la mer; Hugo), 68, 70–­72, 259 “Toward a Social Cinema” (Vigo), 261 transformisme, 37, 39, 125, 145, 187, 195 transvestism, 161 Trenet, Charles, 298 Trépanation pour crise d’épilepsie Bravais-­Jacksonnienne (Martel), 301–­2 Trier, Walter, 146 Troisième sexe, Le (Willy), 194 trop objets (too object-­like), 218, 230, 231, 255, 258, 310 “true hallucination,” 74, 232 Tual, Roland, 166 Tucker, Earl, “Snake Hips,” 146 UFA studios, 118, 250, 339n83 undecidability, 192 underwater location cinema­ tography, 168–­70 “unexpected oppositions,” 107–­8, 110, 177 Unik, Pierre, 186 Unknown Woman of the Six-­Day

Race, The (L’Inconnue des six-­jours; Painlevé), 59, 61 unknown worlds, 83 “useful violence” toward sacrificial specimen, 222 Vaché, Jacques, 57 “vague de rêves, Une” (A wave of dreams; Aragon), 49 Vallos, Jean-­Louis, 202–­3 Vampire, The (Le Vampire; Painlevé), 216; anti-­fascist theme in, 218, 253, 255, 259; audiovisual synchronization of, 242–­43; bat as “hostage” of film crew, 255; Bazin on, 233–­34; exsanguination of guinea pig, 251–­52, 255; filming, first edit, 237; “FIN” ending from bat’s mouth, 256–­57; foreign source material in, 252; freeze-­frame of mal de caderas, 236–­37, 252–­53; gassing of bat, 237; geopolitical implications in, 233; hot jazz soundtrack, 243; implication of humans, 259–­60; montage style of, 234, 241–­42, 244, 247, 250, 256; regimes of hygiene in, 241, 256; Roubaud’s request for, 236–­37; vampire’s “kiss,” 252; vampire’s “salute,” 253, 254 “vectors of civilization,” 235 vectors of contagion: flies as, 227–­ 28; growing awareness of, 219; in The Vampire, 233–­38, 241, 247, 249, 252–­53, 256–­57, 260 Vep, Irma, 274 Vertov, Dziga, 293 vestigial organs, 39 Vian, Boris, 215, 298

INDEX

Vidal, Jean, 182, 197 Vignon, Paul, 128–­29, 133 Vigo, Jean, 117, 234, 261–­65, 284, 287, 290, 339n78, 366n7 Villars, Henri Gauthier (“Willy”), 354n96 “Villette Rouge, La” (Rim), 292–­ 93 violence and terror, 46, 48, 165, 263–­64 “visionary enlargement,” 69, 73 visualization techniques, 15, 32, 34–­ 36, 42, 51 vital staining, 41–­42, 48, 60 Vitrac, Roger, 52, 58 Vitruvian Man (da Vinci), 32 vivisection, 206–­8; a “frenzy of the visible,” 225; as “long and dreadful kitchen,” 220; in The Seahorse, 206–­8; in studies of blood, 217–­18; as “useful violence,” 222 Vlès, Fred, 20 voice-­overs in film, 104 Voronoff, Serge, 201, 203 Vuillermoz, Émile, 80 Wahl, Lucien, 61 Wallace, Robert M., 16 Warner, Marina, 155 water beetles, 270–­72, 278 “Wave of Dreams, A” (Aragon), 52 Weil, Kari, 97 Weiss, Allen S., 73

395

Werrie, Paul, 67, 77, 80–­81, 84, 131, 143 Whale, James, 249 What Is Man? lectures and debate, 18–­19 Wheel, The (La Roue; Gance), 51 Wild, Jennifer, 57, 66 wildlife films, 120–­21, 197–­98, 314–­15 Williams, Linda, 207, 218 Williamson, John Ernest, 168, 191 Willy, 185, 194 Wintrebert, Paul, 32–­37, 40, 41, 44, 59, 141–­42, 151 womb strikes, 26, 184, 203–­5 women: gender and sex roles post–­ WWI, 161, 198. See also feminism; sexuality woodcuts by Toyohiro, Bokusen, and Hokusai, 146 World War I: and famille nombreuse veneration, 161; physical and psychic injuries from, 47–­48, 207; repopulation effort after, 26 World War II: Painlevé’s activities during, 238–­39; and The Vampire, 233 Yung Ko-­Ching, 141–­42, 151 Zoo, 83 zoological Surrealism, 4, 31, 58, 68, 75–­76, 85, 315 zoomorphism, 48

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James Leo Cahill is associate professor of cinema studies and French at the University of Toronto and general editor of Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture.