Margaret Werth's Colloquium

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 - 11:00am

Margaret Werth
Associate Professor, Art History, University of Delaware

Everything and Nothing But: Heterogeneity, the City, and Cinema in "Rien que les heures"

This paper reconsiders one of the earliest city films of the nineteen-twenties, Rien que les heures of 1926 by Alberto Cavalcanti. Cavalcanti playfully and subversively intertwines documentary, avant-garde, and narrative modes to present time passing in the city (not any particular city, the titles tell us, but the film takes place largely in Paris). Avant-garde tropes of modern experience—fragmentation, speed, dynamism, mechanomorphism, for example—are mixed with tropes of urban documentary (the street and the monument; work, social classes, and urban types; a day in the life of the metropolis) and both popular and mass culture (mass media, fait-divers, melodrama, bal populaire) to suggest heterogeneous forms of urban experience.

Cinema Studies Program
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