In 1924, a 26 year old French actor and aspiring director, Rene Clair, was given the opportunity to create a 20 minute short. Sandwiched in the intermission of a new ballet named Relâche, Clair’s debuting act as a filmmaker was presenting Dadaist cinema at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. The resulting work, Entr’Acte, is one of the most ambitious debuts of any film maker I have ever seen. It is Dada absurdity at its best. In attempting to create new art devoid of war, common sense and apathy, Clair’s debut is a provoking examination of culture and societal culture.
Leave it to the Cinematic Orchestra to go back in time and throw a new musical veneer on a classic. This might be one of my favorite things the group has ever released. The original performance of Entr’Acte was silent. In his his understated and iconic style, Erik Satie wrote repetitive motifs to be repeated during the performance. In the process he created an early instance of film scoring, creating themes and loops to be embellished for affect. The Cinematic Orchestra does a great job not only reintroducing the film but staying true to both Clair and Satie’s goals. With a deft melodic touch, the film feels ripped into two parts. The first half rides strings on a loose time sequence to create an aura of ethereal indefiniteness. The second begins a revelatory examination of man’s actions and eventual disappearance through a driving, immaculate instrumental charge. These are a beautiful twenty minutes of film with an excellent score. But the final few minutes? Timeless.