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The Machine Age

Aug. 2 - Sep. 27, 2013


'Kubrick is a big bore. But 2001: A Space Odyssey is interesting; because it is a machine filming other machines’ – Jacques Rivette

‘ I like Terminator, because it contemplates mankind’s future.’ – Andrei Tarkovsky

‘Why be so emotional? It’s just a machine.’ – Ritwik Ghatak

‘No, I do not show that industry is dehumanizing. I show that factories can be beautiful too; it is the humans who have to adapt.’ – Jacques Tati

Cinema came into being in the late 19th century, its existence necessitated by a world on the verge of widespread and rampant automatisation, machinisation, equipment, industry and armament; and on the immediate consequences of these phenomena: surveillance, nuclear war, accidental footage, dehumanization, a loss of individual personality and late 20th century paranoia. The first film is in itself a condensation of all that would come to define the fundamental attribute of every act of filming over the following hundred years: a factory owner filming his employees exit the factory - this intersection of the industrial (workers, factory) with the political (master filming his subjects) with an influence over this conclave exerted by a conscious 'voice' (not ironically at all, these movements were 'directed' and 'choreographed', performed on demand, as such) is perhaps, the greatest pre-occupation of the 20th century industrial form.

Of course, one cannot miss the larger irony of the act of filming in itself being an industrial process, one that involves heavy machinery, workers, a processing factory and retail stores (the process of filming has been compared to a group of labourers in construction-hats trying to impress women with their big machines). Therefore, cinema is simultaneously an outsider witness of industrialisation in the 20th century, as also,a phenomena contemplating itself, and through this introspection, a perpetually changing world, transforming landscapes as well as the human beings who wander among them.

The present film series will aim to study in detail the manner in which a machine relates to another machine; the manner in which the tracking shot (which is made possible again, by railway line like rails) contemplates the diagonals, assembly lines and general geometries of modern factories and also, how the cinematic form can re-humanize those whose vitality is drained by their professional occupation inside these industries.




2nd August, 2013 | 5 PM onwards

Workers Leaving the Factory / Lumiere Brothers, 1 min

The film consists of a single scene in which workers leave the Lumiere factory. The workers are mostly female who exit the large building 25 rue St. Victor, Montplaisir on the outskirts of Lyon, France, as if they had just finished a day's work

The Arrival of the Train at La Ciotat / Lumiere Brothers, 1 min

This 50-second silent film shows the entry of a train pulled by a steam locomotive into a train station in the French coastal town of La Ciotat. Like most of the early Lumière films,L'arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat consists of a single, unedited view illustrating an aspect of everyday life. There is no apparent intentional camera movement, and the film consists of one continuous real-time shot.

Beer Advertisement/Lumiere Brothers, 1 min

Anemic Cinema (1926)/Marcel Duchamp, 6 mins

A spiral design spins dizzily. It's replaced by a spinning disk. These two continue in perfect alternation until the end: a spiral design, a disk. Each disk is labelled and can be read as it rotates. The messages, in French, feature puns and whimsical rhymes and alliteration. The final message comments on the spiral motif itself.

Man with a Movie Camera (1929) / Dziga Vertov, 68 mins 

This film is famous for the range of cinematic techniques Vertov invents, deploys or develops, such as double exposure, fast motion, slow motion, freeze frames, jump cuts, split screens, Dutch angles, extreme close-ups, tracking shots, footage played backwards, stop motion animations and a self-reflexive style (at one point it features a split screen tracking shot; the sides have opposite Dutch angles).

Enthusiasm (1931) / Dziga Vertov, 67 mins / 6:30pm

In theory, Enthusiasm was made to show how the coal basin miners were willing and able to fulfill in four years their part in the Five Year Plan. In reality, the film was a demonstration of Vertov's lyrical use of sound and music, with the director cutting sound-images as freely and fluidly as he cut his visuals.

9th August, 2013 | 5 PM onwards

Sherlock Jr. (1924) / Buster Keaton, 45 mins

The film is one of Buster's superior silent comedies that's noted for his usual deadpan humor, frolicsome slapstick, the number of very funny sight gags, the many innovative technical accomplishments and that he did his own stunts (including the dangerous one where he was hanging off a ladder connected to a huge water basin as the water poured out and washed him onto the railroad track, fracturing his neck nearly to the point of breaking it. Keaton suffered from severe migraines for years after making this movie).

The Cameraman (1928) / Buster Keaton, 69 mins / 6pm

Hopelessly in love with a woman working at MGM Studios, a clumsy man attempts to become a motion picture cameraman to be close to the object of his desire.

17th August, 2013 / 5:30 PM onwards

A Nous a’ Liberte (1931) / Rene Clair, 97 mins

À nous la liberté is a landmark in the history of film comedy and sound film. Back in 1931 when almost all film directors in every country were cautiously using the new technology as a recording medium, Clair, with the help of Georges Auric's musical score, was exploring it as a creative medium. Throughout the film we see and hear many unusual sound effects and uses of recorded sound: the "sound" of assembly line
mechanization done through music (using xylophones, among other instruments), aural flashbacks, singing flowers and more.

23th August, 2013/5PM onwards 

Shoulder Arms (1918) / Charlie Chaplin, 45 mins

Charlie is a boot camp private who has a dream of being a hero who goes on a daring mission behind enemy lines.

Modern Times (1936) / Charlie Chaplin, 87 mins / 6 pm

The Tramp struggles to live in modern industrial society with the help of a young homeless woman.

30th August, 2013/ 5 PM

Ajantrik (1958) / Ritwik Ghatak, 108 mins

One of the earliest Indian films to portray an inanimate object, in this case an automobile, as a character in the story. It achieves this through the use of sounds, recorded during post-production, to emphasize the car's bodily functions and movements.

6th September, 2013 / 5 PM onwards 

Blue Collar (1978) / Paul Schrader, 114 mins

A trio of Detroit auto workers, two black—Zeke Brown (Pryor) and Smokey James (Kotto)—and one white—Jerry Bartowski (Keitel) are fed up with mistreatment at the hands of both management and union brass. Coupled with financial hardships on each man's end, the trio hatch a plan to rob a safe at union headquarters. - Wikipedia

13th September, 2013 / 5PM onwards

Red Desert (1964) / Michelangelo Antonioni, 117 mins

Michelangelo Antonioni's panoramas of contemporary alienation were decade-defining artistic events, and Red Desert, his first color film, is perhaps his most epochal. This provocative look at the spiritual desolation of the technological age - about a disaffected woman, brilliantly portrayed by Antonioni muse Monica Vitti, wandering through a bleak industrial landscape beset by power plants and environmental toxins, and tentatively flirting with her husband's coworker, played by Richard Harris - continues to keep viewers spellbound. With one startling, painterly composition after another, Red Desert creates a nearly apocalyptic image of its time, and confirms Antonioni as cinema's preeminent poet of the modern age.

20th September, 2013 /5 PM 

Humain, Trop Humain (1973) / Louis Malle, 75 mins

A documentary study of the automotive industry, focusing on the manufacturing process at a Citroen factory.

27th September, 2013 / 5 PM

Trafic (1971) / Jacques Tati, 93 mins 

In Trafic, Hulot is a bumbling automobile designer who works for Altra, a Paris auto plant. He, along with a truckdriver and a publicity agent (Maria Kimberly), takes a new camper-car (designed by Hulot) to an auto show in Amsterdam. On the way there, they encounter various obstacles on the road. Some of the obstacles that Hulot and his companions encounter are getting impounded byDutch customs guards, a car accident (meticulously choreographed by the filmmakers), and an inefficient mechanic.


In collaboration with

 Kiran Nadar Museum of Art


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Kiran Nadar Museum of Art

145, DLF South Court Mall, Sakets
New Delhi, Delhi 110017

Open To: Everyone