Production: NL, 1955
Director: Shinkichi Tajiri
Category: Experimental/Drugs
A short, experimental film shot on 16mm by Tajiri – a Dutch-American sculptor of Japanese ancestry – which won a prize at Cannes for its innovations in the language of film. At around 9 minutes, The Vipers is an early trip film, showing a bunch of beatniks in Paris getting stoned followed by swirling images of city, fairground, fireworks, the elements, and even spinning doll torsos, all shown using superimpositions and distortions. Tajiri made Mad Nest, a shorter Super-8 variation, the same year. Also working in painting and photography – his photos of female nudes posing with a male dwarf are exceptionally bizarre – Tajiri was an affiliate of the influential Cobra group, formed in 1948, whose founding manifesto La Cause Était Entendue laid out principles of artistic spontaneity and primitivism, with nuances of Marxist politics. 

Production: Germany, 1956
Director: Haro Senft
Category: Experimental
Senft, an artist inspired by Die Brücke, a group of German Expressionist painters whose thrust was a denouncement of modernity and an avowed return to savage primitivism, turned to film-making in the mid-1950s. Naming his first film after the group he so admired, he used it to convey a similar indictment of industrialisation and filled it with bleak images of violence, alienation and clashing forms. In the 15-minute film, a woman (played by Maya Maïsch-Merlin) crosses a bridge and suddenly finds herself in a haunted, industrial mass-production zone devoid of humanity. After the shock of an empty museum, she strips naked for a non-existent artist. Only by going back across the bridge (= back to the past) is she able to reconnect with mankind. In 1962, Senft wrote the Oberhausen Manifesto with his fellow experimental film-makers Edgar Reitz and Alexander Kluge, in which they and over twenty others laid claim to “create the new German feature film”. This led to the setting up in 1965 of the Kuratorium Junger Deutsche Film, a funding board for new directors.

Posted by Captain Nightshade

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