Surrealist photographer May Ray set out to do away with trivialities like characters and plots when he made his cinéma pur (“pure cinema”) shorts. In Emak-Bakia, he mixed direct-film (laying nails directly on a film strip and exposing it) with distorted close-ups of motion and all sorts of other trickery to create a mesmerizing experimental trip. In L’Etoile de Mer, he teamed up with poet Robert Desnos to push things in a different direction—making a film that evokes a distant memory of a near-erotic encounter. Punctuated by intertitles with Desnos’s words, Ray shoots his images through rough glass or mirrors to keep the actors out-of-focus—discernible but indecipherable. And so the voyeurism inherent in the medium comes to the forefront, only to be teased with undelivered goods.
Director: Man Ray
Writer: Robert Desnos (poem)
Stars: Kiki of Montparnasse, André de la Rivière, Robert Desnos