Travels with a camera: Speed and embodiment in early French avant-garde film

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This article examines the stylistic representation of speed and travel in three French avant-garde films of the 1920s—Entr'acte (René Clair, 1924), Emak Bakia (Man Ray, 1926) and Les Mystères du Château du Dé (Man Ray, 1929). Switching the emphasis from notions of the camera-eye to a formulation of the camera-body, I argue that these films solicit a form of embodied vision through corporeal empathy, bringing together film-maker, camera and spectator in complex dialectic of presence and absence, stillness and motion. This analysis invites us to consider how modern technologies of speed give rise to new conceptions of the modernist body, paving the way for a more fluid understanding of the relationship between the eye, the body and the machine in early avant-garde film aesthetics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-31
Number of pages15
JournalStudies in French Cinema
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2013


  • avant-garde film
  • embodiment
  • Man Ray
  • René Clair
  • somatic camera
  • speed


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