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Science Is Fiction

The Films of Jean Painlevé

Andy Masaki Bellows (Editor), Marina McDougall (Editor), Brigitte Berg (Editor)


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The first book on pioneering French filmmaker Jean Painlev , the father of science cinema.

One of the first to plunge underwater with a camera to bring the subaquatic world to the screen, maverick scientific documentary filmmaker Jean Painlev (1902-1989) captured the throes of a male seahorse giving birth, the geometric choreography of crystal formation, and the mating habits of hermaphrodite mollusks. In a lifetime spanning nearly the history of cinema itself, Painlev made over 200 films, including The Seahorse, Freshwater Assassins, The Vampire, and The Love Life of the Octopus. His lyrical and instructive animal behavior films set to avant-garde scores were much admired by Surrealist contemporaries such as Antonin Artaud, Luis Bu uel, and Jean Vigo.

Science Is Fiction includes Marina McDougall's historically informative Hybrid Roots, Brigitte Berg's heavily illustrated biographical essay Contradictory Forces, art critic Ralph Rugoff's Fluid Mechanics, a Lib ration interview with Painlev , stills from Painlev 's most celebrated films laid out in storyboard fashion, and a selection of Painlev 's writings appearing for the first time in English. The latter include Neo-Zoological Drama, a playful romp on the behavior of Turbellaria, or flatworms; Mysteries and Miracles of Nature, an idiosyncratic catalog of unusual animal behavior; and Scientific Film, a discussion of science films that pays homage to Painlev 's fellow pioneers. The book also includes French film critic Andr Bazin's Science Film: Accidental Beauty, a review of the 1947 International Association of Science Film festival, organized by Painlev .

Copublished with Brico Press.

Mit Press, 9780262523189, 224pp.

Publication Date: August 24, 2001

About the Author

Brigitte Berg is the director of Les Documents Cinematographiques in Paris, an independent archive founded by Jean Painleve in 1930.