Annette Michelson presents rare screening of V.I. Pudovkin's Mechanics of the Brain at Light Industry (8/11)

From: Thomas Beard (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Aug 07 2009 - 09:55:41 PDT

Light Industry
220 36th Street, 5th Floor
Brooklyn, New York
Mechanics of the Brain
V.I. Pudovkin, 16mm, 1926, 64 mins
Presented by Annette Michelson
Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 7:30pm

The year 1926 represents a privileged moment of the young Soviet film
industry, with Eisenstein, Pudovkin, Kuleshov, Vertov, Barnet, Room,
Kozintsev and Trauberg all represented by important work‹and some, including
Pudovkin, with more than one.

But Mechanics of the Brain, Pudovkin¹s first film, was like no other.
Interrupted on this project by work on The Mother, his extremely successful
first major film narrative, Pudovkin returned later that year to complete
his documentary on the theory and practice of Pavlovian reflexology. This
film is of especial interest in a number of ways: first, as a clear
indication of the importance of this filmmaker¹s primarily scientific
training and work experience, something we see in his texts on filmmaking
and film acting which were to serve as a bible for successive generations of
filmmakers, well beyond the borders of the USSR. Of more general importance
is Mechanics¹ role in the establishment of reflexology as the official base
of psychology and psychiatry in the USSR, and its anti-psychoanalytic
character. And of particular interest is the show-and-tell form of the
demonstrations‹compelling, and, in fact, disturbing. For the subjection of
patients to Pavolvian technology and method generates images that recall, in
their strangeness, certain aspects of Surrealist imagery‹the work of Max
Ernst in particular. This film that begins as a demonstration of scientific
method develops in its appropriation of technology the aspect of a horror
feature. ‹ AM

Annette Michelson is Professor Emeritus of Cinema Studies at New York
University. Her research addresses issues of practice and theory within the
various forms and periods of the cinematic avant-garde. She is a founder of
the journal October as well as of October Books and editor of October: The
First Decade. Professor Michelson has introduced and edited Kino-eye: The
Writings of Dziga Vertov and Cinema, Censorship, and the State: The Writings
of Nagisa Oshima. Among her other publications are studies of Marcel
Duchamp, Joseph Cornell, Andy Warhol, S.M. Eisenstein, Jean-Luc Godard, and
Jean Renoir. She is a co-author of The Art of Moving Shadows for the
National Gallery of Art.

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