(Has The Film Started Yet?) Maurice Lemaitre
(1951 / FR / 16mm / 62 mins )
One of the founding fathers of the Letterist movement, in ‘LE FILM EST DEJA COMMENCE?’ Lemaitre sought the destruction of film through film. In his stratagies and technique he prefigures the Situationist practice of detournement as well as the aesthetic of American avant-gardists.
He paints, scratches, tints, and bleaches the film, scribbling words onto the screen, snowing in images with crude flurries of dots and crosshatches, bursting through the darkness of the theater with single-frame explosions of white leader, and disorienting viewers with dizzying jump cuts between subjects, his anarchic piling-on of the photographic image is suffused with devilish energy and fury.
This is one of the major works of letterist cinema, proto-punk, proto-Situationist, proto-underground, proto-expanded cinema – the critics despised it, but this work is and will remain a landmark in film history. He wants you to leave the cinema; if you do, he wins – if you don’t, he also wins…