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Pierre Batcheff, the surrealist star

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Abstract:

Pierre Batcheff was one of the foremost jeunes premiers of 1920s cinema. Unlike his fellow stars, he despised the commercial films he made, and engaged with the surrealists and their sympathizers, leading to his role as the Man in Un chien andalou in 1929. In this article, we argue that Batcheff's performance style, which more often than not involved distancing himself from the action and from his female screen partners, and his star persona as the exotic other, contributed to make him what might seem like a contradiction in terms: a surrealist star. We show how the ideological preoccupations of the surrealists at the end of the 1920s, whether in relation to literature (Breton), painting (Dal), or cinema (Artaud), intersected with those of Batcheff, making him an exemplary uncanny object, as defined by Hal Foster's work on surrealism.

Keywords: Andr Breton; Antonin Artaud; Pierre Batcheff; Salvador Dal; masculinity; surrealism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/sfc.8.2.159_1

Affiliations: 1: Newcastle University. 2: Association Franaise de Recherche sur l'Histoire du Cinma.

Publication date: June 5, 2008

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  • Studies in French Cinema is the only journal published in English devoted exclusively to French cinema, providing scholars, teachers and students from around the world with a consistent quality of academic investigation across the full breadth of the subject. Contributors scrutinise the cultural context of various works and the diverse stylistic approaches that infuse the visual fabric of this genre.
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