6.3/10
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3 user 1 critic

By Night with Torch and Spear (1942)

Montage of archive footage from industrial, nature and ethnographic documentaries -- a steelworks, caterpillars, Native American dances, camel trains -- made strange by juxtaposition and upside-down, backwards and negative printing.

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Montage of archive footage from industrial, nature and ethnographic documentaries -- a steelworks, caterpillars, Native American dances, camel trains -- made strange by juxtaposition and upside-down, backwards and negative printing.

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3 March 2009 (USA)  »

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Belle de Nature
Performed by John Zorn
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100% nuts!
26 April 2012 | by See all my reviews

This 8 minute short film is from "American Film Treasures/Avant Garde Film: Disc 1"--a compilation of mostly forgotten art films of the 20th century. This DVD set is NOT for the casual viewer and sometimes I wonder why I watched the films--as some of them were VERY artsy and weird!

Joseph Cornell, according to the DVD notes, was a bit of a nut. Well, they don't exactly say that, but this is what the average viewer would take from it. He would take discarded bits of film footage and edit them together--like some sort of fetish or obsession. The footage was discovered years after the man's death and only then was he hailed as a great artist--much like a folk artist.

Here in "Night With Torch and Spear", you have a lot of random imagery but instead of women, it's such things as inside a steel mill (all upside down), a North African caravan (backward and in negative), some bugs (backwards and in negative) and some guys with torches. It all SEEMS to indicate that Cornell was 100% insane...though the DVD seems to think he's a great unsung genius. See it for yourself to see who is right (hint...it's me!).


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