The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, March 22-28

nyc repertory-Lhippocampe-The-Seahorse

The Sea Horse (1933)
Directed by Jean Painlevé
Before Jacques Cousteau made his famed foray into underwater research and long before Planet Earth and David Attenborough perhaps convinced you British-accented English is nature’s true tongue, French filmmaker, innovator, and scientist Jean Painlevé was thrusting his cameras into the sea, the ocean depths, and elsewhere, bringing back images of a fantastic, often rarely seen world. (Buñuel and Vigo were among the fans of his Surrealist-friendly accounts of the natural world.) The Sea Horse makes for an excellent primer: hypnotic, lyrical, statedly educational with a playful score. One of the over 200 films Painlevé would make, the short is a rich record of textures, behaviors, and details—a seahorse’s diaphanous, marvelous dorsal fins, their prehensile tails, the child-bearing role of the males. Striving for large audiences, which, in the case of The Sea Horse, he found, Painlevé pioneered and popularized a cinematic vision of the strange, wonderful wild. Jeremy Polacek (March 26, 4:30pm at the Museum of the Moving Image, as part of a science-film program also featuring Isabella Rossellini in person with her “Green Porno” shorts)

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