The Melba Films | Chicago Reader

The Melba Films

In 1976 a group of young Paris filmmakers began using the collective name “Melba”; the word had several sources, but for member Christian Lebrat it signified “the freedom of cinema and the sweetness of the images.” The films the group made in the 1970s and '80s bear a superficial resemblance to the so-called structural films common at the time, which made use of simplified organizational systems, but the Melba films are not predictable or rigidly systematic, and their gentle aestheticism seems distinctly French. In Guy Fihman's Ultrarouge-Infraviolet (1974) a reproduction of a Pissarro painting (Les toits rouges) gradually changes colors, which makes it seem even more open and airy than most impressionist paintings. Claudine Eizykman's Bruine Squamma-Part 1 (1977) is a densely layered view of a few repeated locales; the rapidly moving superimpositions are full of energy, the fragments of Paris suggestive and allusive. And Pierre Rovere's Black and Light (1974), an abstract film of white holes moving very slightly against a black ground, has a surprising delicacy.

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