María Lorenzo (ES 2017)

At the turn of the 20th century, pioneers around the world competed to conquer and spread the art of animated photographs; in this pursuit, the Lumières’ Cinématographe prevailed over other inventions whose names evoked, like the gods, power over the living: Étienne-Jules Marey’s Chronophotography, Dickson and Edison’s Kinetoscope, Eadweard Muybridge’s Zoopraxiscope, and many others.
Today pre-cinema inventions and devices continue to inspire many filmmakers, who incorporate them into their movies, performances at galleries, or multimedia shows. My animated short film Impromptu is a tribute to the origins of film through its forgotten parents, for cinema never was the invention of a single person, nor of two, but of many pioneers who contributed their ideas and innovations in the late 19th century. Most particularly, Impromptu is an homage to that fin-du-siècle period, to the pioneers’ female muses — such as Loïe Fuller, Carmencita, and Annabelle — and to the fascination with movement itself.
Impromptu is a joyful interlude where the past emerges in full colour and excites the imagination, stimulating a feeling of nostalgia. The creative process behind Impromptu has led me to combine different languages of animation with five musical themes by Chopin, to explore the underlying poetry of the score.
Intentionally, each animated segment from Impromptu is conceived from a premise, suggested by the characteristics of Chopin’s music themes. The first segment, “Prelude”, brings back the magic of the Phenakistoscope, an early animation device invented simultaneously by Joseph Plateau and Simon von Stampfer by 1832. The second movement, “Serpentine”, takes chronophotographs by Muybridge, Ottomar Anschütz, and Marey, and early films recorded at the Black Maria studio, to recreate a lively dance. The third part, “Faces”, reunites 300 portraits that move to evoke Georges Demenÿ’s portraits vivants, looking for a continuous movement or relation between them. The fourth part, “The Man on the Train”, is inspired by the mysterious disappearance on board a train of film pioneer Louis LePrince, who recorded live-action scenes on paper strips by 1888. To finish, “The Wave” suggests the movement of the sea, starting with an abstract, geometric reduction, eventually culminating in realism, as a tribute to Marey’s first chronophotographic film, The Wave (La Vague), featured in 1891 in the Revue Générale des Sciences.
Impromptu was shortlisted for the Spanish Academy of Film’s Goya Awards in 2018. It was produced with the cooperation of the animation studio Pterodactive and the Universitat Politècnica de València.

María Lorenzo

regia/dir: María Lorenzo.
prod: Enrique Millán.
mus: Frédéric Chopin, esecuzione di/performed by Isaac István Székely (piano).
copia/copy: DCP, 11’12”, col.; did./titles: CAT/ENG.
fonte/source: María Lorenzo.