‘The spectator must leave the cinema blind, his ears crushed, both torn asunder by this disjunction of word and image. The rupture between language and photography will form what I call DISCREPANT CINEMA. I hereby announce the manifesto of discrepant cinema!’
‘Traité de bave et d’éternité’ is the first cinematographic manifestation of the Letterist movement. Isidore Isou sought to break down cinema, to exploit the discrepancy between sound and image or to treat the film material as exactly that: substance to be manipulated in every possible way. Although uninvited, Isidore Isou brought his movie at the Cannes Film festival in 1951 where he caused turmoil among the audience but also won the audience prize for the avant-garde. ‘Traité de bave et d’éternité’ outrages the audience with its desynchronized soundtrack and visual track, through its visual effects made by bleaching the film and also though its deconstructed story. With this movie Isou applies two of his concepts; one is ‘the discrepant editing’, where image and sound are treated separately, breaking their significant connection and ‘chiseling’ where the film is physically attacked and altered. In the sound column of ‘Traité de bave et d’éternité’ the spectator may hear from a love story to improvisation whereas in the visual column the viewer might see a dashing young man walking along the boulevard of Saint-Germain or fragments of military films.
This is what the Letterist movement aimed for, to build a new language for each art by destroying its previous manifestation. Isou’s ‘revolt against cinema’ is a landmark work that prefigured the Letterist and Situationist cinema to come and influenced many experimental filmmakers, including Stan Brakhage or Jean-Luc Godard.
Isidore Isou born in 1928 as Ioan-Isidor Goldstein, was a Romanian-born French poet, film critic and visual artist. He represents one of the key Romanian avant-garde artists who influenced and provoked the contemporary perception of art.
Isou moved to Paris at the end of WW II after he tried to initiate the artistic and literary review ‘Da’ in partnership with Serge Moscovici (‘Da’ was quickly censored due to political reasons). Moving to Paris, Isou was able to develop and express his concepts which involved and presumed a total artistic renewal. His work and artistic practice influenced other artists in questioning and rethinking cinema, seeing this medium as being much more than a means of telling stories.
‘Traité de bave et d’éternité’ (On Venom and Eternity) ‘ 1951, 120 Min., 35mm
Screenplay: Isidore Isou
Cinematographer: Nat Saufer
Editor: Suzanne Cabon
Assistant Director: Maurice Lemaître
Original Music: Daniel Guarrigue
Producer: Marc-Gilbert Guillaumin
Cast: Isidore Isou, Marcel Achard, Jean-Louis Barrault, Blanchette Brunoy, Blaise Cendrars, Jean Cocteau, Danièle Delorme, Edouard Dermithe, Daniel Gélin, André Maurois, Armand Salacrou, Rodica Valeanu.
Mrs Catherine Goldstein and Mr Pip Chodorov
Copyright: Isidore Isou Estate / Catherine Goldstein
Film courtesy of Re:Voir