Before David Attenborough and Jacques Cousteau – there was Jean Painleve. Poetic pioneer of science films, Painleve explored a twilight realm of vampire bats, seahorses, octopi, and liquid crystals. In collaboration with his life-partner, Genevieve Hamon, Painleve made more than 200 science and nature films and was an early champion of the genre. This selection from 50 years of passionate scientific enquiry includes his most famous films – The Sea Horse, The Vampire, The Love Life of the Octopus and Sea Urchins – with their often-amazing music, which ranges from Duke Ellington to the French pioneer of electronic music, Pierre Henry.
Possessing a remarkable eye for life’s eerie curiosities, Painleve’s art pivots on the premise that ‘science is fiction’. He created a landscape of bug-eyed wonderment marked by a playful sense of nature’s hidden poetry and scandalized the scientific world with a cinema designed to entertain as well as edify. In the process he won over the circle of Surrealists and avant-gardists and counted amongst his friends Antonin Artaud, Sergei Eisenstein, Jean Vigo, and Luis Bunuel. Painlev’s astonishing documentaries witness a genuinely ‘magic realism’, which continues to enchant audiences around the world.
Date: 8pm 19 July
Centre for Creative Practice
15 Pembroke Street Lower