Impatience, Detective Story, & Combat de Boxe
Certainly the rediscovery of this Belgian Cinema series, Charles Dekeukeleire (1905-1971), one of Belgium's finest documentary filmmakers, began his career with films of such purity of visual imagery and striking composition, that he deserves to be placed among the cinema's first true avant-garde.
The following films may have occasional French titles, which will be translated when necessary, but all the films are essentially visual and do not require an understanding of French or Flemish.
“Impatience to love, pushing out towards life. Two young people move towards a purpose that everyone can guess. But there is a space between them, a long field of desire, the call of the flesh. The sound of a motorcycle, visually expressed, accompanies the melody of impatience. The movement of this trepidating mechanical force and the rhythm of landscapes and the strangely moving beings make up the cinematic novelty of this film.... Apprehended by the quick eye of the camera, inert nature becomes our creation, the surrealist element that is a reflection of truth.” -Henri Storck, 1929
• Directed by Charles Dekeukeleire. With Yonnie Selma. (1928, 27 mins, 35mm, silent, Print courtesy of Belgian Government)
“The screenplay of Detective Story supports a parade of images depicting life at its most banal, and more specifically, the pathology of urban life. A seemingly ingenuous story is coupled with the biting irony of Maurice Casteels' text, rendered with sensitivity by Victor Servrancx.... The story deals with the existence of a neurotic citizen, Mr. Jonathan, examined, on Madame's behalf, by the camera of Detective T. It is as surprising as if we were to film the notebooks in a man's pocket. Dekeukeleire shows he is a careful image maker. ‘My greatest concern,' he says, ‘is to make the camera's lens live like the eye, like a glance... conditioned by the inner life.' There are three possible ‘glances' in the film: Detective T's, Mr. Jonathan's and Dekeukeleire's himself. There is a kind of quidproquo and therefore a kind of dis-traction within the film between (the subject of) health, the internal coherence of many images (sea, factory, mountains) and the relaxed screenplay. The screenplay's ease makes possible, for instance, the appearance of a gymnastic play of apples... a charming game, full of flavor and humor....” -Paul Werrie, 1930
• Directed by Charles Dekeukeleire. Written by Maurice Casteels. French intertitles by Victor Servrancx. (1929, 37 mins, 35mm, silent, translation of titles provided, Print courtesy of Belgian Government)
Combat de Boxe
Combat de Boxe is a short cinematographic poem, a succession of rhythmic impressions in which each image has its own lyrical value. Two themes are approached: the boxing match itself, in all its phases and subsequent finale; and the excited, attentive crowd. Dekeukeleire uses techniques previously little known, such as showing the referee in negative, in a film designed to challenge the viewer on a subtle, complex level.
• By Charles Dekeukeleire. (1927, 10 mins, 35mm, silent, Print courtesy of Belgian Government)