This film is about three animals: Hyas, Macropodia and great fan worms – two crustaceans and one worm. – The spider crabs and macropodia both cover themselves, from very early on, with plant or animal colonies which surround them in the sea beds they inhabit: seaweed, sponges or hydras. They choose their own “coating” and let it settle on points of their body and legs where small outgrowths can be found. In the same way as designs on shells are always highly symmetrical, the coatings also reveal specific patterns. When these animals moult, they discard their shells and whatever was growing on them, and again, cover their bodies, according to their surroundings, with pieces of seaweed or animal colonies. The new cover may or may not resemble the previous one. – The great fan worm can expel or retract its brachial plume in a spiral. It lives in a tube which it secretes and is fixed onto rocks or in the mud. The hyas and the macropodia cling to the great fan worm’s tube, for its rich potential nourishment. The development of the panache and its display produce genuine fireworks and can be hailed as one of the most beautiful gestures known of aquatic fauna. —JP
Jean Painlevé (20 November 1902 – 2 July 1989) was a film director, actor, translator, animator, critic and theorist. He was the son of mathematician and twice prime-minister of France, Paul Painlevé.
Painlevé first came to the cinema as an actor, alongside Michel Simon, and also as assistant director in the René Sti unfinished film L’inconnue des six jours (The Unknown Woman of Six Days), 1926. (Later, he would appear as “chief ant handler” in Luis Buñuel’s Un Chien Andalou, 1928). Soon, he was shooting his own films, starting with L’œuf d’épinoche : de la fécondation à l’éclosion, 1927.
Painlevé sometimes scored the music and background sounds for his films, such as in Les Oursins, where the collage of noise is a homage to Edgar Varese.
In order to shoot scenes underwater, Painlevé encased his camera in a custom designed waterproof box, fitted with a glass plate which allowed the camera’s lens to reach through. Understandably… read more