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
Painleve's shorts manage to invest nature with the wonder and curiosity of childhood, but their cinematic achievements go beyond that (or, more precisely, are intertwined with it). Using nature as his template, he explores the textures, colors and movements of cinema simultaneously with those of the natural world. Is there a greater dance sequence than Acera, Or the Witches' Dance?