DHTML Menu By Milonic JavaScript
image
Egged On, September 10

The Mechanical Age

Sunday, September 10, 2006
3:00 p.m. Charley Bowers: Dream Machines
Charley Bowers, H. L. Muller (U.S., 1926-27)

Jon Mirsalis on Piano

The charming, bizarre machines depicted in the films of animator and silent comic Charley Bowers elevate American ingenuity to surreal heights, while the films themselves exploit the mechanics of cinema to create magical effects. In Egged On (1926, 24 mins, Courtesy Cinémathèque Québécoise), Bowers sets out to create an egg that "mother nature never considered"—or needed. He cobbles a crazed contraption from bicycle parts, birdcages, and a neighbor's beard, but machines move in mysterious ways: Bowers's technologically enhanced eggs hatch into baby automobiles. Continuing his quest to thwart nature's intentions, Charley comes up with a slip-proof banana peel in Many a Slip (1927, c. 20 mins, Courtesy Lobster Films and Cinémathèque Française)—a film once known only as a fragment, now complete thanks to material found at the Cinémathèque Française. In A Wild Roomer (1926, 24 mins, Courtesy Cinémathèque Québécoise), Bowers invents the ultimate labor-saving device: it can create a living doll out of a few scraps of cloth, suggesting that even God might be replaced by a machine.

—Juliet Clark

• (Total running time: c. 68 mins, Silent with French intertitles and live English translation, B&W, 35mm)