Emak Bakia means, according to Man Ray, “leave me in peace”. It is also Arthur Wheeler’s summer house name. Wheeler orders the film from Man Ray and some of its scenes are shot in this house, as the latter explains in Self Portrait: a collision with “a herd of sheep”, “a pair of lovely legs doing the popular Charleston dance of the day, the sea revolving so that it became sky and the sky sea, etc.” Emak Bakia is conceived according to principles dear to Surrealism: automatism, improvisation, irrationality, psychological and dreamlike scenes, absence of logic and disdain for dramaturgy. Man Ray tells how the idea for the ending of the film occurred to him: “A visit from my friend Jacques Rigaut, the dandy of the Dadas, the handsome one could have been a movie star if he wanted to, gave me the idea for the ending. As usual, he was impeccably dressed, with his well-cut clothes, a dark Homburg, and a starched white collar with a discreetly patterned tie. I sent out my assistant Boiffard to buy a dozen stiff white collars with which a filled a small attaché case. [...] In the studio I made a close-up of Rigaut’s hands opening the case, taking the collars out one by one, tearing them in two and dropping them on the floor. (Later I had a reverse print made of the falling collars so that they appeared to jump up again). I had Rigaut tear off the outside half of his collar, showing the tie around his neck. He looked more dressed up than ever, more formal. That was all from him. When he left I shot some sequences of the torn collars through the revolving deforming mirrors; they pirouetted and danced rhythmically.”

Details

  • Title: Emak Bakia
  • Creator: Man Ray
  • Date: 1926
  • Location: France
  • Physical Dimensions: 16 min
  • Rights: © Man Ray 2015 Trust
  • Medium: Silent movie, black and white

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