Posted by: philosopherouge | August 7, 2007

Sur un air de Charleston (1927)


I barely know what to make of this film. It’s short, racist, and very strange. It’s the year 2028, and a black explorer (who strangely enough is a black man in makeup to make him more black…) is gone to Europe “the land of the unknown” where the white savages live. He comes accross a gyrating white woman who’s lover is a man in a monkey constume. She ties him up at first, and makes such enlightening jokes as “I don’t eat black meat”, har har, before she starts to dance the Charleston. Much of the film is our little skinny white girl dancing the Charleston, and she eventually teaches the black explorer how to do this “traditional white dance”. There is something poetic and beautiful about the dance scenes that are sped up and slowed down. It almost makes you forget the disturbing context. Unfortunately a lot of the effect of the dancing is lost because there is no soundtrack, I had to play on repeat the only version of the Charleston I had on my computer to semi-successful results. I think though much of this is lost on modern audiences who are unfamiliar with the dance steps, or in general the popularity of the dance in general. The film is at least short, and the strangeness of it all makes it oddly compelling. I can’t say I exactly recommend this film, unless you’re a huge Renoir fan. There were also these floating heads with wings that were really weird.



  1. […] fourth candidate is Sur un air de Charleston (1927), a short film made by Jean Renoir. Here, the premise seems to be that a future war has wiped out Europe. An African airman lands in the ruins of Paris, […]

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