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The Song of Styrene: Le chant du styrène

A film by Alain Resnais

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Recently restored and digitized in 2K!

THE SONG OF STYRENE is the perfect example of how to turn a commissioned industrial film into a lyrical, satirical film masterpiece. When the young Alain Resnais was asked by the Péchiney plastics giant to make a short documentary on polystyrene, “that noble, entirely man-made matter,” Resnais sensed a rapport between Alexandrine verse and CinemaScope. With text by Raymond Queneau and music by Pierre Barbaud, THE SONG OF STYRENE is a beautiful, surrealist film.

“If short films didn’t exist, Alain Resnais would have surely invented them. Never, I believe, since Eisenstein’s shorts, has a film been as scientifically thought out as “Le Chant du Styrène.” Le Chant du Styrène represents fourteen months of work for a fourteen-minute film about plastics. It’s also a script by Raymond Queneau who brings a Tashlinesque feel to each image by introducing Renoir’s famous and cherished ‘décalage.’ And here is the result, in cinemascopic color: Shots so tightly sequenced despite the absence of any living figure; shots, one hundred of them, with minimal editing for dramatic effect, are so harmoniously cut together that they convey the magical feeling of being one long take, a single and commanding shot whose remarkable wording can evoke Johann Sebastian Bach’s greatest cantatas.” —Jean-Luc Godard, “À la recherche du cinéma, Cahiers du Cinéma n.92, February 1959

“Revelatory. Resnais and cinematographer Sacha Vierny gaze with wonder, coasting along factory lines and sprinkling the frame with close-ups of intricate processes that turn into abstract art by virtue of the tight framing and collage of intersecting colors. [Turns] what’s essential a commercial into a Dr. Seuss-esque bit of amazement at modern technological advances.” —CriterionCast

“If you are ever in your lifetime going to see a movie about how plastics are made then this is the movie you should see.” —Douglas Pratt, The DVD-Laser Disc Newsletter

13 minutes / Color
French / English subtitles
Release: 1957
Copyright: 1957

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Subject areas:
France, Science/Technology

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