Sunlit Water

November 28, 2006

The Little Top

Filed under: Culture — by teofilo @ 9:46 pm

When my aunt and her husband come to DC, the main thing they do is go to the National Gallery (which, as my aunt is quick to point out, is actually not part of the Smithsonian).  They particularly like to see the movies that are shown there from time to time, generally obscure art-related things.  One time not too long ago the Gallery was showing Le Cirque de Calder, and my aunt was transfixed.  She kept going back and watching it throughout the day as it played again and again.  She has a fascination with gadgets and ingenious designs, and this movie had them in spades.  She later saw some of the surviving objects from the circus where they are displayed at the Whitney Museum in New York, and was very impressed.  She also managed to get a videotape of the movie there; she had found one being offered online, but the seller was in the UK and she couldn’t figure out what format the tape was in so she didn’t buy it.

Given her attachment to this film, it’s hardly a suprise that she was asking us if we wanted to see it practically as soon as we got into town for Thanksgiving.  We begged off for a while, but after a couple nights we relented.  It was pretty interesting; apparently Calder used to go to Paris with a homemade miniature circus and put on performances where he moved the little animals and people, which were made ingeniously out of wire and various other ordinary materials.  It’s available here on Youtube (thanks to Matt Weiner for pointing me to this in comments).

I liked it well enough, but I’m not sure I could take more than twenty minutes of it.  I guess I’m just not as entranced by gadgetry as my aunt is.

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