Limite (1931)

To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t watch more than half of this film. I can’t remember where I read it, or maybe someone (uni lecturer perhaps) said it to me, but whatever, the idea was that experimental cinema of this kind has generally inclined towards the short form because it’s hard to sustain that sort of thing at greater length. Obviously that’s a fairly subjective statement, to which many counter-examples could no doubt be easily adduced, because “avant-garde” film (however you understand that term) seems to engender a far more subjective response than any other genre; people (usually on IMDB) will deny experimental films the right to be considered as films at all in the way they wouldn’t do with, say, musicals. For me, though, Limite kind of proved the point. The stuff of legend in its native Brazil, Mario Peixoto’s one and only film largely eschews such conventional niceties as intertitles or overt narrative, taking its stylistic cues from the European experimental films he would’ve seen on the continent in the late 20s; this Senses of Cinema piece is headed by this quote from Peixoto himself: “Limite does not intend to analyse. It shows. It projects itself as a tuning fork, a pitch, a resonance of time itself.” I don’t fully understand what that means, I admit, but resonance was kind of the last thing I got. Said article also says the film tells no story, yet “must be seen as a film with a clear, elaborated and recognisable concept”. Which was none of the above for me… I know Limite seems to wow most of the people who see it (Dennis Grunes being an interesting exception), but I just felt it was struggling to sustain the little it was doing over the course of the hour I watched. When I realised I had another hour of the fucking thing still to go, I pulled the plug on it. Maybe I missed something somewhere, but I don’t think there was much more to get…

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