Between 1959 and 1976, Robert Lapoujade made 10 short films, mostly within the framework of the Research Service (of the ORTF) directed by Pierre Schaeffer.
The arrival of the second channel in 1964 with a program called ‘Banc d’essai’ offered outlets for the works of these researchers who were trying to experiment on the margins of cinema and television and allowed the public to discover their works. Robert Lapoujade has developed two forms of production : work on a rostrum camera (banc titre) made image by image using different materials, drawings, powder, photos… on various supports, and work using puppets he has made himself.
’Cinema is the retraining of the painter… capturing movement to rediscover the possibilities of expressiveness… all the more so when it comes to sculpting inert things, to reconnecting thanks to cinema with the idea of complete art‘’ Robert Lapoujade
ENQUETE SUR UN CORPS (Investigation on a body) (1959) 16mm, black and white.
Technique : Live Action Subject: A woman’s body caressed and explored by a camera.
FOULES (Crowds) – (1960) duration 12 mIn
Symbolic and abstract approach. From the theme of crowds, R. Lapoujade sought to mobilize, in the words of Sartre, “moving matter rigorously united within dispersion, the explosive unification of crowds”. The use of animated powders and realistic photographs “makes sensitive the innumerable and multiple adventure of man and puts us in front of his reactions, in group and of the frame which they form in this “unity of crowds”. The music, with its primitive rhythms supported by modern sound documents, gives an hallucinating vision of the wild force of the crowds.
Produced by the ORTF Research Department
“This work testifies in particular to the artist’s political positions and his hostility towards the Algerian war… The film weaves, around a dizzying movement, animated sequences of materials (powders and peppercorns), graphic and pictorial notes, witness or relay images and sound pieces. Abandoning the editing of shots and its function which consists of “coagulating in history” (as Lapoujade so aptly put it), he seeks the emergence of a new meaning, of another reality to which the fragment-units, called here “material stories”, “plastic stories”, “image stories” or even “sound stories”, all organized around a multiplied narration.” Patrick Barrès, Professor at the University of Toulouse Jean-Jaurès
NOIR ET BLANC (Black and White1961) duration 12min
Special Prize of the International Film Week, Evreux
Interplay of black and white contrasts that compose and break down shapes and faces in perpetual movement. The dialogues between sound and image shed light on the meaning of the subject.
“The sound and the image are in my opinion parallel and conjoined… there is an entirely erotic soundtrack… so erotic that the whole film is lit up by it, whereas the images, they are innocent.” R. Lapoujade
Production: ORTF (French broadcasting and television office)
PRISON (1962) duration 12min
Antonin Artaud Prize
“This is about a man in prison. This man remembers his past, unless he invents it. The roughness of the cell wall is his reality, which his imagination breaks up. A broken life, described using materials broken into a thousand crumbs”. Music by Luc Perrini …
TROIS PORTRAITS D’UN OISEAU QUI N’EXISTE PAS (Three portraits of a bird that does not exist) (1963 ) duration 7 min
Émile Cohl Prize
Based on a poem by Claude Aveline “Portrait of the bird that does not exist”, (carnivorous bird, hummingbird, songbird). R. Lapoujade orchestrates the synthesis of these two means of expression by giving movement, thanks to the technique of animation, to powders and various materials, a painting which changes continually.
François Bayle’s music, made up of scattered noises and surrealist croaking, lets us hear an imaginary sound world that harmonizes by random synchronism with the plastic beauty of the images, half-figurative, half-abstract animated paintings.
With this abundance of shapes, movements and colors, Lapoujade invented animated painting.
Production: Roger Leenhardt, National Office of French Television Broadcasting INA
CATAPHOTE (1964) duration 10 min
Inspired by Eugène Ionesco. An attempt to describe the mental universe of a refugee, from incoherent and obsessive images that join his in this inability to go all the way.
Produced by the ORTF Research Department
VELODRAME (1963) duration 11 min
Applying a frame-by-frame animation technique, Vélodrame features a small character, Erde, who has the ability to hear voices, especially advertising messages. Our character, allergic to this incessant flow of advertising, tries to flee them, on a bicycle. Lapoujade uses the collage of various elements: engravings, drawings, texts, newspaper pages…
The music of E. Canton seems to be modeled on the image to offer a heterogeneous collage, a panoply of unusual sound effects to accompany the flight of the character, imprinting the character of a disordered and ramshackle mechanism that reinforces the dreamlike aspect of Vélodrame.
Produced by the ORTF Research Department
“But the most remarkable thing about the film is the character, a veritable protean creature, whose production technique and setting in motion respond to this aphorism by Michaux: ‘A grain of sand goes away and the whole beach collapses’. The art of cartoons often begins with the character : that of Vélodrame is one of the richest we have ever seen.” R. Bellourd, Cinema 63, July 63
“…But the interest beyond the humor of the story focuses on the extraordinary use of colors and moving shapes, indices of a rare pictorial and cinematic sensibility”. G. Rondolino, Stampa Sera, Italy, June 1963
“…the ever-changing contours effortlessly express an airy lightness.” G. Menthen, Rheinische Post (FRG), June 1963
INA link : Watch the video
BIDULANT-BIDULANT (WAGGLING – WAGGLING) 1965-1966
“This film had a lot of success during its screening. It was an animated film… I projected this film on kind of screens which rotated slowly. Among other things, there were reed curtains, painted white, spheres divided in the center by a black background. These spheres rotated, assistants manipulated them under my orders.
At the place where there was black, the image disappeared, on the other hand, on the sphere, we had an amazing projection effect. There was an old doormat…well, a whole bunch of things on stage during the screening, with in some sequences moments that were pure color and in the middle of that a girl doing a striptease on stage, with white underwear.
I vividly remember that after that, my obsession was to find a screen that wasn’t a bed sheet. I found it abnormal that on the one hand the technique was very sophisticated and complicated and to see the result on a simple linen sheet. I wanted to make a kind of very thick screen which gives relief, which emphasizes the modulations of the image. I was not well-supported financially although I did not ask for a lot of money.
This film, I don’t know what became of it.’
L’OMBRE DE LA POMME (The shadow of the apple) (1967) duration 8 min
Animated frame by frame accompanied by a trumpet improvisation, the film paints before our eyes the symbolic significance of the apple like an allegory of bodies capable of loving or destroying each other. Presented at the New York Festival, the same year.
Produced by the European Center for Radio and Television (C.E.R.T.)
MISE A NU (Undressing) (1968) duration 8 min
The first three series: dark-haired woman, blond woman, Egyptian mummy are drawings in bold colors. The last is an animation of an oil painting representing female bodies.
Producer: Roger Leenhardt, ORTF
“It’s a film that derives directly from the research I had done on the superimposition of ‘Enquête sur un corps’. These particular effects, I tried to do them with gouache, in animation, research of breaking animation… They are only successive stripteases. The soundtrack is the recording of a song ‘Gauloise’ by Roger Leenhard.” R. Lapoujade
Watch the video : Vimeo Link