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The Futurist Cinema (15th November 1916 )
F.T. Marinetti, Bruno Corra, Emilio Settimelli, Arnaldo Ginna, Giacomo Balla And Remo Chiti
The book, a wholly passéist means of preserving and
communicating thought, has for a long time been fated to disappear like cathedrals,
towers, crenellated walls, museums, and the pacifist ideal. The book, static companion of
the sedentary, the nostalgic, the neutralist, cannot entertain or exalt the new Futurist
generations intoxicated with revolutionary and bellicose dynamism.
The conflagration is steadily enlivening the European
sensibility. Our great hygienic war, which should satisfy all our national
aspirations, centuples the renewing power of the Italian race. The Futurist cinema, which
we are preparing, a joyful deformation of the universe, an alogical, fleeting synthesis of
life in the world, will become the best school for boys: a school of joy, of speed, of
force, of courage, and heroism. The Futurist cinema will sharpen, develop the sensibility,
will quicken the creative imagination, will give the intelligence a prodigious sense of
simultaneity and omnipresence. The Futurist cinema will thus cooperate in the general
renewal, taking the place of the literary review (always pedantic) and the drama (always
predictable), and killing the book (always tedious and oppressive). The necessities of
propaganda will force us to publish a book once in a while. But we prefer to express
ourselves through the cinema, through great tables of words-in-freedom and mobile
With our manifesto “The Futurist Synthetic
Theatre”, with the victorious tours of the theatre companies of Gualtiero Tumiati,
Ettore Berti, Annibale Ninchi, Luigi Zoncada, with the two volumes of Futurist
Synthetic Theatre containing eighty theatrical syntheses, we have begun the revolution
in the Italian prose theatre. An earlier Futurist manifesto had rehabilitated, glorified,
and perfected the Variety Theatre. It is logical therefore for us to carry our vivifying
energies into a new theatrical zone: the cinema.
At first look the cinema, born only a few years ago, may seem
to be Futurist already, lacking a past and free from traditions. Actually, by appearing in
the guise of theatre without words, it has inherited all the most traditional
sweepings of the literary theatre. Consequently, everything we have said and done about
the stage applies to the cinema. Our action is legitimate and necessary in so far as the
cinema up to now has been and tends to remain profoundly passéist, whereas we see
in it the possibility of an eminently Futurist art and the expressive medium most
adapted to the complex sensibility of a Futurist artist.
Except for interesting films of travel, hunting, wars, and so
on, the film-makers have done no more than inflict on us the most backward looking dramas,
great and small. The same scenario whose brevity and variety may make it seem advanced is,
in most cases, nothing but the most trite and pious analysis. Therefore all the immense artistic
possibilities of the cinema still rest entirely in the future. The cinema is an autonomous
art. The cinema must therefore never copy the stage. The cinema, being essentially visual,
must above all fulfill the evolution of painting, detach itself from reality, from
photography, from the graceful and solemn. It must become antigraceful, deforming,
impressionistic, synthetic, dynamic, free-wording.
One must free the cinema as an expressive medium in order to
make it the ideal instrument of a new art, immensely vaster and lighter than all the
existing arts. We are convinced that only in this way can one reach that polyexpressiveness
towards which all the most modern artistic researches are moving. Today the Futurist
cinema creates precisely the polyexpressive symphony that just a year ago we announced
in our manifesto “Weights, Measures, and Prices of Artistic Genius”. The most
varied elements will enter into the Futurist film as expressive means: from the slice of
life to the streak of color, from the conventional line to words-in-freedom, from
chromatic and plastic music to the music of objects. In other words it will be painting,
architecture, sculpture, words-in-freedom, music of colors, lines, and forms, a jumble of
objects and reality thrown together at random. We shall offer new inspirations for the
researches of painters, which will tend to break out of the limits of the frame. We shall
set in motion the words-in-freedom that smash the boundaries of literature as they march
towards painting, music, noise-art, and throw a marvelous bridge between the word and the
Our films will be:
- Cinematic analogies that use reality directly as one
of the two elements of the analogy. Example: If we should want to express the
anguished state of one of our protagonists, instead of describing it in its various phases
of suffering, we would give an equivalent impression with the sight of a jagged and
The mountains, seas,
woods, cities, crowds, armies, squadrons, aeroplanes will often be our formidable
expressive words: the universe will be our vocabulary. Example: We want to give a
sensation of strange cheerfulness: we show a chair cover flying comically around an
enormous coat stand until they decide to join. We want to give the sensation of anger: we
fracture the angry man into a whirlwind of little yellow balls. We want to give the
anguish of a hero who has lost his faith and lapsed into a dead neutral skepticism: we
show the hero in the act of making an inspired speech to a great crowd; suddenly we bring
on Giovanni Giolitti who treasonably stuffs a thick forkful of macaroni into the
hero’s mouth, drowning his winged words in tomato sauce.
We shall add color to the dialogue by swiftly, simultaneously
showing every image that passes through the actors’ brains. Example: representing a
man who will say to his woman: “You’re as lovely as a gazelle,” we shall
show the gazelle. Example: if a character says, “I contemplate your fresh and
luminous smile as a traveler after a long rough trip contemplates the sea from high on a
mountain,” we shall show traveler, sea, mountain.
This is how we shall make our characters as understandable as
if they talked.
- Cinematic poems, speeches, and poetry. We shall make
all of their component images pass across the screen.
Example: “Canto dell’amore” [Song of Love] by Giosuè
In their German strongholds perched
Like falcons meditating the hunt
We shall show the strongholds, the falcons in ambush.
From the churches that raise long marble
arms to heaven, in prayer to God
Prom the convents between villages and towns
crouching darkly to the sound of bells
like cuckoos among far-spaced trees
singing boredoms and unexpected joys...
We shall show churches that little by little are changed into
imploring women, God beaming down from on high, the convents, the cuckoos, and so on.
Example: “Sogno d’Estate” [Summer’s
Dream] by Giosuè Carducci:
Among your ever-sounding strains of battle, Homer, I am
the warm hour: I bow my head in sleep on Scamander’s bank, but my
heart flees to the Tyrrhenian Sea.
We shall show Carducci wandering amid the tumult of the
Achaians, deftly avoiding the galloping horses, paying his respects to Homer, going for a
drink with Ajax to the inn, The Red Scamander, and at the third glass of wine his heart,
whose palpitations we ought to see, Pops out of his jacket like a huge red balloon and
flies over the Gulf Of Rapallo. This is how we make films out of the most secret movements
Thus we shall ridicule the works of the passéist poets,
transforming to the great benefit of the public the most nostalgically monotonous weepy
poetry into violent, exciting, and highly exhilarating spectacles.
- Cinematic simultaneity and interpenetration of
different times and places. We shall project two or three different visual episodes at the
same time, one next to the other.
- Cinematic musical researches (dissonances, harmonies,
symphonies of gestures, events, colors, lines, etc.).
- Dramatized states of mind on film.
- Daily exercises in freeing ourselves from mere photographed
- Filmed dramas of objects. (Objects animated, humanized,
baffled, dressed up, impassioned, civilized, dancing—objects removed from their
normal surroundings and put into an abnormal state that, by contrast, throws into relief
their amazing construction and nonhuman life.)
- Show windows of filmed ideas, events, types, objects, etc.
- Congresses, flirts, fights and marriages of funny faces,
mimicry, etc. Example: a big nose that silences a thousand congressional fingers by
ringing an ear, while two policemen’s moustaches arrest a tooth.
- Filmed unreal reconstructions of the human body.
- Filmed dramas of disproportion (a thirsty man who pulls
out a tiny drinking straw that lengthens umbilically as far as a lake and dries it up instantly).
- Potential dramas and strategic plans of filmed feelings.
- Linear, plastic, chromatic equivalences, etc., of men,
women, events, thoughts, music, feelings, weights, smells, noises (with white lines on
black we shall show the inner, physical rhythm of a husband who discovers his wife in
adultery and chases the lover - rhythm of soul and rhythm of legs).
- Filmed words-in-freedom in movement (synoptic tables of
Iyric values—dramas of humanized or animated letters—orthographic dramas—typographical
dramas—geometric dramas—numeric sensibility, etc.).
Painting + sculpture + plastic dynamism + words-in-freedom + composed noises
[intonarumori] + architecture + synthetic theatre = Futurist cinema.
This is how we decompose and recompose the universe according
to our marvelous whims, to centuple the powers of the Italian creative genius and its
absolute preeminence in the world.
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