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L'Étoile de mer

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Title: L'Étoile de mer  
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Subject: Surrealism, Alice Prin, Surrealist cinema
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L'Étoile de mer

L'Étoile de mer
Directed by Man Ray
Jacques-André Boiffard
Produced by Man Ray
Written by Robert Desnos
Starring Kiki of Montparnasse (Alice Prin)
André de la Rivière
Robert Desnos
Release date(s) France 1928
Running time 17 min.

L'Étoile de mer (English: The Sea Star) is a 1928 film directed by Man Ray. The film is based on a script by Robert Desnos and depicts a couple (Alice Prin and André de la Rivière) acting through scenes that are shot out of focus.


Almost all of the scenes in this film are shot either off a mirror like the final shot, or through diffused and textured glass.

After opening to the couple walking along a road, the scene cuts to a caption

Les dents des femmes sont des objets si charmants... (Women's teeth are such charming things...)

A short scene where the female alters her stocking.

... qu' on ne devrait les voir qu' en rêve ou à l'instant de l'amour. (... that one ought to see them only in a dream or in the instant of love.)

From this point the couple retire to the upper bedroom of a house and the female undresses and retires, at which point the male bids her farewell.

Si belle! Cybèle? (So beautiful! Cybèle?)

The male leaves the house.

Nous sommes à jamais perdus dans le désert de l'éternèbre. (We are forever lost in the desert of eternal darkness. Éternèbre is a portmanteau of éternel (eternal) and ténèbre (darkness))

The film cuts to a female selling newspapers in the street, this is André de la Rivière in drag.

Qu'elle est belle (How beautiful she is)

A man is shown purchasing a sea star in a jar, returning it home to examine further.

"Après tout" ("After all")

The film then changes focus, following newspapers being blown in the wind while a man attempts to pick them up. Scenes from a railway journey appear briefly, tugboats docking at a wharfside followed by a panning city scape.

Si les fleurs étaient en verre (If the flowers were made of glass)

Followed by a montage of various rotating objects, including the sea star in a jar. A few still lifes appear, again featuring the sea star.

Belle, belle comme une fleur de verre (Beautiful, beautiful like a glass flower)
Belle comme une fleur de chair (Beautiful like a flower of flesh)
Il faut battre les morts quand ils sont froids. (One must strike the dead while they are cold. cf. Il faut battre le fer quand il est chaud - Strike while the iron is hot)

We rejoin the man as he ascends the staircase to the upper bedroom in the house, leaving the sea star at the foot of the stairs. The film cuts to the woman brandishing a large knife superimposed with the sea star.

Les murs de la Santé (The walls of the Santé)
Et si tu trouves sur cette terre une femme à l'amour sincère... (And if you find on this earth a woman whose love is true...)
Belle comme une fleur de feu (Beautiful like a flower of fire)
Le soleil, un pied à l'étrier, niche un rossignol dans un voile de crêpe. (The sun, one foot in the stirrup, nestles a nightingale in a mourning veil.)

We return to the female reclining in the bedroom.

Vous ne rêvez pas (You are not dreaming)

The film then reveals a short end to the characters love triangle.

Qu'elle était belle (How beautiful she was)
Qu'elle est belle (How beautiful she is)

The female appears in a mirror with the word 'belle', which shatters. The affair is over, and the film brings to a close.


Originally a silent film, recent copies have been dubbed using music taken from Man Ray's personal record collection of the time. The musical reconstruction was by Jacques Guillot.


  • Flicks - March 2001 [1]; Chris Dashiell (2001)

See also

External links

  • Internet Movie Database
  • Downloadable version of the film at
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