I was impressed by much of the technical innovation on display in Germaine Dulac’s surrealist film “The Seashell and the Clergyman.” I was especially struck by the superimposition shots as the clergyman pursued his quarry through the city. Initially, the shots seemed to be a standard narrative technique to suggest the passage of time as the priest “military-crawls” through various city streets. But as the shot sequence progressed, as building faded into building, steered faded into street, the sense of narrative time seemed to slip away. No more did the clergyman seem to be pursuing a linear goal. Rather, he seemed a surreal version of the Baudelarian flâneur in pursuit not of his object of lust, but rather in pursuit of images.


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