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La coquille et le clergyman

Germaine Dulac / FR, 1927 / 41 min.

The first surrealist film ever made is still an icon of avant-garde film. The pioneering Germaine Dulac based her film on a scenario by the wild poet and theatre director Antonin Artaud.

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Germaine Dulac (1882-1942) turned Artaud’s vicious attack on the church into a rhythmically arranged cinematic experiment full of drama, symbolism and slapstick. The film tells the story of a young clergyman who lusts after an officer’s beautiful wife. The film has some remarkable scenes, such as the one that has the clergyman crawling on his knees through the streets to follow the woman. The associative montage cheerfully flouts logic and gives full rein to the unconscious.

Dulac, one of the leading figures in the suffragette movement, was a true pioneer. The filmmaker wanted to liberate cinema from its literary and theatrical confines, holding that genuine film was pure image, edited according to ‘musical’ principles and leading to ‘visual music’.

With live piano accompaniment by Nora Mulder.

Introduction by film journalist Dana Linssen.



Germaine Dulac

Production year




Original title

La coquille et le clergyman


41 min.



Part of

Women Make Film

Last year, Eye presented the film programme Women Make Film, an alternative world history of cinema featuring women in the lead role. Women have played an important role from the early days of cinema, as cinematographers, filmmakers and sometimes also producers.

Learn more
campaign image Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema (Mark Cousins, GB 2019)
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