Tambours du jugement premier (Drums of the First Judgment)

François Dufrêne

Paris, France, 1930 - 1982
  • Date: 
    1952 (register from 1973)
  • Edition/serial number: 
  • Media description: 
    Sound film with no screen (magnetic tape transferred to Hard disk drive and CD). Register produced in 1973 in France Culture under the initiative of Ralph Rumney, featuring the voices of Ginette Dufrêne, Marie-Françoise Lafosse, François Dufrêne, Jacques Spacagna and Gil J Wolman
  • Duration: 
    72 min.
  • Sound: 
  • Category: 
  • Entry date: 
  • Register number: 

An appeal for a new concept of the screen was a constant in all Lettrist writings on cinema. The way they saw it, the screen as a flat, inert surface reflecting a faded photographic image, needed to be replaced. François Dufrêne, who was connected to the movement, did away with the image completely and made a “Sound Film”, the first example of an imaginary film which used neither screen nor celluloid. His first ideas were of images showing compositions of abstract forms and everyday objects, but he ended up jettisoning them all in an act of negation of cinema itself and its materiality. The film consists of a series of sung aphorisms and Lettrist poems, a compendium of almost all the phonetic works he had produced up to that point. Dufrêne is a reference point for (not only Lettrist) sound poetry that goes beyond Dada’s phonetic experiments, and his film explores the volumetric nature and corporeal conception of sound. To achieve this, he draws on Antonin Artaud’s theatrical experience and focuses his inquiry on the scream, and the body’s phonetic capacity. Tambours du jugement premier (Drums of the First Judgment) was not presented as a film-projection but as an improvisation with four actors in four corners of a movie theatre. In the present recording, quadraphonic sound surrounds the viewer to recreate that physical experience.

Lola Hinojosa