The silent documentary Portrait of a Young Man (In Three Movements) (1931) by American photographer and documentary filmmaker Henwar Rodakiewicz (1903-1976) was filmed between 1925 and 1931 in Bermuda, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and British Columbia.
This three-part film portrays a young man through images of his three passions: the tide, machines and sunlight. Rodakiewicz chose for a structure in three parts, an analogy with the musical structure of a symphony. The film begins and ends with the upcoming tide. The black-and-white images of the waves feel so intensely real, that you can almost smell and feel them.
In Portrait of a Young Man, Rodakiewicz explores how to capture movement. To do so, he uses various techniques, including slow motion, geometry, repetition, lighting, abstraction and rhythm. Like A Page of Madness (1926), Portrait of a Young Man goes beyond naturalism: it leads the viewer to a place of pure expression. The end result is a meditative study of a young Rodakiewicz: he wanted to capture experiences with attention to details.
For just under an hour, all conventions of traditional cinema are cast aside: the whirlwind of constant movement within the film frame places the viewer at the centre. The effect is mesmerising.
United States of America