Calder’s Circus

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 18, 2015

These are wonderful contraptions, invented with tremendous imagination, created with great skill and patience. They’re nicely shot too. The film alternates between illusion and apparatus  Sometimes we see the objects in close up, operating in seeming isolation, or even independence. Then we not only see Calder, his wife, the record player, the audience and all. We see the shaping too. The colours are very beautiful, if you can possibly see a good print or copy of the film copy.

There’s another thing that may not have been too frequently mentioned, not only because of the free ride we sometimes give to the well-endowed, but because of a much more justified sense of tact or respect. Let’s mention it though. Calder appears to be an old coot, and he may very well have been a young coot too. His contrivances are ingenious, sometimes even astonishing. Or, the whole thing is kind of shabby to the point of tawdriness. That’s down to his terrible French/accent, even after all these years, and to the more complicated fact that he doesn’t appear to have any but the most awkward theatrical sense. So I’m celebrating this record of a really estimable, really interesting artist. But I’m also wanting to mention that we don’t always understand or get to the root of what we’re looking at. We should.