The Crazy Ray
[Paris qui dort]
Exploring, perhaps even establishing, some of the themes of science fiction film, René Clair’s Paris endormi (1923) tells a tale of a mysterious morning when the night watchman at the top of the Eiffel Tower discovers that the world is frozen in time. People are found everywhere locked in the positions they were in at 3:25 AM.
The watchman discovers a small group of people who have escaped the effect, who flew in a plane that landed at 4:00 AM. Soon, they help themselves to food, alcohol, jewelry, money and more, as their morals begin to collapse. The group of men soon become jealous and protective of the sole, animate woman, two of them fighting bitterly at the top of the Eiffel Tower.
Then, they receive a radio message from the city. They discover that the source of the crazy effect is a scientist whose experiment has gone awry. On suggestion that the scientist wake everyone, and a night of calculations later, all is right with the world.
Perhaps groundbreaking in concept in its contemporary context, Clair’s film is oddly fun and yet pedestrian in execution to modern eyes in its commonly-available abbreviated form. Our opinion is reserved until such time we can view the full-length version of the film. — Carl Bennett
2000 DVD edition
The Bells (1926), color-toned black & white, 68 minutes, not rated,
with The Crazy Ray (1923), color-toned black & white, 19 minutes, not rated.
Film Preservation Associates, distributed by Image Entertainment,
ID5832DSDVD, UPC 0-14381-58322-9.
Windowboxed 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 1.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 5 chapter stops, snapper DVD case, $24.99.
Release date: 28 March 2000.
Country of origin: USA
This abbreviated presentation of René Clair’s science fiction feature film reveals a slightly-windowboxed video transfer of a very-good to excellent 35mm American release print (under the title At 3:25, noted as “edited” by Morrie Ryskind). The print is uneven, with some darker shots and a couple contrasty shots. The video transfer of the at-times worn source material stands up well on high-definition equipment and will definitely look great on standard NTSC sets.
The film is accompanied by what appears to be a pieced-together orchestral music score from varied sources.
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.