We owe two attempts to transfer the musical Arabesques of Claude Debussy into movie pictures to the filmmakers and theorists of experimental cinema Germaine Dulac and Jean Mitry. The first attempt, by Dulac, dates back to 1928 and has its roots in the radical research of the cinematographic avant-garde of this period, which focused on the sole expressive potential of picture without resorting to any literary or dramatic narrative. Those years, just before the end of the silent movie era, are characterised by encounters between cinema and other areas of artistic creation, notably painting, architecture and naturally music. Not in the hope of achieving the effective coexistence of sound and image but more with the idea of using cinema as a way of expressing the spirit of musical emotion. More than twenty years later, in 1951, Jean Mitry – relaying on the original experiment by Dulac and yet taking into account the various experiments undertaken by the French and foreign avant-gardes since the twenties – in his turn attempts to explore the expressive power of the alliance of music and pictures, with the technical opportunity of actually considering synchronisation, pushing forward the dream of cinema viewed as a new meeting point between "music and concrete reality".
Starting from the original texts by Dulac and Mitry and proposing our own analysis of the films, we aim to create a kind of dialogue between these two experimental opuses, to explore their theoretical foundations (with their similarities and singularities) in the context of their creation, and finally to try to understand how they attempt to convey the emotional and rhythmic qualities of Debussy's Arabesques.