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21 days


France, 1960

Production : INA


Commenting on an exhibition of the painter Robert Lapoujade, Jean-Paul Sartre wrote: “Robert Lapoujade will give to the crowds a moving matter rigorously united within the dispersion, the explosive unification of the crowds.” This film, the painter’s first cinematographic attempt, offers us a symbolic and abstract approach. By the use of animated powders and realistic photographs, the author makes sensitive “the innumerable and multiple adventure of the man”. Laughter and pain, love and death, suffering and joy form the framework of this unity of the crowds. The music, by means of ancient rhythms and modern sound documents, makes the wild force of the crowds even more incredible.

A word from Tënk

Crowds is one of the first films made by French painter, filmmaker, and writer Robert Lapoujade, during a period where he collaborated with the research service of Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française, which was helmed by engineer, composer, and theorist Pierre Schaeffer. Notably, the film captured the artist’s political positions and hostility towards the war in Algeria.


Above all, Crowds is an outpouring of archival footage and images created from scratch: a heterogenous stream, an excess of image after image, at first appearing to have no reference except to the stream itself, no other poetic purpose than the flashing it produces, no intention of moving crowds, but rather to conduct a work on movement and what it translates to thematically.


The film braids together, through its vertiginous movement, sequences with animated materials (powders and peppercorns), graphic and pictorial notes, target images or feeds and audio pieces.


Moving beyond the construction of shots and its role of “coagulating into history” (as Lapoujade so brilliantly put it), the filmmaker is on a quest for new meaning and another reality that would favour these fragmented units, referred to here as “material stories,” “plastic stories,” “image stories,” or even “sonic stories,” all organized around an amplified narration.



Patrick Barrès
Professor at the University Toulouse Jean-Jaurès



Item 1 of 4
Item 1 of 4

Item 1 of 4