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Fernand Leger and Dudley Murphy


The concept of production refers to the transformation of raw materials in to finished products. These raw materials can be in human or material form. This also applies to film production which uses human raw materials to produce good films or movies. The primary aim of a movie producer and the entire production crew is to produce movies that will win awards and top charts. (Albert 2001).

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The history of film making acknowledges two great people whose contribution to the film and art world can not be quantified. Fernand Leger and Dudley Murphy spent their lives dedicated to their heart desires of film making and paintings respectively (Emmanuel 2009).

Life and work history of Fernand Leger

Fernand Joseph Henri Leger was born February 4th, 1881 in Argetan orne, Basse-Normandie. From 1897-1899, he trained as an architect and he moved to France in 1900. From 1902-1903 he served in the military after which he enrolled in to the school of Decorative Arts (British film institute 2010). Fernand Leger started painting seriously at the age of 25 with his Le Jardin de ma mere (my mother’s Garden) in 1905. However, his at work took a new dimension when he saw the Cezanne in 1907 at the salon d’ Automne. (Walter 1995).

In 1910, Fernand Leger alongside various other artists like Albert Gleizes, Marie Laurencin, Francis picaba, Jacques Villon and Henri Le Fauconnier collectively formed the puteaux group which was also known as section d’ or. (Golden section). During this period, Leger was greatly influenced by Italian futurism and his paintings from 1910-1914 were mostly abstract. In August 1914, Leger was mobilized for service in the French Army and his World War 1 experience greatly affected his works. He spent two years in the military and almost lost his life through a mustard gas attack by German Troops. After his time in the military, his sketches were of airplanes fellow soldiers and artillery pieces (Leger Fernand & Murphy Dudley 1924).

By 1917, the beginning of Leger’s “mechanical period” started with the painting of the card players. Later in 1918, his first disk series paintings were produced and he married Jeanne-Augustine Lohy in 1919 (Clarion 1999). Leger’s love and attraction to cinema led to his designing the set for the laboratory scene in the “The human one” a film by Marcel Litterbier. During this time, it is believed Fernand Leger was contemplating leaving painting for film making. In 1924, Leger collaborated with Dudley Murphy, Man Ray and George Antheil to produce and direct the film, “Ballet mecanique” (Mechanical Ballet).

Leger decorated Nelson Rockefeller’s apartment when he visited New York City in 1931 and New York City’s museum of Art did an exhibition of his work in 1935. Leger’s wife died in 1950 and he married Khodossevitch Nadia in 1952. Later that same year, pair of his mural painting was installed in the United Nations headquarters in New York.

In 1955 Fernand Leger died and was buried in Gif sur-Yvette, Essonne. The museum Fernand Leger was opened in Biot, Alpes-maritimes France in 1960. (Australian film Institute 1958)

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Life and work history of Dudley Murphy

Dudley Murphy born in 1897 was one of Hollywood’s most intriguing film makers. During the 1920’s through to the 1940s, Dudley was amongst Hollywood’s first independent film makers in the twentieth-century cinema. (Almay 2003)

He moved from Greenwich Village, London, Paris, and Hollywood. Murphy was an early independent film maker who searched alternatives not only to the film making system but also to Hollywood itself. He had a different perspective about cinema and tried setting production units in Mexico, London, and New York City. Aside working with Fernand Leger to produce Ballet Mecanique, he directed Bessie smith’s sole film appearance and also directed Paul Robeson’s “Emperor Jones”. Furthermore, Murphy helped in shaping Tod Browning’s Dracula (Mike 1992).

Through out Murphy’s career, he tried to make films that stood out as commercial hits and works of art. This drive led to Murphy been one of Hollywood’s earliest directors to feature black actors in leading roles. At different times he worked with different people like Ray Man, Duke Ellington, Ezra Pound and Charlie Chaplin.

In a quiet manner, Murphy was a catalyst whose life at every turn was intertwined between film and art. He died in 1968. (Alex 1998)


Albert, T (2001) History of film and Movie production: The study of filming, Oxford: Blackwell.

Almay, L (2003) Depths of Cinematography: overview of production, Cambridge: Mantes.

Alex, L (1998) Facts of film and video production: Guide to standard concepts, Princeton: Princeton.

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Australian film Institute, (1958). Research collection: Australian film institute. Web.

British film institute, (2010). Research films: British film institute. Web.

Clarion, S (1999) Movies and Films: Concept of production in movies and films, Harvard: Maxwell.

Emmanuel, M (2009) Criticism about Hollywood movies: Dawn of new movies, Cambridge: Jacksons.

Leger F and Murphy D (1924) Ballet Mecanique: Unseen Cinema: Princeton.

Mike, J (1992) History of independent film production: Basic concepts. Oxford: Maxwell.

Walter, J (1995) Concepts of film and video production: How to perform. New York. Blackwell.

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