1911-1920

Sidney Drew – A Florida Enchantment (1914)

Quote:
Early gender-bending silent comedy culled from the long out of print Origins of Film boxset. A must for anyone interested in gender and sexuality in film.

Synopsis:
Lillian Travers, a New York heiress, pops down to Florida to surprise her fiance, Fred Cassadene, the house doctor at a prominent Saint Augustine hotel. The surprise, however, is Lillian’s when she finds Fred in a series of compromising situations with a certain wealthy widow staying there. When she can take no more, Lillian discovers a box forgotten at an old curiosity shop in which lies a hundred year old secret: a vial of four rare and exotic African seeds that promises to transform whoever swallows one from a woman to a man or vice versa. Read More »

Abel Gance – La Dixième Symphonie AKA The Tenth Symphony (1918)

Synopsis:
A young girl, rich and orphaned (Emmy LYNN), harrassed by a deprived adventurer (Jean TOULOUT) and by his sister, kills the latter. The adventurer blackmails her. A year later, the girl marries a famous composer, an admiror of Beethoven (Séverin MARS). The adventurer starts courting, secretly, the composer’s daughter (Elizabeth NIZAN) – daughter by a previous marriage. The composer, on finding out that a sordid relationship had existed, in the past, between his wife and the adventurer wrote, on the occasion of his daughter’s engagement, a symphony describing his unhappiness. The composer hereby defines the theme of the 10th symphony: “At the feet of his master Beethoven , a musician distraught by the treason of women, tries to forget and express his sadness”. Read More »

Marcel L’Herbier – Rose-France (1918)

Quote:
A few months later, (L’Herbier) directed Rose-France, an excessive and disturbing poem, filmed in the form of a weird symbolist collage. In this movie he started to experiment with special effects and celebrated the young actor Jaque Catelain, an expressive beauty, a true Dorian Gray, whose presence would mark almost all of his silent films. His mastery of the medium earned him a two-year contract at the Gaumont Film Company. Read More »

Marcel L’Herbier – Le Bercail (1919)

Adapted from Bernstein’s Le Bercail, the film follows Evelyne’s attempt to reconnect with her family after a traumatizing experience with a young writer.

Evelyne Landry, intellectuelle et passionnée, a épousé un homme bon et droit, mais fermé à tout ce qui intéresse la jeune femme. Jacques, écrivain secondaire et arriviste, la persuade de son amour. Elle s’enfuit avec lui abandonnant mari et enfant. Sa liaison ne lui apporte que déception, elle rompt avec Jacques et, repentante, demande son pardon à Etienne Landry qui finit par le lui accorder. Read More »

Léonce Perret – L’enfant de Paris (1913)

A film shot as a serial, searching for a real cinematographic form, far from its fairy origins. Beautiful trip to Nice where you can feel Perret’s joy to film. The walk of Bosco-Maurice Lagrénée in the city and on the Promenade des Anglais, the triumph of the return of Captain de Valen-Emile Keppens from the colonies, the poor orphan Marie-Laure, every thing recalls the poetic realism that will be in fashion later in the French cinema, even if there is a reactionnary background in L’enfant de Paris. It makes us think of Duvivier, Carné, Vigo already… Read More »

Charles Chaplin – Those Love Pangs (1914)

Quote:
Charlie and a rival vie for the favors of their landlady. In the park they each fall for different girls, though Charlie’s has a male friend already. Charlie considers suicide, is talked out of it by a policeman, and later throws his girl’s friend into the lake. Frightened, the girls go off to a movie. Charlie shows up there and flirts with them. Later both rivals substitute themselves for the girls and attack the unwitting Charlie. In an audience-wide fight, Charlie is tossed from the screen. Read More »

Louis Feuillade – Tih Minh (1918)

Jacques d’Athys, a French adventurer, returns to his home in Nice after an expedition to Indochina where he has picked up a Eurasian fiancée and a book that, unbeknownst to him, contains a coded message revealing the whereabouts of both secret treasures and sensitive government intelligence. This makes him the target of foreign spies, including a Marquise of mysterious Latin origin, a Hindu hypnotist and an evil German doctor, who will stop at nothing to obtain the book. Read More »