Carl Theodor Dreyer – Der var engang AKA Once Upon a Time (1922)

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Quote:
Once upon a Time (a.k.a. Der var engang) is an atypical film for the Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer, a departure from his more usual realistic dramas into the realm of fantasy and fairytale. It was the only film that Dreyer made for the independent film producer Sophus Madsen, a Danish film enthusiast whose only other production was Laurids Skands’s all but forgotten Livets Karneval (1923). The film was adapted from a play by Holger Drachmann, written in 1885, that was itself based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale Svinedrengen and Shakespeare’s The Taming of the
Shrew. From the outset, this was conceived as a lavish production, but it soon ran into financial difficulties. Even though some scenes were cut – including an extravagant market sequence – the film still ended up with a 150 per cent overspend on its 90,000
kroner budget. Continue reading

Marcel L’Herbier – Eldorado (1921)

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Synopsis wrote:
The tale of a dancer rejected by her lover and forced to endure other indignities in order to support her child is shown in avant garde style and traditional narrative techniques, with camera angles and architectural design defining the emotional states of the characters. Featuring Eve Francis, Jaque Catelain and Marcelle Pradot. Continue reading

Henri Desfontaines – Belphégor (1927)

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Restored by “La Cinémathèque Française” in 1988

Plot :
A ghost has been seen during the night in the Louvre Museum (Paris), and a guard is found dying near the statue of Belphégor, a god of Moabites and Ammonites. A young reporter, Jacques Bellegarde, begin to investigate but soon he’s being threatened by some letters sent by … Belphégor

It’s a silent mini-serie in 4 parts, after a popular book of Arthur Bernède, in the style of the 1st Fantômas (in fact, René Navarre was Fantômas in the Louis Feuillade’s movie)

Nearly 40 years later, a remake of this serie was made with Juliette Greco and met a great success in France, and is much better known that this one. Continue reading

Jean Epstein – Coeur fidèle AKA The Faithful Heart (1923)

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Quote:
In Coeur Fidèle’s accompanying 44-page booklet, Jean Epstein, at a 1924 address, argues his film as “romantic” rather than”realist”, the label with which Italian poet Ricciotto Canudo assigned it before his death. The truth is that Epstein’s largely unknown masterpiece provides a fascinating agreement of the two styles, oscillating with seamless precision between reverie and sincerity. Marie (Gina Manès) is in love with Jean (Léon Mathot), a kind-hearted man who works on the Marseille docklands, but Marie’s adoptive parents want to marry her off to the obnoxious and unemployed drunk Petit Paul (Edmond Van Daële), and the scene is set for a sensational melodrama to unfold. Continue reading

Luis Buñuel – Un chien andalou (1929)

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In a dream-like sequence, a woman’s eye is slit open–juxtaposed with a similarly shaped cloud obsucuring the moon moving in the same direction as the knife through the eye–to grab the audience’s attention. The French phrase “ants in the palms,” (which means that someone is “itching” to kill) is shown literally. A man pulls a piano along with the tablets of the Ten Commandments and a dead donkey towards the woman he’s itching to kill. A shot of differently striped objects is repeatedly used to connect scenes. Written by Ryan T. Casey Continue reading

Louis Feuillade – Pierrot, Pierrette (1924)

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Pierrot et Pierrette, brother and sister, live in a caravan with their grandfather, the former ringmaster of a circus. To earn a living, they sing in the streets, and their lives are happy. But a charitable lady interferes, determined to put grandfather in an old folks’ home and the children in an orphanage. Pierrot and Pierrette run away, and fall into the hands of a travelling vendor who wants to use them for burglaries. Continue reading