André Antoine & Léonard Antoine & Albert Capellani – Quatre-vingt-treize aka Ninety-Three (1921)

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“Quatre-vingt-treize (Ninety-three, 1914/1921) by Albert Capellani & André Antoine with Paul Capellani, Henry Krauss and Philippe Garnier

The story takes place in Brittany in 1793 during the Terror. While the Marquess of Lantenac (P. Garnier) joins the Chouans (royalist insurgents), his nephew Gauvain (P. Capellani) becomes a soldier in the Revolutionary army. The third character is the former priest, Cimourdain, who becomes the head of the Revolutionary army. He was the one who opened Gauvain’s eyes to the new ideas by giving him Rousseau to read. In this adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel the destiny of the three characters are heading for collision. The film shooting was stopped abruptly by the beginning of WWI. A few years later, André Antoine took over as Capellani was unavailable to finish it as he was in America. The film didn’t came out until 1921. Obviously, in the space of 7 years, cinema had moved forward dramatically and Quatre-vingt-treize was undoubtedly dated when it came out. Continue reading

André Antoine – L’Hirondelle et la mésange (1920)


André Antoine and the Realist Tradition

After its humiliating defeat in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War, France went through a social revolution. Over the next twenty years, many of its long-standing artistic traditions, such as the classical style of Academy painting, would be cast off in favor of new approaches, such as Impressionism. Live theater was one of the few holdovers from the pre-war era — formulaic pieces spoken by actors in dull declamatory style. But change was coming, voiced by the prophet of naturalism, novelist Emile Zola. “A work must be based in the real . . . on nature,” Zola wrote in Naturalism in the Theater. Zola explained that a playwright must observe facts, with no abstract characters or invented fantasies. Rising to meet this challenge, actor, and theater director André Antoine (1858-1943) founded the Theatre Libre, essentially a community theater, dedicated to showing new work by innovative writers. Antoine also staged works by controversial playwrights from outside of France, such as Ibsen and Chekhov. Under Antoine’s guidance, French theater became serious and legitimate. What is less known about Antoine is that he was also a film director, and a vital link in the development of the ‘realist tradition’ that has so enriched world cinema(…) Continue reading