French Film Theory and Criticism: A History/Anthology, 1907-1939. Volume 2: 1929-1939 (French Film Theory & Criticism)
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These two volumes examine a significant but previously neglected moment in French cultural history: the emergence of French film theory and criticism before the essays of Andr Bazin. Richard Abel has devised an organizational scheme of six nearly symmetrical periods that serve to "bite into" the discursive flow of early French writing on the cinema. Each of the periods is discussed in a separate and extensive historical introduction, with convincing explications of the various concepts current at the time. In each instance, Abel goes on to provide a complementary anthology of selected texts in translation. Amounting to a portable archive, these anthologies make available a rich selection of nearly one hundred and fifty important texts, most of them never before published in English.
montage sequences. Still, the film did not, at least for some, produce a consistently effective conjunction between sound and image. The "Internationale," for instance, according to Georges Robert, was repeated so often it Jost all of its power and significance; and the verbal commentary at several points merely doubled the sense of the images and thus diminished the film's impact. 1 4° This problem may have been resolved in Cine-Liberte's later documentariesEpstein's Les Batisseurs (1938), for
which speech was used either to create a special effect or to explain the action. "99 Although most critics initially wrote off Sous !es toits de Paris, an early admirer of Clair, Marcel Lapierre, found in it an integrated model of silent film language and sound film techniques. Ioo Lapierre especially singled out the way narrative delay and suspense were produced by holding off speech and how the songs functioned within the story instead of simply interrupting it. And on the eve of the premiere
men on the bridge of a ship. Images like blows and cries. Nothing prevents the old beliefs from doing the same, if they could ... Alexandre Arnoux, in responding to an inquiry, writes: "I have no com· plaint against the spirit of propaganda. It's to that spirit that we owe the greatest masterpieces of art and literature. Why not produce them in the domain of the cinema? The only truly sterilizing thing is aestheticism, technique for technique's sake. The great Russians, Eisenstein and Pudovkin,
Who is "they"? The public. Yes, these men are perfectly convinced that the public doesn't like anything that's well written, and they believe that it would be advisable to create a cinematic language, a sort of argot which made the meaning of a sentence accessible to everyone. By virtue of this conviction, the film production companies have ordered either subtitles or dialogues by noted writers; but this holy terror of the public has made them so defensive that these writers have forced us to
story, the spirit in which it needed to be presented. In short, they invented and raised up on high a new technical resource, an arc which they called the Seventh Art. At the moment of this art's blossoming, the talking film was born in America. Throughout the entire world, the public abandoned the silent film. Certainly, the silent defended itself step by step; but its valiant retreat found no position to cling onto anywhere. And it was Charlot, the great, invincible Charlot, who lost the