Download Abel Gance and the End of Silent Cinema: Sounding out Utopia by Paul Cuff PDF

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By Paul Cuff

This booklet explores the construction and destruction of Abel Gance’s so much formidable movie undertaking, and seeks to provide an explanation for why his meteoric occupation was once so approximately extinguished on the finish of silent cinema. via 1929, Gance used to be France’s most renowned director. Acclaimed for his technical innovation and visible mind's eye, he used to be additionally admonished for the over the top size and fee of his productions. Gance’s first sound movie, La Fin du Monde (1930), used to be a severe and monetary catastrophe so nice that it approximately destroyed his occupation. yet what went flawed? Gance claimed it was once advertisement sabotage while critics blamed the director’s inexperience with new know-how. Neither excuse is passable. in response to large archival study, this booklet re-investigates the cultural history and aesthetic results of Gance’s transition from silent filmmaking to sound cinema. La Fin du Monde is printed to be just one portion of a rare cultural venture to rework cinema right into a common faith and propagate its strength during the League of countries. From unfinished movies to unrealized social revolutions, the reader is given a desirable journey of Gance’s misplaced cinematic utopia.

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Extra resources for Abel Gance and the End of Silent Cinema: Sounding out Utopia

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Though the context of their suffering is an intensely personal melodrama, Elie and Sisif are nevertheless symptomatic of Gance’s interest in archetypal situations. The filmmaker’s concern with overcoming the weight of history can be felt in the fact that both characters struggle to break free of their destructive inclinations and guilty pasts—a psychological hangover visible in European culture after 1918. Gance was not alone in recycling material from myth to express contemporary conflict. A prominent pacifist society compared the labour of its cause to that of Sisyphus rolling his eternal rock (La Paix par le droit 1920: 3)—even in 1920, lasting peace IN THE SHADOW OF WAR 17 seemed a distant utopia that demanded more effort to reach than the world was willing to give.

Certainly, Diaz’s accusation becomes rather clearer if one interprets the word ‘Sun’ to be a substitute for ‘God’. Throughout the original script and in his contemporary correspondence, Gance refers to Diaz’s central poem as the ‘Hymn to the Sun’. This overtly religious term was changed to the rather less controversial ‘Ode to the Sun’—perhaps a conscious decision to avoid inevitable censorship. As I shall discuss in Chaps. 3 and 4, Gance invested light with tremendous literal and metaphorical importance.

Unfortunately, no print of the UK version of J’ACCUSE appears to survive. Therefore, it is impossible to know whether Gance’s requests for textual alterations were carried out. 3. Gravone later recalled that the American actress Emmy Lynn had been signed for ECCE HOMO (1923: 16). Lynn was the wife of French director Henry Roussell and had starred in two films Gance made in 1917: MATER DOLOROSA and LA DIXIÈME SYMPHONIE. CHAPTER 2 Towards Utopia ART AS RELIGION The Great War had a profound impact on the way in which intellectuals viewed established cultural ideologies.

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