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French Impressionism. Lecture 10. French Impressionism 1918-1929. Economic Context Weak French film industry after WWI 20% of films exhibited were French; the rest were American and German

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French Impressionism


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    1. French Impressionism Lecture 10

    2. French Impressionism 1918-1929 • Economic Context • Weak French film industry after WWI • 20% of films exhibited were French; the rest were American and German • Fewer than 100 features produced per year compared with over 500 American films and over 200 German films • companies were not vertically integrated (i.e. production was distinct from exhibition and distribution) • Small production companies • First Avant-Garde movement

    3. How and why did the first avant-garde emerge in France when it did? • French film could not compete with Hollywood • The emergence of an alternative film culture • Weekly film magazine • Le Film, begun by Louis Delluc in 1917 • Ciné-pour-tous, 1919 • The ciné-clubs • “The Friends of the Seventh Art” club • First in the world ciné-club • Founded by RicciottoCanudo in 1920 • Alternative film circuit • Jean Tedesco established Vieux Colombier (specialist art film theater) in 1924

    4. French Narrative Avant-garde (a.k.a. French Impressionism): 1918-1929 • Between nineteenth the century Realism (external reality) and Modernism (material became the subject of art) • French narrative avant-garde has been under studied by scholars • Modernist non-narrative films • Dada • Ex: Ballet Mécanique(Fernand Léger, 1924) • Surrealism • Ex: Un ChienAndalou (Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, 1928)

    5. Fernand Léger: “Mechanical Elements” 1924

    6. Fernand Léger: “The City” 1919

    7. Fernand Léger: “CharlotCubiste” 1924

    8. French Impressionism in PaintingClaude Monet “Impression: Sunrise” 1872

    9. French Narrative Avant-garde (a.k.a. French Impressionism): 1918-1929 • Termed “Impressionism” by Germaine Dulac: • “Impressionism made us see nature and its objects as elements concurrent with the action. A shadow, a light, a flower had, above all, a meaning, as a reflection of a mental state or an emotional situation, then, little by little, became a necessary complement, having an intrinsic value of its own. We experimented with making things move through the science of optics, tried to transform figures according to the logic of a state of mind.” (quoted in Abel, 1987) • “psychological cinema”: concerned with subjectivity and subjective experience • Shift in attention from action and narration to description and representation; from temporal progression to spatial composition or mise-en-scene. (from Abel, 1988) • Marcel L’Herbier: “None of us—Dulac, Epstein, Delluc or myself—had the same aesthetic outlook. But we had a common interest, which was the investigation of that famous cinematic specificity. On this we agreed completely.” (quoted in Abel 1987, 290)

    10. The Shot

    11. Three Phases • 1) 1918-1922 pictorialist • 2) 1922-1925/1926 (most unified) • Rapid cutting as in La Roue (Gance, 1922) • Ex: The Smiling Madame Beudet • 3) 1926-1929 • Stylistic diffusion • Ex: Menilmontant and The Fall of the House of Usher

    12. French Impressionism: Mode of representation • On subject matter or referentiality • Standard: literary text adapted for screen esp. melodrama, naturalist novel, historical epic • Narrative avant-garde: • Substituted reality for literature • Louis Delluc: “So you have nothing to say? Walk about, look around you, really look. The street, the subway, the streetcars, the shops are filled with a thousand dramas, a thousand good and original stories.” (quoted in Abel 1988) • Auteur vs. metteur-en-scene • Photogénie (from a collection with the same title, written by Louis Delluc in 1920)