Jean Epstein

Sog.: da The Fall of the House of Usher (1839) e altri racconti di Edgar Allan Poe. Scen.: Jean Epstein. F.: Georges Lucas, Jean Lucas. Scgf.: Pierre Kéfer. Aiuto regia: Luis Buñuel. Int.: Marguerite Gance (Madeleine Usher), Jean Debucourt (Roderick Usher), Charles Lamy (l’amico), Fournez-Goffard (il medico), Luc Dartagnan (il domestico), Pierre Hot, Halma. Prod.: Les Films Jean Epstein. 35mm. L.: 1297 m. 20 f/s. Imbibito / Tinted

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

La Chute de la maison Usher is a rare example of a feature film that deploys the experimental film practices of its time. It is a film about time, where rapid acceleration and trance-like deceleration are just two of the numerous camera tricks Jean Epstein uses to create an eerie atmosphere. At the climax, the viewer may get the feeling that time has stopped completely and for ever and that he is experiencing a dream rather than watching a film. A rare experiment.

A complete nitrate print of La Chute de la maison Usher was discovered in the Komiya collection. Along with Gardiens de phare (Jean Grémillon, 1929) – the gorgeous print from the Komiya collection was screened in Bologna in 2012, and in Pordenone in 1992 and 2019 – it is one of the last films to have entered the collection.

Copies of La Chute de la maison Usher can be found in many archives in the world. There are different versions, a 24fps version with added sound made by Marie Epstein in 1963, a 35mm reconstruction carried out from the original camera negative and three original prints, and also this safety print from the Komiya collection, a duplicate on colour film stock of the original print with English intertitles distributed in Japan.

The question of identifying the original is always a difficult one – especially in film, where every print and every restoration has unique characteristics and qualities. Knowing different prints of the same work is important and every print should be considered as an original. For this reason we decided to screen La Chute de la maison Usher, a widely known work existing in Europe in several prints. This is a fabulous print with unique characteristics not be found in any other version.

In general we are advocates of always screening silent films with musical accompaniment. But in La Chute de la maison Usher Epstein works musically with images in such a sublime way, that it is worth experiencing this ‘musicality in images’ – at least one time – without added live music. Every one of its images is full of sound.

Karl Wratschko

Copy From

N. 6081