André Calmettes, Charles Le Bargy

T. it.: L’assassinio del Duca di Guisa; Prod.: Pathé Frères 35mm. D.: 11′ a 16 f/s. Musica originale di Camille Saint-Saens

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

The last of the great French romantic composers, the career of Camille Saint-Saëns has touched every aspect of composition: from chamber music to symphonies to piano concertos to ballet music to opera. It is therefore not surprising that Saint-Saëns would extend his mastery to film music. The score is fluid and ornate and meets every expectation of a Saint-Saëns score would bring.

Timothy Brock

The screenplay by Henri Lavedan (of the Académie Française) published in “l’Illustration” was a story fit for images, and the acting of Le Bargy (of the Comédie Française) was intelligent even if exaggerated. Bertin’s set designs reproduced the historical rooms of Blois. Saint-Säens’s score was the first written for a film. (…) In 1922 Griffith said to Robert Florey: “My best film memory? The sensation I felt about ten years ago while watching a wonderful movie, Assassinat du Duc de Guise. It was a true revelation for me. Ah! If your compatriots had continued to make movies of this kind (of course, while also keeping abreast of new methods), today they would be the best filmmakers in the world.’ Esteem that may seem exaggerated if Carl Dreyer had not also expressed his admiration of the film in 1927.
The revolution created by this work was accurately analyzed by Victorin Jasset in a 1911 text: “All the rules observed until then proved to be vain. Actors performed without running, they were immobile, creating a more intense effect, even if some technical but understandable flaws are apparent (…), Le Bargy built a character rich in details, which alone was a revelation. A beginner brought new principles, and his method was more appropriate. Aside from a few technical rules, there was nothing left of the old school.” The success of Duc de Guise determined the onset of the ‘film d’art’ in the United States, all over Europe and especially in Italy.

Georges Sadoul, Dictionnaire du cinéma, Éditions du Seuil, Paris, 1965

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