Cinema Lumiere - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni > 17:00


Jean Epstein
Introduced by

Emilie Cauquy and Samantha Leroy

Score by Roland de Candé recorded onto the copy restored Marie Epstein in 1982


Saturday 25/06/2016


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

La Chute de la maison Usher, inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s themes, was produced and made by Jean Epstein in 1928 on nitrate print. In 1963, Marie Epstein made a duplicate on acetate, changing its speed from 18 to 24 frames per second, the pace of sound film. In 1979, for the picture’s broadcast on the French film television program Cinéma de minuit, Marie Epstein added sound to the film, commissioning Roland de Candé to make synchronized music, and produced a sonorized negative duplicate and various prints thereafter for distribution.

Emilie Cauquy

When French television asked me for La Chute de la maison Usher for broadcasting it as part of the program Cinéma de minuit, I immediately thought of adding sound to it. Something unconditional lovers of the silence of silent films instantly criticized me for. I was almost accused of sacrilege, and I certainly would have been had I disturbed that silence with a single word. It should not be forgotten, however, that silent films were originally screened with musical accompaniment, whether an orchestra in first-run movie theaters, a violin and piano duo or even just a modest mechanical player piano in a small neighborhood cinema. Capable of being good or bad, the music that accompanied the picture could destroy it or make it sublime. The important thing was making the right choice. Just before his death, Jean Epstein intended to make a sound version of La Chute de la maison Usher, which never made it out of the planning stage. The image is constantly accompanied by a musical sound atmosphere that marries music with the noises of nature: the soft blowing of wind, the murmur of water and leaves, drops of rain, the creaking of wood, natural sounds made unusual and interrupted by silences that consequentially express their full dramatic value. They were only indications without further clarification. He did not complete the project, which he left behind unfinished in 1953. There wasn’t anything left for me to do but add sound to the silent version he had shot in 1928. First, original rhythm of the images had to be respected, especially important due to the dramatic slow motion, one of the film’s essential components. So the silent film’s pace of 18 frames per second had to be transposed into the sound projection pace of 24 frames per second using a delicate technical procedure that was completely successful, something that is rather rare. In the end, I asked Roland de Candé to create a musical score, and he composed it completely in tune with the spirit and core of the film.

Marie Epstein

Cast and Credits

Sog.: da La caduta della casa degli Usher e altri racconti di Edgar Allan Poe. Scen.: Jean Epstein. F.: Georges 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), Halma, Pierre Hot. Prod.: Les Films Jean Epstein. 35mm. L.: 1806 m. D.: 65’ a 24 f/s. Bn.