Cinema Lumiere - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni > 18:15


André Antoine
Introduced by

Hervé Pichard (La Cinémathèque française) and Arianna Turci (Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique)

Piano accompaniment by

Stephen Horne, drums accompaniment by Frank Bockius


Wednesday 29/06/2022


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

The film was restored in 4K in 2022 by La Cinémathèque française, in collaboration with Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique with the support of Hiventy. The restoration work was carried out using an incomplete nitrate print preserved at the Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique and the original negative preserved in the Cinémathèque française collections. Most of the intertitles were rewritten based on a script held at Bibliothèque nationale de France. The typography was reconstructed in line with a copy of L’Arlésienne, another of André Antoine’s films.

André Antoine is one of those filmmakers who contributed to developing the grammar of silent cinema with a very particular approach, which was to get as close as possible to filming that which is real, by avoiding studios and grappling with reality and using the best in natural décor. The cinematic language he developed and constructed during his short filmmaking career offers up authentic and powerful images. Following in the footsteps of naturalism and his ideological hero Émile Zola, whose social engagement he also admired, in 1921 Antoine made an adaptation of La Terre, a novel he had previously adapted for the stage. Over several years, the filmmaker shot images through the changing seasons, images that metamorphosed over time into the countryside of Romilly-sur-Aigre. In this way, he strove to produce his own brand of realism and freedom of tone. Antoine’s direction exposes the living conditions of rural people in a way that is brutal and raw. He highlights the vital importance of this land, which is the object of greed and disputes. Obsessed by the visceral need to possess it, everyone fights over it at the cost of enormous sacrifices. The critics of the day were full of praise when the film was released. Congratulations were extended to the actors for their fitting portrayal and to Antoine for having taken on the challenge of adapting such a complex work of literature. On 3 September 1921, Paul de la Borie wrote in the review “La Cinématographie française”, that this adaptation, which had stirred up suspicion of the government, “displays a touch of diplomacy, discretion and tact that should be lauded above all else.”

Arianna Turci, Noémie Jean and Hervé Pichard

Cast and Credits

Sog.: from the novel of the same name (1887) by Émile Zola. Scen.: André Antoine. F.: Paul Castanet, Léonce Henry Burel, René Gaveau. Ass. regia: Julien Duvivier. Int.: Germaine Rouer (Françoise), Armand Bour (papà Fouan), René Alexandre (Jean), Jean Hervé (Louis ‘Buteau’), Berthe Bovy (la Trouille), Jeanne Briey (Lise), Jeanne Grumbach (‘la Cognette’), René Hiéronimus (‘Nénesse’). Prod.: Société Cinématographique des Auteurs et Gens de Lettres. DCP. D.: 92’. Bn.