Cinema Lumiere - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni > 09:00


Abel Gance
Introduced by

Nicola Mazzanti (Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique)

Piano accompaniment by

Maud Nelissen


Monday 26/06/2017


Original version with simultaneous translation through headphones


Film Notes

Here, the coordinated result of two efforts, the interpreters’ and the director’s, appears in its full beauty. It is thanks to that effort that we forget that Gémier, with his narrow mouth and his light, narrow eyes, is utterly unphotogenic. The screen, cruel to fading beauty, is also capable of betraying the best talents. Some hand has given Gémier help here, turning his face toward the most favorable light, using close-ups not as one would play with binoculars but to underline a paternal smile, a wrinkle of masculine sorrow. It is the same hand that groups, brings closer, disentangles the three actors of the intimate drama: the husband, the suspected wife (Emmy Lynn), and the child. Gémier – I should say the husband – has been reproached for the inflexible rigor with which he separates, in order to make her confess, a young mother from her child. The film gains, all the same, from Emmy Lynn’s lovely tears and from the child’s scenes, which one can hardly resist. And I applaud a new use of the ‘still life’, the touching use of props, as in the fall of the veil on the floor. We will eventually succeed in creating significant decor, sets full of undertones, an agreeable anxiety suggested, at the right moment, by a shot of a scene without actors. An empty chair at the bottom of the garden, a rose abandoned on a deserted table.
[…] Agree with me, since I take so much pleasure in it, that the action progresses in scenes lit with a rare richness – gilded whites, sooty and profound blacks. And my memory also retains certain somber close-ups in which the speaking, suppliant head of Emmy Lynn floats like a decapitated flower.
Colette, “Le Film”, 4 June 1917, transl. in Colette at the Movies: Criticisms and Screenplays, edited by Alain and Odette Virmaux, Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., New York 1980

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Abel Gance. F.: Léonce-Henri Burel. Int.: Emmy Lynn (Marthe Berliac), Firmin Gémier (Gilles Berliac), Armand Tallier (Claude Rolland), Anthony Gildès (Jean), Paul Vermoyal (Dormis). Prod.: Le Film d’Art. 35mm. L: 1437 m. D.: 70’ a 18 f/s. Tinted and toned


Film Notes

The title of this short is misleading. The grace and agility of the little ballerinas filmed in a natural setting in spring are, thanks to the use of slow motion, turned into the object of a scrupulous scientific study of motion. Each shot corresponds either to a dance step or to a different dance. Each scene was shot first at a standard speed (18 fps) and then re-recorded at a very high speed. Was this the product of the first prototype of the Pathé camera able to shoot up to 120 frames per second, which went on sale in 1920? It is possible. The material used by the scientist Jean Comandon, for whom Pathé purpose built a studio in Vincennes, could have been the basis for the realisation of these brief scenes. Moreover, Comandon was assisted by Émile Labrély, an expert in high-speed cameras. But the present copy lacks the original intertitles and so the mystery surrounding the film remains.

Céline Ruivo

Cast and Credits

Prod.: Pathé Frères 35mm. L.: 108 m (incompleto, l. orig.: 145 m). D.: 5’ a 19 f/s. Bn