Cinema Lumiere - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni > 18:15


Augusto Genina
Piano accompaniment by

Stephen Horne


Sunday 25/06/2017


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Prix de beauté represents a truly successful mix of the tenants of neorealism and elaborate fantasy (note the names of the screenwriters). Despite unrefined post recording and overacting by Georges Charlia, in standard silent movie fashion, the film is a masterpiece. The ever present documentary style, evident in the scenes of weekend beach resorts and the printer’s work, clashes with two departures from the world of film: Genina’s expert directing on one hand, and the attraction that film holds over the pretty girls uncomfortable in their social milieu on the other. The film emphasizes this with its dirtiness and coarseness (skillfully captured by the camera) that seem to affect the very core of the heroine’s being. The temptation to leave this squalid universe, which is more unhealthy than vulgar (and this is the real subtlety of the film), proves too strong for her. The first suicide attempt is prompted by curiosity; the second by an unbearable contrast between two lifestyles. Death is the end product of this choice. Her lover from the beach ends up shooting her during the projection of the screen tests that would launch Lucienne as the new star. There is nothing more beautiful than the dead face of Louise Brooks illuminated by the flickering lights of the projector as the screen tests end with her singing: “Je n’ai qu’un amour, c’est toi…”. A superb ending that closes an exceptional film, above and beyond the legendary and justifiable attraction that the actress may have exerted over the director. Genina asserts himself not only as a precursor to the Italian school, but also as an immensely talented film author. The most remarkable aspect of his work is his ability to integrate all the elements of a screenplay, fashionably, yet treating them with simplicity: the character of the boyfriend as naive and pleasant; the dangers that threaten the aspiring star in the corrupt environment of cinema, which makes genuine love appear more reassuring and pure by contrast. But no, this is not the case! Genina proves it with his stark style: love and jealousy go hand in hand, gnawing away at the banality of day-to-day, which is no longer sublimated by feelings. The extraordinary beauty of light and the skill and intelligence with which it is used add other noteworthy elements, placing this movie among the most important works of the first years of talkies even though it is a silent film!

Paul Vecchiali, L’Encinéclopédie. Cinéastes ‘français’ des années 1930 et leur œuvre, Éditions de l’Œil, Montreuil 2010

Cast and Credits

Sog.: Augusto Genina, René Clair, Bernard Zimmer, Alessandro De Stefani. Scen.: René Clair, Georg W. Pabst. F.: Rudolf Maté, Louis Née. M.: Edmond T. Gréville. Scgf.: Robert Gys. Mus.: Wolfgang Zeller, René Sylviano, Horace Shepherd. Int.: Louise Brooks (Lucienne Garnier), Georges Charlia (André), Jean Bradin (Adolphe de Grabovsky), Augusto Bandini (Antonin), André Nicolle (segretario di redazione), Yves Glad (maragià), Gaston Jacquet (duca de la Tour Chalgrin), Alex Bernard (fotografo), Marc Zilboulsky (manager). Prod.: Sofar. DCP. D.: 113’. Bn.