La Châtelaine du Liban (LITT.GENERALE) (French Edition)

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[La francophonie au Liban]

Although there is some truth to that claim, the French position had been weakening before the war began. By the end of , in both numbers of film titles and total footage in distribution, the French were losing ground to the Americans on their own home territory. The war simply accelerated a process already well under way, and its most devastating effect, other than cutting off production, was severely to restrict the export market on which the French companies so heavily depended for distributing their films.

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Furthermore, they faced an 'invasion' of imported American and Italian films which quickly filled French cinemas, one of the few entertainment venues to reopen and operate on a regular basis. And many of those films were distributed by new companies, some with American backing. By the summer and autumn, through Western Imports and Adam, the films of Charlie Chaplin nicknamed Charlot were the rage everywhere.

Gaumont, by contrast, had to cut back its production schedule, especially after Perret left to work in the USA. That they could succeed under such conditions was due, in large part, to the relatively widespread distribution their films had in France, through AGC or especially Aubert, whose circuit of cinemas continued to expand. The French films available to spectators between and were somewhat different from before. Perhaps because it was now difficult for the French to laugh at themselves, at least as they had been accustomed to, the once prolific comic series almost disappeared.

Given French budget restrictions and the success of Pearl White's films, the serial became a staple of production, especially for Gaumont. Soon these gave way, however, to more conventional melodramas and adaptations drawn from the pre-war boulevard theatre of Bataille, Bernstein, and Kistemaeckers. Many of these films were now devoted to women's stories, in acknowledgement of their dominant presence in cinema audiences and of their ideological significance on the 'home front' during the war. Moreover, they gave unusual prominence to female stars: to Mistinguett, for instance, in such Hugon films as Fleur de Paris 'Flower of Paris', , Grandais in Mercanton and Hervil's Suzanne series, and Maryse Dauvray in Morlhon films such as Marise But most prominent of all,.

The Lady of Lebanon (1934 film)

Out of such melodramas developed the most advanced strategies of representation and narration in France, particularly in what Gance polemically called 'psychological' films. Through unusual lighting, framing, and editing strategies, Mater Dolorosa seemed to revolutionize the stylistic conventions of the domestic melodrama, perhaps most notably in the way everyday objects, such as a white window curtain or a fallen black veil, took on added significance through singular framing or magnification and associational editing.

These strategies were shared by a related group of 'realist' melodramas which Delluc saw as influenced by certain Triangle films but which also derived from an indigenous French tradition. Here, Antoine's adaptations of Le Coupable and Les Travailleurs de la mer 'Workers of the sea', were exemplary, especially in their location shooting one on the outskirts of Paris, the other on the coast of Brittany. Both kinds of melodrama would provide the basis for some of the best French films after the war.


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Sometimes French films made up little more than 10 per cent of what was being screened on Paris cinema programmes. How would the French cinema survive and, if it did, Delluc asked, how would it be French? The industry's response to this crisis was decidedly mixed over the course of the next decade. The production sector underwent a paradoxical series of metamorphoses. The established companies, for instance, either chose or were forced to beat a retreat. Film d'Art also reduced its production schedule as its chief producers and directors left to set up their own companies.

Only the emergence of a 'cottage industry' of small production companies during the early s provided a significant counter to this trend. Based on an alliance with Film d'Art, Aubert built up a consortium which, by , included half a dozen quasi-independent film-makers. Although French production increased to feature films by , that figure was far below the number produced by either the American or German cinema industries, and French films still comprised a small percentage of cinema programmes.


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To improve its position, the industry embarked on a strategy of co-producing 'international' films, especially through alliances with Germany. That consortium collapsed, however, when Stinnes's sudden death exposed an incredible level of debt. Further French-German alliances were then curtailed by heavy American investment, through the Dawes Plan, in the German cinema industry.

The results of this co-production strategy were mixed. Although generally profitable, such films required huge budgets which, coupled with a high rate of inflation in France, reduced the French level of production to just fifty-five films in -- drying up funds for small production companies and driving most independent film-makers into contract work with the dominant French producers.

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During the last half of the decade, every major French production company went through changes in management and orientation. During the s the distribution sector of the industry faced an even more severe challenge. One after another, the major American companies either set up their own offices in Paris or strengthened their alliances with French distributors. In came Paramount and Fox-Film; in it was the turn of United Artists and First National; in they were joined by Universal, Metro, and Goldwyn, the latter two signing exclusive distribution contracts, respectively, with Aubert and Gaumont.

The American success stood in stark contrast to the French film industry's failure to rebuild its own export markets lost in the war.

In the United States, for instance, no more than a dozen French films were exhibited annually from to , and few reached cinemas outside New York. By the end of the decade, the number had increased only slightly. The situation was different in Germany, where a good percentage of French production was distributed between and , in contrast to the far fewer German films imported into France.

By the number of German titles released in France surpassed the total production of the French cinema industry. According to Fescourt, the serials functioned as a counter system of block booking in that, for at least nine months, they guaranteed exhibitors 'a long series of weeks of huge returns from a faithful public hooked on the formula'. Yet, even though other companies emerged, such as Armor to distribute Albatros films , there were never enough independent French distributors, nor was there a consortium or network which could distribute the great number of independent French films.

As the decade wore on, the French resistance to foreign domination began to weaken: Gaumont came under the control of MGM, while Aubert and Armor gradually moved within the orbit of ACE. Compared to the rest of the industry, the exhibition sector remained relatively secure throughout the s. The number of cinemas rose from 1, at the end of the war to 2, just two years later and nearly doubled again to 4, by At the same time, box-office receipts increased exponentially, even taking into account a short period of high inflation, going from 85 million francs in to million in This occurred despite the fact that the vast majority of French cinemas were independently, even individually, owned the figure was perhaps as high as 80 per cent , few of those had a capacity of seats or more, and less than half operated on a daily basis.

That the exhibition sector did so well was due partly to the enormous popularity of American films, from Robin Hood with Douglas Fairbanks to Ben-Hur. Yet French films, and not only the serials, also contributed: Feyder's costly L'Atlatitide , for instance, played at the prestigious Madeleine cinema for a whole year. I hoped you would come to see me, but you didn't. XIX, jan. The latter is really excellent, even though the former is also good.

Do come by so we may discuss it. Make sure to send a card first so I would wait for you. It was different with the one for "Cahiers de l'Etoile".

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Mme de Manziarly asked Shestov to suggest somebody who might write about him; he spoke of me. I wrote the article but it was never published. I seem to remember that though he liked it, he found some fault with it. I was reluctant to change anything and Shestov let me send it as is. I was talking with her in a corner of the large drawing room at rue de l'Alboni Shestov lived then at his sister's, Mme Balachowski when Shestov came by and said to her: - "Beware of this assassin - he likes to make heads roll.

leyendocine: French Silent Cinema, por Richard Abel

Very overbearing. She had no friends, only vassals. All those around her had to accept her orders. But she played quite an important role at the helm of the Review SUR. The Review survived for many long years. I did not belong to Victoria's group because my tastes in literature were different from hers. While my lectures in Buenos Aires concerned abstract films, I used the occasion to present a lecture at the Faculty of Arts entitled "Lev Shestov and the struggle against self-evidences" [September 12, ]. The text was never published. I sent Shestov a copy of the program for the conference where the name of my lecture appeared.


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