By Paul Cuff
This ebook explores the construction and destruction of Abel Gance’s so much bold movie undertaking, and seeks to provide an explanation for why his meteoric occupation was once so approximately extinguished on the finish of silent cinema. via 1929, Gance used to be France’s most famed director. Acclaimed for his technical innovation and visible mind's eye, he used to be additionally admonished for the over the top size and cost of his productions. Gance’s first sound movie, La Fin du Monde (1930), used to be a serious and monetary catastrophe so nice that it approximately destroyed his occupation. yet what went unsuitable? Gance claimed it was once advertisement sabotage while critics blamed the director’s inexperience with new know-how. Neither excuse is passable. according to broad archival study, this booklet re-investigates the cultural heritage and aesthetic effects of Gance’s transition from silent filmmaking to sound cinema. La Fin du Monde is printed to be just one component of a unprecedented cultural undertaking to rework cinema right into a common faith and propagate its strength throughout the League of countries. From unfinished motion pictures to unrealized social revolutions, the reader is given a desirable journey of Gance’s misplaced cinematic utopia.
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Extra info for Abel Gance and the End of Silent Cinema: Sounding out Utopia
1920: 3). Certainly, Diaz’s accusation becomes rather clearer if one interprets the word ‘Sun’ to be a substitute for ‘God’. Throughout the original script and in his contemporary correspondence, Gance refers to Diaz’s central poem as the ‘Hymn to the Sun’. This overtly religious term was changed to the rather less controversial ‘Ode to the Sun’—perhaps a conscious decision to avoid inevitable censorship. As I shall discuss in Chaps. 3 and 4, Gance invested light with tremendous literal and metaphorical importance.
In fact, the lack of a consistent target tends to increase the sense of rage the film possesses. Rather than pinning the blame solely on the aggressors, Gance points to wider causes: ‘I was accusing the war, I was accusing men, I was accusing universal stupidity’ (cited in Brownlow 1968: 533). Though the 1917 screenplay of J’ACCUSE seems to have more in common with Grelling’s anti-German publication, Diaz’s penultimate accusations in the film are directed against France. Gance shows that neither the nation’s ignorant older generation of patriarchs nor the future generation of young children are safe from the acceptance and propagation of violence.
He became a member of the Bolshevik Party after moving to Russia at the end of the war, and joined the French Communist Party on his return to France in the 1920s. Barbusse proclaimed that society must demolish the imperialist militarism that had led to the exploitation of the people, and which reasserted its values in the post-war years: ‘It would take a supernatural imagination to comprehend the scale of destruction whose occurrence is constant and universal, maintained by the bloody will of those who uphold the capitalist utopia through terror, and use it to crucify humanity’ (1921: 59).
Abel Gance and the End of Silent Cinema: Sounding out Utopia by Paul Cuff