By Paul Cuff
This booklet explores the construction and destruction of Abel Gance’s such a lot bold movie undertaking, and seeks to give an explanation for why his meteoric profession used to be so approximately extinguished on the finish of silent cinema. through 1929, Gance used to be France’s most renowned director. Acclaimed for his technical innovation and visible mind's eye, he used to be additionally admonished for the over the top size and price of his productions. Gance’s first sound movie, La Fin du Monde (1930), used to be a serious and fiscal catastrophe so nice that it approximately destroyed his occupation. yet what went incorrect? Gance claimed it was once advertisement sabotage when critics blamed the director’s inexperience with new know-how. Neither excuse is passable. in response to vast archival study, this publication re-investigates the cultural history and aesthetic outcomes of Gance’s transition from silent filmmaking to sound cinema. La Fin du Monde is published to be just one component of a rare cultural venture to rework cinema right into a common faith and propagate its energy throughout the League of countries. From unfinished movies to unrealized social revolutions, the reader is given a desirable journey of Gance’s misplaced cinematic utopia.
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Extra resources for Abel Gance and the End of Silent Cinema: Sounding out Utopia
As I shall discuss in Chaps. 3 and 4, Gance invested light with tremendous literal and metaphorical importance. This substance was a manifestation of all that was spiritually meaningful in the universe, a carrier of theological importance. By rendering an accusation against the source of all light on Earth in J’ACCUSE, Gance makes an absent deity morally accountable for terrestrial disaster. Rather than denying God’s existence, Diaz reaches the infinitely more disturbing conclusion that a heavenly force does exist but is monstrously unwilling to intervene.
They have come to see whether their sacrifice has been worthwhile’, he intones. Rather than accusing the Germans, Diaz launches into a tirade against the civilian profiteers and industrialists within France for having betrayed the soldiers and their sacred cause. Illuminated by a blazing fire, Diaz’s contorted face and wandering glance confronts audience both on-screen and off-screen. Gance’s startling chiaroscuro lighting and the rhythmic cutting between the marching dead and the petrified civilians make this one of the most thrilling and frightening sequences in silent cinema.
The jury weeps as various Allied soldiers testify to the brutality of the conflict. ). Finally, the judgement is heard: WE, THE SUPREME JUDGE REPRESENTING LAW AND JUSTICE ON EARTH, HEREBY DECREE: Reparation for the wrongdoings and destruction caused by the enemy. A peace treaty not based on coercion and violence that contains the germ of future wars, but a just peace where neither strong nor weak nations are oppressed. A peace wherein the League of Nations guarantees an effective protection against any aggression of one people towards another.
Abel Gance and the End of Silent Cinema: Sounding out Utopia by Paul Cuff