By Paul Cuff
This e-book explores the construction and destruction of Abel Gance’s so much formidable movie venture, and seeks to give an explanation for why his meteoric profession was once so approximately extinguished on the finish of silent cinema. via 1929, Gance was once 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 rate of his productions. Gance’s first sound movie, La Fin du Monde (1930), was once a serious and monetary catastrophe so nice that it approximately destroyed his profession. yet what went fallacious? Gance claimed it was once advertisement sabotage while critics blamed the director’s inexperience with new expertise. Neither excuse is passable. in response to huge archival learn, this booklet re-investigates the cultural history and aesthetic results of Gance’s transition from silent filmmaking to sound cinema. La Fin du Monde is published to be just one part of a rare cultural undertaking to remodel cinema right into a common faith and propagate its energy in the course of the League of countries. From unfinished movies to unrealized social revolutions, the reader is given a desirable travel of Gance’s misplaced cinematic utopia.
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Extra info for Abel Gance and the End of Silent Cinema: Sounding out Utopia
The title of the latter’s 1919 publication, Clarté, refers to the lucid perspective needed for humanity to achieve social change. Part of this ‘clarity’ comes through IN THE SHADOW OF WAR 13 realizing that human action occurs in a world without God. In a passage that evokes the final landscape of J’ACCUSE, Barbusse writes: Earth. Sky. I don’t see God. Everywhere – everywhere – I see the absence of God. My gaze roams across space and finds nothing. I’ve never seen him: he is nowhere to be found – nowhere – nowhere.
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 dead finally confront the living; their surviving relatives fall to their knees and beg forgiveness. Reassured that society will honour their sacrifice, the dead then pick up their crosses and march from the village to vanish over the horizon. As in the screenplay, the subsequent sequence takes place the day after this dream-like vision.
In the ten years since its initial conception, Gance had transformed the idea of a religious trilogy into a far more substantial filmic series: TOWARDS UTOPIA 23 [LES GRANDS INITIÉS will be a] vast prologue to the Annunciation of the New Age, concerning the life and the apostolate of the great creators of religions and bringing this to hundreds of millions of new spectators: Brahmans, Buddhists, Muslims, etc. […] These million spectators, taking part in immense spectacles of the most profound religious nature, can come to the cinema as they would come to their churches and will learn, after having communed with their Gods, to consider with tolerance and comprehension the beauty, the poetry, and the similarity of different religions.
Abel Gance and the End of Silent Cinema: Sounding out Utopia by Paul Cuff