The Best French Films in the American Market

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The leading directors of the French Impressionist movement, Louis Delluc, Marcel L’Herbier, Jean Epstein, Abel Gance and Germaine Dulac have this title for having released the main works of the time and, mainly, for having done research that enabled innovations in the field. visual. Such research led to an unprecedented technical evolution and, consequently, to new technical-stylistic forms. Among them is the overlap of images, purposeful deformations made by the lens, subjective planes, masks, among others. The filmmakers told stories through the universal language of images, mixing narration and visuals, that is, the emphasis is given to the visual component in its affective, poetic and mysterious load, always having a meaning. In

The Formation of the Films

The action, like the characters and the plot, has no major role in the narrative and will compete with the scenarios and objects in the question of importance. The themes and stories approached did not have much relation between one film and another, but, as in painting, more importance was given to daily life. The narrative structure of certain films was quite specific and different, and continuity depended on the combination of plastic, rhythmic, and rhetorical elements with purposes other than narratives, generating a certain Spatio-temporal discontinuity. That is, this structure was not chronological and linear, bringing a deconstruction of the narrative.

The story should be told through images and the headlines should be used less often for purposes other than just telling the story or even suppressed. In Louis Delluc’s Murder in Marseille (1921), for example, there is no intertitle in the whole movie, and part of the story is told through the breaking of the narrative, striking a contrast between past and future. Already in El Dorado (1921), by Marcel L’Herbier, the intertitles have no narrative function but are used poetically, and in The Inhuman (1924), L’Herbier puts the lines on the screen next to the characters’ image, as if they were speech bubbles.

Balloon speech from The Inhuman

Watching movies, one gets the impression that instead of stylistic resources supporting the narrative, what happens is the opposite, every part of the story exists to apply some visual component to it.

The sets were urban, as in impressionist painting, to match the storytelling, but unlike the actual painting scenarios, the cinematic ones were often built in studios, but they were still realistic, and above all. avant-garde, referring not only to the movement in question, but also to Surrealism, Expressionism (both present in Jean Epstein’s Fall of Usher’s House (1928)), Dadaism, Futurism, and Cubism (the latter two present in The Inhuman ). All of this was so that the scenario, as well as all the prophylactic elements, met the subjectivity and that of the theater, where they were more a reference to the real than a reproduction of it. The performance should also differ from that of the theater, being made naturally and not revealing the existence of the fourth wall.

The American Film in the Industry

The hegemony of American films has led major French companies to support Impressionist filmmakers, earning the right to view and distribute films, offering studios and technical resources. Gance and Dulac worked for Pathé and L’Herbier for Gaumont. Some Impressionist productions, such as Gance’s The Wheel (1923) and Gance’s Napoleon (1927) and L’Herbier’s The Money (1928), were costly achievements. This increase came from several factors, starting from the previously mentioned research and search for innovations.