Archive for Menilmontant


Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , on March 31, 2020 by dcairns

Dimitri Kirsanoff’s MENILMONTANT is the product of no school, no recognized form of cinema. Though there are resemblances to the impressionists — Dulluc, Dulac, Epstein.

Kirsanoff’s wife, Nadia Sibirskaïa, is his star, with one of the great expressive faces of cinema. His real name was David Kaplan, hers was Germaine Lebas, so I think they believed that more Russian-sounding names would be more inherently cinematic.

I’m inviting my ECA students to watch and comment, but please, let’s hear from everyone else. This is one of the great films that time forgot. Also, by all means play your own music, then let me know what you chose and where it worked best.


A Miniature

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on March 15, 2012 by dcairns

LA PETITE LISE is the subject of this week’s edition of The Forgotten. Maybe it’s the sole flirtation of the Pathe-Natan company with the avant-garde, in that it features Nadia Sibirskaia from MENILMONTANT, and partakes of a similar aesthetic, evoking psychological turmoil through close attention to faces and places. Narrative, though present, takes a back seat.

If the film seems like a departure from the commercial concerns of the studio, which favoured boulevard farces, crime dramas, and great tales from history or literature when it wanted to go up-market, there are nevertheless intriguing connections to two of the studio’s later literary adaptations — as the story of a pardoned convict trying to go straight it prefigures the 1934 LES MISERABLES, and in a subplot about lovers who need to raise 300 Francs to get hitched, it seems to reference the cash MacGuffin of 300 roubles which starts off the tragedy of THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV, which also became a Natan film.

This makes Jean Gremillon the most-featured director in history of The Forgotten, the first to chalk up three appearances. Basically, every time I see a Gremillon film, I write about it for The Forgotten.

A Bad Area

Posted in FILM, Mythology with tags , , , on January 19, 2012 by dcairns

Menilmontant! What visions of poetic squalor the name conjures up!

A place where the inhabitants slink along, pressed to the walls like Cesar the Somnambulist in CALIGARI. Just the kind of place where blurring traffic would slowly lap-dissolve to the writhing figure of a lithe, naked girl. A place where shafts of obliterating daylight pierce the smoky air of lonely garrets like the Holy Spirit making free with yet another virgin.

Come with me now, on wings of celluloid… over to The Daily Notebook for this week’s Forgotten, where you can not only read about but ocularly witness this wonder. Night! Youth! Paris! And the moon!