Archive for Nadia Sibirskaia

The Sunday Intertitle: Who’s Storing the Mind?

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2019 by dcairns

On the ruins, The Future was being built.

To Bo’ness Hippodrome, and enough intertitles to last a month of Sundays!

By the time I rocked up in that sleepy townlet, I’d already missed a lot of high-quality stuff, including Lois Weber’s THE BLOT and Harold Lloyd’s THE FRESHMAN, and lunch at the beloved Ivy, but my first film on Saturday was a beaut — Julien Duvivier’s updated Zola adaptation AU BONHEUR DES DAMES (later done by The Beeb as The Paradise, relocated from Paris to the more glamorous locale of Durham).

Pamela Hutchinson of Silent London remarked, “If you wanted to show someone what silent cinema could be like, you could just show them that, because it’s got everything!” A late silent — 1930 — maybe France’s last? (Bernard Natan produced the first French talkie the same year) — you can see the studio it was shot in being demolished in the film — it heaps up radical techniques around you, from German expressionistic angles to Russian montage to French impressionist delirium — slow motion, split screen, multiple exposures… plus powerful use of more traditional bits of film language like close-ups:

Dita Parlo (a name surely made for the talkies) is our guileless ingenue, and Nadia Sibirskaïa (MENILMONTANT) provides haunting support, with the Galleries Lafayette in a major starring role also. The film contrasts the plight of the small shop with the booming, all-consuming department store — nominally, we’re meant to sympathise with the small business, but the film values photogenics, and can’t help being seduced by the glamour of large-scale retail.

The ending is a bit of a problem — though sort of faithful to the novel’s outcome, it plays like “How many of our themes can we betray in four minutes?” One can’t imagine it ever having felt satisfying to anyone, even the makers — did Duvivier have more than the usual amount of trouble with endings? (See also LA BELLE EQUIPE… but my beloved LA FIN DU JOUR is perfection.)

Particularly fine accompaniment by Stephen Horne & Frank Bockius, on a day that also included John Sweeney & Bockius scoring Chinese martial arts romp THE RED HEROINE, Sweeney again on Dreyer’s THE PARSON’S WIDOW (magnificent, more on that later) and Günter Buchwald & Bockius adding creepshow atmospherics to THE CAT AND THE CANARY, to which I provided sleeve notes.

HippFest has been going since last Saturday but this was my first day, and a damned good one. Back today (Sunday) with Fiona for Laurel & Hardy, MOULIN ROUGE, Lawrence Napper lecturing on working women in silent film, and the grand gala finale of HINDLE WAKES.

 

Advertisements

Steele yourself

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on July 4, 2014 by dcairns

Barbara_Steele

Daniel Riccuito’s article on Beautiful Babs, which I had a tiny frozen hand in, has a new home, at MUBI. Here. Substantially reworked from the version that appeared at The Chiseler, and so worth your time revisiting.

Festival burnout struck me on Wednesday and I fell asleep during Heinosuke Gosho’s gentle comedy THE BRIDE TALKS IN HER SLEEP (1933) — I have never fallen aslep in a movie in my life, but my usual nocturnal insomnia and the warmth of the venue had me slipping into Morpheus’ embrace the instant the lights dimmed. So since then I’ve been aiming myself at the kind of stuff that keeps you awake — Freda’s THE HORRIBLE SECRET OF DR HICHCOCK, Pabst’s Hitler film THE LAST ACT, the restored LADY FROM SHANGHAI. And an early night tonight.

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.