French Film, 1923

The early twenties meant a new brand of filmmakers in France. Inspired by the film societies, and new theoretical writings on film, many new filmmakers made their debuts in 1923. Famed director, Jean Epstein made his feature length debut in narrative film with Coeur fidèle. Especially inspired by German Expressionism style, and Abel Gance’s editing, he was among the first brand of directors building off the work of others in a self-aware way. It was also the film debut of famed photographer and painter Man Ray. One of the key founders in Dadaism, and the key American player in Surrealism, his films reflect the same experimental nature of his other media work.

Perhaps the most influential French filmmaker of the 1920s (sometimes called the “French Griffith”), Abel Gance releases his groundbreaking film La Roue. The use of fast cutting editing, and lightning techniques were revolutionary at the time, and La Roue becomes one of the most important films of the era. The film originally ran over nine hours, but for general release it was trimmed to five hours. Gance’s was inspired to make the film when he heard of his wife was diagnosed with Tuberculosis, and completed the film just hours after she died.

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Coeur fidèle (Jean Epstein)
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La Roue (Abel Gance)
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La Souriante Madame Beudet (Germaine Dulac)

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