Gaumont Treasures: Alice Guy (1897)
The invention of cinema - and its growth into a sophisticated art form - are vividly brought to life in this massive collection of films from the early years of the influential Gaumont Film Company. Each disc is devoted to one of Gaumont's artistic directors, who oversaw all film production at the studio, and profoundly influenced not only the identity of the studio but also the evolution of the cinema itself.
DISC 1: ALICE GUY
Few individual artists have exerted as profound an influence upon the evolution of cinema as Alice Guy (later known as Guy-Blache). With this collection of more than 60 films, culled from the world's leading archives and carefully mastered, Guy may no longer be seen as a (woman filmmaker.) These films, produced by Guy for Gaumont before she moved to the US, reveal her to be an unqualified pioneer whose work stands alongside that of the Lumiere Brothers, Georges Melies, and Edwin S. Porter, in cinema's rapid growth from an optical illusion to a storytelling medium to an art form. Among the highlights are a 19th-century serpentine dance, early (trick) films, experiments with hand-coloring and synchronized sound, comedies, social commentaries, and (as the collection's centerpiece) a 33-minute religious epic: The Birth, the Life and the Death of Christ (1906).
- (1897) The Fisherman at the Stream / Bathing in a Stream / Serpentine Dance by Mme. Bob Walter
- (1898) The Turn-of-the-Century Blind Man / At the Hypnotist's / The Burglars / Disappearing Act / Surprise Attack on a House at Daybreak
- (1899) At the Club / Wonderful Absinthe
- (1900) Avenue de l'Opera / Automated Hat-Maker and Sausage-Grinder / At the Photographer's / Dance of the Seasons: Winter, Snow Dance / The Landlady / Turn-of-the-Century Surgery / Pierrette's Escapades (In Original Hand-Tinted Color) / At the Floral Ball (In Original Hand-Tinted Color) / The Cabbage-Patch Fairy
- (1902) Serpentine Dance by Lina Esbrard / Midwife to the Upper Class / An Untimely Intrusion / Miss Dundee and Her Performing Dogs
- (1903) How Monsieur Takes His Bath / Faust and Mephistopheles
- (1905) The O'Mers in The Bricklayers / The Statue / The Magician's Alms / Clown, Dog and Balloon / Spain / The Tango / The Malaguena and the Bullfighter / Cook & Rilly's Trained Rooster / Cake Walk, Performed by Nouveau Cirque / Alice Guy Films a Phonoscene / Saharet Performs the Bolero (In Original Hand-Tinted Color) / Polin Performs: The Anatomy of a Draftee (A synchronized-sound Phonoscene) / Dranem Performs: The True Jiu-Jitsu (A synchronized-sound Phonoscene) / Dranem Performs: Five O'Clock Tea (A synchronized-sound Phonoscene) / Felix Mayol Performs: Indiscreet Questions (A synchronized-sound Phonoscene) & (In Original Hand-Tinted Color) / Felix Mayol Performs: The Trottins' Polka (A synchronized-sound Phonoscene) / Felix Mayol Performs: White Lilacs (A synchronized-sound Phonoscene)
- (1906) The Birth, the Life and the Death of Christ / An Obstacle Course / Madame's Cravings / A Sticky Woman / The Hierarchies of Love / The Cruel Mother / A Story Well Spun / The Drunken Mattress / The Parish Priest's Christmas / The Truth Behind the Ape-Man / The Consequences of Feminism / Ocean Studies / The Game-Keeper's Son
- (1907) The Race for the Sausage / The Glue / The Fur Hat / The Cleaning Man / A Four-Year-Old Hero / The Rolling Bed / The Irresistible Piano / On the Barricade / The Dirigible Homeland
Gaumont Treasures: Leonce Perret (1912)
Until now, the films of Leonce Perret have been virtually unseen in the United States , yet he was a hugely influential figure in the growth of the French film industry. As an actor, he appeared in more than 100 films from 1909 to 1916, including the long-running series of (Leonce) comedies. But his greater contribution was as a director. Working at Gaumont under the supervision of Louis Feuillade, Perret set the standard to which other French filmmakers aspired. His films had a technical mastery and aesthetic grace that allowed them to reveal subtleties of character and meaning. Perret's artistic maturity is beautifully represented in the influential feature The Child of Paris, a naturalistic drama reminiscent of Emile Zola. Of this film, critic Georges Sadoul proclaimed, Leonce Perret was able to render a graceful and lively story by using an extraordinarily refined cinematic repertoire: backlighting, low-angle shots, close-ups, moving shots and numerous other innovations, all of which Perret implemented with flair, in stark contrast to...the still somewhat primitive technique of David W. Griffith at that time. Perret made a number of self-referential films, in which the medium of cinema is a component of the plotline. In The Mystery of the Rocks of Kador, an amnesiac woman undergoes a sort of cinematic hypnosis as a means of recalling the details of a tragic crime.
- The Mystery of the Rocks of Kador (Le Mystere des roches de Kador) (1912) - Color Tinted - 43 Minutes - Directed by Leonce Perret
- The Child of Paris (L'Enfant de Paris) (1913) - Color Tinted - 124 Minutes - Written and directed by Leonce Perret
* Color Tinted - 124 Minutes - Written and directed by Leonce Perret
Gaumont Treasures: Louis Feuillade (1897)
Best remembered today for his espionage serials Les Vampires and Fantomas, Louis Feuillade had a more varied and profound influence upon French cinema than many of his followers realize. For more than a decade, he was the artistic director at Gaumont, encouraging the rise of such filmmakers as Abel Gance and Leonce Perret. This collection of films offers a wider view of Feuillade's directorial efforts -- but, admittedly, it is only a small portion of the nearly 800 films he is believed to have directed. These films run the gamut of ribald comedy (The Colonel's Account), charming fantasy (Spring), tragedy (The Heart and Money), social commentary (The Defect) and historical epic (the remarkably poignant The Agony of Byzance). No Feuillade collection would be complete without a sampling of thrillers. To that end, we offer The Trust: Or the Battles for Money and The Obses-sion, which are characterized by the brisk pacing and diabolical tone for which he would become famous.
- The Colonel's Account (1907, 4 min.)
- A Very Fine Lady (1908, 3 min.)
- Spring (1909, 7 min.)
- The Fairy of the Surf (1909, 7 min.)
- Custody of the Child (1909, 11 min.)
- The Defect (1911, 41 min.)
- The Roman Orgy (1911, 8 min.)
- The Trust (1911, 24 min.)
- The Heart and the Money (1912, 17 min.)
- The Obsession (1912, 23 min.)
- Tragic Error (1913, 24 min.)
- Bout de Zan Steals an Elephant (1913, 9 min.)
- The Agony of Byzance (1913, 29 min.)
- Louis Feuillade: Master of Many Forms - This collection of scenes from more than twenty films demonstrates Feuillade's mastery of (and influence upon) a wide range of cinematic genres.