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Louis Delluc

Related: art film - French cinema

Films d'art/Art films [...]


The name of Louis Delluc is one of the most well-known in film. Though rarely screened, his films arouse passion in cinephiles. The body of his critical work has been edited by la Cinémathèque Française.

Major filmmakers owe him a lot. The "Prix Louis Delluc" is the award given to the best French film each year.

Delluc was born in Cadouin (south-west of France) in 1890. His family moved to Paris en 1903. After having completed classical studies at the Charlemagne and Henri IV secondary schools, he prepared for entry into Ivy League Ecole Normale Supérieure. But journalism caught hold of him. He wrote a lot: theatrical reviews, poems, novels, various incisive texts, despised contemporary cinema, such as the so-called "art films", newsreels, bawdy features, and serials like Fantomas.

During the war, he meets a strange woman, Paul Claudel's muse and interpreter, Eve Francis whom he marries in 1918. One evening in 1916, she takes him to see Cecil B. DeMille's The Cheat (Forfaiture 1914). At the end of the screening, Louis Delluc is smitten with American cinema.

This is the start of a new life: he lays the foundations for a new discipline, that of film critic, writing countless articles and notes, and he coins the term "cinéaste".

He tries to enlist in the army in 1914, but is declared unfit for service. In 1917, he is eventually enlisted as a result of a disciplinary sanction for having contributed to the pacifist newspaper Le Bonnet rouge. He was posted in the town of Aurillac until the end of 1918 and was demobilised only during the summer of 1919.

Only five years are left for Delluc to awaken French cinema. Five years to publish Le Journal du Ciné-club, Cinéa, and create film societies. Five years to shoot seven films, two of which remain among the immortal masterpieces of French cinema: La Femme de nulle part (The Woman from Nowhere) and Fièvre (Fever). -

True films, shot in natural surroundings, without gesticulations and spectacular events. The characters are shown in an impressisonnistic way, intimist, often with a correlation between past and present, dream and reality. All this was a revolutionnary for the time. He is justly considered the the one who awakened French film. "Without him we would not have been able to love film". He is at the forefront of the avant-garde that will mark the production of the twenties until the arrival of sound (Abel Gance, Germaine Dulac, Marcel L'Herbier, Jean Epstein, René Clair).

His last film, L'Inondation (The Flood) is shot in the Rhone valley. The weather is cold and rainy. Louis Delluc develops a severe case of galloping consumption. He dies at 33, in the span of a few weeks. Rare are those who, in the course of such a short life, have left both such vivid memory and such a prolific body of work.

Gilles Delluc

--http://www.lips.org/bio_delluc_GB.asp [Oct 2004]

French Cinema: Late 19th century to early 20th century

In the late 19th century, during the early years of cinema, France produced several important pioneers. Auguste and Louis Lumière invented the cinématographe and their screening of L'Arrivée d'un train en gare de la Ciotat in Paris in 1895 is marked by many historians as the official birth of cinema. During the next few years, filmmakers all over the world started experimenting with this new medium, and France's Georges Méliès was influential. He invented many of the techniques now common in the cinematic language, and made the first ever science fiction film A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune, 1902).

Other early individuals and organizations of this period included Gaumont Pictures and Pathé Frères. Alice Guy Blaché was one of the first pioneers in cinema. She made her first film in 1896, 'La Fée au Choux', and was head of production at Gaumont 1897-1906, where she made in total about 400 films. Her career continued in the United States.

Beginning in 1935, renowned playright and actor Sacha Guitry directed his first film. He made more than 30 films that are seen as the precursor to the new wave era.

In 1937 Jean Renoir, the son of famous painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, directed what many see as his first masterpiece, La Grande Illusion (The Grand Illusion). In 1939 Renoir directed La Règle du Jeu (The Rules of the Game). Several movie critic's have cited this film as one of the greatest of all-time.

Marcel Carne's Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise) was filmed during World War II and released in 1945. The three hour film was extremely difficult to make due to the conditions during the Nazi occupation. Set in Paris in 1828, the film was voted "Best French Film of the Century" in a poll of 600 French critics and professionals in the late 1990s. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinema_of_France [Oct 2004]

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