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TAG: FERDINAND ZECCA

Posts tagged ‘Ferdinand Zecca’
October 6, 2009  |  An Auteurist History of Film
An Auteurist History of Film: “Georges Méliès and His Rivals”

Charles Silver, a curator in MoMA’s Department of Film, presents a series of writings to supplement the film exhibition An Auteurist History of Film. The following post accompanies the "Georges Méliès and His Rivals", which screens on October 7, 8, and 9 in Theater 3.

<i>Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon)</i>. 1902. France. Directed by George Méliès

Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon). 1902. France. Directed by George Méliès

I see Georges Méliès as a link in a continuum that runs from Jules Verne through film artists like Walt Disney and Tim Burton. Verne actually survived until 1905, enabling him to be well aware of Méliès in his heyday, and it can be hoped that the younger filmmaker found a way of expressing his gratitude to the older novelist for inspiring some of his best work. Méliès (1861–1938) died just a few weeks after Disney released the first of his epic fairy tales, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. (For the record, Uncle Walt was around for the first eight years of Tim Burton’s life. We are, of course, highlighting Burton’s career in a major exhibition beginning next month, and my colleague Jenny He’s description, “a director of fables, fairy tales, and fantasies,” could as easily be applied to Méliès as to Burton.) One should also take note of Karel Zeman (1910–1989), the Czech animator/director whose feature films like The Fabulous World of Jules Verne (1957) and Baron Munchhausen (1962) explicitly evoke Méliès’s style and subject matter.

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September 30, 2009  |  An Auteurist History of Film
An Auteurist History of Film: “Lesser-Known Pioneers of Cinema”

Charles Silver, a curator in MoMA’s Department of Film, presents a series of writings to supplement the film exhibition An Auteurist History of Film. The following post accompanies the "Lesser-Known Pioneers of Cinema" program, which screens on September 30 and October 1 in Theater 3 and October 2 in Theater 2.

A great number of films were made before D. W. Griffith came along in 1908, and a great number of these have been lost. So piecing together the puzzle of this early period is always going to be unsatisfactory. Still, enough survives to try to give some credit to at least a few of the worthy pioneers.

Ferdinand Zecca (1864–1947) would turn out to be a rival of Georges Méliès (whose work will be screened next week). Much of his work was “derivative” (stolen), and he finally found his true calling as head of Pathé, a career path that included a distribution stint in New Jersey. In a matter of months, Alice Guy (after 1907, Alice Guy-Blaché) (1873–1968) went from being a secretary at Gaumont to becoming the world’s first female director. At one point she was, in effect, the production head of that venerable studio—the only studio from the period that’s still in existence today. Coming to America, Alice and her husband Herbert Blaché established their own studio, Solax, in Flushing, Queens. She continued to make films for various studios after Solax (like Edison, Biograph, Thanhouser, and others before it) failed. Following her divorce in 1922 she returned to France where she had been all but forgotten. After failing to get work, she lived out her long life mostly unknown, although she did receive the Legion of Honor in 1953. She finally died in Mahwah, New Jersey, at age ninety-five. Frankly, little is known of her films (MoMA has hardly any in its collection), but this will soon be remedied by an exhibition of restored films to be exhibited at the Whitney Museum beginning on November 6.

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