1928. France. Marcel L'Herbier. 165 min.
Piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin
Sunday, November 15, 2009, 1:30 p.m.
Theater 2 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 2), T2
1928. France. Directed by Marcel L'Herbier. The glorious new restoration of L’Argent confirms Marcel L’Herbier as one of the most radically avant-garde and influential commercial filmmakers of the silent era. An epically expensive and dazzlingly staged Franco-German coproduction, L’Argent transposes Emile Zola’s 1891 novel about capitalist greed and its catastrophic, all-too-familiar consequences from the French Second Empire to the decadent glitter of Art Deco Paris. Aristide Saccard (Piere Alcover), a business tycoon, schemes to inflate the stock value of his company, Bank Universal, by duping aviator Jacques Hamelin (Henry Victor) into participating in a publicity stunt involving a transatlantic quest for oil; also drawn into the wanton proceedings are Hamelin’s naively complicit wife (Marie Glory) and Saccard’s cunning former mistress (Brigitte Helm, of Metropolis fame). In the estimation of cinema historian Noël Burch, L’Herbier’s use of vast architectural spaces to dwarf his characters, his exhilarating camera movements, and his claustrophobically tight, low-angle shots “[anticipate] by twenty years Orson Welles's and Michelangelo Antonioni's film styles at their most sophisticated." Restored by the Archives françaises du film du CNC. Silent, with French and English intertitles. 165 min.
In the Film exhibition To Save and Project: The Seventh MoMA International Festival of Film Preservation
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