Adapted from Émile Zola’s novel of the same name, Marcel L’Herbier’s L’Argent (Money) is an opulent classic of late silent-era cinema. Filmed in part on location at the Paris stock exchange, it reveals a world of intrigue, greed, decadence, and ultimately corruption and scandal when business dealings and amorous deceit combine.
Business tycoons Saccard and Gunderman lock horns when the former attempts to raise capital for his faltering bank. To inflate the price of his stock, Saccard concocts a duplicitous publicity stunt involving the unwitting aviator Hamelin and a flight across the Atlantic to drill for oil, much to the dismay of his wife Line. While Hamelin is away, the lascivious Saccard attempts to seduce Line, whose own temptation by the allure of money puts herself and her husband in danger – pawns in a high-stakes chess game played out by unscrupulous speculators.
With an all-star cast (Brigitte Helm and Alfred Abel, fresh from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, alongside Pierre Alcover, Yvette Guilbert, and luminary of the French avant-garde Antonin Artaud) and a mammoth budget, L’Argent is comparable in period and scale with other celebrated epics of the silent era, such as Abel Gance’s Napoléon. With its use of portable cameras that literally descend into the Bourse and revolve around its lavish contours, L’Argent represents a type of cinematic Impressionism distinctive to the “silent art” – a poetry that would change forever with the coming of sound. —Eureka Entertainment
Marcel L’Herbier is unquestionably one of the most important figures in the history of French cinema. His contribution is not restricted to the films he directed, many of which are widely recognised as genuine masterpieces. He also worked actively to promote cinema as an art form in its own right, helping to ensure that France maintained its position of eminence in a medium which was becoming increasingly dominated by the Americans. Moreover, his films and his writings have inspired successive generations of filmmakers, many of whom went on to become just as influential in French cinema.
L’Herbier was born in Paris is 1888. Having studied law at the Sorbonne, he was drawn to literature (particularly the works of Oscar Wilde and Nietzsche) and he decided to pursue a career as a writer. He published his first novel, “In the Garden of Secret Games”, in 1914. He wrote a stage play “L’Enfantement du mort, miracle en pourpre, noir et or”, an anti-war piece which was not performed until… read more
Spectacular silent film based on Emile Zola novel. Brigitte Helm plots against Nicolas Saccard, one of the kings of Moneypolis. I would like that our new generation of traders or so-called bankers watches this film. Thus, they will maybe understand why they are so pathetic. But I'm fantasizing. Maasterpiece.