Psychological narrative avantgarde film about a wealthy young businessman who consecutively falls in love with a classy English woman (Pearl), a Russian sculptress (Athalia), and a naive working-class girl (Lucie).
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Neither the metaphoric montage of Eisenstein nor the gestural poetry of Ford, neither the Bazinian photographic realism (with its concomitants of the apotheosis of manipulating offscreen space & depth of field) nor the inframe dynamics of Hawks, this is a unique analytic cinema, of metonymy both cognitive & physical and of the resources of the camera-machine & its eerie transfiguration of merely human values.
Epstein made a remarkable advance here, but it was not an about-face so much as a crystallization. This tendency to exploit dissolves and superimpositions that makes his work so singular here extends itself deep into the business of meaning-making. There is also this fixation w/ speed and movement. Ultimately it is about the ghosts we leave behind every second we live, including the very last one.
Avec un montage totalement novateur et une construction plutôt audacieuse pour l'époque, cette création du metteur en scène Jean Epstein marque un important tournant dans son étonnante filmographie dont les quelques segments documentaires mérite aussi, comme les oeuvres de fiction, une urgente redécouverte... www.cinefiches.com