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FILM 2700: HISTORY OF THE MOTION PICTURE PROFESSOR SHELDON SCHIFFER MAYMESTER VERSION Office hours: 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM Daily Office: 25 Park Place South.

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Presentation on theme: "FILM 2700: HISTORY OF THE MOTION PICTURE PROFESSOR SHELDON SCHIFFER MAYMESTER VERSION Office hours: 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM Daily Office: 25 Park Place South."— Presentation transcript:

1 FILM 2700: HISTORY OF THE MOTION PICTURE PROFESSOR SHELDON SCHIFFER MAYMESTER VERSION Office hours: 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM Daily Office: 25 Park Place South – Room 1023 phone:

2 [Lecture 7 Slides] National Style as Artistic Movement: European Politics and Cinema In the Early Sound Era and During the WWII Art movements reflect the political reality of a nation state, and the art made within a politicized art movement gives clues to the ideas in conflict within the state. Film, however, is a very expensive art form (unlike painting, drawing, some sculpture, photography, etc.), and is also a public art form. Therefore, films must be considered for what they express, what they repress, and what ideological compromises filmmakers must make so that their films could access the finances necessary for production, and the venues necessary for distribution and exhibition.

3 France and Germany France and Germany provide differing models of film movements during times of great political instability, domination, repression, occupation, resistance, defeat and liberation. During times of oppression, the oppressor may censor film expression. So, the filmmaker must use the permissible content to more secretly and cleverly codify the resistant messages. (France’s wartime films under German occupation were fantasies with hidden messages. Find this strategy repeated during colonial films by the colonized.)

4 Historical Question 7.1 What political, economic and cultural conditions made the French director promoted as a primary author and star attraction of film? [Hint: How might political instability and popularity of major art movements provide some models to propel the director as star?]

5 France and Ideal of the Artist-Director French culture elevated the director status within the culture and gave celebrity to the director as it did to intellectuals, painters, theater directors, and architects. Unlike the US during this time, where directors were a part of machine of entertainment production

6 France and Ideal of the Artist-Director Most French production was based in very small companies Gaumont-Franco-Film-Aubert (merged) and Pathé remained the largest Each competed with each other for private investment No colluding group of businesses worked to keep out smaller ones Decentralization gave possibilities for a European auteur (author-style focused) film culture to rise Directors were multi-purposed, often editing, photographing, acting, building sets, raising money, and doing anything and everything necessary

7 Major Filmmakers, Films & Themes Some filmmakers presented alternate realities - the influence of surrealism and fantasy becomes a part of the dominant culture, but cultivated from independent artists

8 Major Filmmakers, Films & Themes Luis Buñuel – Spanish born, French and Mexican located, French financed. Major leader in surrealist cinema, even after surrealism as a movement ceased. Un chien andalou (1929), L’Age d’or (1930) Rene Clair – À nous, la liberté! – For Us Liberty! (1931), French, referenced surrealism, use of sound experimental, where music substituted sound effects for objects that strike, or the “wrong” sound (stylized surprise) created alternate meanings to sound making events, also exaggerated camera movements and blocking of actors Pierre Prévert – L’Affaire est dans le sac – It’s in the Bag (1932), French, also referenced surrealism with exaggerated camera movements, character reaction to situations, quirky plot structure Jean Vigo – Taris and À propos de Nice (1931), French, early experimental documentaries, and these two fictions., Zero por conduit(1934), and L’Atalante (1934) Died very young, at age 29.

9 Major Filmmakers, Films & Themes French studios also tried to compete with Hollywood and satisfy those whose interests in cinema were “high culture” by making adaptations of French plays, novels and French historical moments.

10 Major Filmmakers, Films & Themes Jacque Feyder – Carnival in Flanders (1935), big budget, pacifist (post WWI) message, historical film about war, where invading army are invited into homes by women, and husbands hide Sacha Guitry – Le Roman d’un tricheur (1936) – Story of a Cheat, based on novel of filmmaker, who also was playwright, some very clever uses of voice over (unreliable narrator voices other characters), and much music for sound effects GW Pabst – Shanghai Drama (1938) and Don Quixote (1938) – German, Euro-Film-Noir

11 Historical Question 7.2 What were the artistic principles of Poetic Realism?

12 Synthesis of Movements at Dawn of WWII: Poetic Realism The premise of the Poetic Realism is to merge the un-idealizing tendencies of documentary with universalizing intentions of visual and musical poetry. These films and filmmakers existed at the dawn of war, and foresaw the suffering to come as they looked back at the last war and its aftermath. With film, they sought universal themes that were rooted in more documentary-like presentations.

13 Synthesis of Movements at Dawn of WWII: Poetic Realism Jean Renoir – Rules of the Game (1939) – triangulated love story with pilot, woman, and aristocrat and Grand Illusions (1937) – French prisoners of WWI in Germany, seeking escape and renewal of identity – Father was painter and sculpture, Auguste Renoir. Most categorize Jean Renoir a Poetic Realist, but Impressionst strategies pervade his work. Julien Duvivier – Pepe Le Moko (1936) – French, story set in colonial Algeria Marcel Carné – Les Enfants du Paradis - Children of Paradise (1945), and was filmed in the last year of the German occupation, set in in 1820s, and one might say it represents the sublimated feelings of an oppressed population

14 French Film Reacts to Pre-WWII Politics As the politics of France destabilized due bad economy and corruption, the fall of Radical Socialist (which were not radical, but moderate), caused right and left to battle in elections. Filmmakers enlisted to make films for the Popular Front, which was one of left- wing parties, and the one perhaps closest to labor unionists.

15 French Film Reacts to Pre-WWII Politics (Spanish Civil War) Later, Popular Front party won elections, then once in power, they dissolved under great dissent Replaced by a Radical Socialist party (not more left, but more conservative despite ‘radical’ label) who was seen as more responsive to the economic situation and more supportive of the Republicanists of Spain in the Spanish Civil War.

16 French Film Reacts to Pre-WWII Politics Jean Renoir – La vie est a nous (1936),made to attack the aristocratic business class, and promote a more worker centric government coalition of socialist. Early mixture of fiction, documentary, found footage, performed theater all with political rhetoric. Also early example of collective political filmmaking. Renoir credits many other filmmakers and participants as having as much authorial contribution as him.

17 Historical Question 7.3 What strategies did censored filmmakers during war time use to express ‘hidden’ messages within their films?

18 French Film Under Nazi Occupation Germany occupied France from June 1940 until May During this period, the Germans moved the capital to the south, and the south was called “unoccupied”. It consisted of less resistant populations further from Paris. But it gave German access to the Mediterranean.

19 French Film Under Nazi Occupation The Vichy government, as it was called, was allied with the Nazis under Marchal Petán. Many French left-wing went into exile with Jews, or stayed as part of the French military underground resistance. Oddly, unlike before occupation, Vichy government created French government support for film industry (like in Germany), but prohibited all Jews from participating Communists and Jews sent to prison and death camps went. Meanwhile, exile Jews sponsored some resistant filmmakers, like Marcel Carné for Children of Paradise.

20 Major Filmmakers, Films & Themes Film was mildly censored, but comedies, fantasies, folklorics, legends, and historicals were strongly encouraged. Documentary-like films, such as those of the Poetic Realists, not encouraged by Nazis. Marcel L’Herbier – La Nuit Fantastique – The Fantastic Night (1942) Marcel Carné – Les Visiteurs du soir – Visitors of the Evening (1942)

21 Germany at Eve of Nazism and Into WWII Under the Weimar Republic, Germany was politically and culturally very liberal (by Nazi standards, who came after, and European standards). Art, design, theater and music explored expressionist, formalist and abstract modes. Films related to the New Objectivity movement were detached and objective in their style. Expressionism also gave way to a more spectacular form of urban and technological romanticism.

22 Historical Question 7.4 What freedoms were lost for filmmakers during the Nazi period? What values were emphasized during the Nazi period? What formal innovations did the Nazi filmmakers contribute to the documentary?

23 Nazi Germany and Effects on Film With Hitler in power, leftist artists went into exile, Jews were disemployed, eventually imprisoned, or also went into exile. Culture was managed by Josef Goebbels under a Ministry of Culture, and film was made to teach the values of German-Nazi “Aryan” identity. But, some filmmakers and actors also found ways to “cooperate” while more subtly resisting within the system of rules.

24 Nazi Germany and Effects on Film Theaters and art groups were widely disbanded under threat. Topics for film were strongly pressured to represent historical and German mythical themes to justify Nazi ideology and inevitable domination of Europe. Many filmmakers and actor co-opted to make Nazi films. Popular actors with previous left wing affiliation who once were popular, were given chance to recant, and make Nazi films.

25 Nazi Filmmakers Leni Riefenstahl – Triumph of the Will (1935), propaganda documentary recording the meeting of the 1934 Nazi party at Nuremburg, Germany. Nazi just came to party in Shows the spectacle of the political event. The visual language of politics present visual propaganda with first time used tools of persuasion to exaggerate power of leadership Use of montage, association with mythic paternal ideas for Hitler, degree of support its leaders have from constituents, and inevitable domination of the “Aryan race” over Europe.

26 Nazi Filmmakers Veit Harlan – Jud Süß (1940), Nazi costume historical fiction drama film, historical presentation of Jewish German merchant appointed tax collector by a Duke. Depicts Jew willing to exploit the community to collect and skim taxes for personal gain, abrogate the constitution for power, and torture those seeking to obstruct. Suß manipulates a “good” Christian woman for sex in exchange for her husband’s release. One of most popular films of its time in Nazi Germany

27 Nazi Filmmakers Paul Wegener – actor in The Golem - a 1920s silent film about the salvation of Jews of 16th century by a supernatural spiritual power-monster, made of Clay, activated to frighten the anti-semitic para-military persecutors. Wagener, against own pacifist beliefs, co-opted as Hitler’s “Actor of the State”. A grim exploit of fame. Made films in Czechoslovakia during war Films adored by many fans whose nation were captured by Nazis. Russian Army spared his home in the sack of Berlin


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