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The History of Motion Pictures

By Maurice Bardèche; Robert Brasillach et al. | Go to book overview

dBY 1924 the film had created its own form of expression. With the range of its technique extended by the French (who are too frequently overlooked), the Germans, the Russian émigrés and the Swedes, it was to experience a few too short years of relative tranquillity during which little was to be invented but much interesting work was to be done. From now on its possibilities and its future were clear.

Méliès had discovered virtually the whole of its primitive alphabet. As early as 1908 Griffith had perfected the use of the close-up, the mobility of the camera was an established fact, and in 1915 soft focus was used for the cradle-rocking figure which links the several themes of Intolerance. The public no longer grew angry, under the impression that it was being given bad photography, when soft-focus pictures appeared, as in Jocelyn and in Eldorado. In a Bryant Washburn film of 1919 a minute person was seen moving about at the bottom of an immense door--perhaps the first purposeful use of scale contrast. Douglas Fairbanks' When the Clouds Roll By used difforming lenses at the same time as the Swedish films and, of course, double exposure was all the rage. Finally, Jules Romains suggested the use of rapid cutting,* which was to be used by Charles Ray in The Girl I Loved and by Abel Gance in La Roue. Once all these devices had been assimilated and A Woman of Paris had given a lesson in simplicity, it remained only to proceed and furnish examples of a serious and complex art.


1. The French Film

THE French film during the subsequent years has been much criticized and nearly always with justice. France and America alone had produced films continuously since the invention of cinematography. France and America alone had consumed large numbers of films and made fortunes temporarily for the film industry.

____________________
*
See note on page 151.

-225-

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