Academic journal article Afterimage

Germaine Dulac: A Cinema of Sensations

Academic journal article Afterimage

Germaine Dulac: A Cinema of Sensations

Article excerpt

French filmmaker Germaine Dulac was never entirely lost to his-tory--she is frequently cited as a pioneering figure in silent film and two of her films, The Smiling Madame Beudet (1923) and The Seashell and the Clergyman (1927), are recognized classics of experimental cinema. What had been lost is a full understanding of Dulac's importance to French filmmaking, both her aesthetic accomplishments and her activism and support for the flagging French film industry in the years after World War I. Tami Williams's new book on Dulac repositions her as a central player in early French film, and argues that her two known films are not anomalous highlights, but instead are part of a consistently innovative body of work that is obscured only by its unavailability. Williams traces Dulac's formation as a filmmaker through an early rebellion against a bourgeois and religious upbringing; the development of practical, and thus moderate, progressive social and feminist ideals; a profound attraction to the arts (particularly music, dance, and theater); and an early journalistic career. Through her detailed research and close readings of Dulac's films, Williams charts consistent influences from these in Dulac's artistic practice. …

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