The Ciné Goes to Town: French Cinema, 1896-1914

By Usai, Paolo Cherchi | Journal of Film Preservation, October 1994 | Go to article overview

The Ciné Goes to Town: French Cinema, 1896-1914


Usai, Paolo Cherchi, Journal of Film Preservation


The Ciné Goes to Town French Cinema, 1896-1914 by Richard Abel. Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 1994; 750 p., ill., ISBN 0-520-07935-3

Ten years ago, the appearance of Abel's French Cinema: The First Wave, 1915-1929 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984) provoked a considerable amount of debate among film historians. Oddly enough, the main reason for that was its cultural identity - a comprehensive analysis of the golden age of silent cinema in France, written by an American scholar! To this date, The First Wave has not been translated into French, but now that the second part of this monumental diptych has seen the light, its circulation among European students seems imperative. (One may even call it a triptych with the inclusion of the anthology French Film Theory and Criticism, published in 1988.) What has been said about Film History: An introduction by Thompson and Bordwell holds true in this case: since the times of Sadoul and Mitry, nobody has ever attempted to summarize the available knowledge on early French cinema in a single volume. The author has succeeded in such a daunting task through a development of the methods he has adopted for his previous book. …

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