Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lucy Fischer on Abel Gance

Penn Cinema Studies Colloquium | Lucy Fischer
Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - 12:00pm
University of Pennsylvania
330 Fisher-Bennett Hall

Lucy Fischer
"Modernity, Machine, Movies, Mind: Abel Gance’s La Roue (1923)"


A discussion of French director Abel Gance‘s film La Roue (The Wheel / 1923), viewed as a pinnacle work of the silent cinema. Jean Cocteau agreed, stating: “There is the cinema before and after La Roue as there is painting before and after Picasso.” The film is a watershed modernist text because it makes innovative use of all the elements of cinematic discourse at this time—tinting, matting, the close-up, intertitles, but especially montage. Beyond the film’s innovative formal attributes, I will focus specifically on two issues. First is the film’s valorization of the machine (here, the railroad system) --an icon of modernity and a new subject of art (e.g. in Futurist painting and in photography). Secondly, I explore how La Roue, fashions various modes for presenting human consciousness—another concern of modernity in this era, as sparked by the writings of Freud and others.

Lucy Fischer is Distinguished Professor of English and Film Studies as well as director of the Film Studies Program. She is the author of ten books: Jacques Tati (G.K. Hall, 1983), Shot/Countershot: Film Tradition and Women's Cinema (Princeton, 1989), Imitation of Life (Rutgers, 1991), Cinematernity: Film, Motherhood, Genre (Princeton University Press, 1996), Sunrise (British Film Institute, 1998), Designing Women: Art Deco, Cinema and the Female Form (Columbia University Press, 2003), Stars: The Film Reader (co-edited with Marcia Landy, Rutgers University Press, 2004), Teaching Film (coedited with Patrice Petro, forthcoming MLA, 2012) and Body Double: The Author Incarnate in the Cinema (forthcoming, Rutgers University Press, 2013).

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