Friday, October 02, 2009

custody of the child (feuillade, 1909)

Of course, Feuillade would begin a melodrama with a shot that promises to drop us into the story yet, Tati-like, does not highlight the principals or even indicate they have entered the shot! But with unaccented grace he sweeps aside all visual noise and clarity arrives. (Among silent-film titans, LF was the ninja, silent but deadly.)

(Should note that I am highlighting LF's formal strengths very nearly in panicked defense from the pulpy melodrama, which perhaps only form can transcend. The film's title practically exclaims, "skip me!")

Rooms structured around tasteful yet extravagant decor, LF is rarely happy unless the background contains a few ports: doors, windows, curtained nooks, fireplaces...why is the painting over the fire curtained?

An idiot could have handled this narrative, but an idiot didn't, Feuillade did. And he gets suspense from a child hiding (badly) from cops under the dining room table. His seamless merger of film frame and theatrical arch pays huge dividends.

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