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8. Scenes from Abroad


Advanced Training for Film Workers:

Jay Leyda

Jay Leyda is the translator of Film Sense, by Sergei Eisenstein.

. ….

Among the many unanswered questions in the film business there is one of apparently small importance to its present but of gigantic importance to its future: Can you teach people how to make films?

This question recently came into particularly sharp focus for me when I received a cable from the Soviet film journal, Iskusstvo Kino, requesting me to prepare an article for them on "film schools, training, and libraries in the United States." Soviet film education has been conducted for so long on such a broad scale, both in technical and in audience training, that the editors of Iskusstvo Kino naturally assume that the great American film industry must be doing at least as much in this field as the far smaller Soviet film industry. I have not yet had the courage to tell them that the American film industry does nothing of the sort.

For, in combing the thorough historical survey prepared by the National Board of Review, The Motion Picture in Colleges and Universities,[1] as well as the hopefully entitled article by Paul Perez in Boxoffice, "College Training for Film Jobs,"[2] I have found no evidence that any connection or mutual responsibility exists between the film teachers and the film industry. The National Board's survey recorded many words of good will spoken by both bodies, and even a few benevolent gestures, but no sign of realization that each needed the other—badly. The lack shows up even more strikingly when one notices in the survey that it is not the educational institutions of Los Angeles, "film center of the world," that are

conducting the most interesting or energetic courses in film, and that the "film jobs" about which Mr. Perez writes may place the graduate student anywhere in the film business except in a Hollywood studio.

This would sound fantastic and even incredible to film workers within an industry that has pursued a quite different policy for twentyfive years. Since the first months after the nationalization of the private Russian film studios and theaters, the planners of the Soviet film industry have persistently developed two types of film education, since from the first they knew that without audience training there would not be constantly elevated demands by the audience on the film makers, and that without the organized schooling of future film makers there could not be a constant supply of fresh talents and trained artists to respond to the audience's demands. Any other course of procedure would have had to rely on chance and economic pressure to effect a change in the backward Russian film industry of 1919, and it was clear that such a lack of instructional method would never develop a Soviet cinema of artistic and social power.

But apparently the American film industry has always felt so confident of its world leadership that it has been content to let both its audience and its personnel learn in the school of hard knocks. This contentment has produced the whole rationale of "It can't be done" so often heard in Hollywood and most recently expressed by Raymond Chandler in a blistering but aimless denunciation of film-writing methods: "There is no teaching, because there is no one to teach. If you do not know how pictures are made, you cannot speak with any authority on how they should be constructed; if you do, you are busy enough trying to do it."[3] Another writer, of longer residence in the film community, Howard Estabrook, has dismissed at least one discussion of film education with the remark, "The best place to learn to swim is in the water." And of the many expressions of direct opposition, among the other artists of American films, to the whole idea of teaching about films, Paul Muni's is typical: "There is no textbook, no school of acting I can recommend. I believe that an actor can really place himself in a part, relying on instinct and experience to guide him, without depending on academic formulas."[4] The faint touch of demagogy in "academic formulas" is characteristic of this argument.


Yet we regularly admit surprise at the expressiveness and originality of Soviet films: not only do new works by recognized masters of long experience such as Eisenstein, Pudovkin, Dovzhenko, Kozintzev, or Trauberg thus delight us; lesser and as yet unfamiliar Russian, White Russian, Georgian, or Urkrainian names, we find, are often attached to the most unexpected pleasures in our filmgoing: of Donskoy, who made The Childhood of Maxim Gorky trilogy and The Rainbow; Pyriev, who has given us two of the best film operettas, The Country Bride and They Met in Moscow; Eisemont of The Girl from Leningrad; Raizman of Mashenka; Lukov of Two Soldiers; Arnstam of Zoya. These and many other young directors of equal importance, along with more than half of the Soviet actors we see in films, as well as almost all the cameramen who have recorded the war's tragedy so thoroughly, and a great many of the film writers who are too often neglected in our admiration of Soviet films, not to mention the innumerable administrators in the studios and film theaters who bring an enviable imagination to their work—all are graduates of one of the several film institutes in the U.S.S.R. Even one of the "masters," Pudovkin, had no film experience before joining a class in the first film school organized; and he still has duties in its successor, the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography in Moscow, as a teacher. I feel sure that neither his director-pupils nor his actor-pupils are instructed by "academic formulas."

It may be of value to learn more about the one film institute in the world that has successfully functioned in close relationship with its country's film industry for twentyfive years. A quantity of information on the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography (V.G.I.K.) is available for American inspection, and I hope that this article may lead to more detailed inspection of that body of film-teaching experience.

Here is a clear and authoritative statement on the whole field of Soviet film education as of 1939:

"The state is interested in developing new masters of the cinema art and provides liberally for such training. Children who show aptitude and


The Childhood of Maxim Gorky (1938), by Mark Donskoy

[Full Size]

desire for work in film may, upon graduation from high school, enter one of the state technical schools or colleges in this field. Like all Soviet students in such institutions, they not only get their tuition free, but are paid state stipends for their support while learning.

"There are three higher educational establishments in the cinema field: the Kiev and Leningrad Institutes for Cinema Engineers and the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography in Moscow for the education of directors, scenario writers, cameramen, and designers. Besides this the big studios in Moscow, Leningrad, Erivan, and Tpilisi have actors' schools. Students of the State Cinema Institute get a broad general education in addition to their specialized training. …

"For cameramen, special disciplines include photography, electrical technique, apparatus, lighting technique, composition, and the technique of filming. Designers study costumes and manners of the past, drawing, painting, architecture, lighting, anatomy, and stage designing. Directors occupy themselves with the theory and practice of their art, cutting, acting, speech technique, make-up, and the organization and accounting of film production. It is interesting to note that the program of the directors includes a course in camera technique and art, while the cameramen


similarly study the problems of directing. Among the faculty are such famous figures as Sergei Eisenstein, Lev Kuleshov, Vsevolod Pudovkin, and Mikhail Romm; such cameramen as Edward Tisse, Anatoli Golovnya, and others.

"The school turns out research workers as well as practicing personnel. It is equipped with laboratories, an experimental studio for student productions, a library of Russian and foreign works, and a large library of films. Among the 3,000 films here preserved, about half are foreign. They include Lumière's first films …some of Chaplin's early comedies, a number of films by D. W. Griffith, Cecil B. DeMille, Thomas Ince, and French and German masters. The collection is invaluable for a study of the world history of the cinema.[5]

"To graduate, the student must present, in lieu of a thesis, a plan for the production of a full-length film, he must take a sequence of the picture in the studio, and spend a certain period in practice work. Then, whether he be director or cameraman, he usually goes to work as assistant to one of the famous masters of the Soviet cinema, although the more talented students sometimes are set to work independently on certain films. The many graduates who come from the national peoples usually go home to work in the studios of their own nationality."[6]

The course at the Institute that has naturally received most attention in the rest of the world has been the course in film direction, both because Soviet film achievements have usually been regarded abroad as exclusively directorial triumphs and because film direction has seemed the most unteachable of film crafts.

Two recent textbooks [7] used in this course have come to this country, and in their different ways they are models that can be followed in any serious attempt to teach this subject. They are quite distinct from each other in form and tone, but they both possess two elements in common with all good textbooks, namely, usefulness and stimulation.

Film Direction: An Anthology (1939) was compiled by Yuri Genika under

the supervision of Yefim Dzigan (the director of We Are from Kronstadt). The editor assembled an enormous quantity of documents relating to the director's job generally, and specifically as he moves from stage to stage of the production process. Both Soviet and foreign materials have been drawn upon, and I imagine the chief reason for the predominance of the former is that Soviet film artists have chosen to be more articulate and frank than other artists. Perhaps all our own need is encouragement?

Principles of Film Direction (1941), by Lev Kuleshov, is a more immediately attractive work, being completely personal, and even humorous, as it goes systematically about its job of leading the student director from one fascinating problem to the next. This admirable artist, a veteran film teacher, has generously turned over his years of experience as well as most of his working hours to the large responsibility of training the next generation of film directors. On May 10, 1944, Kuleshov was appointed Director of the Institute.

Kuleshov's most famous pupil, Vsevolod Pudovkin, has felt his responsibilities, too, to the younger generation of film directors. As far back as 1926 he published two popular handbooks, The Film Scenario and The Film Director and Film Material, for use in and out of the Institute. Ivor Montagu's translation of these two pamphlets as Film Technique (1929 and 1933) has become a classic of world film literature, along with Pudovkin's Film Acting (1935), which is actually a course of lectures delivered at the Institute.

The best known of the Institute's teachers is Sergei Eisenstein. Visual evidence of his students' tasks can be found in two works in English: Soviet Films, 1938–1939, and Vladimir Nilsen's The Cinema as a Graphic Art (1936); both contain illustrations of student classroom work in composition, production design, and mise-en-scène. Eisenstein's own book, The Film Sense (1942), was based on a group of lectures given by him at the Institute. An important document in studying the teaching methods of the Institute is Eisenstein's published "Programme for Teaching the Theory and Practice of Film Direction."[8] Its scope, as well as its depth of treatment, will impress every pedagogue and every film maker, although its

thoroughness may irritate advocates of the unprepared and "instinctive." Eisenstein has outlined in staggering detail a four-year course built on this general method (in his Introduction to the "Programme"):

" … an approach from the simplest and most obvious forms and manifestations …is the only one that will ensure conscious orientation in the more complicated problems of film directorial knowledge and craftsmanship.

"Only such an approach will ensure a single theoretical embrace of all the more complex varieties of the subject of film direction, whilst thoroughly characterising the specific quality of each individual section of it. …

"At every stage of its course the subject of film direction organically impinges upon and in a planned manner grows into neighboring disciplines, where each branch is at the same time thoroughly studied under the guidance of specialists."

There is by no means unanimity among Soviet film makers with respect to film education. One man who thinks the Institute goes too far in its training is no less an artist than Alexander Dovzhenko, who in 1936 proposed a new schedule for the film director's course:

"It does not take a long period of study to make a film director. Five years would be harmful. One year of study—and then to work. Otherwise the student dries up, becomes ‘wise.’ He knows everything, including the peculiar mistakes of each director, and becomes a mediocre average of them all. …I shall organize a studio in the Ukraine. I have promised the Government to train at least four new directors during the next two years. In doing this, I shall combine study with practice to the maximum degree, endeavoring not to make ‘little Dovzhenkos’ of my pupils, but to develop rather the individual talents which they may possess."[9]

I have not tried to be too oblique in demonstrating the fallacy in Mr. Chandler's proposition. The Soviet director-teachers I have mentioned do know how pictures are made, can speak with authority on how they should be constructed, and are never too busy ("trying to do it") to pass on their experience and knowledge to others. If anyone should reply, "Oh, that's Moscow; this is Hollywood; you can't do that sort of thing here," I can point to a successful experiment being conducted at the Actors'

Laboratory Theater, where some of the best film actors in this community are frankly and helpfully discussing methods and experiences in their profession for the benefit of the actor-students in the Laboratory Workshop.

Though Soviet film artists and administrators may not be in complete accord on professional film-training requirements, there is unanimity among them on another group of film students—the audience. Aside from a great deal of direct activity, such as lectures by film makers at factories, clubs, and even film theaters (!), and, in reverse, visits by groups of workers and students to film studios (all of which enjoy the practice of shefstvo, or "mutual patronage" with some school, factory, or military unit), the major work in this field is managed by the printed word.

The astonishing quantity of popular film literature published in the Soviet Union is all adapted to the program of audience education—hundreds of books and pamphlets from the first Russian volume on film aesthetics, Kinematograph (1919), a collection of essays (including ones by Lunacharsky and Kommissarzhevsky), to the latest wartime pocket-size editions of current film scripts (including translations of the Lamar Trotti–Sonya Levien script of In Old Chicago and the Hellman-Parker film treatment of The Little Foxes!). The rich variety of film knowledge thus placed in the public domain makes English and American film books seem very meager indeed.

Both Harcourt, Brace and W. W. Norton can be proud of the quality of their respective film-book lists (each has contributed four in the past nine years!), but the separation between film books and film makers is what is most deplorable in this field. For example, Dudley Nichols is the single American film maker of top importance who in the past ten years has volunteered the time and the will to provide such assistance to the American film audience—in his collaboration with John Gassner in editing two volumes of modern American scripts.[10] The rest of our best film people hesitate before print as before a taboo, doling out little more than a preface or an interview once every year or so. Has this curse been placed on the printed word by its exclusive film employment in publicity? Hasn't D.W. Griffith as much to tell us as Lev Kuleshov, Chaplin as much as Eisenstein, Capra as much as Pudovkin? American film makers, film critics,

and film audiences need these words as badly as the Soviet public does; perhaps more, by this time.

Of all Soviet film literature, there are two volumes that should shame us into action. They stem from the serious interest among Soviet film people in all American film activity, an interest that has often embarrassed me when in Soviet newspapers I have come upon grave discussions of The Great Waltz or Sun Valley Serenade! In the midst of war, and in spite of paper shortages and more obviously urgent tasks, the State Cinema Publishing House planned and began an ambitious series, Materials on the History of World Cinema Art, under the editorship of Eisenstein and Yutkevich. The first two volumes, which deal with American cinematography and were compiled by Pera Attasheva and the late S. Akhushkov, have already appeared, offering to American eyes concrete evidence of Soviet film scholarship.

Volume I contains three essays about an American master, all his random published personal statements, contemporary accounts of him, the chief critical studies about him, a list of his films, biographical sketches of all his co-workers; and the sun around whom this whole system circles is David Wark Griffith. The essays are apparently the major feature of the volume (an important and original piece of historical criticism by Eisenstein, studies by Mikhail Bleiman the screen writer, and Sergei Yutkevich, on Griffith's relation to film writing and film acting, respectively); but the character and purpose of this and the following volume seem more important to me. They show a consuming eagerness to know, and a willingness to put the maximum effort into communicating that knowledge.

The subject of Volume II is Charles Chaplin.[11] The form of the Griffith volume is followed: four essays—by Bleiman, Kozintzev, Yutkevich ("Sir John Falstaff and Mr. Charles Chaplin"), and Eisenstein—plus a compilation of everything (far too little) that could be found in print by Chaplin himself. Although American film publishing can wave, in reply to Volume I of this historical series, Iris Barry's valuable monograph on Griffith (New York, Museum of Modern Art, 1940), Volume II has not yet been equaled by us, notwithstanding the handful of Chaplin "biographies."

Soviet film literature has developed its specialists, also. The film critic

occupies a place on the staff of every newspaper, as he does in this country. And Soviet film historians work continuously in their field, uncovering new material and revealing new historical analysis. The conditions that discourage continuity and second works by our historians, such as Terry Ramsaye and Lewis Jacobs, would not be understood by Nikolai Iezuitov and Venyamin Vishnevsky, the two most active Soviet film historians. But judged on a basis of the Griffith and Chaplin volumes, the film artists themselves bear the heaviest responsibility of establishing critical tastes and standards—and we are brought back abruptly to the question of professional Soviet film education.

It has aim, but no end. It goes on after you leave the Institute. You actually "graduate" from one degree of schooling to the next degree. An example of this eternal postgraduate work is the Film Actors' Theater, formed on September 28, 1944:

"The company of this new theater is to be drawn from actors in the film studios and will also include a number of stage actors willing to appear regularly in films. …

"One of its tasks is to train actors for films. The theater will recommend to film directors actors for film rôles after having trained them in the stage performance of fragments from scenarios.

"The new technical method of filming now being experimentally introduced at the Mos film Studio demands thorough preliminary preparation of the whole cast. …This work will consist of preparations for actual filming, with rehearsals, preliminary work on make-up, settings and costume sketches, the composer's work on the film score, etc."[12]

One explanation for the double phenomenon of self-education and educating younger people in one's own profession may be that fear of the young and the cultivation of professional selfishness have been weeded out and outlawed as thoroughly in the Soviet scene as has anti-Semitism.

These principles of film education are not unattainable in our own industry. We have a Hollywood Quarterly to prove that the most logical developments open up only if someone pushes hard enough. If a university can push a respectable film magazine, perhaps the same university can pull out of our film people a film institute and related film literature. It took a war to make American film talents like Anatole Litvak speak publicly

about their profession at the G.I. University in Biarritz. Shall we need another war to make them teach in Hollywood?

Other institutions for professional film education are being projected or beginning in various parts of the world, notably the new Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinématographiques which the most ambitious and restless members of the French film industry have organized—in spite of the pleasingly worn ruts offered to them by a postwar industry based on prewar thinking. There have been other institutions: for four summers, from 1935 to 1938, the Educational Handwork Association, in conjunction with the British Film Institute, held a London Film School; [13] Los Angeles itself once looked upon the promising opening of a Cinema Workshop at the University of Southern California. And the soundest American program for a film institute has not yet been tried, thirteen years after its formulation by Harry Alan Potamkin. His "Proposal for a School of the Motion Picture," [14] though little more than a sketch, has a balance and emphasis, based on American film needs, that any planner would do well to consult.

There will be other programs, other schools—even in Hollywood. But, to maintain its leading position in the film world, the American film industry must see, and soon, the necessity of a film school, a school in which the industry's best people will be the teachers, a school from which the industry will regularly absorb the best-trained talents in all film crafts, a school whose standards will be established by more than commercial needs. The initiative may be taken by a university, by the producing companies, or by the combined guilds and unions of the industry, but before the school is fully satisfactory and workable all three bodies will have to be participants in it. Time passes, and the more we lose of the present, the more we lose of the future.


Advanced Training for Film Workers:

Charles Boyer

Since 1934, Charles Boyer has appeared mainly in American motion pictures. During the war he was active on behalf of American-French Relief organizations and the Free French Movement in the United States. He is the founder of the French Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the strengthening of Franco American friendship. His most recent pictures include Gaslight, Confidential Agent, and Cluny Brown.

. ….

Even those of us whose confidence and admiration for France lead us to expect miracles of her look with amazement on her actual achievements since the liberation. After four years of simmering under the Occupation's fire and pressure, the lid has been removed once more from the nation's cauldron of intellectual and artistic endeavor. And instead of finding its contents evaporated and shrunken, we discover the pot still full and bubbling with vigor! Literary reviews and magazines devoted to art and fashion which have reached us from Paris since V-E Daymaintain and even surpass their traditional standards of creative originality and artistic presentation. The world of letters and the theater are intensely busy. And France's music makers have contrived to turn the very echoes of misery and defeat into inspiring melodies for tomorrow.

Into this atmosphere—and perhaps, to some extent, out of it—has been born a new Paris conservatory. It is fitting that this "Institute of Advanced Film Studies" (Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinématographiques), the first school of its kind, should be established in France, the birthplace of motion pictures. Indeed, French motion picture men, admittedly foremost in the field, feel that their medium, after fifty years' existence, should no longer be regarded as a commercial enterprise, nor as a stepchild of the arts, but should be recognized for what it is already, and for what it is destined to become: a high creative art of incalculable social import.

With rare common sense these men have taken practical steps toward the achievement of this recognition. They have founded a school of motion pictures where young people of talent can learn the theory and practical application of the many arts and techniques that go to make up a good film.

The Institute of Advanced Film Studies, which is actually functioning at 6 Rue de Penthièvre in Paris, is conceived along ultramodern and farreaching lines. It boasts a library entirely devoted to the film and its ramifications, already containing some 12,000 volumes. The founders of the Institute look upon this library as a mere nucleus for the comprehensive Office of Film Documentation which they expect to assemble.

IDHEC is already gaining public recognition through its magazine, Cinéma, which carries in its initial issues some of the lectures and texts offered to students at the Institute. This material, as indicated by a few sample titles from Cinéma, is highly worthwhile. Louis Taquin discusses "Direction and Script"; Pierre Blanchar shares his professional knowledge and experience in an article on "The Technique of Motion Picture Acting" —fascinating reading for the layman, "must" reading for future stars; Marcel L'Herbier outlines the latest developments in television and its relationship to motion pictures; Jean Vivie traces the invention and history of the cinema.

The Institute itself, staffed by such motion picture veterans or members of the advance guard as L'Herbier, Gremillon, Carne, Taquin, Becker, Spaak, Moussinac, Mitry, Vivie, Gerin, Lods, etc., enjoys the support of Professors Jasinski, Aymand, Touchard, and Rousseau, to name but a few, and has aroused the interest of France's foremost writers, painters, musicians, and men of science.

IDHEC operates on the theory that the chief deficiency in motion pictures today arises from the fact that the majority of men and women in the industry entered this field by chance or through some fortuitous connection, without previous thought or preparation for the jobs they are called upon to fill. Up to now the only school for motion pictures has been the school of experience, attended to the detriment of quality in general film production and, often enough, with little profit to the individual because he is not suited to the type of work he finally learns to perform. Furthermore, old hands in the business seldom have either the time or the patience to train unpromising apprentices to their own levels of

achievement, reached the hard way over long years of trial and error. The Institute feels that the chief need, then, is for a channelization of talent and the systematic direction of effort and instruction from the outset.

If progress in films is to be made, the "know how" so painfully acquired by the motion picture masters of today must be passed along without the loss of years to producers, directors, actors, and technicians of the future. However, the Institute recognizes the need for practical experience to supplement academic instruction. As soon as the student in a given branch of picture making has received the necessary background and fundamental training, he is provided with opportunity to practice the rudiments of his craft under the actual conditions he will meet later in the studios when he is on his own.

Subjects covered in the Institute's curriculum include production, direction, acting, film writing, sound and lighting techniques, special effects, costume design, keeping script, animation, the history and development of motion pictures and allied arts, and courses in the domain of general culture—the background indispensable to worthy film creation. If any phase in the broad scope of motion picture art has been overlooked by the Institute, its directors are eager to have such omissions brought to their attention. The organization's guiding spirit seems to be one of open-minded receptivity and a keen desire for renewal and improvement.

This all sounds ideal. But where, one is inclined to wonder, shall young people capable of profiting from such instruction be recruited? It is well known that talent or even aptitude in motion pictures is a rare composite in which character and temperament are important factors. The answer is that the Institute recruits its students from all walks of life. Their abilities and leanings are as numerous and varied as the techniques contributing to a harmonious finished product on the screen. They have but one thing in common: a love of the motion picture, a burning desire to elevate the medium to new artistic heights, and a sincere wish to contribute their share to its social and aesthetic progress.

It goes without saying that the mystery and glamour attached in the public mind to motion pictures attracts young people in droves to studio gates and, more recently, to IDHEC's doors. It is equally obvious that a large majority of these young hopefuls are eminently unsuited to picture making. For this reason the Institute has spent months of intensive research in the fields of psychology and psychoanalysis, to devise examinations accurately evaluating motion picture ability.


Systems of grading heretofore employed have been abandoned as useless in selecting candidates for film careers. For if a student graduates from school with a mathematics rating of 80, language 50, and natural sciences 90, his average standing of 70 tells us nothing of his capability as an artist, his adaptability to constantly varying circumstances, nor his ingenuity in meeting the hundreds of unforeseen technical problems he would encounter on a movie set.

IDHEC's entrance examinations for film candidates are competitive— and they are stiff. Proofs of facility, gifts of imagination, an inventive spirit, and visual aptitudes are determined by all sorts of tests, ranging from written composition to psychological aptitude examinations. Oral questioning, done by competent film critics, brings the imponderables of personality to light. The Institute's tests are not infallible, naturally. But the experimental work it has already done and continues to carry forward in connection with the intelligent selection of its students is, in itself, an important contribution to the science of education in general.

The school realizes that it cannot create film artists overnight, any more than a painter, a musician, or a great writer can be solely the product of training. Its aim, therefore, is to direct and expand talent where it is latent, and to develop personalities fitted to meet the constant demand for renewal inherent in motion picture creation. It does not expect that its diploma will represent a guarantee of extraordinary skill or talent. But it feels that producers of films on the lookout for new artists and technicians will accept IDHEC graduates, confident in the solidity of their basic training, and with reasonable hopes for their future achievements.

IDHEC is soliciting correspondents, both professional and nonprofessional, throughout the world. The organization's purpose is to arouse wider and more intelligent interest in motion pictures, and to stimulate exchanges of data and suggestions mutually advantageous to all who are engaged in the cinematographic arts. If IDHEC receives support in the pursuit of this disinterested policy, the results may eventually prove to be a long step forward on the path of international cooperation and good will.

IDHEC, a French University of Motion Pictures, furthers the French pioneering tradition—a pioneering of the intellect. Since it is the first institution of its kind, it is unfettered by the rules and customs governing most establishments of learning. The Institute makes good use of all that has been proved most effective and best in conservatories and educational foundations already in existence, but it is unhampered in its choices, free

in the creation of new methods to meet new problems, awake to the necessities of the present and the challenge of the future.

The Institute of Advanced Film Studies has a sense of profound responsibility in the training of actors and technicians who will contribute to the shaping of the films of tomorrow— films certainly destined, in turn, to shape and influence world opinion and world events. The founders of the Institute are not concerned with politics. They feel that if their graduates remain loyal to the high artistic and technical integrity demanded of them during their formative period, they will automatically strive to uphold beauty and truth, thus serving the best interests of mankind.


The Global Film

Vsevolod Pudovkin

Translated by Jay Leyda

Vsevolod Pudovkin, the Russian director, is best known for his early films, Mother, The End of St. Petersburg, and Storm Over Asia. His latest films, The Russian People, based on Simonov's play, and Admiral Nakhimov, have not yet been seen in this country.

. ….

I am profoundly convinced that the film, an art of quite recent appearance, possesses exceptionally great potentialities for the expression of man's broadest thoughts and ideas. Film history gives us a concrete example of the potentialities that distinguish the film from the other arts. We clearly remember those days in which our Soviet film was born and matured, a period which at the same time was the formative period of our Soviet state. The enormous struggle within this period was nourished by the highest ideas of human significance. Our best films, linked to this time, are familiar to all. All of them, no matter how various were the styles of their individual authors, were alike in one respect: they strove to unite in a persuasive visual form events widely separated in time as well as events spread over the farthest reaches of the earth. Giving substance to the largest ideas of humanity, they did not so much aim to tell about as to show the connection between phenomena, with the conviction which sight alone can provide and which only the film can provide fully.

The creative study of a montage of visual fragments, established in this period, revealed the true meaning of this fundamental and mighty method in film art. By montage an artist could communicate to the spectator in simple, graphic, and sharply expressive means what would seem to be the most complex and abstract generalizations. The artists of that day tried to keep pace with the flashing succession of new, vital, and significant ideas, and sought new forms of art in which they could be embodied, but it was the film in particular that proved the most powerful means for the expression of those ideas, and undoubtedly influenced both the theater and the literature of the time.


Then, too, it was suddenly realized by all that the motion picture camera was a new sort of instrument, allowing the human eye to penetrate into regions hitherto closed to it. The motion picture camera was regarded as a telescope that could take the human eye into cosmic space, or as a microscope that could bring into the field of vision the world of in-finitesimal organisms. Actually, the camera lens never saw more than did the human eye; it was the creative unification on the screen of all that the camera could see in many scattered places—throughout the world, if you wished, and at any time—constructed into a vision as single and convincing as a landscape or portrait, that gave this picture of the true relationships of phenomena. Before film existed no eye could see this, just as without the telescope no one saw the satellites of Jupiter, or as no one saw living cells before the existence of the electronic microscope.

Films, moreover, were still "silent," which gave them one more important capacity: an unlimited audience. The silent film was visually international in the fullest sense of the word. Its only words appeared in subtitles that could be replaced in any language without harming the artistic integrity or the organic elements of the work.

And then what happened?

In the silent films we artists constantly overcame huge difficulties. Each step required effort; it was necessary to invent perpetually. The silent film was full of creative inventions without which it could not have progressed. It was precisely in the period of the silent film that the film scenario represented a specific literary genre, one so individual that it quickly filtered into other literary forms, including playwriting.

But when sound came, and the screen actor began to speak, film workers encountered a new kind of actor, already experienced, and armed with theater culture. They also encountered a new kind of writer, armed with the experience of writing for the theater. Influences turned abruptly in the opposite direction: literature and the theater began to rule the film with their traditions more and more. One could watch the gradually lessening efforts of the film artist to show everything, to help the spectator see everything with his own eyes, and to rouse and convince him by the immediacy of his perception.

Films began to tell of things more and more in words. It was no longer necessary to send out the motion picture camera in search of the realities of truth. The desire of a director to film a London street in London itself,

with all its inimitable peculiarities and subtle detail, which would make this London street valuable in the spectator's knowledge of real life—this desire also faded. Now the London street was quietly built in the studio, for the director had begun to acquire a theatricalized relation to the film, and was becoming content with an abstract treatment and conventional depiction of the street, which was needed, after all, only as a background for spoken dialogue, itself the point of the film. Imperceptibly, all the vast significance of unimpeded vision and the examination of life which the motion picture camera had given us was replaced by verbal narrative, as it naturally has always existed and exists today in the theater. Spectators were gradually deprived of that wonderful possibility of witnessing real life with their own eyes, a possibility that had been realized so generously and fruitfully in the days of the silent film. Like some cheated prize-winner, the spectator was offered a magic-lantern lecture about Africa in place of the plane trip that would have allowed him to see Africa with his own eyes.

Along with many of my comrades in art, I still feel sad to see the latest films using the most modern technical devices for the imitation of living nature—putting lifeless settings before the cameras. Location trips to distant points are avoided as unprofitable. Hollywood, the world's center of technical film organization, is quite satisfied with its back lots full of used and reused sets for all the cities of the world. The few pitiful rivers, sandy places, and hills that happen to be near the great film city have long since grown accustomed to being made up as the Ganges, as the Sahara, as Mont Blanc. If everything can be told in words, as in the theater, why give yourself the extra trouble of showing anything? Showing costs more than telling, just as a trip costs more than a lecture. So, for purely commercial considerations, because production costs could be cut and because the craft required for the adaptation to films of methods already evolved in the theater and literature was easier and more convenient, the modern film was impoverished; motion pictures now bear a closer resemblance to recordings of performances on a stage than they do to the magnificent, original, and powerful films that were once given us.

Sound films also completely lost their international character. Pictures produced in one country were nearly destroyed as works of art when they were exhibited in other countries. Since the spectator has to read, almost without pause, the translated words of the film's dialogue, idiotically

printed on the picture itself, he cannot be expected to gain any impression from the pictorial composition of the original film. Furthermore, the spectator—for he is no longer an auditor, but only a spectator—can only be distracted by the unknown language coming from the loud-speaker; this has no more meaning for him than the static in poor radio reception. His attention, instead of being attracted to the direct perception of the work of art, is broken up; his impressions are scattered in all directions, and he is not fully moved, as one should be by a work of art. Our contemporary film with its superimposed subtitles gives me the impression of an entertaining bus excursion that has been arranged by removing tires, muffler, and springs from our vehicle. Such excursions give me nothing but nervous indigestion. Attempts at dubbing the translated dialogue in the mouths of the original actors have been little more successful.

If you agree with me that modern methods of producing a sound film narrow the audience for it, as a complete art experience, to a single country and a single language group, then you, too, must come to the unavoidable conclusion that the problem of creating a film comprehensible to all peoples must be taken up with far more conviction and strength than we have hitherto applied to solving it. I repeat: the world-wide comprehension of the film is a goal that must be identified with the allembracing goal, imperatively required today, of a direct exchange of ideas of general human significance.

For this reason I am sincerely convinced that our foremost talents, chiefly the younger ones, or those that are young enough to be daring and decisive, must be newly directed to the rough and difficult road of creative invention. Where is this road? Are there no artists who have already attempted to travel it?

Here I want to draw attention to one sort of film that has acquired particularly clear definition during the war. This is the feature-length documentary film, which uses the facts of living actuality as filmed by the motion picture camera, but which unites them in montage with the aim of communicating to the spectator certain, sometimes quite general and abstract, ideas. Such a documentary film is not merely informational. It differs from the newsreel in the same way that an editorial or article in a newspaper differs from the news item in the next column. Thanks to those properties of films which I mentioned above, we have the right to look upon such documentary films as a phenomenon of high art.


I have been able to see several of these documentary feature films, all created while the war was being fought. There is, for example, the American film, Prelude to War. One of its striking characteristics is its direct, bold, and broad use of montage methods that were discovered in the period of the silent film. Prelude to War conducts its function of communicating with the spectator along three correctly distinct and separated paths—the word, the picture, and the music. The voice of the commentator leads the work of formulating and summarizing the abstract propositions. Visual fragments, fixing factual material that was photographed in Germany, Italy, and Japan—material originally scattered over half the globe—are linked together and organized for the express purpose of persistently persuading the spectator of three basic assertions:

  1. Fascism is blind discipline, reducing the human being to the condition of a slave (ceaseless mechanically moving cohorts of the fascist organizations in Germany, Italy, and Japan).
  2. Fascism is an organized deception of the people (persistently repeated shots of thousands of people at a peak of hysterical ecstasy, surging heads, waving arms, filmed in such a way that you cannot make out human faces, and you get an impression of a disturbed anthill; similar shots from Germany, Italy, and Japan are shown repeatedly).
  3. Fascism is domination by a handful of worthless men, deliberately exploiting the darker instincts of mankind (regularly persistent display, in close-up, of the fascist leaders, chiefly in moments of oratorical exaltation, smacking of something very close to idiocy).

These three basic assertions are pursued in a montage of various combinations with invariably repeated persistence. United with the abstractions of the commentator's speech, the visually perceived facts produce an unusually powerful impression. Personally, I do not agree with the primitive treatment of fascism presented by this film, but the powerful impression made by such an organized film production on the spectators is indubitable. Such a film is fully international, and can be fully understood anywhere. The commentator's voice may be translated into any language without disturbing the integrity of impression. The montage of visual images does not require translation. I shall leave open the question of the music in this film, because the musical element here is used in the usual cliché manner.

I am convinced that this form of the documentary feature film will gain

ever-increasing significance in the post-war period, first, because we need no longer doubt that it can be understood by all the peoples of the world, and second, because, thanks to this advantage, it can be widely used for fully and profoundly acquainting peoples with one another and can serve to a very considerable degree in expressing universal ideas in a graphic and striking way. The task of the artist working in this form is to find more subtle means for artistic communication of simple propositions, as well as of their profound development on the philosophic and pictorial planes.

I must again stress the tremendous significance of the documentary film in achieving the desired goal of bringing peoples together. Real truth about a people cannot be shown in separated and partial examples, localized to one or another place. It must be allowed to tell itself on a broad scale, revealing, as a principle, the historical essence of each phenomenon.

I want to draw attention to one other path along which we can conduct our search for new forms. We all know that human speech is not the first, but the last, culminating, moment in the expression of the inner state of man. Figuratively speaking, the word may be thought of as the foam rising to the crest of an emotional wave as it reaches its height. The word was organically preceded by that vast wealth of mimic expression which man possesses and which we were able to read so easily and accurately in the close-ups of actors in the silent films. There are words so immediately linked with mimed actions that their meaning is already read on the speaker's face before the word has been fully articulated. Their intonations take on almost purely musical functions. In these words may be revealed the secret of the musical phrase that can be sensed not only as a formal combination of sounds but also as a kind of composer's speech giving clear expression to feelings and thoughts. Such a word can be almost completely comprehended by any person, regardless of the language in which it is spoken.

We were once very close, in film art, to the discovery of such a film vocabulary. It often appeared in the subtitles of silent films, and even these mute letters had the cogency of spoken words. I do not consider that the speech we had in the silent film, in the form of subtitles, was artistically destitute. Its words were carefully chosen and appeared only when necessity flung them to the crest of a wave of feelings and thoughts that had already been read by the spectator in the mimed performance of the actor.

Such words are really universally understood and may well serve as a lead in our search for a new film form comprehensible to all. This would be a task well worth all the creative strength spent on it.

Music stands in direct relation to such words and cannot be questioned as an organically necessary element within any film. The relation between music and cinema is not accidental. The profound rhythmic structure of every film is musical by nature. Silent films could not exist, nor did they ever exist, without music, even though sound was not recorded on the film itself at that time. But the fact cannot be overemphasized that music has not yet been utilized in film making to the full extent of its possibilities. There are, of course, many pictures known as "musical films," filled and running over with music, but these are, with rare exceptions, no more than screen translations of musical plays or shows that could be just as well produced on any stage. The mighty capacity offered by music to bear profound meanings, approaching heroic speech, has scarcely been touched by film artists. It is to musical thought of this kind that creative film attention must be directed.

It would be absurd to interpret what I have said as a recommendation to abolish the sound film or even as a recommendation to erase all dialogue from future films, replacing it with laconicism and music. These thoughts have been merely an attempt to put into words a task which, I feel, all responsible film artists must face: to find and develop new film forms which will answer the universal desire for unity that has arisen among all the peoples of the world. Alongside the sound film, which has achieved so much in so brief a time, a new kind of film is waiting to be born. Now it is time to gather together all the scattered attempts and experiments made by artists in an instinctive expression of this need, to revive the vast opportunities left latent in our silent film experience, and to begin work on this new film for all the world.


The Postwar French Cinema

Georges Sadoul

Georges Sadoul is a widely known film historian and critic. Two of his studies of pioneers in film have appeared in the Hollywood Quarterly.

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The importance of the current crisis in French cinema should not be exaggerated, although its effect on the quality of production is undeniable. The truth is that the French cinema has been in a state of chronic crisis for the last thirty years.

The industry operates on a very narrow basis in France. In a country where half the population lives in the country or in small villages, there are relatively few motion picture theaters, and attendance is limited. For every Frenchman buying one movie ticket, an Englishman buys five or six, an American eight or ten; moreover, the price of admission is three to five times greater in England and America than it is in France.

Before 1914, in spite of its undeveloped home market, France had a quasi-monopoly of international film trade. In 1908, according to George Eastman, founder of the Kodak enterprises, the Pathé Company alone was selling twice as many films in the United States as all the American producers put together. But the young American industry soon dominated its home market, and then eliminated French competition in nearly all foreign countries. In 1920 the big companies in Paris, playing a losing game, liquidated their agencies and studios abroad, and relied on importing American, German, and Swedish films for part of their French revenue.

French production, which had been foremost in quantity and to a certain extent in quality, collapsed after 1914, systematically discouraged by these big firms. By 1928 France was producing only fifty films a year. The industrial policy of the interests that monopolized the industry discouraged the directors grouped around Louis Delluc who wanted to make French cinema an art. At the end of the silentfilm period most of them renounced their ambitions and resigned themselves to producing commercial

films. Aside from the efforts of the avant-garde, reserved to a very limited élite, there was no longer a French School, but only individual creators, the most important of whom were Jacques Feyder and René Clair.

The introduction of sound film and the resulting public demand for French-language films stimulated production. It grew in two years from fifty to two hundred films a year, a certain number of them being products of German and American companies. But, aside from those made by René Clair, they remained for the most part wholly mediocre and very much inferior to German and American productions of the same period.

In 1934, René Clair, discouraged by the difficulties he encountered, settled down in England. Jacques Feyder had been in the United States since 1929. The brightest hope of the younger generation, Jean Vigo, died at twenty-nine, exhausted by the struggle he had led. The two largest French firms, Pathé and Gaumont, closed down, and Paramount interrupted its enormous production program in Paris. The depth of the depression had been reached. One might well have believed that the French cinema was doomed. Happily, this was far from true.

The downfall of the big companies had to a certain extent reëstablished free competition. Smaller studios gave opportunities to talents that were still unknown or had been blacklisted by the larger studios. The absence of René Clair was compensated for by the return of Jacques Feyder. The much-criticized efforts of Marcel Pagnol now began to bear fruit. In 1935 a French School was born, grouped around Jacques Feyder, Jean Renoir, Marcel Carné, and Julien Duvivier. In foreign capitals it regained for France the artistic position lost twenty years earlier.

The second World War brutally interrupted the renaissance. Renoir, René Clair, and Duvivier were able to reach Hollywood. Feyder had to take refuge in Switzerland. The Propaganda Staffel, organ of Nazi censorship, kept French cinema under rigid control. As an art it was threatened with eclipse. But a certain number of directors emerged who effectively took the place of those who were missing. Discovered or rediscovered were Jean Grémillon, Jacques Becker, Louis Daquin, Robert Bresson, Jean Delannoy, and H. G. Clouzot. Marcel Carné directed Les Visiteurs du soir and Les Enfants du Paradis. In all occupied Europe there was no better cinema than that of France, almost all of whose personnel were active in organizations of the Resistance.

Certain economic factors favored the pursuit of the renaissance of

French cinema. Before 1939, 35 to 40 per cent of receipts had gone to American and German firms. Under the occupation, American films were banned and the Germans tried to monopolize the screen, but the mediocrity of their production and its propagandist content provoked a spontaneous popular boycott of Doctor Goebbels' films.

The foreign share in receipts fell below 10 per cent, and French production, sharply favored, in spite of all the difficulties born of the war, was able to release a total of seventyfive films in 1942, as compared with an average annual output of a hundred and twenty in the years preceding the outbreak of the war.

The Liberation, the fighting, and the heavy bombardment that led up to it, brought film making almost to a standstill in 1944. In a country still virtually without communication and electricity, the studios resumed production with the greatest difficulty in 1945. Nevertheless, they soon had to their credit important artistic achievements and were honored at international festivals in Brussels, Cannes, Venice, and elsewhere.

With the reëstablishment of normal international exchange, foreign competition on the economic plane reappeared. In June, 1946, in Washington, Blum and Byrnes signed motion picture agreements between France and the United States. The prewar film import system—that of "contingency"—limiting to one hundred and twenty the number of American films to be imported each year was replaced by the "quota" system. French theater programs were now to include at least 31 per cent of domestic films, but no limitation was placed on the number of foreign films to be imported. As a result of the agreements the share of the domestic income reserved for French producers, which had been more than 90 per cent during the war, fell below 40 per cent in the first quarter of 1947. Before 1939 it had comprised between 60 and 70 per cent. A wave of panic began to spread. In the winter of 1947–48, eight out of thirteen studios closed their doors. Unemployment mounted to 80 per cent in some branches of the industry. The number of feature films, which had reached ninety-four in 1946, fell back to seventy-four in 1947.

The strong feeling among technicians, artists, and studio workers was shared by a large body of public opinion. Hundreds of thousands ofmoviegoers joined Committees for the Defense of French Cinema. As early as the first months of 1948, Parliament concerned itself with the problem, and the French government denounced the Washington agreements.


They were replaced in October, 1948, by arrangements more favorable to French cinema. The "quota" was increased from 31 to 40 per cent; the number of dubbed films to be imported was reduced to the level of 1938. Finally, a special assistance act was passed which gave the various branches of the industry a subsidy of 2,000,000,000 francs.

These measures, foreshadowed from the beginning of 1948, stimulated French production: ninety-six films were made in 1948, the highest production figure since 1938. However, although new circumstances had been established, new dangers appeared. Since the beginning of 1949 the country has been in a threatening economic crisis. Unemployment and bankruptcies have multiplied. The standard of living, already very low at the time of the Liberation in comparison with that of 1938, continued to decline rapidly from 1946 on. Although the price of admission has increased much less than the general cost of living, theater attendance has fallen sharply. In 1948, attendance in industrial areas fell 25 to 30 per cent from the levels of the preceding year. The first figures reported in 1949 showed a further decline of 20 to 25 per cent from the already very unsatisfactory totals of 1948, when attendance was actually poorer than it was in 1944, a year of bombardments, battles, and shortages of electricity.

Under such conditions, French producers—who are almost always independents without large capital resources—hesitate to undertake films that risk not being able to repay production costs on the domestic market. Yet French films cost little. The average budget for a picture was about 40,000,000 francs, or $100,000 in 1948. A superproduction might cost as much as 80,000,000 francs, but a budget greater than 100,000,000 francs, or $250,000, is considered a real extravagance. In 1948 only two films exceeded, by an insignificant margin, the $250,000 limit. The tendency of French producers to plan in terms of low budgets is not always shrewdly calculated. One of the two films budgeted at more than $250,000 in 1948, H. G. Clouzot's Manon, will very quickly earn large profits for its producer by virtue of its great success in France and abroad, whereas Monsieur de Falindor, a film budgeted at less than $50,000, is likely to lose half the meager capital invested in it.

One of the characteristics of the present situation in the French industry is that the differences in the profitability of films, formerly narrow, are now very considerable, and may vary for films made on identical budgets in a ratio of 1 to 20, and even more. This phenomenon is due to the economic

crisis, but also to a change in the audience. More and more French people go to see movies selectively, choosing films in whose quality they have confidence. They are losing the habit of attending the theater closest to their homes without considering the program, and they are becoming increasingly exacting about what is offered to them.

The French producers who pursue a policy of mediocre production at bottom prices will eventually be proved wrong, but their attitude has had a most undesirable effect on quality. Since the Liberation most of the directors of outstanding talent have made few films, or none, for it was feared that their demands on the budget would be excessive. Jacques Feyder, who returned to France in 1944, had not been assigned one film to direct up to the time of his death in 1948. In five years, Jean Grémillon, author of Lumière d'été and Le Ciel est à vous, directed only one film. The same was true of Jacques Becker, who made Goupi Mains Rouges, Marcel Carné, in spite of the great success of Les Enfants du Paradis and Les Visiteurs du soir, René Clair, and Claude Autant-Lara.

Nevertheless, the development of French cinema continues and its achievements are far from negligible. In the following survey it will not be possible, unfortunately, to take into account whether a given film is already known to the American public.

The absence of Jean Renoir and the loss of Jacques Feyder are deeply felt. But the prewar masters René Clair, Julien Duvivier, Marcel Carné, and Marcel Pagnol have each produced a film in France since 1945.

René Clair was abroad for more than twelve years. Air pur, the film he started in 1939, was interrupted by the declaration of war and will never be finished. Le Silence est d'or was an opportunity for him to rediscover, in the atmosphere of Paris, some of the avant-garde traditions with which he grew up and, more especially, the beloved French cinema before 1914 to which his art owes so much. In Le Silence est d'or, without losing any of his smiling optimism, he shows a certain melancholy, almost bitterness; but the lightness of his touch and the swift precision of his art swept away, at least outwardly, the seriousness that might have clouded the comedy and transformed into querulousness the grumbling charm of this "journal of a fifty-year-old man." The success of Le Silence est d'or was considerable in France and in Europe. But for three years René Clair did not work on another film. In collaboration with the dramatist Armand

Salacrou he is now preparing La Beauté du diable, a free adaptation of Goethe's Faust. It is being shot outside of France, in Rome. …

After the triumph of his elaborate Les Enfants du Paradis, Marcel Carné had exceptional means at his disposal for Portes de la nuit. The film was to be a fantasy and its hero was a personification of "destiny" as a vagabond. But it was also to be a study of the hard winter that followed the Liberation. The Barbès-Rochechouart metro in Montmartre, the sorry working-class districts on the north side of Paris, the dismal Saint-Martin canal, demolished areas, the main railroad yards, were the locales in which the protagonists, conceived for Carné by his regular screenwriter, Jacques Prevert, moved. Reality, too minutely elaborated, seemed a studio set, especially when the new Italian films were being shown triumphantly on French screens at the same time. In addition, a false poetry, in the manner of the 'twenties and 'thirties, marred the scenes of fantasy. The almost total failure of the film was not its just due, however, for it did contain admirable sections.

Subsequently, Carné began to work on La Fleur de l'âge, a film about penitentiaries for children, written by Jacques Prevert. Shooting was far from complete when the film was abandoned. Carné then spent long months in Italy preparing, from a script by dramatist Jean Anouilh, a modern version of Euridyce, to be played by Michèle Morgan. The project failed. It seems that Carné, whose Quai des Brumes and Le Jour se lève place him among the world's greatest directors, will not soon have a chance to make another film.

Marcel Pagnol, who is very popular in the United States, is far less so in France, for reasons that are not immediately apparent. But the fact is that Pagnol has always mixed the best with the worst in his films, even at the peak of his fame before the war. In comparison with the works of his best period—Angèle, Jofroi, La Femme du boulanger—his La Fille du puisatier (1940) represents a definite decline. His film Naïs, an adaptation from Zola released after the Liberation, was below average in quality.

His last work, La Belle Meunière, is a fictional version of the life of Schubert, interesting only because it experimented with the new, still imperfect, French color process, routcolor. About the film itself the less said the better, for it is totally without merit.

Julien Duvivier reopened his French career with Panique, which was

well performed by the excellent actors Michel Simon and Viviane Romance. But the script, the story of a man unjustly accused of murder and lynched, is conventional. It would be difficult, indeed, to count such a film among the achievements of the maker of Pépé le Moko, La belle équipe, and Un Carnet de bal.

Among those who proved themselves during the Occupation, Jean Grémillon is certainly one of the most effective and talented. He first appeared in the ranks of the avant-garde soon after 1925, but after one or two commercial failures he was constrained to direct films unworthy of his considerable ability.

On the eve of the war, Jean Grémillon again attracted attention with his L'Etrange Monsieur Victor, magnificently played by Raimu, and Remorques, a film that was to star Jean Gabin and Michèle Morgan. He was prevented from completing the latter by the opening of hostilities.

After the success he achieved under the Occupation with Lumière d'été and Le Ciel est à vous, Jean Grémillon undertook a project with a wide social canvas: Le Massacre des innocents, a story of France between 1935 and 1945. The plans did not go through. He then prepared, under the sponsorship of the French government, Le Printemps de la liberté, in commemoration of the Revolution of 1848. Just as the shooting was about to start, the government withdrew its promised support and the film could not be made. This is to be much regretted, for the script, which has been published, proves that Le Printemps de la liberté would certainly have been one of the best postwar French films.

After this setback, Jean Grémillon directed a script by the dramatist Jean Anouilh, Pattes blanches, which was released in France in April, 1949. Here, Grémillon demonstrated full mastery of his talents. He was able to give vivid reality to a story set in a small town in Brittany which opposes a ruined young man, a fishmonger in love, a forlorn girl, a disinherited bastard, and a hunchbacked inn servant. Thanks to Grémillon and his actors, these characters became believable and gripping. But inadequacies in the screenplay are evident, despite the dramatic talent of Jean Anouilh.

Jacques Becker, who became famous with Goupi Mains Rouges, was for many years Jean Renoir's assistant. But the disciple has shown great individuality. Falbalas, which he directed in the last months of the Occupation, is a brilliant painting of the milieu of Parisian haute-couture. But Falbalas did not reach the high perfection of Antoine et Antoinette, a

chronicle of the everyday life of Parisian workmen, whose simplicity of tone and uncompromising rejection of customary dramatic devices cannot but bring to mind the best films of the young Italian school. Jean Grémillon and Jacques Becker are among the best representatives of the realistic French school, along with Georges Rouquier, René Clément, and Louis Daquin.

Georges Rouquier presented in Farrebique a picture, at once homely and lyrical, of the daily life of peasants in southern France. This full-length film owes much to Nanook and Moana, but Georges Rouquier's special merit consists in having portrayed men in their everyday struggle with nature not under exotic skies but in the setting he knows most intimately. The inhabitants of the farm seen in Farrebique, acted by themselves, are close relatives of Rouquier.

René Clément, who worked as a technical director on Cocteau's fantasy, La Belle et la bête, and on Noël-Noël's comedy, Le Père tranquille, worked independently as the director of Les Maudits, a story of a group of Nazis and collaborationists who take refuge in a submarine and roam all over the world in search of a safe place to land. In spite of the somewhat awkward, melodramatic plot, the direction and the performances were outstanding. Clément has not directed another film since Les Maudits, nor has Georges Rouquier since Farrebique, completed in 1946.

Louis Daquin's career began under the Occupation with a picture full of charm and freshness, Nous les gosses, but his following films were disappointing. He has recently reaffirmed a real mastery of the medium in Le Point du jour, which is a picture of a miner's life in the collieries of northern France. Vladimir Pozner wrote a simple and straightforward script for this striking film, the outstanding French production of the 1948–49 season.

Because of Becker, Rouquier, Clément, and Daquin, one may speak of a realistic French school. Following the tradition created before the war by Jean Renoir, in particular, it might rival the new Italian school, if its representatives had more frequent opportunities to direct films.

H. G. Clouzot is one of the figures in French cinema upon whom the highest hopes are based. His talent proved itself under the Occupation with Le Corbeau. The sharp controversy stimulated by the film was constructive rather than destructive to a director of such great talent as Clouzot. In 1947 he won great success with Quai des Orfèvres, a trite enough

detective story which was invested with unquestionable value by the remarkable performance of Jouvet and the great plastic sense of the director. Manon, which Clouzot finished early in 1949, was awaited hopefully. The script of the film, written by Clouzot himself, was a free transposition in modern terms of the well-known eighteenth-century novel by the Abbé Prévost.

Excellent performances were given by Michel Auclair and Cecile Aubry, a young actress whose talent has earned her a contract in Hollywood.

Unhappily, Clouzot demonstrated in Manon that he was not able to cope with large-scale social problems as Renoir did before the war and as the new Italian school does today. A certain extreme romanticism, a complacence with abstractions at points where representing reality directly was called for, a misuse of borrowings from the great film classics, numerous improbabilities, and errors in taste disappointed the most faithful of Clouzot's admirers. Nevertheless the film was well received and has become a popular success.

In the naturalistic and readily pessimistic genre, which Clouzot favors, Yves Allégret, brother of the already well-known Marc Allegret, has directed Dédée d'Anvers and Une si jolie petite plage. This skillful and talented director makes the mistake of basing his work too faithfully on the themes, the characters, and even the bad habits of the prewar French school. One is still waiting for him to produce a truly original work that will go beyond the average successful film.

The work of Claude Autant-Lara also belongs in the category of naturalistic films. Like Grémillon, he is an old member of the avant-garde of 1925 who was restricted for a long time to directing films unworthy of his talent. He was recognized under the Occupation with the release of Le Mariage de chiffon and, especially, Douce, a conventional enough novel out of which Pierre Bost and Jean Aurenche developed an excellent script.

In 1947, with the same collaborators, Claude Autant-Lara adapted a novel by Raymond Radiguet, Le Diable au corps, which had been popular during the First World War. This was a polished work in which Autant-Lara ably directed his talented young actors, one of whom, Gérard Philipe, became a new European sensation. The superior quality and values of Le Diable au corps are beyond question.

During the Occupation, poetic and fantastic films had been almost obligatory for directors who did not want to deal with reality as it existed


Devil in the Flesh/Le Diable au corps (1947), by Claude Autant-Lara, with Gérard Philipe and Micheline Presle

[Full Size]

under German control. This genre now seems to be disappearing. Its last expression was Jean Cocteau's brilliant, glacial La Belle et la bête. He tried vainly to repeat its success with Ruy Blas and L'Aigle à deux têtes. However, by filming his best stage play, Les Parents terribles, Cocteau accomplished a remarkable technical feat and produced his best film.

To make our enumeration exhaustive we shall name the often uneven work of talented and prolific directors such as Jean Delannoy (La Symphonie pastorale, Aux yeux du souvenir) and Christian Jaque (Boule de suif, D'homme à hommes).

The French documentary school, in spite of serious difficulties, continues to produce interesting films, among which have been Van Gogh by Alain Resnais,Goemons by Anik Bellon, and Naissance du cinéma by Roger Leenhardt, who produced the wholly fresh and commendable film, Les dernières vacances. To the French documentary school may be added the poetic Noces de sable made in Morocco by Andrès Zvoboda, and Paris 1900 by Nicole Vedres, who succeeded in arranging scattered pieces of pre-1914 film into a sly and charming montage.

Talent is not scarce in the French cinema. Perhaps the assessment must

be that the school, in spite of its numerous and brilliant successes, has remained on a plateau for several years and no longer has the richness and youth that it had before 1940. Perhaps the judgment will be that the direct and poetic contact with reality that earlier French films always had has been replaced by a complacent self-indulgence in old formulas and a certain academicism.

Nevertheless, we do not believe that the slight hesitation that marks the French school today is due basically to lack of initiative or talent among its film makers. It is, in large measure, the present economic difficulties that limit initiative and narrow the choice of subjects and oblige film makers to return to old subjects rather than seek new and original themes in the life around them.

The vitality of French cinema is incontestable. For fifteen years it has managed to keep alive in spite of the deaths, absences, departures, or exile, of its best practitioners. We believe that, thanks to its rich resources of talent, the French school will continue to be one of the foremost among the various national cinemas for a very long time to come.


When in Rome …

Hugh Gray

Hugh Gray is a screen, radio, and television writer. His connections abroad have included working with Korda, Cavalcanti, and the B.B.C. As a screen writer in Hollywood since 1944, his credits include Quo Vadis?, Ulysses, Helen of Troy, and The Prince and the Pauper. Mr. Gray was recently appointed an assistant professor in the Motion Picture Division of the Department of Theater Arts, University of California, Los Angeles.

. ….

The indispensable Paul Rotha, writing in 1930 of the movie of 1913, recalled that it was out of Italy that there came the first

big productions or "feature films" as they were known, including a version of Homer's Odyssey, The Fall of Troy …but greatest of all, the forerunner of every spectacle film since, was Quo Vadis?, a veritable mammoth production of 1913, eight thousand feet in length. This was bought and shown by George Kleine in America where, to that date, the most pretentious effort had been The Life of Buffalo Bill. Since the day when American producers first saw Quo Vadis? cinema audiences of the world have been presented with super-spectacle after super-spectacle. From The Birth of a Nation, Griffith's reply to the Italian picture at the end of 1914, through the years of The Ten Commandments …Ben-Hur … superfilms abounded, developing today into …the singing, dancing and talking variety. In the few years just before the war the feature film sufficed to build up the industry (increased audiences meant bigger film studios and larger cinema theaters), and in 1914 the opening of the Strand Theater on Broadway marked a new era in the history of the cinema. The way was open for the position as it is today.

As we read, we cannot help feeling a haunting sense that we are round again at the place where we came in; and that the student of the cinema in the year 2000, when all the prints will have presumably perished, will have to look very closely at the dates in order to find some way to distinguish the two periods 1913 and 1950. Certainly, it is where we came in—

we, that is, who have been involved during the past few years in the remaking of Quo Vadis?, of The Odyssey, and of The Fall of Troy, though we have called the latter Helen of Troy and have given to Odysseus his Latin name, Ulysses.

Now that the last of this trio, Helen of Troy, has finally been presented to the world in a simultaneous global première, some recollections of the days of their remaking, mellowed a little by retrospect, may be worth recording. But first, in order to complete our sense of historical perspective, let me quote again from the same context of Rotha's Film Till Now:

With the outbreak of war in 1914, film production naturally came to an end in Europe. The road was left clear for America to secure for herself the supreme commercial control which she still holds. It was simply a matter of circumstance of which the Americans were quick to take full advantage. That they made the best of their opportunity is only to their credit.

So much indeed had the United States made of her opportunity that five years after World War II the first-generation, American descendant, so to speak, of the Italian spectaclefilm maker was back in the "old country" with seven million dollars in his pocket, or at least to his credit in blocked lire, to give his native city a boost and at the same time—since pure altruism is not apparently a feature of business—to do himself a bit of good by using up the blocked lire to make a super-spectacle for half price. He was also prepared, like so many who return to the country of their parents' origins, to challenge the old saying about teaching one's grandmother to suck eggs.

For ten years or more, L. B. Mayer, whose debut in the motion-picture world was as a successful exhibitor of religious movies, had been planning to make Quo Vadis? at some favorable moment. Nineteen forty-nine was the silver-jubilee year both of his taking over at Culver City and of the making of the fabulously successful Ben-Hur. This twofold silver jubilee was to be celebrated by an even more successful picture, a version of Quo Vadis? that would be made with all of MGM's wonderful resources, which were only a dream in the Rome of thirtyfive years ago. Circumstances of one kind and another, however, delayed the proposed 1949 start; and it was not until the spring of 1950 that the production was ready to roll. In preparation for this event, multitudinous personnel winged above The City to land at Ciampino Airport. Two thousand years previously, Horace,

on the eve of Rome's Augustan surge, had expressed the pious hope that never in all its travels would the sun set eyes on a city greater than Rome. Whether or not this hope was justified in the Phoebus-eye view of the Trans-World Apollos arriving from Culver City, I cannot say. It is more than likely that the majority were preoccupied with the thought that never would this City of Rome below them, nor indeed all the world, see a spectacle to equal the one in which they were about to take their share.

As for me, I do not recall that my thoughts during these moments of arrival were of either of these things. I remember now—as I was being driven from Ciampino to the nearby studios of Cine Città, my eyes delighting in the cypresses that mark the line of the Appian Way—only the German-accented voice of the studio emissary dutifully reciting, like a Cook's guide, a thoughtfully prepared recitative of advice for travellers innocently abroad in Italy and the regulations I would be expected to observe during the making of the picture. For everything was very efficiently organized, as it had to be if the picture was to be completed as planned.

The "old country" over the centuries had had her ups and downs and the present was one of her downs. Or was it? And in what sense? Had not Open City and Paisan, Shoe Shine, Bicycle Thieves, and a host of other pictures come out of her during the five glorious years preceding our arrival? Which way, indeed, is up; and which, down? This was a question which increasingly presented itself to thoughtful minds in the company during this time in Rome, not only in reflecting on the kind of movies a studio makes (we were back where Rome began thirty years ago) or on the way people made them, but also when pondering subjects without any relation to movies at all, such as the way other peoples think and live. It was difficult for the thoughtful, for example, to understand how it was possible at one and the same time for them to be so exasperated by and yet so completely in love with a place and a people.

Some of the company, of course, increasingly saw only inefficiency, stupidity, and incorrigible rascality. In others, love prevailed; and what at first had seemed to be conservative prejudices were revealed to be in reality ancient traditions to be respected as a part of a different, well-tried way of life. At one end of this line, then, was the overworked executive who collapsed on the set one night before my astonished and horrified eyes, as if poleaxed. The "inefficiency" of the Romans and their "incomprehensible way of life" had been too much for him; and when, a few weeks later,

he began to show signs of recovering from his nervous breakdown he declared that this was the first and the last time he would leave home, and that, once back, he would never move outside the city limits of Beverly Hills. At the other end of the line was the lady from the MGM wardrobe department who found her man and her home among the Romans.

Of course, the situation originally confronting the advanced guard that came from Culver City to study the terrain at Cine Città presented a powerful challenge to that organizing ability, that energetic drive, that capacity to get things done, which have characterized the American in developing his own country and in opening up industry in others. But the fact was that Quo Vadis? was to be made on what had been a battle field, and the battle scars were still very much in evidence.

Cine Città had been built by Mussolini to house the Italian motion-picture industry in a way worthy of the future that he had planned for it. Across the Via Toscolana from it, he had built the Centro Sperimentale where Italian youths would learn to become film makers. Italian troops who had gone over to the Allies had fought the Germans for possession of these sites during the struggle for Rome. Long before abandoning the studios, the Germans had stripped them of every piece of portable cinematic equipment. Some of the buildings were still in ruins, and the largest stage of all was roofless long after Quo Vadis? was completed. The studios had long served as a camp for displaced persons, and several hundreds were still there when we arrived. They were a sign and a remembrance to us of the terrible years just passed, these men and women, penniless and homeless, with their children who whiled away the time playing, of all things, at war! To add to our difficulties, under the conditions then prevailing in Rome, sufficient electricity could not be generated locally to supply the needs of a Technicolor production of the scope of Quo Vadis?. Thus, at any hour of the night—usually at the most inconvenient—the light would suddenly go out in one or other section of the city. Clearly, the "old country" was in a bad way.

And yet, in the end, out of Cine Città there came a negative as technically first-class as any that Hollywood could produce; and it was shot on schedule. Only long planning and the vast resources of MGM admirably organized and oriented by the determination to do, when in Rome, as Hollywood does when at home, made this achievement possible. For to have done in Rome as the Roman industry did seemed to the executives

of MGM to be the sure road to a debacle, not because of inherent defects in the methods of the Roman film makers working toward their own ends, but because the men from Culver City could not work that way. After all, between the man from Culver City and the Roman there are many differences. These derived not only from their respective societies, so differently constituted, but also from a different sense of time. How truly different the latter is I was to grasp more fully later, during the making of Ulysses.

In Culver City, then, as elsewhere in Hollywood, shooting starts at nine and continues till six o'clock with an hour's break for lunch. So was it to be at Cine Città even through the rising heat of June on into the terrible dog days of August when every man, woman, and child even if they have to beg, borrow, or steal their fares, leaves Rome for the beaches of the Lido di Roma, Fregene, and elsewhere. Under the Hollywood rule, too, the siesta—that centuries old and wise period of repose and recollection that follows lunch—was abolished. However, it was by no means easy to secure the observance of this rule by a people firmly set in a habit so admirably part of their way of life and in view of which they start the working day far earlier than we do.

Equally revolutionary was the edict that no festa—no public holiday, that is—would be observed in the studios. The fourth of July was transferred to the Saturday following, thus giving the only full week-end holiday during the entire period of production. Now, in Italy the festa is a frequent occurrence—less frequent than in the days of the Emperors when there were something like 120 public holidays—and in the peak period of the production, from April through August, there should normally have been eight of them. Seven of these, the Romans might reluctantly have foregone, but not the eighth. This, the dearest of all to the Roman heart, is the Ferragosto, the age-old commemoration of the triumph of Augustus on his return from his victory over Anthony and Cleopatra, a holiday later taken over by the Christian Church and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin's Assumption into heaven. None of the Romans could believe, up to the very last, that on this day of all days the cameras would turn, and the memory of Augustus would be ignored in the spurning of a deeply rooted custom. But Augustus would not allowhimself to be completely ignored. Indeed, in the circumstances, what happened is the kind of thing that makes it easy for superstition to survive everywhere in the world.


This day that is Ferragosto had been set for the beginning of the shooting of the great banquet scene in Nero's palace; and, of course for so large a set, the largest stage—the roofless one—was to be used, tarpaulined over against the unlikely arrival of rain. Then, in the small hours of the morning of his flouted feast day, the divine Augustus opened the flood gates of heaven and set the rains pouring down upon the magnificent set—all elaborately ready for the traditional Roman orgy that might, likewise, have offended Augustus' deeply ascetic soul. Telephones rang urgently, and the night was suddenly full of the hurrying feet of men summoned to save the dazzling furnishings and to mop up the flooded floors. Thus, unofficially, the feast of Ferragosto was observed. Nothing so startling had happened on the production since the first day of shooting.

For this great inauguration, the Roman press and all the resident correspondents had been gathered together. The brief and breathless moment passed. But a second take, for safety, was naturally called for. The bells rang, the instructions were shouted, and the company waited in hushed expectancy for the cameras to roll. But they did not roll. The electric power had suddenly and inexplicably failed. How could this be? Had not equipment been shipped by the holdful from the United States and dynamos removed from Italian destroyers and installed at Cine Città to generate the needed current? There was one ready answer that sprang to mind, and men looked uneasily at one another. Sabotage! Would this set a pattern? Was the hidden red hand poised to wreck and ruin all that had been planned? For some little while, it looked more and more as if this dark suspicion were true. But experience in handling the power and in nursing the equipment finally provided the true explanation, and sanity was again restored.

Perhaps the most daring decision of all was to record the definitive sound track at the time of shooting. Such a procedure is still virtually unknown in Italian production, where dubbing is the order of the day. In actual production, only a guide track is made; and this, for a number of reasons. One of these may very well be the difficulty of getting anything like adequate silence on the stages, not only because many of them are not soundproof, but also perhaps because so voluble a people are apt to interpret a plea for absolute silence as merely a request to talk only in a stage whisper. Another reason may derive from the fact that certain actresses, and even some actors, can be admired only for their beauty, since their

power to charm the ear is something less than their power to fill the eye. With all this practice in dubbing their own films and with the vast consumption of dubbed American pictures by a people who are among the most ardent movie-goers, the Italian industry has reached a high level in a technique, to which the current version of Ulysses is a puzzling exception. But more of that later.

It is, of course, sometimes said that the Italians operate in this way from inefficiency, or because they are lazy. The record of Italy in engineering in general and in the electrical field in particular gives this the lie. And as for laziness, this is a judgment that should not be made without a clear understanding of what a man's neighbor considers to be truly important in life as well as in movies.

Indeed, precisely because of these standards of value, which gave the organizers and the engineers such headaches, the Romans were able to contribute so much to the color and atmosphere of Quo Vadis?. For every Italian is an actor, and at least every other Italian is an artist or an imaginative artisan. Further, history is in every Roman's blood; and those who built the sets for Quo Vadis? and made the dressings for them had a passionate love of beautiful detail that flowed over into their work even though there was not the slightest likelihood of much of it being seen. The over-all effect, however, would not have been the same without it.

Each man, likewise, felt himself a qualified critic of the script and its production, for the story was out of the Romans' past that still lives so vividly about them. They were tolerant of us for the most part and ready with ideas and advice—even the humblest extra—but there were limits to what they could accept. In Italian, for example, as some of the members of the crowd explained to me, the very word for a well-shaped woman derives somehow from the name of Nero's mother. Such a woman is una Poppaea, and the use of the name in description is accompanied always by a gesture indicative of liberal curves. That an actress with less than generous curves had been cast for such a part remained a source of unhappiness to them and offended without possibility of forgiveness the whole sense of historical association contained for them in the name Poppaea.

It was, however, as actors that the Romans were mostly with us—on several days, as many as nine thousand of them. And how they gave of their wonderful best! The first time that I was fully aware of their desire to give of this best in the spirit of the true artist was during the shooting

of the first crowd scene, at the opening of the picture when the victorious Roman General Marcus Vinicius (Robert Taylor) is shown returning from his campaign, bringing booty and countless prisoners. In our story, the good guys were the Christians; and the bad guys were the pagan Romans. And, as every child knows from the irrefutable evidence of history down the centuries, Christians are mild and gentle; and pagans are brutal. It was in the course of setting this note for the rest of the movie that the Roman masters were to be shown lashing their prisoners along the Appian Way as the hapless creatures struggled to haul the battering rams and towers that had reduced their cities. During this scene, a certain number of the prisoners had to collapse and even die under the relentless brutality of the lash. Now every extra in Rome is a star, at least in the measure of his devotion to his art; and such was each man's determination to give of his best that the advancing army was constantly halted by bodies piled in front at the exact places where the cameras were set up. There, the ground was as littered with corpses as if the prisoners had been moving forward not under the lash but against a stronghold of machine guns. Each man felt it incumbent upon him, for the good of the picture, to die in agony, imperially, as Caesar might have died, right into the lenses.

Perhaps the strongest indication, however, of their devotion to the arts of the theater, and a clue for those seeking to understand another people was given at a later moment. It was one of those occasions when the production was interrupted by what we usually called labor disputes. The details of these incidents were complicated and not at all as politically inspired as some—the sabotage school—wished to believe. Mostly, indeed, they were not even matters of money, but of human dignity and working conditions. A common trade-union weapon throughout Italy is the lightning strike, that may last from a few minutes to several hours. Indeed in Rome, it is not uncommon to find the streetcars suddenly halted for a few minutes and then, as suddenly, moving on. The value or ultimate effect of these maneuvers is not at once evident. There were occasions, however, when the crowds on the set felt called to adopt them; and after a fair warning, a mob of eight or nine thousand men and women who had been roaring and yelling as they knew the crowd had roared and yelled in the Circus Maximus, was all of a sudden seated and as silent as a Roman crowd can be. Then, the protest made and honor satisfied, at the end of the stipulated period of fifteen or thirty minutes, they would rise to their

feet; and the only malice they showed thereafter was in their countenances, as the part required from good actors asked to vent their fury on the Christians in the arena. What simple pride they have in their work!

The name Quo Vadis? was spoken everywhere all over Rome. It was like the opening up of a new industry in a hard-hit town. When a man told his neighbors, "I'm working in Quo Vadis?" they nodded in appreciation; and they knew that he would give of his best, as they would, even if it were only as a super carrying a spear, while dressed in hot metal under a scorching sun. Difficult and wearing though this might be, it had to be done. After all, in those moments was one not an artist?Pazienza! Pazienza.

Indeed, there are two words, although superficially contradictory, that a man must learn to understand; and then he will survive, happily, any Roman film adventure, even though he is the most efficient, pampered Hollywood tycoon. One is subito (right away!), the misleading automatic response to any command; and the other is pazienza, the literal meaning of which is at once evident, but the full rich meaning of which is learned only after a long while. To understand it fully is to know in some measure why hypertension and sudden death do not haunt the Roman studios as they haunt the stages of multi-million dollar, super-efficient Hollywood. Indeed, something of the full and living sense of this word pazienza, and something of the peace that comes with knowing how much faith to attach to the warm, cheerfully deceptive answer "Subito, signore!" only truly dawned on me when I returned to work on the production of Ulysses.

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