Sisif, a railwayman, and his son Elie fall in love with the beautiful Norma (whom Sisif rescued from a train crash when a baby and raised as his daughter), with tragic results. Originally ... See full summary »
Sisif, a railwayman, and his son Elie fall in love with the beautiful Norma (whom Sisif rescued from a train crash when a baby and raised as his daughter), with tragic results. Originally running nine hours, this epic tragedy is notable for the way it foreshadows Gance's later 'Napoleon' in its use of innovative cinematic devices, particularly rapid cutting. Written by
Michael Brooke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Abel Gance came up with the idea for this film the day his wife, Ida Denis, was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Gance completed editing on the 32 reel film on 9 April 1924, hours after Denis died. See more »
An intimate, sprawling epic; nearly unreviewable, it veers wildly from brilliance to hypnotic ennui, dulling the senses.
Impressive train wreck opens this five hour (originally nine hours) meditation on a small family living and working in train yards, beginning in 1923 France, and the next several decades.
Experimental in the extreme: narrative structure (and largely, coherence) is dismissed from minute one: many scenes appear as though the cinematographer was hypnotically drawn to something, and just filmed it endlessly. An editor should have cut this footage down tremendously, but the editor appears to be suffering the same malady.
Surreal set designs and lighting, backlighting to produce silhouettes, actors walking in and out of focus as they walk in the frame, and quick-cut editing give this an impressive, hallucinatory feeling; like a very long, meandering hallucination, with circular lenses and shapes to impart on the audience the father's failing eyesight.
Entire reels of film roll through, where I am left with a sense of "What am I watching, and why is it taking so long for something to happen?" Free form filmmaking, partially engrossing, but one can't help but wonder if a LOT of editing would have improved this by adding a bit of coherency? Yet would that have cost the film its hypnotic, hallucinatory feel?
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