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The Wheel (1923)
"La roue" (original title)

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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 804 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 15 critic

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 »



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Title: The Wheel (1923)

The Wheel (1923) on IMDb 7.6/10

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Cast overview:
Séverin-Mars ...
Ivy Close ...
Gabriel de Gravone ...
Pierre Magnier ...
Jacques de Hersan
Max Maxudian ...
Le minéralogiste Kalatikascopoulos
Georges Térof ...
Gil Clary ...
Dalilah (as Mme. Gil-Clary)


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 <>

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Release Date:

17 February 1923 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Wheel  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film was originally released with a running time of 8 hours, 32 minutes. It was edited down to just over 5 hours for general release. See more »


Featured in The Story of Film: An Odyssey: Episode #1.3 (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

The philosophy of wheels and tracks
24 October 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

French philosophers are famous for achieving spectacular results in combining literature and metaphysics. It is probably not by chance that the genre "essay" has a French name. Abel Gance was a philosopher insofar as he succeeded in combining film and metaphysics. Hence, there is a name lacking for this special genre of metaphysical film. When Deleuze and Guattari, decades after Gance's "La roue", wrote that metaphysics should not be fixed to the logical categories of subject and object but to the "earth" as point of reference, we see this "geophilosophical" concept that became popular in recent philosophical approaches, been anticipated by Gance. "La roue" establishes a kaleidoscope of impressions, mostly filmed in the staccato-style first used by Gance, between earth and mountains and giving an existentialist paradigm that, taken as an abstract empty form, can be filled with the personal data out of every watchers life. This is not a scientific German existentialism a la Heidegger, it is an essayist French Bergsonian metaphysics of time. Yet, the time has to be abolished under the suffocating impression of the earthy paradigm. The Gancean space, spun up in this world of Mont-Blanc, where the movie had been filmed in location and cost the life both of main actor Severin-Mars and of Gance's wife Ivy Close, this Gancean space abolished the time by means of speed like again decades after in Virilio's "dromology". The abolishment of space by time is thus enabled by the acceleration of the Gancean locomotives which is based on the combination of wheel and track. However, the paths in the mountains where the characters go, have neither wheels nor tracks, since these paths have to be made first by walking on them. While on the Gancean earth, the locomotive as symbol of civilization is based on paths prefabricated by the combination of wheels and tracks, the paths in the mountains, where civilizations ends but once began, are only made by steps and are thus not pre-existent.

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