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The Inhuman Woman (1924) More at IMDbPro »L'inhumaine (original title)

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Release Date:
14 March 1926 (USA) See more »
Une histoire féerique vue par Marcel L'Herbier
Claire Lescot is a famous prima donna. All men want to be loved by her. Among them is the young scientist Einar Norsen... See more » | Add synopsis »
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(8 articles)
L’inhumaine | Blu-ray Review
 (From ioncinema. 23 February 2016, 9:00 AM, PST)

 (From Trailers from Hell. 20 February 2016, 4:23 PM, PST)

Stunning-Looking Mix of Sex Melodrama and Science Fiction
 (From Alt Film Guide. 20 December 2015, 7:12 PM, PST)

User Reviews:
L'Inhumaine summed up the whole avant-garde society drama with it's merry-go-round of subliminal passions and its neo-Cubist sets! See more (6 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Jaque Catelain ... Einar Norsen
Léonid Walter de Malte ... Wladimir Kranine
Philippe Hériat ... Djorah de Nopur
Fred Kellerman ... Frank Mahler
Georgette Leblanc ... Claire Lescot
Marcelle Pradot ... The simpleton
Prince Tokio ... the entertainers
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Las Bonambellas
Rolf de Mare Ballets
Jean Börlin ... (uncredited)
Raymond Guérin-Catelain ... (uncredited)
Émile Saint-Ober ... (uncredited)
Lili Samuel ... (uncredited)

Directed by
Marcel L'Herbier 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Pierre Dumarchais  (as Pierre MacOrlan)
Marcel L'Herbier  scenario
Georgette Leblanc 

Original Music by
Galeshka Moravioff 
Cinematography by
Georges Specht 
Art Direction by
Claude Autant-Lara 
Alberto Cavalcanti 
Costume Design by
Claude Autant-Lara 
Paul Poiret 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Philippe Hériat .... assistant director
Art Department
Claude Autant-Lara .... art director: garden designer
Pierre Chareau .... art director: furniture designer
Michel Dufel .... art director: furniture design
Fernand Léger .... art director: the laboratory
Robert Mallet-Stevens .... art director: architecture

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"L'inhumaine" - France (original title)
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135 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

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16 out of 20 people found the following review useful.
L'Inhumaine summed up the whole avant-garde society drama with it's merry-go-round of subliminal passions and its neo-Cubist sets!, 17 June 2008
Author: Spent Bullets from Chinatown, California

With Marcel L'Herbier's L'Inhumaine, whose sets were designed by Robert Mallet-Stevens, Alberto Cavalcanti, Fernand Leger, and Claude Autant-Lara, architecture became a supreme screen of sets. Concerned with modern ornament, L'Inhumaine would synthesize the design aesthetic of the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes, for all who worked on this film (including Paul Poiret, who did the fashions) came to define avant-garde design at the Exposition in the following year. The architect Mallet-Stevens, who designed the pavilion of tourism at the Exposition, was the theoretician of the film set. In his writing on decor, he conceived the set of a film as a work of draftsmanship and a working drawing. He was particularly concerned with rendering hap-tic volumetric(s) and depth and emphasized aesthetic techniques of relief in the design of filmic decor.

L'Inhumaine, a film that turned the architect Adolf Loos into an enthusiastic film critic, opens with an industrial vista of Paris as displayed from the "moderne" villa of Mallet-Stevens. This house is inhabited by "the inhuman one" – a woman. Georgette Leblanc, who conceived the idea for the film, plays Claire Lescot. She is a soprano who presides over an international salon of men, hosting dinner parties served by masked waiters in an inner patio that resembles a refashioned impluvium. This particular set was designed by Cavalcanti, who, in his own Rien que les beures, would constantly return to the theme of food, conceiving the urban rhythm as its own metabolic matter.

Claire's salon is frequented by two suitors who battle of her affection. The engineer, Einat, ends up winning he love by showing her the workings of his very modern "cabinet of curiosity." Claire delights in the marvels of this laboratory (deigned by Leger), in which she can futuristic-ally watch her audiences on a screen just as they are able to hear her sing. As the inter-titles suggest, "she voyages in space without moving," reaching visions of artists in their studios, partaking of the bustling life on the street, and following people driving cars and riding trains. In this way, she lives "through the joy and the pain of human beings." No wonder her other suitor becomes jealous and poisons her.

But Einar's laboratory contains residual traces of its genealogy: it can perform alchemy. What is more, it is outfitted with an extra chamber, equipped with a mechanism for reviving the dead. This lab of transformation becomes activated in a sequence that resonates with Fritz Lang's Metropolis. With superimposition's and rapid montage, the laboratory offers what the inter-titles call "a symphony of labor," which brings our voyage-use back to life and to the liveliness of her urban salon.

The film was made by L'Herbier's own production company, who deliberately chose an awkward science fiction plot in which L'Inhumaine serves as the pretext for some virtuoso displays of cinematographic virtuosity, and as the narrative justification for some remarkable decors. The sets are a microcosm of the whole film: they are in very different styles, and going from one to the next produces an almost physical shock. The film was very poorly received, both by critics and by the public, and one can see why. It is arguably the first great example in the narrative cinema of the so-called post modernist aesthetic. For the coherence of a stable fictional world with suitably "round" characters who undergo various experiences, L'Inhumaine substitutes a fundamentally incoherent world of pastiche, parody, and quotation. Its flat characters provide no stability; they are but puppets in the hands of an unpredictable, perhaps even mad storyteller. The film uses many devices from the stylistic repertoire of cinematic impressionism, but rather than amplifying and explicating the narrative, they serve instead to call it into question.

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