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La Petite Lily ...
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1 October 1927 (France)  »

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Pikku Lilie  »

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1.33 : 1
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A "Visual Illustration"

Herr Albert Cavalcanti's silent period was far from a conventional one as illustrated by his original and unusual "La P'tite Lili" (1927).

"La P'tite Lili" is a short film full of irony, a strange comedy in which resounds an echo of social injustice mixed with drama but everything emphasized with pantomime. The film is, as is pointed out at the beginning of the picture, a "visual illustration" of a French popular song by Herr Gravel und Herr Bénech, songwriters who obviously this Herr Graf doesn't know because aristocrats don't like popular songs…, although in the only surviving copy of this film, Herr Darius Milhaud is the composer of the modernen version but he reproduces the original music.

The film tells the story of Lili ( Frau Catherine Hessling ), a 16 year old orphan who has lost her whole family but has retained her purity and innocence. Alas, a terrible doom awaits this optimistic child: in the slums of Paris she will meet a man who will lead her into prostitution.

The leads are little more than caricatures, theatrical stereotypes that Herr Cavalcanti uses to create a parody of the original song. A good part of the picture was filmed using a diffusion filter, a technique that consisted of putting a net or a silk fabric over the lens and in this way create a strange atmosphere of "otherworldly images" in accordance with the spirit of the story depicted in the popular tune.

It must be said that such a technique was very useful too in case there is an old actress in front of the camera because thanks to the net, wrinkles and blemishes disappear ( unfortunately, the net can't erase a bad performance ), something that Frau Catherine Hessling certainly didn't need it because at that time she was a sprightly young girl full of beauty, besides being a good actress as can be seen in her eloquent and funny performance as Lili, the innocent orphan who took the wrong road.

By the way, Frau Catherine Hessling was the wife of the great French film director, Herr Jean Renoir who also participated in the picture as part of a remarkable cast.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must lecture his Teutonic rich heiresses about the virtues of generosity to their tutors.


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