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La chute de la maison Usher
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Fall of the House of Usher More at IMDbPro »La chute de la maison Usher (original title)

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Bleak, grim atmosphere

8/10
Author: TheFiendsThatPlagueThee from United States
6 November 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Jean Epstein's version of this Edgar Allan Poe tale is haunting and visually stunning film. Very bleak and very grim, it recreates the atmosphere and mood of the original story well. This movie is definitely more style than substance, but it does it so well that this does not detract at all from my enjoyment of it.

It is a deliberate film, with a purpose for each image filmed and I really enjoyed the framing of the picture. The result of the attention to detail is a really beautiful film.

Stark Gothic sets, creepy performances by the leads and haunting music also help bring a sense of eeriness and surrealism to this film.

For the viewer who enjoys eerie, dark and grim surreal films, this one is excellent.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Gothic love and longing, 7.5/10

8/10
Author: kilorilee from Canada
10 September 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

**minor spoilers**

In my room right now is a paperback collection of Poe's stories, which contains the Fall of the House of Usher. From that, and the summaries I've read, the text is more darker and more sinister than this movie, which says a lot.

The movie does a good job of capturing the mood of the text with scant words, translating an entire short story into little more than twenty or so inter-title screens. Surprisingly eerie shots of Roderick's face, billowing curtains, a haunting soundtrack and Madeline's degenerating form create a sense of dread and macabre. Certain scenes involving cats and toads highlight the dread and unnatural nature of the Usher state in a comical way. And what can only be described as a weird cross between a getting' crunk hip hop video and a Satanic ritual works surprisingly well to highlight the plodding nature of time and arduous task at hand, as well as being unique for the sake of being unique. However, besides the Usher's creepiness and the amicability of the narrator/Allan (a true friend till the end), I didn't know what to think or make of the characters until the end.

The slightly more optimistic twist of the original story brings everything together and creates sympathy for the weird characters by demonizing the house even more. It's a prison driving them mad, not the Usher's parasitic relationship. See this if you want a relatively happy variation of Poe's stories that works well. I think this film is incredibly accessible, a lot more than the text anyway.

Goods: the dread and spookiness, close up shots of the objects in the house, a positive spin on things, "hip-hop" coffin Bads: the first third... and the general direction less aim of the characters may put you off a bit at first, but the movie is only an hour long

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Good Version

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
29 February 2008

Fall of the House of Usher, The (1928)

*** (out of 4)

One of two versions of the classic Poe tale released in 1928. The other one was an American version, which I enjoyed earlier this year. This version, directed by Jean Epstein and written by Luis Bunuel, comes from France but employs various techniques that we saw in early German horror films. The story is basically the same as Roderick Usher (Jean Debucourt) is haunted by the ghost of his wife. The screenplay takes a few liberties with the story but the story here really isn't important. The main thing going for the film is its surreal nature, which includes some brilliant camera-work as well as some wonderful eerie atmosphere. The visual look of this film is very impressive but I think that also lends to its shortcoming. I think a little more detail to the story would have helped but in all this is another wonderful gem of the silent era. I've also got the 1948 British version sitting here to watch before the month is over.

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Perfect nightmare

8/10
Author: Smoreni Zmaj from Serbia
30 January 2017

This movie is completely different than anything I've ever seen. Plot is pretty much vague and deviates from original story by Edgar Allan Poe. It is horrifying slow and story itself is inessential for the film, it is just background for artistic cinematography. Jean Debucourt is excellent in leading role while all other characters are dim and unreal, like they are just part of his dream. I did not like music background in this movie at all. In my opinion it does not contribute to this movie, but rather spoils it. But, gloomy and eery atmosphere of this masterpiece can not be spoiled. This movie absolutely deserves honorary Best Cinematography Oscar, because the way it is filmed is ingeniously hypnotizing and scenes that flow before your eyes will mesmerize you into perfect nightmare. Visually speaking, this is one of the very best movies I have ever seen, and not only in the context of black and white era, but in whole history of cinematography.

8/10 for movie as a whole, but 10/10 for cinematography

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Classic story

7/10
Author: kosmasp
22 December 2014

First of all, due to the age of the film it does feel a bit dated in some respects. And it's not about the fact, that there is no audio dialog, rather written text box slided every now and then (if you've seen a few older "silent" movies, you know what I mean), but the film itself, the pictures. All that is down to pictures per second, which make movies seem "akward" nowadays (you can find articles about that if you search for them).

Setting all that aside, it's a powerful story and therefor a powerful movie. I did attend a screening though that was a modernized version. They put modern music over the whole music which not only felt wrong, but was wrong. That particular screening/movie would've gotten a maximum of 3 points from me, but I'm not letting that influence my voting as you can see. I'm just warning you not to watch that version yourself, because it is really horrible and out of tune ... literally. Watch the original, even if it has edits and pictures that you are used to by know, because they have been done so many times ... remember: this is (one of the examples) where they set the blueprints for things to come

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Madness?!? This is ... USHER!

8/10
Author: Coventry from the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls
18 March 2012

First and foremost: I love the tale of "House of Usher", regardless of which film version, and I try to encourage as many people as humanly possible to check out this haunting story of agony and Gothic damnation … So, I swear, if one more person replies me with: "Usher? … Oh, you mean the R&B singer? Yeah, he's cool", then I swear I will go Edgar Allan Poe on his/her ass! Thank you.

Admittedly I'm not much of an art connoisseur, but I reckon this silent classic is pure and genuine art! It's a stunningly beautiful, haunting, surreal and absorbing impressionistic interpretation of Poe's short story. The plot is undeniably subsequent to the atmosphere and choreography, and I actually don't recognize the storyline from the other versions I've seen. In the other versions, for example the awesome Roger Corman production starring the almighty Vincent Price, the Usher kinship is cursed and continuously being punished for the crimes committed by their evil ancestors. Here, it's actually just Sir Roderick Usher who's obsessed with painting a portrait of his lovely wife Madeleine, only … The nearer the painting comes to completion, the more his wife weakens due to a strange illness. After her death and burial service, Sir Roderick becomes increasingly mad with the restless ghost of his Madeleine still prowling through the house. The story is often confusion and open for various interpretations, but the wholesome is just downright visually stunning! Director Jean Epstein, with the more than noticeable influence of his young and upcoming assistant director Louis Buñuel, generates an atmosphere that is morbid, depressing and hypnotic from start to finish and multiple sequences are hauntingly surreal; like the funeral march and the storm. I watched the 1997 restored version, during a special film festival where there was a professional pianist providing live musical guidance, and it was one of the most culturally engaged moments of my life. Art like this will surely survive for yet another hundred years.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

surrealistic nightmare

7/10
Author: didi-5 from United Kingdom
16 November 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

From the eerie opening where a stranger comes in from the mist and mud to ask for safe passage to the house of Usher, to the fiery ending where said house comes crashing down, this film is a strange piece of surrealism - using animals, pictures, and extreme close-ups to drive the story along.

'The Fall of the House of Usher' has just three characters taking the main roles in the film - the stranger, who has been asked to visit his friend and the friend's dying wife - the friend, Sir Roderick Usher, a wild-eyed loner struck with the passion to paint, and his wife, Madeleine, who has a slow death with every brush stroke inflicted by her husband, while the painting of her lives and breathes.

When Madeleine finally dies she's buried in her veil and dress in a coffin, but after a lot of tension (shown by bells and clocks counting time) we find she's not really dead but just walking wounded in spirit. By the time we reach the blazing close of this short film (only an hour) it has done Poe's story proud - a silent classic of Surrealism.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A Nightmare of Beauty

10/10
Author: Helbodk from Denmark
12 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

My expectations were soaring as I pressed play on my DVD-player, and when Epstein's vision came to life I knew this would become one of my favorite movies. But why? Well first of all it opened up the door to a phantasmagorial universe of beauty and gloom, which I have only witnessed in one more movie; namely Vampyr by Carl Th. Dreyer. It is difficult to explain, but the beauty of horror has a dimension which transcends the beauty of the normal world. A beauty trapped inside a nightmare, so to speak. Lady Madeline is the embodiment of this idea, being trapped inside a crypt, buried alive! I will keep on searching for more of these black diamonds, but I fear that I have already found the most precious ones...

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Allan Key

7/10
Author: writers_reign
23 June 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is all mood and none the worse for it. Trivia buffs will seek it out because Abel Gance had a supporting role (to say nothing of Marguerite Gance as Madeleine Usher), Luis Bunuel adapted Poe and quit as co-director when he failed to see eye to eye with Epstein. Several posters have praised the music which I found totally inapposite but then what do I know. Jean Debucourt (Roderick) has a long and distinguished career and appeared in some of my favorite French movies - Douce, La Ciel est a vous, Marguerite de la nuite, Madame de, etc - and is suitable restrained for a silent film when 'emoting' was de riguer. Anyone who has read anything of Poe let alone the original story will feel at home with this adaptation despite Epstein's cavalier treatment of the story. Photography, atmos, etc, are right on the money and it's well worth seeking out.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

One of the visionary masterpieces of the silent

10/10
Author: Cristi_Ciopron from CGSM, Soseaua Nationala 49
17 August 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

One of the visionary masterpieces of the silent For the fact that the visionary gist is perfectly conveyed by the silent films testimonies also the fact that we can not envisage them as bettered or modified for the better by the mechanical addition of the sound. The silent, in what is most interesting for me, was an art of the visionary and the ghostly –hence, the note of eeriness, enhanced by the non—realist nature of the representations. BERLING, ARNE, USHER, NOSFERATU were mere music, poetry—while CALIGARI is an anecdote, an overstretched and uneconomical sketch that sorely needs dialogs, lacks precision and brio—and seems VERY talkative. The silent was fit like any other medium for eerie, disturbing, chilling subjects. Its means served these flawlessly and wholly, completely. How fine, how kind, how good is for the mind this art. How compact is the poetry, the poetic nature of these movies! (I know, though perhaps not better than you do, that the silent meant also comedy, slapstick, farce, western, silly melodramas, etc.—but the are wholly irrelevant aesthetically, and collateral. The silent built primarily an art of the eerie, chilling, unusual and visionary—of high, hallucinatory romanticism . The later visionary and eerie achievements of Hitchcock and Clouzot, in the '50s, will mean an entirely different approach and aim.) This USHER, movie of a rich and resplendent melodiousness, towering art of the time and of gradual modulations, is one of the best,say,30 movies ever created. This beauty, eerie and weird, is tangible—it does not consist of ,say, effects—in the sense of aiming at fooling the audiences with a senseless bravado; it is an art clean, sincere, good-natured and intense. As a form of art, the silent is kindred with the sound movies, yet essentially distinct and autonomous. Aesthetically, it was much honest—lacking the tempting chance of offering surrogates of realism by way of talkative footage. It could not be gross the way a talking film—say, a Scorsese film—is gross and inert, lifeless.

In a sense, the sound only polluted and impoverished the film, deprived it of its core of magic and of 3—D eeriness—again, see BERLING, USHER, NOSFERATU and ARNE.

(As a historical note, that adds substantially nothing to what I have already written, let us remind Epstein's bitter and acid remark that the talking cinema has become the talkative cinema. Epstein continued to shoot movies throughout the sound era, the '30s and '40s—but I do not know any of them ,so cannot comment upon. The man also wrote several first—class cinema books, one of them is available for free on the net. He was one of the great grammarians of the cinema—and one of its inspired visionaries, in his unbridled creation, as well ….)

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