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28 March 1914 (France)  »

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Militant Cinema

There are some silent film directors who use the film medium primarily as an expression of their social and political beliefs. Such is the case for Herr Armand Guerra, a Spanish director who did most of his work in France and Germany. He was a political activist from his youth and had a particular interest in anarchist groups. Such a background of course would make him an undesirable at the Schloss (and elsewhere). For Herr Guerra the end justified the means and artistic concerns were secondary at best.

His film "La Commune" ( The Commune ) (1914) is a good example of Herr Guerra's peculiarities. It was produced by "Cinéma Du Peuple" ( People's Cinema ), a film cooperative supported by workers, and depicts the beginnings of the Commune of Paris, that working class uprising that briefly ruled and caused a mess during two months in the city of Paris in the year of 1871.

Obviously, such a subject was ideal for his political ideology. But in spite of such interesting historical film material, Herr Guerra's direction in "La Commune" seems too simplistic and even amateurish and results in a film that is excessively schematic.

However, in fairness it should be mentioned that "La Commune" was meant to be the first half of a two part film. Herr Guerra was preparing the second half when World War I began, causing him to abandon the project. Possibly the result would have been more effective had he been able to realize his original vision.

The film was a considerable success in France but viewed today seems little more than propaganda intent on spreading anarchist political and social ideals among the workers (Obviously this is not a film meant to appeal to decadent aristocrats).

The most outstanding part of the picture is a sequence at the end wherein the Fraternal Association of the Commune War Veterans gather in front of the Louvre. It had been over forty years since their struggle and this footage represents an important bit of history.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must investigate some servants for their past activities as a communards.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com


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