An account of the life of Jesus Christ, based on the books of the New Testament: After Jesus' birth is foretold to his parents, he is born in Bethlehem, and is visited by shepherds and wise... See full summary »
A young wife and her musician husband live in poverty in a New York City tenement. The husband's job requires him to go away for for a number of days. On his return, he is robbed by the ... See full summary »
The U.S. Army and the Indians sign a peace treaty. However, a group of surveyors trespass on the Indians' land and violate the treaty. The army refuses to listen to the Indians' complaints,... See full summary »
An elderly actor who lives with his wife and daughter is dismissed from his acting job because he is considered to old. On his way home from the theatre he panics at the thought of telling ... See full summary »
W. Chrystie Miller,
A gang of thieves lure a man out of his home so that they can rob it and threaten his wife and children. The family barricade themselves in an interior room, but the criminals are ... See full summary »
During the US civil war, Elinor, a pretty northern girl, comes south to visit her aunt. Little does anyone know, but she's a spy. Lt. Yancey, who's close to being engaged to the fetching ... See full summary »
Continuing where His Trust (1911) leaves off, George, a slave, takes care of his deceased master's daughter after her mother's death. He sacrifices his own meager savings to give the girl a... See full summary »
After watching the two Leonce Perret films in the Gaumont set released by Kino, the word that seemed to sum him up for me is "cerebral." I don't mean that there's psychological depth such as you might find in Scandinavian films of the teens here; the characters in both are more or less the standard two-dimensional types of Victorian melodrama, vigorously portrayed by French actors with obvious stage training, but types nonetheless.
But the films take a cool, methodical approach to melodramatic tales that others (not least of them Perret's coworker Louis Feuillade) would have made more lurid. That's both their weakness and their strength, for movies of 1912-3; they are carefully worked out, logical, and thus unusually credible for melodramas of their time. If the delight of Feuillade's serials is the sense that any social order could be overturned at any moment, part of the satisfaction of Perret's is this sense that his world is so solid.
Both films on the set are crime films, that genre which simultaneously presents a vision of the world's proper order and of its subversion. In The Mystery of the Rocks of Kador, which runs about 45 minutes, a guardian (played by Perret himself) conspires to steal his ward's fortune in a manner that turns violent; she winds up in a sort of catatonia, and to jog her memory, a film is made of the events and shown to her (and us). More could have been made of this theme of a film within a film, how true what we see is, etc., but it's pretty remarkable that it's being done at all in 1912.
The one major flaw in this film is Perret's own casting-- plump and genial-looking, he's a natural comedian (which he was, in fact), and he doesn't exude the cold Victorian heartlessness the part wants. Still, the open air photography and the clinically precise staging of events in medium shot make this an unusually fluid and lucid film for 1912, that could easily have come from five years later.
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