7.6/10
1,532
16 user 24 critic

La roue (1923)

Sisif, a railwayman, and his son Elie fall in love with the beautiful Norma (who Sisif rescued from a train crash when a baby and raised as his daughter), with tragic results. Originally ... See full summary »

Director:

Abel Gance

Writer:

Abel Gance
Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

In 1910 the British Antarctic Expedition, led by Capt. Robert F. Scott, embarks from Lyttleton, NZ on a quest to become the first to reach the South Pole.

Director: Herbert G. Ponting
Stars: Robert Falcon Scott, Herbert G. Ponting, Henry R. Bowers
Foolish Wives (1922)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A con artist masquerades a Russian nobility and attempts to seduce the wife of an American diplomat.

Director: Erich von Stroheim
Stars: Rudolph Christians, Miss DuPont, Maude George
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Two orphaned sisters are caught up in the turmoil of the French Revolution, encountering misery and love along the way.

Director: D.W. Griffith
Stars: Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, Joseph Schildkraut
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

An unhappily married woman devises a scheme to get rid of her husband.

Director: Germaine Dulac
Stars: Germaine Dermoz, Alexandre Arquillière, Jean d'Yd
Napoleon (1927)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A film about the French general's youth and early military career.

Director: Abel Gance
Stars: Albert Dieudonné, Vladimir Roudenko, Edmond Van Daële
The Eagle (1925)
Action | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A wanted Russian lieutenant becomes a masked vigilante seeking vengeance upon the man who stole his family's land, only to fall for his charming daughter.

Director: Clarence Brown
Stars: Rudolph Valentino, Vilma Bánky, Louise Dresser
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In 1918 a simple Mongolian herdsman escapes to the hills after brawling with a western capitalist fur trader who cheats him. In 1920 he helps the partisans fight for the Soviets against the... See full summary »

Director: Vsevolod Pudovkin
Stars: I. Inkizhinov, I. Dedintsev, Valéry Inkijinoff
Greed (1924)
Drama | Thriller | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The sudden fortune won from a lottery fans such destructive greed that it ruins the lives of the three people involved.

Director: Erich von Stroheim
Stars: Gibson Gowland, Zasu Pitts, Jean Hersholt
Stachka (1925)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A group of oppressed factory workers go on strike in pre-revolutionary Russia.

Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein
Stars: Grigoriy Aleksandrov, Maksim Shtraukh, Mikhail Gomorov
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Marie wants to escape from her job and also from her lover, Paul, an unemployed drunk. She dreams of going off with Jean, a dockworker. The two men quarrel and fight over Marie on two ... See full summary »

Director: Jean Epstein
Stars: Léon Mathot, Gina Manès, Edmond Van Daële
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Abandoned by her fiancé, an educated black woman with a shocking past dedicates herself to helping a near bankrupt school for impoverished black youths.

Director: Oscar Micheaux
Stars: Evelyn Preer, Flo Clements, James D. Ruffin
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A blue-collar worker on New York's depressed waterfront finds his life changed after he saves a woman attempting suicide.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: George Bancroft, Betty Compson, Olga Baclanova
Edit

Cast

Credited cast:
Séverin-Mars ... Sisif
Ivy Close Ivy Close ... Norma
Gabriel de Gravone ... Elie
Pierre Magnier Pierre Magnier ... Jacques de Hersan
Max Maxudian Max Maxudian ... Le minéralogiste Kalatikascopoulos
Georges Térof Georges Térof ... Machefer
Gil Clary Gil Clary ... Dalilah (as Mme. Gil-Clary)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Géo Dugast Géo Dugast ... Le cheminot Jacobin
Edit

Storyline

Sisif, a railwayman, and his son Elie fall in love with the beautiful Norma (who Sisif rescued from a train crash when a baby and raised as his daughter), with tragic results. Originally running nine hours, this epic tragedy is notable for the way it foreshadows Gance's later 'Napoleon' in its use of innovative cinematic devices, particularly rapid cutting. Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Edit

Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

17 February 1923 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The Wheel See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Films Abel Gance See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Abel Gance came up with the idea for this film the day his wife, Marguerite Danis, was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Gance completed editing on the 32-reel film on 9 April 1924, hours after Danis died. See more »

Goofs

When Sisif is running in front of the locomotive, the first shot has the locomotive numbered 475. In subsequent shots, the number on the loco is 2013. See more »

Quotes

Sisif: There are no flowers amid the rails for us, son. You realize that, don't you? And if by some miracle one should blossom some day, we can be forgiven for reaching out for it.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Originally released to the public with a running time of just over 5 hours. Later edited down to 2 1/2 hours. . See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Absolutely Magnificent
31 January 2017 | by drednmSee all my reviews

This stunning 1923 silent film was restored by David Shepard and others in a print that runs nearly 4 hours and 30 minutes. The original film, directed by Abel Gance, was about twice that length, never released in the US except in a severely cut down print of about 2 hours.

The story, a "tragedy of modern times," is seemingly a simple one. Aman named Sisif (Séverin-Mars) rescues a baby girl in a train wreck and raises her as his own along with his son. She's known as a "rose of the rails" since the family lives in a squalid house by the railroad where Sisif is an engineer. As the years pass the girl, named Norma, grows to adulthood. Things get uneasy when Sisif realizes that he is in love with Norma (Ivy Close), and things turn to tragedy when his son Elie (Gabriel de Gravone) also loves her ... but believes she is his sister. Sisif plots to marry her off to a wealthy man to escape the impending disaster.

After Norma is unhappily married off, Sisif is injured in an accident and banished to a small mountain railway near Mont Blanc. He lives there with his son on the edge of a glacier but even in their isolation they cannot escape tragedy ... of their love of Norma.

The film is high art, operatic, Greek tragedy, and must be approached as such. The visuals are stunning. The composition and sets includes the smallest of details, and Gance uses close-ups, iris shots, fades, and rapid editing (borrowed from D.W. Griffith's masterpieces) to make this one of the most beautiful films ever made. The current version also includes tinting to enhance the emotional pitch of the film.

The performance of Séverin-Mars won't be to every taste, but his old-school acting style is similar to that of Emil Jannings. Without dialog, all he has are his body language and face. Shots are held to emphasize the emotional plight of the aging man. And you can see every thought he has in his face.

The other great performance is by Ivy Close, a British actress who also worked in European silent films. She resembles Norma Shearer and as with Séverin-Mars, her face shows every moment of joy and sadness. There's a stunning scene toward the end when she's asked to go to a village dance. She runs to powder her face and sees a gray hair, a line on her forehead. She's growing old. La Roue, the wheel of life, is turning, and Norma is growing old.

This superb restoration is accompanied by a beautiful and haunting score by Robert Israel, itself a symphonic work of great power. Séverin-Mars died soon after filming was completed in 1921. Gance did not complete and release the film until 1923. Ivy Close made a few more silent films in the late 1920s and retired from the screen.

This may be a film you only watch once in your lifetime, but you will never forget it.


6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 16 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

IMDb Freedive: Watch Movies and TV Series for Free

Watch Hollywood hits and TV favorites for free with IMDb Freedive. Start streaming on IMDb and Fire TV devices today!

Start watching



Recently Viewed