7.4/10
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La chute de la maison Usher (1928)

Not Rated | | Horror | 5 October 1928 (France)
Allan visits the sinister Usher family mansion, where his friend Roderick is painting a portrait of his sickly wife Madeline. The portrait seems to be draining the life out of Madeline, slowly leading to her death.

Director:

Jean Epstein

Writers:

Edgar Allan Poe (short story), Luis Buñuel (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Credited cast:
Jean Debucourt ... Sir Roderick Usher
Marguerite Gance Marguerite Gance ... Madeleine Usher
Charles Lamy Charles Lamy ... Allan - the Guest
Fournez-Goffard Fournez-Goffard ... The Doctor
Luc Dartagnan Luc Dartagnan ... Bar costumer
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Abel Gance ... Bar costumer
Halma Halma ... Bar Waiter
Pierre Hot Pierre Hot ... Bar costumer
Pierre Kefer Pierre Kefer ... Bar costumer
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Storyline

Allan has a hard time finding the Usher's house, which is known to be cursed... But he is a personal friend of Roderick Usher, who lives with his sick wife Madeline and a doctor. Roderick is painting a portrait of Madeline, but every pose exhausts her. Allan worries more and more... Written by Yepok

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

Not Rated
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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

5 October 1928 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

La caída de la casa Usher See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Films Jean Epstein See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list. See more »

Connections

Version of Fall of the House of Usher (2014) See more »

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User Reviews

 
see it for everything except plot and you'll be fine
8 July 2008 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

The Fall of the House of Usher is about... well, I suppose it's about someone, Allan, visiting the house of Usher, run by Roderick, who lives with his sick wife Madeline and spends most of his time painting and trying to find a cure for whatever her supernatural-esquire disease is. The rest of what happens I cannot really say. Maybe because I'm still not totally sure myself. While I've yet to read the original Poe story, or see the later, more well known Roger Corman production with Vincent Price, I would probably advise on what little I know in comparing both films for the 1960 version if you're most concerned about sticking straight to the story.

Apparently, by the way, Luis Bunuel, who was director Jean Epstein's chief collaborator, quit after creative clashes over this issue. For whatever reason it was, I'd be hard-pressed to figure on how much influence he did or didn't leave on the picture. As it stands, and probably sticking to a certain aesthetic that was familiar for those in love with Poe, the silent version of Fall of the House of Usher is chock full of atmosphere in every kind of delicious, creepy, wonderful kind of connotation. The production design is sometimes full of a smoke, or a smoke-filled tint from the camera, and the outside of the mansion is covered in dirty fields and dead trees. The inside of the house, the interiors of the walls, the mirrors, the paints of Roderick's, and the placement of the camera in some strange angles (i.e. guitar) all build up to something unexpected.

Would I call it surrealism just because of Bunuel's involvement? Yes and no. Yes in that, of course, there are some striking moments that could only come out of a dream &/or a desire to just completely tool around with the audience's head just for the hell of it. And no because it's really Epstein's movie through it all, and he crafts this mostly as a somber, quietly intense picture where he experiments not in as a surrealist but as a director of contemplative Gothic horror. I can't even totally understand what absorbed me, but everything in the 'plastic', technical sense of the word did, not to mention the performances by Debucourt, Lamy, and especially Gance who all seem to be drifting in and out of the fantastical consciousness that seems to be living in this place, where life and death merge or go un-hinged, and (as another reviewer noted) is like a slow-poisoning prison.

Just, as I said, don't watch it to be wrapped up in 'what happens next in the "plot"', as it's more about what may happen in the next twist with a setting or a mood, or if a character should suddenly have a look that changes everything. It's not the greatest of the near-end silent period, but it's close.


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