by Allan Fish
Note – This one’s a personal request for Sam over the phone 5 mins ago
(France 1926 38m) DVD1
A notre père et mère
d/w/ph/ed Dimitri Kirsanov
Nadia Sibirskaia (younger sister), Yoland Beaulieu (older sister), Guy Belmont (young man), Jean Pasquier,
Dimitri Kirsanov is hardly a name that comes to readily to mind to even the hardiest film buffs. Yet in the twenties he was a pivotal director in the French avant garde movement, a pioneer of many of the dreamy trick effects that soon were to become commonplace. Many film buffs know of Man Ray, of Jean Epstein, of Louis Delluc and of the early Jean Vigo, yet Kirsanov remains an enigma, his films lost seemingly in the mists of the past.
His most famous film remains Menilmontant, and its many adherents included none other than Pauline Kael. On one hand, it does have a linear story, and yet on another it seems to make the rules up as it goes along, from scene to scene. It begins with a famous shot of lace curtains being grabbed at from inside a house. A door handle is vigorously shaken from within. A couple emerge frantically from inside, as they are being grabbed by an assailant. After a feverish struggle, the assailant grabs an axe and murders them both. Cut then to two teenage girls playing by the nearby river, trying to coax a cat down out of a tree. The youngest runs off home, but finds a crowd gathered round the bodies of her parents and runs back to the older sister in an understandable hysteria. We next find them by the graveside of their parents, before time shifts forward – beautifully illustrated by the overgrown nature of their parents’ grave – and we find them in Paris. (more…)