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Archive for February 18th, 2010

by Allan Fish

(France 1927 141m) DVD1

Aka. Le Joueur d’Echecs

The board is set, the pieces are moving…

p  Raymond Bernard, Henry Dupuy-Mazuel, Jean-José Frappa  d  Raymond Bernard  w  Raymond Bernard, Jean-José Frappa  novel  Henry Dupuy-Mazuel  ph  Joseph-Louis Mundviller, Marc Bujard, Willy Faktorivitch  ed  Raymond Bernard  m  Henri Rabaud  md  Carl Davis  art  Jean Perrier  cos  Eugène Lourie  spc  W.Percy Day

Pierre Blanchar (Boleslas Vorowski), Charles Dullin (Baron von Kempelen), Edith Jehanne (Sophie Novinska), Camille Bert (Maj.Nicolaieff), Pierre Batcheff (Prince Serge Oblomoff), Marcelle Charles-Dullin (Catherine the Great), Jacky Monnier, Armand Bernard, Alexiane, Pierre Hot, James Devesa, Fridette Fatton,

So spoke I McKellen as Gandalf in The Return of the King, but it’s also a wonderful summation for this wonderful, long feared lost silent masterpiece.  For far too long discussions of French silent cinema have tended to centre around Dreyer’s La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc and the epics of Abel Gance.  Bernard is a name unjustly lost in time, but this was a man responsible for three supreme masterworks of the cinematic storyteller’s art; WWO classic Les Croix de Bois, his epic five hour Les Misérables and this wonderful historical romance.  Many of the cinematic touches seen here may have first been seen on Napoleon, but Bernard (and Russian director Alexandre Volkoff) worked as assistants to Gance on that film out of respect for Gance and must have had some input into the innovations used therein.  The Chess Player is the other great masterpiece of French silent cinema, and one which is impossible not to compare to the same year’s Metropolis(more…)

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