Anthology Film Archives


June 1 – June 7

This is the first of a two-part series surveying the work of the pioneering filmmaker Jean Epstein. A key figure in early French cinema, both as a director and a film theoretician, Epstein is known today primarily for THE THREE-SIDED MIRROR (1927) and his adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (1928) (both of which are included in Anthology’s Essential Cinema repertory collection). But Epstein was extremely productive throughout the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, making more than two dozen short- and feature-films, which together comprise an astoundingly inventive, eclectic, and vibrant body of work. Most of these films have gone unscreened in NYC for decades, and we are overjoyed to be presenting them now in newly restored prints courtesy of the Cinémathèque Française.

The first part of the retrospective – showcasing all but one of the major titles made prior to the coming of sound – begins shortly after Epstein arrived in Paris in the 1920s and ends with the first of several of his films to be set on the islands off the coast of Brittany. In between, Epstein explores a wide range of visually inventive styles to accompany different modes, including documentary, melodrama, and other uncategorizable narrative forms. His experiments with cinematic temporality, framing, and editing, along with his visionary theoretical speculations, make him one of the most important figures of cinema history.

The films coincide with an ambitious set of writings by Epstein about the cinema: there is never a moment in his film practice when Epstein is not also writing about his conception of cinema. Several of these writings are featured in a new anthology of work by and about Epstein, JEAN EPSTEIN: CRITICAL ESSAYS AND NEW TRANSLATIONS (edited by Sarah Keller and Jason Paul, Amsterdam University Press, 2012), which will be available at Anthology. For further discussion of Epstein’s work, a roundtable on the silent films will be open to the public on Wednesday evening immediately following the second screening of FINIS TERRAE.

Organized in collaboration with the Cinémathèque Française and Sarah Keller (Colby College), and with support from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. Special thanks to Emilie Cauquy (Cinémathèque Française); Delphine Selles-Alvarez & Muriel Guidoni (Cultural Services of the French Embassy); Themba Bhebhe (Pathé), Eric Le Roy & Jean-Baptiste Garnero (Archives françaises du film-CNC), Gilbert Le Traon (Cinémathèque de Bretagne); Stuart Liebman (CUNY Graduate Center), James June Schneider; Ludovic Cortade (NYU); and Gaumont.

All of the films in this series have been restored by the Cinémathèque Française. LE LION DES MOGOLS and LE DOUBLE AMOUR have been restored by the Cinémathèque Française in collaboration with the Franco American Cultural Fund – DGA MPA SACEM WGA.

Watch for the second part of the retrospective – a selection of Epstein’s major sound films – at Anthology in September 2012.

All films are in black-and-white and will feature French intertitles with projected English subtitles.

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