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Gaumont Treasures Volume 2 — and Zombies

I’m reluctant to interrupt the passionate discussion currently raging in the “Sturges at Sunset” section, but if I don’t start a new thread, we’re going to hit those annoying “out of memory” errors again. So here goes: Kino has released a condensed and subtitled version of the second volume in Gaumont’s magnificent “Le Cinema Premier” series, and while some of the hardcore types around here will prefer the original French edition, the Kino version still comes up with some ten hours of fascinating material, including a wide selection of early animation by Emile Cohl, a sampling of the slapstick chases and early euro-westerns of Jean Durand, and a miscellany disc that contains early efforts by Jacques Feyder as well as some lesser known films that suggest the stylistic range of early cinema, from the poetic realist impulse of George Andre Lacroix’s “The Barges” (1911) to the elegantly abstract “Feet and Hands” (Gaston Ravel, 1915), an Oulipo-esque attempt to tell a fairly complex love story without showing a single human face. My New York Times review is here. But if folks want to talk about zombie movies, that’s OK, too . . .

206 comments to Gaumont Treasures Volume 2 — and Zombies

  • Since I’m still here and babbling, I want to mention that I have re-thought my views on modern zombies being a degradation of the original zombie figure from the 1930s. Clearly, since the late 1960s the “zombie” has become a new horror monster, a blend of vampire and cannibal, with elements of anger and rage figured in (via 28 Days Later, for example). It’s unfortunate that this monster is called a zombie, but nevertheless it has evolved into a new thing. Autres temps, autres monstres. [Pardon my French.] Or should I say, chacun a son ghoul.

  • Alex

    It seems to me that the modern zombie is more directorial device than fantasy construction, less a recombination of zombie and vampire a ancestors than a vehicle for the dual viewer adrenalin delights of fright of a gnawing death and shooting a huminoid in the head.

    He bears less relation to the moral dilemmas of the monster (as in the sensitivities of Frankenstein Monster and the moral dilemmas of many a post-Ann-Rice vampire) or the social allegories of monsters (as in Morreti’s Frankenstein Monster as debased inmdustrial wortker and Morreti’s Dracula as Abusive Aristocrat) than he does to the pure sources of horror and targets of rage pioneered with the shark of Jaws and the alien(s) of Scott (and Cameron).

    He is less a creature of the fantasist’s imagination than adrenalin thriller means of jolting the brain stem.

  • Alex

    Much to my surproise., I thoughly enjoyed Mann’s SERENADE. Idon’t know whehther film os more like high art flirting with Camp as do some von Sternberg filMs, (e.g., THE DEVIL IS A WOMAM)or extravagantlay trashy material transiting in to true surrealism (e.g., Alberto Gout’s LA AVENTURERA), And it;s easy to imagine a large portion of viewers being totally alienated by the chubby, choildish Mario Lanza’s variance woith an fit to commercial Hollywood comnceptions of the leading man. However. I though found Lanza earnest simplicity and flap, like his voice, quite convincing –even powerful and the film less some bon with redeeming qualities than a masterpiece of high romanticism almost to compare with PANDORA AND THE FLYIMNG DUTCHMAN or QUEEN KELLY.

    My admiration for Anthony Mann’s amazing range — amazing enough across his films noirs and Westerns, not to speak of various other wild cards — is jolted upward.

    A very pleasant surprise, despite the great, puritanical divergence from Cain’s excellent novel, sense of a pulled punch or two in the films final minutes, and a wretched title song.

  • Michael Worrall

    Brian wrote: “Also, on “a film by,” you once lambasted me when I said that I was a great re-watcher of films – always in the process of reconsidering my views. You said this practice indicated that I was weak of mind, and knew nothing about movies. Now you say that my problem is that I refuse to reconsider my evaluations. Which is it? I cannot be guilty of both.

    That particular criticism of you on a _film_by was that being you were “always in the process of reconsidering” your views, it appeared to me that you really had no analytical or critical approach to films. Since you view films in terms of “subjectivity” and “personal experience” it would be reasonable to believe that you could say anything about a film at any given time. If authorial intention is not the object of interpretation, then there is no constraint upon saying anything whatsoever is the meaning of the film.

    When you do post your reading of a film, you have never, to my knowledge, admitted to any misreading or misinterpretation. Not surprising, being that your theories allow you to say anything.

  • Hi All: Wondering if anyone has seen a nifty little picture, quite rare, called NIGHT BEAT; it’s an early talkie that predates GABRIEL OVER THE WHITE HOUSE and advances the same idea — that, properly administered, Fascism would end the Great Depression.

  • Barry Putterman

    Hi Daniel, I think you mean NIGHT COURT and I would agree on its niftiness. Actually there are quite a number of films made in the dark 32-33 period when the country had pretty much lost faith in the Hoover administration and the New Deal of Roosevelt had not yet taken form which can be said to fall into this category. A few off the top of my head; AFRAID TO TALK, WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND, OKAY AMERICA, BEAST OF THE CITY, THIS DAY AND AGE. It was also in that climate that films such as DUCK SOUP and DIPLOMANIACS were possible.