Tuesday, November 30, 2010


FR 1926. P+D+SC+ED: Dimitri Kirsanoff. DP: Léonce Crouan, Dimitri Kirsanoff. Cast: Nadia Sibirskaïa (the younger sister), Yolande Beaulieu (the elder sister), Guy Belmont (the young man). A film without intertitles. A BFINA print, 870 m /20 fps/ 32 min, this screening 39 min, viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 30 Nov 2010.

A "seduced and abandoned" narrative provides the framework for this famous avantgarde film.
1.The country and the city: the film starts with the juxtaposition of the lyricism of nature and the heavy traffic of Paris.
2. But in the countryside there is a bloody murder seen in rapid montage. The sisters become orphans and must hit the road.
3. The cinematography is excellent, and the definition of light in the print is largely good.
4. The foundation is realism, with documentary values in the account of the 20th arrondissement of Paris, its cafés, streets, and hotels.
5. Ménilmontant is a work of urban poetry: of traffic, subways, alleys, smokes rising from the chimneys, the machinery of the alarm clock.
6. Nadia Sibirskaïa is fine in her second movie role, directed by her then husband Kirsanoff. One can already see why Renoir was impressed by her.
7. There are moments of nature lyricism in the Paris sequences, too: Nadia's sensitivity by the river.
8. Nadia's torment and disappointment in being abandoned in prostitution is portrayed with a profound depth comparable with Stroheim, Mizoguchi, and Antonioni.
9. The most interesting aspect of Ménilmontant is how it portrays mental processes, associations, and chains of notions in superimpositions and montages.

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