René Clair Jean-George Auriol - Essay

Jean-George Auriol

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[At the head of the young French school of directors] there is without hesitation René Clair, whose first film, made in 1922, with unbelievably limited means, Paris qui dort, remains still the only French comic film that can be shown along with the old Max Linder films, which have almost all disappeared today. René Clair amazed all eyes with the film he made, on a scenario by Picabia, for a scene in the Swedish Ballet in 1922—I am speaking of Entr'acte. This short and admirable bit of mystification has such spontaneous movement and such real richness that it can be considered as a chef-d'oeuvre. Clair next sought to react against the theatrical cinema, so generally admired in France, through films that were full of movement and without literary pretensions. Then, after directing a number of films that were more to his taste, but sufficiently ordinary to obtain a financial success, he is now reduced to the point of taking refuge in facile, elegant plays, and transposing into the French style the marvelous buffoonery of Keaton or the easier passages in the admirable humor of Chaplin. (p. 260)

Jean-George Auriol, "Whither the French Cinema" (translation revised by Maria McD. Jolas for this publication), translated by Maria McD. Jolas, in transition (copyright, 1929, by transition), No. 15, February, 1929, pp. 257-63.∗