L'Argent (L'Herbier, 1928) (Masters of Cinema) DVD
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Directed by Marcel LHerbier
Produced in 1928
Main Language - French with English subtitles
R Dixon Smith praises this gripping classic tale of corruption and seduction.
Pertinently, L’Argent (Money) is a gripping exposé of the destructive power of money, featuring ruthless stock-market speculators, desperate bids, ruined rivals, and sexual seduction. Brilliantly adapted from Zola’s 1891 novel, the film was directed with great technical bravura by Marcel L’Herbier and features elaborate, oversized, art-deco sets, while some scenes were actually filmed on location at the Paris Stock Exchange. Jules Kruger’s dazzlingly fluid cinematography assaults the eye with rapid, disorienting, roller-coaster movements that create a vertiginous world of all-corrupting greed. This hugely original French-German co-production stars a superb international cast, and although it was moderately successful at the box-office in January 1929, it was a casualty of the craze for talking pictures. Today, it’s recognized as one of the true masterworks of the late-silent era.
Adapted from Émile Zola's novel of the same name, Marcel L'Herbier's L'Argent [Money] is an opulent classic of late-silent era cinema. Filmed in part on location at the Paris stock exchange, it reveals a world of intrigue, greed, decadence, and ultimately corruption and scandal when business dealings and amorous deceit combine.
Business tycoons Saccard and Gunderman lock horns when the former attempts to raise capital for his faltering bank. To inflate the price of his stock, Saccard concocts a duplicitous publicity stunt involving the unwitting aviator Hamelin and a flight across the Atlantic to drill for oil, much to the dismay of his wife Line. While Hamelin is away, the lascivious Saccard attempts to seduce Line, whose own temptation by the allure of money puts herself and her husband in danger – pawns in a high-stakes chess game played out by unscrupulous speculators.
With an all-star cast (Brigitte Helm and Alfred Abel, fresh from Fritz Lang's Metropolis, alongside Pierre Alcover, Yvette Guilbert, and luminary of the French avant-garde Antonin Artaud) and a mammoth budget, L'Argent is comparable in period and scale with other celebrated epics of the silent era, such as Abel Gance's Napoléon. With its use of portable cameras that literally descend into the Bourse and revolve around its lavish contours, L'Argent represents a type of cinematic Impressionism distinctive to the "silent art" – a poetry that would change forever with the coming of sound.
Publisher: Eureka / Masters of Cinema
Length: 164 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Format: DVD B&W
Released: 24th November 2008
Cat No: EKA40298
- A pristine transfer from a fine grain print struck from the original negative, featuring the director's cut fought for by L'Herbier over many years, the film speed as projected in the late 1920s, and the entirety of each frame fully displayed
- New and improved English subtitles
- Newly improvised musical accompaniment by French composer and pianist Jean-François Zygel, who also provides a video introduction to the film and a documentary about accompanying silent cinema
- About L'Argent [Autour de L'Argent](1928) - Jean Dréville's 40 minute "making of" documentary
- Archival footage of star Brigitte Helm (fresh from Fritz Lang's Metropolis) arriving in Paris for the shooting of L'Herbier's film
- Archival screen-tests of the L'Argent actors
- Marcel L'Herbier: Poet of the Silent Art (2007) – a 54 minute documentary profiling the director
- A demonstration of L'Herbier's innovative sound techniques, which used 78rpm records during key scenes of L'Argent
- A lavish 80-page perfect-bound booklet with archival publicity stills, a long essay by noted professor of French film Richard Abel, newly translated interviews with L'Herbier, and newly translated extracts from the director's biography.
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