La Roue (RARE)
La Roue (RARE)
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Synopsis

In its time, this film had such an impact on French filmmakers that Jean Cocteau supposedly began referring to "a cinema before and after La Roue." It is the tragic tale of Sisif (Severin Mars), an engine driver, who saves a girl from a train crash and adopts her, then falls in love with her as she grows into a beautiful young woman (Ivy Close). He marries her off to a rich railway administrator in an effort to rid himself of temptation, but his torment does not cease. "No film since De Mille's The Cheat, not even L''Herbier''s El Dorado, had so stunned the French filmmakers, critics a nd cinephiles" (Richard Abel, French Cinema). Silent with English titles and new music score by Robert Israel. Abel Gance---France---1923---270 mins.

Reviews of 'La Roue (RARE)'

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  • Currently 2/5 Stars.
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  | MrTransfer#1

This film should be appreciated for its technical cinematic elements. Yes, It pioneered many techniques, but the story itself is a muddled mess. It is way too long and could easily be edited down into a tighter film. But even if it was edited down, at its core, there is a very creepy story about incest (father/daughter - brother/sister) that permeates the story. There is also an illogical story line about the train conductor who twice tries to commit suicide by crashing his train. He isn't jailed, fined, or even fired by the RR company for destroying the trains. Instead he is demoted to a smaller train??? Sorry, the story is not logical and at times creepy. I don't recommend. Rv

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  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
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  | Diane#7

Amazing cinematography and masterful building of suspense fit so well with playing on variations of the wheel metaphor. The experimental techniques with point of view establish this classic film as a forerunnereven today. Very impressive!

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  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
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  | Lewis#4

Gance's film was released, in 1923, as an eight-hour opus presented in a special two-night screening. After that it was recut and shortened drastically. In the 2008 DVD version it is "restored" to a 273-minute running time. (It is also provided with a new score by Robert Israel, replacing Arthur Honegger's original music.) One feels that it could be improved by even further, carefully considered, abridgement (say, to 180 minutes). It is essentially a silent melodrama, moving at a silent-melodrama pace, but extended to epic length. It achieves an epic quality also with a sweep that is partly chronological (a character shown as a toddler at the beginning is ruefully discovering gray hairs at the end) and geographical (flatland train yards in the first half give way to soaring Mont Blanc scenery in the second). Visually, the film is breathtaking, a compendium of visual devices (masking, superimposed images, tinting, tracking shots, accelerando cutting, gliding railway footage) that sustain Gance's reputation as an extraordinarily inventive image artist. The wheel of the title, like Ophuls's "Ronde," provides both the film's chief metaphor as well as a unifying visual device. It is the wheel of life, inexorably turning, and presented as part of a locomotive's undercarriage, as a circle of dancing youth, as a railcar turntable upon which the camera rests (a thrilling shot). This is clearly a masterpiece of the silent cinema. The narrative is a bit creaky, the acting perfervid even by silent film standards. And yet it is wonderful. One looks forward, now with increased urgency, to a time when more of Gance's silent masterworks become available on US-compatible DVD's.

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