La Glu est un film français réalisé en 1926 par Henri Fescourt, sorti en 1927.D'après le roman de Jean Richepin publié en 1881. Une jeune femme parisienne surnommée La Glu s'installe dans un... Read allLa Glu est un film français réalisé en 1926 par Henri Fescourt, sorti en 1927.D'après le roman de Jean Richepin publié en 1881. Une jeune femme parisienne surnommée La Glu s'installe dans un petit port de pêche breton avec l'intention de séduire Marie-Pierre, le seul garçon des 9... Read allLa Glu est un film français réalisé en 1926 par Henri Fescourt, sorti en 1927.D'après le roman de Jean Richepin publié en 1881. Une jeune femme parisienne surnommée La Glu s'installe dans un petit port de pêche breton avec l'intention de séduire Marie-Pierre, le seul garçon des 9 enfants de Marie des Anges. Elle parvient à ses fins et Marie-Pierre la suit. Il est à so... Read all
The combination, far from being odd, is very common. although the "conversion" could be in the opposite direction (naturalists going decadent) but the result is always to produce a similar hybrid form. And this corresponded entirely with the same reverse-pull that was occurring in cinema between naturalism and impressionism (a sort of intensified naturalism) on the one hand and the various non-realistic forms o(surrealism, expressionism, futurism) on the other, which continued the late Romantic fascination for the decadent and the fantastique. Sometimes the two modes are opposed (as logically they would appear to be) but sometimes (very often in fact) they are interestingly interwoven.
Henri Fescourt, journalist and scriptwriter turned director, was a pivotal figure in the French "art film" movement, associated along with Edmond Benoît-Lévy (the great pontiff of the art film) with the Ciné-Club de France, established in 1907. As a writer he had worked at Gaumont with Louis Feuillade, who again is a superb example of the two seemingly opposite tendencies, with, on the one hand, the great serials (Fantômas, Les Vampires, Judex) which so delighted the surrealists and, on the other, a strong influence of naturalism that led him to create the series "Life as It Really Is" which included films such as Le Nain, La Tare, Le Trust).
The main impetus for naturalistic film had come, however, from the rival company Pathé and its first really important exponent was Albert Capellani who was responsible for the first French feature films - the first film version of Hugo's Les Misérables in 1912-13 (a canonical text for the naturalists)and another of Zola's Germinal i 1913. Capellani had also been responsible for the first film version of this novel (also in 1913) but whether perhaps it still survives somewhere in the miserly gripe of the French film giant. Another important figure in French naturalism was André Antoine, close friend of Zola and already the architect of the French naturalist theatre (the first "metteur en scène") before starting to make films in the early twenties - Le Coupable (1917), La Terre (1921), L'Arlésienne (1922) and the absolutely wonderful L'Hirondelle et la Mésange shot in 1920 but never shown because the boss thought it was too much like a documentary but which can now be seen in all its glory in a beautifully restored version.
Fescourt produced his two-part five-hour version of Les Misérables in 1925 (it does survive and has recently been restored but I have not seen it) and then followed again in Capellani's footsteps by producing this remake of La Glu two years later. Perhaps this exists too in its full version but I have only see the desperately unsatisfactory Pathé-Baby version reduced to about half its length.
It is in some ways in the tradition (by 1927 a bit past its sell-by date) of the "vamp" film. For people in the US this is synonymous with the actress Theda Bara and the film A Fool There Was (1915) based on the Rudyard Kipling poem which was in turn based on a famous (but now sadly lost) pre-Raphaelite painting by Edward Burne-Jones. This is however neither the first nor the best of the early "vamp" films. In 1914 (just the year after Capellani's La Glu), the great Russian director Yevgeny Bauer produced the superb Child of the Big City, again a combination of naturalism and expressionism, typical of Russia as it was of Germany, that is hugely effective (and both of which are notable by their absence from the relatively silly 1915 US film).
La Glu is in many ways closer to Burne-Jones and Kipling - the inexplicably demonic nature of women (from a very fierce male point of view) which is never placed (as it is in the Bauer film) in a comprehensible social and psychological context - the real hallmark of naturalism. Moreover Bauer's heroine is really vile (far more so - because more believable - than the Theda Bara character) whereas it is a little difficult to see what harm the "sorceress" has actually done to the young "savage" (actually a mama's boy and a bit of a milksop) by having sex with him and then going her own sweet way, which is all she is guilty of doing. Again the viewpoint here is absurdly, even monstrously, male. Her principle sin in fact, in French Catholic culture, is to have come between a boy and his mum.
Nonetheless this film has a certain importance, Germaine Rouer is excellent as the "jolie laide" (a category of sex symbol almost exclusively French), and the ending is extremely powerful if morally repellent, so, even in the miserable 9.5mm copy, is well worth a half an hour of anyone's time.
- Nov 29, 2017