Monday, July 28, 2008

"Max Linder and the Death of Bourgeois Respectability"

“Laughter is a new kind of weapon. A type of light gun, very effective in cases where there is no need to employ heavy tanks of social wrath,” wrote Sergei Eisenstein in 1937, describing his ideal vision of Socialist Comedy as a new genre. Just over thirty years earlier in France, as cinema was nearing the decade mark and Georges Méliès was exploring the fantastic and the macabre as had never seen before, Max Linder was aiming his revolutionary camera-as-gun at the bourgeoisie and their sacred rituals. He tore down pretension and ridiculed respectability. The very symbols of social refinement – clothing, manners, marriage, propriety – are the targets for his humor. The greatest victim, however, is always Linder himself...

Read my full essay on Max Linder online here at Not Coming to a Theater Near You.

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