Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Fall of the House of Usher (1928)

Literary adaptations for the silent screen pose certain difficulties. Limited to intertitles and images, how then to cinematically “translate” text-based literature onto the screen without turning the movie into an illustrated manuscript? For an author like Edgar Allan Poe, there is the issue of not only plot, but also the cadence of his language, which gives so much flavor and atmosphere to the stories. For his film of The Fall of the House of Usher, Jean Epstein took a bold approach, not so much following Poe’s directly as moving parallel to it, using cinema’s distinct capabilities to create something analogous to what Poe was doing with language. As Jean-André Fieschi wrote of Epstein, “he is less interested in the expressive possibilities of visual writing than in a certain degree of autonomy pertaining to it.”

Read my full review of The Fall of the House of Usher here at Not Coming to a Theater Near You.

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