Germaine Dulac Double Bill: The Cigarette & The Smiling Madame Beudet
Double Bill with an original score and live accompaniment by the Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra. $15 for special event.
A pioneering filmmaker and feminist, Germaine Dulac toggled between commercial and avant-garde modes, with one of her most famous works, “The Seashell and the Clergyman” (1928), prefiguring surrealism. Dulac’s earliest extant title, “The Cigarette” concerns a liberated young woman and her older husband who believes she is having an affair. With its understated acting and location shooting, Dulac fuses realistic tendencies with impressionistic visual association. Considered one of Dulac’s most feminist films, “The Smiling Madame Beudet” is also a crucial step in her continuing de-emphasis of traditional narrative structures in favor of visual association. The film offers a bleak portrait of marriage and its constraining effects on the woman, while vividly externalizing her dreams of liberation.
In her monograph “Germaine Dulac: A Cinema of Sensations,” scholar Tami Williams notes that the filmmaker “played a founding role in the evolution of the cinema both as art and social practice. History has overlooked her importance as a pioneer of the 1920s French avant-garde, and as an innovator of a modern cinema. Over the course of her film career (1915–42), Dulac directed more than thirty fiction films, many marking new cinematic tendencies, from impressionist to abstract. She made an equivalent number of newsreels and several documentaries, whose discreet, unobtrusive approach to filming daily life had an important impact on the evolution of nonfiction filmmaking in France.”
With an introduction and post-film discussion by Lionel Cuillé, the Jane and Bruce Robert professor of French and Francophone studies at Webster University.
Jane M. & Bruce P. Robert Charitable Foundation