Film (1931; vt The End of the World). L'Écran d'Art. Directed by Abel Gance, starring Gance, Victor Francen, Colette Darfeuil, Sylvie Grenade, Jeanne Brindeau, Samson Fainsilber. Screenplay Gance, suggested by a story by Camille Flammarion. 105 minutes, cut to 91 minutes, cut to 54 minutes. Black and white.
This tells of a comet's approach to Earth and of the upheavals (natural and cultural) that ensue. There are orgies, and the rise of a totalitarian leader (Francen), obviously approved by the director, who would soon prove sympathetic to fascism. As with most of Gance's films, which were usually independently produced, it took many years to complete. La Fin du Monde was made as a silent film, but sound effects were later added by the producers, who sacked Gance and cut the film's length. (Gance was still working on one version in 1949.) A shortened 54-minute English version, repudiated by Gance, was released in 1934; it was supervised by V Ivanoff and the script was adapted by H S Kraft. The film is extravagant, and fits one description of Gance's work as hovering "between the ludicrous and the majestic"; a more unkind critic might see it as somewhere between the grandiose and the banal. [PN/JB]
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