Georges Franju

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Cinetwist
Joined: Fri Jun 09, 2006 7:00 am
Location: England

#1 Post by Cinetwist » Sun Mar 18, 2007 3:15 pm

The co-founder of the Cinematheque Francaise who got his break (relatively) late on with Blood of the Beasts.

Similar to most younger people and without access to French TV, I've only seen Eyes Without a Face and was pretty damn impressed (sorry I haven't got the criterion dvd so haven't seen the doc yet). How can we see more of his films? They sound somewhat inconsistent but extremely intriguing. I'm a massive Feuillade and Cocteau fan, so of course I'm desperate to see Judex, Thomas the Imposter and Nuites Rouges but I'd love to see anything really.

I've heard bad things about the amount and condition of prints and negatives. Apparently some films only exist on 16mm and Nuites Rouges was screened on a dvd at a retrospective because all the prints were so bad.

Surely Eyes Without a Face has enough cachet to warrant more releases of his work?

yoshimori
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#2 Post by yoshimori » Sun Mar 18, 2007 3:24 pm

The print of Thomas the Impostor that screened at the American Cinematheque here eight or ten years ago was beautiful. My memory is that it had been recently struck in France. The movie was mesmerizing. I'd desperately love to see it again.

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Cinetwist
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#3 Post by Cinetwist » Sun Mar 18, 2007 3:29 pm

Well that certainly is good news. So Franju wasn't a one trick pony? That's even better news.

I'd love to hear anything else you have to say on the film, but will understand if you can't elaborate, what with it being a decade since you saw it. Was it well received by the audience you were with? I know Franju's not alone in being completely ignored by dvd but it seems odd that a restored and re-screened film from a Cocteau novel couldn't get a release anywhere.

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orlik
Joined: Mon May 01, 2006 7:17 pm
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#4 Post by orlik » Sun Mar 18, 2007 3:41 pm

I know how you feel, and I also think it's a shame that really only two of Franju's films are known. Along with Eyes and Blood of the Beasts I've managed to see Judex, his first film Head Against the Wall and a late film called Shadowman, as well as a gorgeous short film called The Dream of Wild Horses - all of these were in wretchedly substandard VHS copies (I got Shadowman off ebay, and the others came from Facets - what more can I say?). Eyes is still the best one I've seen of all these, although Judex is wonderful - like a stylistic melange of Cocteau and Bresson (as well as Feuillade, of course), with a ballroom scene straight out of Max Ernst.

I don't think any of the films I got from Facets are available anymore, although there is a copy of his documentary on Melies, along with some Melies shorts, still available (though I've not got it). I think it'd be a good idea to keep looking on Ebay - even substandard copies are better than nothing.

Again, it's such a shame that most of his ouevre is forgotten - from the Time Out reviews, Pleins Feux Sur L'Assassin (also starring Pierre Brasseur) and Thomas L'Imposteur sound especially interesting.

yoshimori
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#5 Post by yoshimori » Sun Mar 18, 2007 3:44 pm

The movie's plot concerns, iirc, a beautiful young man who lies to join the army and get transfered to the front. The film shimmers, often like a fairy tale, stars literally twinkling in the night sky. Cocteauian, but better than any Cocteau film. I remember a rhythmic, musical film. Very poetic.

Perhaps others have more detailed memories of it.

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Cinetwist
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#6 Post by Cinetwist » Sun Mar 18, 2007 6:02 pm

Thanks for your replies. I'd like to know what you thought of "Shadowman" Orlik. I actually have the original poster for that film (I know it's a bit odd to have a poster for a film you haven't seen, but it looks awesome and was a bargain). I've found a bootleg, but it's dubbed and cropped. What was the quality of the copy you got?

I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree with you about substandard quality being better than nothing, especially if it's facets, as I know for a fact that their dvds have made me dislike films that I would otherwise like. I used to be BIG into bootlegs, but it's not worth the effort anymore. The sort of people that deal in them are never honest and the prices are a joke. Facets are even worse because they pretend to be legitimate.

And Yoshimori, I think your succinct memory of the film is better than any verbose and lengthy remembrance of it. It certainly makes me want to see it. Desperately.

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orlik
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#7 Post by orlik » Sun Mar 18, 2007 7:34 pm

I think that bootleg of Shadowman was probably the version I saw - cropped and dubbed, bad quality picture, and it even looked like there were chunks of the film missing (either that or the narrative made no sense!). But for all these handicaps the film still had moments of amazing pulp visual poetry worthy of Feuillade (such as a troupe of evil white-faced mannequins). Apparently, it was the pilot for a TV series called 'L'Homme Sans Visage'.

I know what you mean about bootlegs and to be honest I now tend now to buy a DVD/VHS if I know it'll be a bad copy (also Facets' films are grotesquely overpriced for the quality you get). Sometimes a film is good enough to transcend the form in which you watch it - as with 'Judex'. Other times, you're right, it can ruin it - for instance Jan Nemec's Party and the Guests, which I've only seen in the Facets version (I hope the new Second Run release will 'redeem' it for me).

David Ehrenstein
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#8 Post by David Ehrenstein » Mon Mar 19, 2007 12:18 pm

Franju is utterly unique. An incredibly refined sensibility whose films are filled with all manner of fascinating nooks and crannies. Like so many I first became aware of him through the cut and dubbed version of Eyes Without a Face, entited The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus. Then in 1966 his 1964 Judex was released in the U.S. and that did it -- he was a master. Feuillade made contemporary films. By remaking one of his series as a feature Franju recast it as a period piece. A decidedly odd one. The use of doves (seen also in his short Notre Dames de Paris) is quite personal. Amd the bird heads worn at the masked ball in Judex are uncanny. Francine Berge's evocation of Musidora is most unusual. And Edith Piaf's last husband, Theo Sarapo, plays her boyfriend. Franju cast magician Channing Pollack in the title role because of the beautiful gestures he was capable of making with his hands (thus a link between Franju and Bresson).

Raymond Durgnat has written the best book on Franju.

David Ehrenstein
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#9 Post by David Ehrenstein » Mon Mar 19, 2007 12:20 pm

Oh, and it was Franju who said "But surely Monsieur Godard, you believe that films should have a beginning, middle and and end," to which Godard replied --

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Cinetwist
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#10 Post by Cinetwist » Mon Mar 19, 2007 1:48 pm

Apparently he also cast Feuillade's grandson in Nuits Rouges.

I checked my library today and they've got the Durgnat book so I'll pick it up sooner or later.

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Barmy
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 3:59 pm

#11 Post by Barmy » Mon Mar 19, 2007 5:30 pm

"La Faute de l'abbé Mouret" is one of maybe 5 movies that I have walked out on. I regret it now.

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tavernier
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#12 Post by tavernier » Mon Mar 19, 2007 6:38 pm

What are the other 4, pray tell?

jonp72
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#13 Post by jonp72 » Wed Mar 21, 2007 11:05 am

Does anybody know where to locate a copy of the Franju short, Hotel des Invalides?

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Gordon
Waster of Cinema
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#14 Post by Gordon » Wed Mar 21, 2007 6:50 pm

I have a copy of Raymond Durgnat's 1967 book, Franju and the stills through indicate that he was truly a master of powerful images. His short (23 mins) film from 1958, La Première nuit, shot by the great Eugen Schüfftan who also lit Les Yeux with music by Georges Delerue has some astounding shots in the Metro and in a forest. I want to see all of his films eventually. Even in his homeland, he is poorly represented on DVD.

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tavernier
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#15 Post by tavernier » Sat Feb 16, 2008 12:33 am

Retrospective coming to Anthology Film Archives in Manhattan.

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Lino
"Without obsession, life is nothing"
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#16 Post by Lino » Sat Feb 16, 2008 5:09 am

I wish I could go there. Franju's work is one I would love to explore more and more. The Criterion disc, good as it is, is just not enough anymore.

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HerrSchreck
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#17 Post by HerrSchreck » Tue Feb 19, 2008 5:28 am

tavernier wrote:Retrospective coming to Anthology Film Archives in Manhattan.
I am soooooooooooooooo there.

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david hare
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#18 Post by david hare » Tue Feb 19, 2008 5:31 am

i hate you to death

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HerrSchreck
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am

#19 Post by HerrSchreck » Tue Feb 19, 2008 5:36 am

The best part is-- I must confess-- that beyond Les Yeux sans, and Sang d-b I have seen none of this stuff.

High hopes!

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NABOB OF NOWHERE
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 12:30 pm
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#20 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Fri Apr 04, 2008 7:55 am

Moviemail listing a Second Run R2 version of Eyes. Also features the Cinema de Notre Temps doc. Franju - Visionary.

Hey, you lot in the large apple..how was the Anthology Franjufest?

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thirtyframesasecond
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2007 1:48 pm

#21 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Fri Apr 04, 2008 8:31 am

I think it's Second Sight who are releasing Eyes Without A Face on R2.

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NABOB OF NOWHERE
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#22 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Fri Apr 04, 2008 10:05 am

thirtyframesasecond wrote:I think it's Second Sight who are releasing Eyes Without A Face on R2.
Yes you're perfectly correct. That's what comes from typing with a disengaged brain. Odd that they don't mention the extra doc. though.

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david hare
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#23 Post by david hare » Fri Apr 04, 2008 10:13 pm

"La Faute de l'abbé Mouret" is one of maybe 5 movies that I have walked out on. I regret it now.
Don't be too quick to regret it. This is another title I saw now around 30 years ago which - at the time_ struck me and others I was with as completely and mystifyingly misjudged. Could NOT get a handle on it at all. (But then I think I totally misjudged Model Shop around the same time.) Thomas l'Imposteur however is another kettle of fish. And that plus Judex and Les Yeux are the sum total of my Franju experience. These two and Thomas are more than enough to gain him master status however.

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whaleallright
Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2005 12:56 am

Sallitt on Franju

#24 Post by whaleallright » Fri Apr 04, 2008 11:10 pm

Dan Sallitt's excellent commentary on Franju from a few decades back, available in two JPEGS: Part 1 - Part 2

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HerrSchreck
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am

#25 Post by HerrSchreck » Sat Apr 05, 2008 4:58 pm

davidhare wrote:i hate you to death
Incidentally I now hate me to death too, as I realized last week that I missed this!

ArGGGGHHHH

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