French cinema double-bill: Ménilmontant & La Souriante Madame Beudet
Dmitri Kirsanoff’s Ménilmontant remains one of the most celebrated and moving of French avant-garde impressionist films of the 1920s. Legendary film critic Pauline Kael claimed it was her favourite film, calling it “an exquisite, poetic 40-minute movie that is one of the least-known masterpieces of the screen”. This screening will be accompanied by a specially-created sound score blending live foley and sound effects with piano.
One of the major figures of the French film avant-garde of the 1920s, Germaine Dulac's extraordinary films combined narratives of psychological realism with the visual techniques of the French surrealist movement. In La Souriante Madame Beudet (The Smiling Madame Beudet), Dulac tells the short, simple tale of a woman trapped in a boring marriage. So far, so familiar - what makes the film special is the way Dulac uses cinematic techniques such as slow motion, superimpositions and image distortion to express the interior life and emotions of her protagonist on the screen. La Souriante Madame Beudet is often credited as being the first feminist film.
Ménilmontant: dir. Dmitri Kirsanoff, France, 1926, 37 mins, 35mm
La Souriante Madame Beudet: dir. Germaine Dulac, France, 1927, 38 mins, 16mm
Part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival. Visit their website for the full programme of silent films throughout May.