Léonce Perret

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(1) L’automne du coeur
R: Léonce Perret. D: Yvette Andréyor, Léonce Perret, Marie Dorly. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1911

(2) L’express matrimonial
R: Léonce Perret. K: Georges Specht. D: Valentine Petit, Léonce Perret, Emile Keppens, Marie Dorly. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1912

“I don’t know when a scene of fiction was first filmed in a real carriage, rather than in a studio-built simulation, but there is a sense (…) with Feuillade, and with some contemporaries, that the thing represented has become something quite different. I would compare it to the moment when the New Wave squeezed its small camera into the space of a real car, and so could film both the inside of the car and, through the windows, the world outside. It isn’t so much that we see something different, but a different identification with the space of seeing becomes possible. In the corridor and compartment, which are both interior spaces, the light comes through windows from outside and falls where it will, uncontrolled. (…) In L’Express matrimonial (1912), Léonce Perret makes similiar use of the light available in railway carriages. Perret’s film is a comedy and (…) it is actually the change in available light, in a real carriage, that enables him to refresh an old film-comedy staple, the Kiss in the Tunnel.”
Roland François Lack
The Cine-Tourist

(3) Le chrysanthème rouge
R: Leónce Perret. D: Suzanne Grandais, Léonce Perret, Emile Keppens. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1912

(4) Le mystere des roches de Kador
R: Léonce Perret. K: Georges Specht. Ba: Robert-Jules Garnier. D: Suzanne Grandais, Émile Keppens, Léonce Perret, Max Dhartigny, Jean Aymé, Marie Dorly, Louis Leubas. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1912

Le mystère des roches de Kador stands out not only for its decorative use of the titular location, early use of deep-focus photography and the relative sophistication of the storyline, but for the novel – for its time – depiction of film within film. The bungling Fernand fails in his attempt to kill either of the lovers, succeeding only in traumatising Suzanne so badly that she lapses into a somnambulistic trance. The police enlist the aid of Professor Williams (Émile Keppens), an unorthodox, pioneering scientist whose methods include the recreation of crimes on film and then playing the film back to the victim in order to jolt them out of their trauma-induced state. It’s an unusual example of self-reflexism from an art that was yet to learn some of its more sophisticated techniques. Unfortunately, the performances are strictly out of the ‘exaggerated gesture’ school of acting in which stricken people hold the back of their hands to either their mouth or their forehead, depending, presumably on their level of strickenness. But Perret demonstrates a pleasing awareness for an eye-catching image, and demonstrates an impressive mastery of his craft.”
Richard Cross
20/20 movie reviews

“Auf den ersten Blick: ein Kriminalfall. Ein Onkel bekommt testamentarisch eine Nichte mit großem, von ihm bis zu ihrer Volljährigkeit treuhänderisch zu verwaltenden Vermögen in Obhut; einem Vermögen, das an ihn fällt, stößt der Nichte etwas zu. Als er in eine finanzielle Bredouille gerät, verfällt er, wie zu erwarten war, auf die Idee, die Nichte um die Ecke zu bringen. (…)
Auf den zweiten Blick: ein Film über das Kommunikationsmedium Brief. Briefe und Schriftstücke sind allgegenwärtig. Einerseits in Intrigenfunktion (gefälschter Brief lockt Opfer zum Stelldichein) und Evidenzabsicht (der gefälschte Brief bricht dem Täter zuletzt das Genick). Andererseits in Rücksicht auf Darstellbarkeit von komplizierten Personenverhältnissen im Stummfilm – also: Brief als innerdiegetischer Schrifttafelersatz. Aber da ist ein Überschuss. Der Film, der immerzu Männer an Schreibtischen zeigt, ist durchwaltet nicht nur von einer Liebe zum Zeigen von Briefen, sondern auch von der Liebe zum Zeigen von Menschen beim Schreiben, beim Lesen, ja sogar schon beim Öffnen von Briefen. (…)
Die Anwendung des Kinematografen auf die Psychotherapie versucht Heilung durch Konfrontation mit Realitäts-Reenactment. Aufgestellt wird die Kamera am Ufer bei den Felsen von Kador. Nachgedreht werden die Schüsse auf den Geliebten, die Rettung der Schlafenden, das Treiben des Boots auf dem Wasser. (…) Wir beobachten also gespannt im Film, wie der Arzt gespannt die Frau beobachtet, die gespannt den Film beobachtet, den der Arzt für sie nach den Vorfällen, die wir früher im Film sahen, gedreht hat. Auch für uns als Filmzuschauer also eine Verdopplung, die uns vor allem eines vor Augen führt: Was es heißt, Filme zu sehen. Wir erkennen wieder, was wir (nicht) erlebt haben.”
Ekkehard Knörer
cargo

“Wenn das keine schöne Idee ist. Das Kino einmal nicht als das Medium des Teufels, das die Unschuldigen korrumpiert und sie zu Gewalt und Verbrechen anreizt, nicht als Werkzeug der Unmoral, vor dem man die Kinder, die Frauen und andere Leute generell schützen muss (damals wurden Kinogänger ganz allgemein als Kinder diffamiert, und heute ist das manchmal auch noch so), sondern als Mittel zur geistigen Gesundung und zur Schaffung einer Welt, in der die wirklichen Verbrecher zur Rechenschaft gezogen werden, nicht die Filmemacher, die das Verbrechen abbilden.”
Hans Schmid
TELEPOLIS

>>> the review by the author of this site: Le Mystère des roches de Kador

(5) Les dents de fer
R: Léonce Perret. K: Georges Specht. D: Marie Dorly, Valentine Petit. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1913

“Germaines Eltern wohnen in einem Herrenhaus und nicht in den Slums von Paris, das Kind ist am Ende wieder ganz gesund, der Doktor ist ein echter Held, der Akt der Selbstamputation bleibt taktvoll ausgespart, Perret enthält sich aller von der Geschichte angebotenen Schockeffekte und ersetzt sie durch eine sehr subtile Inszenierung. So eine Amputation allerdings geht sicher nicht ganz ohne Blutvergießen ab, das Blut oder der Gedanke daran hätte die ohnehin zu blutrünstigem Verhalten neigende Unterschicht zu Gewaltexzessen anreizen können oder was auch immer. Jedenfalls wurde dieser wirklich schöne Film verboten. Eine detaillierte Begründung ist nicht überliefert. Wahrscheinlich gab es nie eine. Damals musste so viel verboten werden, dass für Einzelheiten keine Zeit blieb.”
Hans Schmid
TELEPOLIS

(6) Léonce aime les morilles
R: Leónce Perret. D: Léonce Perret, Suzanne Le Bret, Alice Tissot. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1913

(7) Léonce cinématographiste
R: Léonce Perret. K: Georges Specht. D: Léonce Perret, Suzanne Le Bret, Maurice Vinot. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont, Fr 1913

“Mélies’s contemporary Emile Cohl, when signing his correspondence, described himself into the 1910s as a cinématographiste. And in 1913 Leonce Perret made for Gaumont a film entitled Leonce cinématographiste. During the period of kine-attractography, and in the early years of institutional cinema, the cinéaste was thus always lurking in the background. This appears normal, once we take a closer look at the relative complexity of ‘putting into film’. The exact nature of the task of putting into film went through a number of changes in the first years of the kinematograph’s appearance. The fact that the term metteur en scene appeared quite quickly, around the turn of the century, already speaks long about the process underway – even as the word ‘operator’ never fell into disuse. Because the first metteurs en scene, of course, didn’t replace the operator, who was essential. The two worked together. For the art of putting into film involves a great number of activities of a highly varied nature, unlike, say, writing or painting.”
André Gaudreault: Film and attraction: from kinematography to cinema. Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield 2011
muni.cz

(8) Molière
R: Leónce Perret. B: Abel Gance. K: Georges Specht. Ba: Robert-Jules Garnier. D: Abel Gance, André Bacqué, Raoul d’ Auchy, Mlle de Pouzols Saint-Phar, Marie Brunel, Madeleine Sézanne. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont, Fr 1910

“While in Brussels, Gance wrote his first film scenarios, which he sold to Léonce Perret. Back in Paris in 1909, he acted in his first film, Perret’s Molière. At that stage he regarded the cinema as “infantile and stupid” and was only drawn into film jobs by his poverty, but he nevertheless continued to write scenarios, and often sold them to Gaumont. During this period he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, often fatal at that time, but after a period of retreat in Vittel he recovered. With some friends he established a production company, Le Film Français, and began directing his own films in 1911 with La Digue (ou Pour sauver la Hollande), a historical film which featured the first screen appearance of Pierre Renoir. Gance tried to maintain a connection with the theatre and he finished writing a monumental tragedy entitled Victoire de Samothrace, in which he hoped that Sarah Bernhardt would star. Its five-hour length, and Gance’s refusal to cut it, proved to be a stumbling block. With the outbreak of World War I, Gance was rejected by the army on medical grounds and in 1915 he started writing and directing for a new film company, Film d’Art. He soon caused controversy with La Folie du docteur Tube, a comic fantasy in which he and his cameraman Léonce-Henri Burel created some arresting visual effects with distorting mirrors. The producers were outraged and refused to show the film. Gance nevertheless continued working for Film d’Art until 1918, making over a dozen commercially successful films.”
Alchetron

(9) Oscar au bain
R: Léonce Perret. D: Léon Lorin, Angèle Lérida. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1913

(10) Oscar et Kiki la midinette
R: Léonce Perret. D: Léon Lorin, Mlle Davrieres, Marie Dorly. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1913

(11) Sur les rails
R: Léonce Perret. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1913

(12) Le lys d’or
R: Léonce Perret. D: Alice Tissot, Maurice Vinot. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1910
Print: Southern Church Film Corporation, USA
Engl. titles

“Versatile early French filmmaker Léonce Perret started out acting on the stage. In 1907, he worked for Gaumont and appeared in several German-made French films. From there, Perret worked in the films of Louis Feuillade. He made his directorial debut in 1908 and went on to make nearly 200 short films and features that include a series of Léonce comic shorts made between 1910 and 1912. In 1916, Perret went to work for Pathé in Hollywood. He remained a few years and then returned to France where his output became sporadic. In addition to directing, Perret also occasionally produced and wrote the screenplays for his films. Perret died in 1935 while making Keonigsmark. Later, Maurice Tourneur took the script and completed the film.”
Sandra Brennan, Rovi
FANDANGO

“A brilliant anticipator, Léonce Perret turned his back on the analytical photography of his time, being particularly attentive to the spatial value of the image and of the direction. […] As of 1909, in film after film, Perret sought to thrust the human being into the sensorial ambiance of life, to capture the landscape less in its form than in its light and its relations with the ambient atmosphere.
[…] By putting the accent on the expressiveness and sensuality of light, on the colouration and plasticity of matter, and on the lyrical value of the landscape, he gives a psychic significance to the image and transposes his characters’ frame of mind on it, addressing not our intelligence but our senses. […] Léonce Perret shares the merit of these discoveries with Griffith who was long considered the only one to have enriched cinematographic poetry and syntax.”
Henri Langlois: Écrits de cinéma. Ed. Bernard Benoliel et Bernard Eisenschitz. Flammarion/Cinémathèque française, Paris 2014
Translation:
FIGURES OF SILENT FRENCH CINEMA

“Perret was second only to Feuillade at Gaumont, and he performed as a fine comedian as well. His shorts are charming, and his longer works, like L’enfant de Paris (1913), remain remarkable for their complex staging and cutting. After a thriving career in France, Perret came to make films in America, including Twin Pawns (1919), a lively Wilkie Collins adaptation.”
David Bordwell’s Observations on film art

>>> Perret’s Le roman d’un mousse on this site