Feuillade’s “André Chénier”

André Chénier
R: Étienne Arnaud, Louis Feuillade. D: Léonce Perret, René Alexandre, Edmund Breon, Renée Carl, René Navarre. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1911
Print: CNC

“It is, in large measure, the historical film that gave modern cinema its overall narrative structure. Many of the earliest narrative films are historical films. These include Albert Capellani’s La vie de Jeanne d’Arc (1909) (…), Étienne Arnaud’s and Louis Feuillade’s André Chénier (1911), André Calmette’s and Henri Pouctal’s Camille Desmoulins (1912), and Camille de Morlhon’s and Ferdinand Zecca’s 1812. As the subjects of these films demonstrate, the early cinema tended to mirror or project the vision of the past articulated by nineteenth-century historiography, foregrounding those moments and events deemed formative by Michelet and his successors and implying among these events a linear narrative of national formation and development.”
Dayna Oscherwitz: Past Forward: French Cinema and the Post-Colonial Heritage. Southern Illinois University Press 2010, p. 34/35

About André Chénier:
“André Marie Chénier (30 October 1762 – 25 July 1794) was a French poet of Greek and Franco-Levantine origin, associated with the events of the French Revolution of which he was a victim. His sensual, emotive poetry marks him as one of the precursors of the Romantic movement. His career was brought to an abrupt end when he was guillotined for supposed ‘crimes against the state’, near the end of the Reign of Terror. (…)
After the king’s execution he sought a secluded retreat on the Plateau de Satory at Versailles and only went out after nightfall. There he wrote the poems inspired by Fanny (Mme Laurent Lecoulteux), including the exquisite ‘Ode à Versailles’. His solitary life at Versailles lasted nearly a year. On 7 March 1794 he was arrested at the house of Mme Piscatory at Passy. Two obscure agents of the Committee of Public Safety (one of them named Nicolas Guénot) were in search of a marquise who had fled, but an unknown stranger was found in the house and arrested on suspicion of being the aristocrat they were searching for. This was Chénier, who had come on a visit of sympathy.
He was taken to the Luxembourg Palace and afterwards to the Prison Saint-Lazare. During the 140 days of his imprisonment he wrote a series of iambs (in alternate lines of 12 and 8 syllables) denouncing the Convention, which, in the words of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, ‘hiss and stab like poisoned bullets’, and which were smuggled to his family by a jailer. In prison he also composed his most famous poem, ‘Jeune captive’, a poem at once of enchantment and of despair, inspired by the misfortunes of his fellow captive the duchesse de Fleury, née de Coigny.”

>>> Étienne Arnaud on this site: Eclair in America