La belle au bois dormant (Sleeping Beauty)
R: Albert Capellani / Lucien Nonguet. B: Charles Perrault (tale). D: Julienne Mathieu. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1908
“In 1907, Capellani directed La Légende de Polichinelle, the story of a robot who falls in love with a doll. The film, which starred film icon Max Linder, was an enormous success. And as a result, Charles Pathé moved Capellani over to the newly created Société Cinématographique des Auteurs et Gens de Lettres (SCAGL), which Pathé had created to make films d’art. As a director for this series, Capellani brought to the screen a number of French classics, ranging from fairy tales to histories. These included Le Chat botté (1908); La Belle au bois dormant (1908), codirected with Lucien Nonguet; L’Assommoir (1909), codirected with Michel Carré; Germinal (1912), an adaptation of the novel by Émile Zola; and a sweeping, four-part adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables (1912), which is still regarded as a masterpiece of cinema. Capellani’s films elevated the cinema from a popular distraction toward an art form, and his longer-than-average films are seen to have established the trend toward feature-length films.
Capellani is also credited with bringing a number of talented actors and directors to the filmmaking industry. He cast the great stage performer Mistinguett in Les Misérables, her first film, and established her as a silent-film star. He also brought theater actors such as Paul Capellani (his brother) and Berthe Bovy to film. The directors he helped to train include Georges Monca and Michel Carré.”