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.”
R: Albert Capellani. B: Charles Perrault (tale). P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1908
“The first film adaptation of Charles Perrault’s fairy tale Peau d’Ane was directed in 1904 by Vincent Lorant-Heilbronn. As it is deemed to be lost, this film seems to be the oldest surviving version. The plot follows quite faithfully the tale, with an important difference: (…) In the original story, it was the father himself who wanted to marry his daughter to comply with a promise made to his dying wife that he would only marry a woman as beautiful as herself. The tale is therefore a metaphor for what would be called by Carl Jung, five years after the release of the film, the Electra complex, or the prohibition of the father-daughter incest. This was probably judged too controversial for a 1908 film and the daughter only refuses to marry an ugly man chosen by her father. The 1970 musical adaptation directed by Jacques Demy, starring Catherine Deneuve and Jean Marais is more faithful to the tale and keeps the incest intention.
The film is made of 24 shots composing xx scenes. There are no camera movements but shots within a scene are linked by continuity editing, and the short duration of some of the shots gives the film a good rythm. Most shots are wide shots but shot 21 is a medium shot showing Donkey skin hiding her ring in the cake. Filmed partially at the Château de Pierrefonds, a romantic reconstruction of a medieval castle built by architect Violet-le-Duc to serve as residence for Emperor Napoleon III, the film uses lavish decors and costumes to reconstitute the fairy tale.”
A Cinema History