dimanche 12 août 2012

Be Natural ! Madame Director Alice Guy Blache "Inventing The Movies 1896

Alice Guy: Revolutionary Female Filmmaker of the Early 1900s By Timothy Sexton | It took more than 80 years for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences members to hand one of those little naked gold guys to a woman in the category of Best Director. Directing has long been considered a man's game; it looked increasingly likely that Americans would vote a woman into the White House before the Directors Guild got behind a woman strongly enough to give her Oscar cred. How times have changed in the past century. Those first heady couple of decades after Thomas Edison stole credit for inventing the movie camera resulted in a number of women who were at least the equal of their male counterparts behind the camera. Some names to look up include Ruth Ann Baldwin, Ida May Park, and Lois Weber. One of the most important and influential female directors of those days whose work is today easily enough accessed was Alice Guy. Ah, what some people would refer to as "the irony." An exceptionally successful and esteemed woman director who could still be referred to as "that Guy." Alice Guy never did make it in Hollywood. She learned her craft on the job back when the East Coast was even more important to the film business than the West Coast. Guy founded Solax Company in New Jersey in 1910 and just about everywhere actors looked they saw a sign that Guy considered the single most important direction she could give: Be Natural. Three years later she agreed to merge Solax with her husband's own Blache Pictures. Like so many women before and so many after, she made the big mistake of submitting to marital submission in a move that would eventually ruin her career after the husband ran off with another woman and left Alice behind to try to pay off the huge debts he had incurred. Reconciliation led to the disastrous move to California. By the time she returned to her homeland of France in 1922, her career was over. Between 1896 and 1920, however, Alice Guy directed some 350 movies. Admittedly, many of these films last little more than a minute. Guy was there right at the beginning of the creation of the motion picture industry, and regardless of how short the movies are or how little plot or story they contain, they are revolutionary -- even if she really was a guy. T he fact that she was a woman only serves to heighten the necessity for anyone serious about film history getting to know this woman and her movies. Not all 350 films survived, but a number of them are available on YouTube. Roku owners also have the option of streaming some of Guy's movies directly to their TV from the Fandor channel. Guy started her career like so many other directors by utilizing the magical properties available with the medium with "A Disappearing Act" and then tried her hand at experimental filmmaking with "Avenue de l'Opera," in which everything moves backward. These early indulgences eventually led to genuinely revolutionary films that were among the first to examine such topics as homosexual lifestyles, crime in the slums, and her forte: the family drama. What is particularly amazing about Guy's short little movies is how contemporary they look and feel in terms of cinematic technique. Whereas many films of those who were essentially conceiving a new art form are choppy, static, badly lit, or lacking in innovative camera movement, Guy's films reveal a true early master of cinema. And to think she did it all without an overabundance of testosterone! articles by Timothy Sexton

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