The Fall of the House of Usher
(La chute de la mâison Usher)
PRECEDED BY: LA GLACE À TROIS FACES (THE THREE-SIDED MIRROR) (Jean Epstein, France, 1927). Judith Rosenberg on piano. A Marienbad-like tale, in which a man is loved by three different women, each of whom sees him completely differently. To know which is the “true” character is the province of the “narrator,” and the problem of the viewer. (Written by Epstein, based on the story by Paul Morand. Photographed by Eywinger. With Rene Ferté, Suzy Pierson, Jeanne Helbling, Olga Day. 30 mins, Silent, French intertitles with English electronic titling, B&W, 35mm, From La Cinémathèque française)
Jean Epstein’s variation on the motifs of several Edgar Allan Poe tales relates the story of a painter whose obsessive desire to give life to his images drains away the life of his model, his beloved wife. Epstein’s poetic experiments with narrative form—most strikingly, his fascination with slow-motion photography to give, in his words, “a new, purely psychological perspective”—combine to make this a classic of art cinema.