City of Darkness, City of Light: Emigre Filmmakers in Paris by Alastair Phillips

By Alastair Phillips

The quantity is the first-ever book-length learn of the cinematic illustration of Paris within the movies of German ?migr? filmmakers, a lot of whom fled there as a safe haven from Hitler. In coming to Paris—a privileged web site by way of construction, exhibition, and picture culture—these skilled pros additionally encountered resistance: hostility towards Germans, anti-Semitism, and boycotts from a French frightened of wasting jobs to foreigners. Phillips juxtaposes the cinematic portrayal of Paris within the movies of Robert Siodmak, Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, Max Oph?ls, Anatol Litvak, and others with the broader social and cultural debates concerning the urban in cinema.

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Extra resources for City of Darkness, City of Light: Emigre Filmmakers in Paris 1929-1939 (Film Culture in Transition)

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He presented a familiar, solid impression whilst on set but this did not prevent him from being demanding. All his films were meticulously prepared. Most of the scriptwriters he worked with had been formed in the German school – they worked with extraordinary care, leaving nothing to chance, checking the script for the smallest detail. ) Litvak made his plans in collaboration, then he let his co-workers edit the dialogue. ) Once the script was done, he checked it and modified it depending on the kinds of lens he wished to use”.

Indeed, the French early sound cinema may be seen as a crucial site for the visualisation of a certain set of depictions of the capital which relied on past notions of Paris. In this sense, instead of being a place of confrontation with the shock and disturbances of modernity as in Berlin, the French cinema auditorium instead became an important site of remembering. The French cinema, crucially, had no real need for the “blood and soil” mannerisms of the likes of the German “mountain film” genre to act in sharp contrast to the depiction of modern life.

Carco sug- 46 City of Darkness, City of Light gested that the cinema was “less collective and more direct”, meaning that the partnership between the viewer and the screen was as immediate and intense as the intimate bond created between the mind of a novelist and his or her reader. Consequently, what mattered for both figures was the evocation of social atmosphere and detail over the display and artifice of spectacle and performance. Carco, for example, wrote in his article about a subsequent film project which would draw upon his personal knowledge of the men and women of “certain obscure corners” of Paris whilst Litvak, according to the memoirs of the assistant producer on Coeur de lilas, René Lucot (1984), made extensive searches for authentic Parisian locations prior to shooting the film.

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