Dir: René Clair (France), 106m.
This romantic comedy takes a nostalgic look at early French silent cinema, with much of the action centred on a film studio around the year 1906. Maurice Chevalier plays a director who encourages his timorous young protégé (François Périer) to emulate his carefree attitude to women. However, they become rivals in love for Madeleine (Marcelle Derrien) who has been offered a job at the studio. Clair’s first film on his return to France after being exiled to the USA, this has the wit and elegance associated with his pre-war period.
Introduced by Bryony Dixon
Bryony Dixon is a curator with responsibility for the BFI National Archive’s extensive silent film collection. She has researched and written on many aspects of early and silent film, as well as programming for a variety of specialist film festivals and events worldwide. Her book 100 Silent Films, in the BFI Screen Guides series, was published in 2011 and she contributes regularly to Sight & Sound’s Primal Screen column. She is lead curator in the BFI National Archive’s series of annual silent film restorations with commissioned live music. She has just completed the BFI’s project to digitise all surviving British Victorian films and will release an accompanying book, The Story of Victorian Film, in 2022.
This screening is part of Bristol Ideas’ #BristolFilm2021 Paris Season, in collaboration with South West Silents. It is presented as part of Opening Up the Magic Box, a heritage element of Film 2021 which marks the centenary of the death of Bristol-born film pioneer William Friese-Greene and the 125th anniversary of the first public cinema screening in Bristol, which took place at the Tivoli on 8 June 1896, as well as celebrating Bristol – a UNESCO City of Film since 2017.