» Celles qui s'en font (1928)
Celles qui s'en font (1928) HD online
Celles qui su0027en font
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I guess this 3-minute short really counts as one of the world's first music videos as it was apparently made to accompany a song. The story is split into two parts, the first being toute seule (all alone). In this section we see a rather down-at-heel young lady, obviously a victim to the demon alcohol and Lord knows what else, taking a drink at a table outside a café. She has bags under her eyes and a missing tooth, but it's clear she could have been a beauty in her day. She sees all the people with someone to love as she wanders derelict streets. In the second part of the film, we see another woman who, having been cruelly rejected for another by the man she loves, commits suicide by jumping into a river.
You'll gather from the above description that this isn't the cheeriest of films, but it does have a wonderful Gallic atmosphere, and offers the viewer some tantalising glimpses of narrow Parisian streets. Definitely worth catching if you can find it.
This short film by Germaine Dulac is a mystery: generally the date given is 1928, but many historians simply forget to even mention the film at all... Now the mystery can be lifted, since it was released as part of a French DVD(Retour de flamme, by Serge Bromberg's Lobster films) compiling restored shorts and cartoons, and transferred complete with the authentic original musical accompaniment, revealing that the film was in fact intended as an illustration of a song(The title of the film), which was in fact 3 minutes long, and which was recorded in 1930, which is obviously the accurate date for the film as well. It is, as usual with Mrs Dulac, highly impressionistic, whatever that means. Consider it as an early clip, in a gloomy, Frenchly poetic style.
Celles qui s'en font' comprises of two little scenarios, each about three minutes in length. The first shows an obviously poor, "triste" and probably already a little crazy, fairly young woman sitting outside of a pub/bar/whatever having a drink. With great sadness and some disdain she watches the cheerful people around her, then gets up and walks through the streets, sees herself in a mirror and tears start running down her face. The second scenario is in a similar vein, at least in terms of overall feel. A young, unhappy woman strolls through the streets and through flashbacks we see why she is so gloomy. Maybe the scenarios aren't connected but the two women were played by the same actress so I interpreted the second one as quasi being a flashback of the first one (she has a missing tooth in the first scenario so that one would definitely have to come later).
It's all pretty simple, much more poetic realist instead of superimpressionistic like a lot of Dulac's other works. Nevertheless the emotions as well as the localities are very palpable. I was very much reminded of especially the first section of Jean Epstein's 'Coeur fidèle' like when the characters in that film stand or sit ashore and absentmindedly gaze into the ocean. Instead of a longing for love the predominant feeling here is one of utter loneliness and hopelessness.
But probably the most noteworthy thing about this so-called "silent" film is that it is meant to be shown with two specific chansons for a soundtrack. I think it wouldn't be a stretch to make a case for the film to be the first music video ever made, at any rate it apparently was meant to serve as an illustration of two songs. 'Celles qui s'en font' is featured on disc 1 of the DVD box set "Retour de Flamme" (which is also available as individual DVDs) and it shows the film with its intended soundtrack. In the film it looks like the protagonists are mumbling to themselves, which would seem to fit their characters well enough, and this is maybe even what they are supposed to do in the story, but I'm convinced that more than that they are also mouthing the vocals of the songs. In the DVD restoration(?) however the mouth movement never really matches the vocals, so I think something isn't right. Maybe the footage is incomplete, maybe the frame-rate is off, or maybe the music is just not synchronized well. This is quite unfortunate, but at least one gets the general idea of what Germaine Dulac (probably) intended.
One IMDb reviewer wrote that the two chansons that the soundtrack consists of ("Toute seule" & "A la dérive", both performed by Fréhel) were recorded in 1930 and concluded that thus instead of 1928 the film more likely was also made in 1930 (or possibly shortly thereafter), which seems like a very reasonable conclusion to me.
The recording history would actually suggest dates of either 1929.or 1931. Both somgs came out in 1929 (not 1930) but Fréhel herself did not record A la dérive until 1931. There is however nothing in the film to indicate that the Fréhel version of the song was the one originally used and the lypsynch mismatch noticed by another reviewer may in fact be because this Fréhel version was used rather than the faster Georgette Kerkor version of 1929. I agree that these moments in the video are intended to correspond with the song (the credits distinctly describe the actress as "miming").
The soundtrack details rathr oddly give the parolier (lyricist) in one case and the composer in the other. Full credits for Toute seule are Eugéne Gavel (music) and Chales Seider (paroles) and for A la dérive Léo Daniderff (Ferdinand Niquet) (music) and E. Ronn (Henri Limmonier) (paroles).
It is without much meaning to talk of this as "the first music video" since performances of songs to accompany records had been produced since 1900 (Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre) and several hundred such "phonoscènes" had been produced by Gaumont between 1902 and 1917 (and many more by other companies. In the sense of being a video to accompany a song (rather than just a miming of its performance), the Max Linder film Le Pendu (1906) and presumably the Gaumont version of the same song in the same year appear to have been used in this way and Edwin S. Porter for Edison (1906-1907), as well as making a version of Waiting at the Church to accompany live performances by Vesta Victoria also produced a dramatised version of the song whch could have been accompanied by a recording or a live version in the cinema. This had also already been done by Georges Lordier in his Chansons filmées de Georges Lordier 1917-1920 (over three hundred and fifty of them) which were accompanied by live actors and singers (performing behind a screen) although doubtless recorded versions of the songs were also used. So "music videos" go back a bit further than one might imagine....
The idea that the first part might in any sense be intended as a continuation of the second requires a very strange reading of what is occurring in the second but I will say no more to avoid spoiling.....even if another reviewer already has.