Thursday, February 13, 2003

French Narratives of the 1920s and ’30s

Program 1: Marcel L'Herbier does Pirandello, The Late Mathias Pascal

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Alongside Delluc, Dulac, Epstein and Gance, L’Herbier was a seminal figure of the French narrative avant-garde, sometimes called Impressionism. The Late Mathias Pascal is based on Pirandello’s 1904 novel of the same name, a story of a librarian who takes advantage of his mistakenly reported suicide to try to free himself from the grief and strictures of his domestic and professional life. “To be dead was to be free” comments an intertitle; but freedom is short-lived, and an identity, once forsaken, is not easily reclaimed. Known for its striking mise-en-scène and startling representations of the main character’s hallucinations and disoriented states of mind, this dark but witty tale stars Russian émigré actor Mosjoukine and features impressionistic sets designed by Cavalcanti and Lazare Meerson. (Irina Leimbacher)