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Showing posts with label Romuald Joubé. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Romuald Joubé. Show all posts

21 December 2013

J'accuse! (1919)

In less than two weeks it will be 2014 and it will be 100 years ago that the First World War started. European Film Gateway 1914 is an interesting digitisation project focusing on films and non-film material from and related to World War I. 26 partners, among them 21 European film archives, are digitalising 661 hours of film and ca. 5.600 film-related documents on the theme of the First World War. And it's all free accessible, so check it out. 

The pacifist First World War drama J'accuse!/I Accuse (1919) is one of the silent masterpieces by French film director Abel Gance. Work on the film began in 1918 and some scenes were filmed on real battlefields.

Séverin-Mars
French postcard by Cinémagazine, no. 59. Photo: Film Abel Gance. Still for J'accuse (Abel Gance, 1919) with Séverin-Mars.

Romuald Joubé in J'Accuse
French postcard by Sadag de France Imp., Paris, no. 109. Still for J'accuse (Abel Gance, 1919) with Romuald Joubé.

Séverin-Mars
French postcard by Sadag de France Imp., Paris, no. 109. Still for J'accuse (Abel Gance, 1919) with Séverin-Mars

Experiencing the Horrors of the War


In J'accuse! Séverin-Mars plays the stubborn brute François Laurin, who lives in a Provençal village in the south of France. He maltreats his wife Edith (Maryse Dauvray), while she feels more for the gentle poet Jean Diaz (Romuald Joubé).

When the war breaks out in 1914, the villagers welcome the declaration of war with Germany and flock to enlist. The threesome seems to explode.

The two men meet again in the trenches and experience the horrors of the war. Laurin saves Diaz’ life and sacrifices himself for the benefit of the other two.

Edith is raped by a German soldier. She returns to the village with the fruit of this encounter. She raises the child despite hostility.

Maddened, Diaz returns from the trenches, despises his art and asks the village inhabitants: was it worthwhile, all the sacrifices, while the ghosts of the killed soldiers march up to them.

This sequence of the 'return of the dead' was shot in the south of France, using 2000 soldiers who had come back on leave.

The technical quality of the film was impressive, especially the cinematography of Léonce-Henry Burel with its subtle use of lighting effects and a mobile camera. For the battle scenes in the last section of the film Gance also introduced some of the techniques of rapid editing which he would develop much further in his later films La Roue (1923) and Napoléon (1927).

J’accuse!/I Accuse was released in France in April 1919, only a few months after the Armistice. The film was a great success with the public, whose mood in the aftermath of the war it seemed to capture.

Romuald Joubé and Maryse Dauvray in J'Accuse
French postcard by Sadag de France Imp., Paris, no. 109. Photo: publicity still for J'accuse (Abel Gance, 1919) with Romuald Joubé and Maryse Dauvray.

Séverin-Mars in J'Accuse
French postcard by Sadag de France, Imp., Paris, no. 109.f Photo: publicity still for  J'accuse (Abel Gance 1919), starring Séverin-Mars. Here he is one of the ghosts of the dead soldiers who resurrect at the end of the film, and come to the survivors, asking them whether the war was worth fighting for.

J'accuse
French postcard by Sadag de France, Paris, no. 109. The resurrection of the dead soldiers in J'accuse (1919).

J'accuse
French postcard by Sadag de France, Paris, no. 109. Photo: Edith (Marise Dauvray), Jean Diaz (Romuald Joubé) and little Angele (Angèle Guys) towards the end of J'accuse (1919).

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

03 December 2013

Séverin-Mars

French actor Séverin-Mars (1873-1921) had a very short film career, but he played in two masterpieces by innovative film pioneer Abel Gance: the First World War drama J'accuse! (1919), and the epic and touching drama La Roue (1921-1923).

Séverin-Mars
French postcard by Cinémagazine, no. 58.

Séverin-Mars
French postcard by Cinémagazine, no. 59.

A Symphony of Pain


Séverin-Mars was born as Armand Jean de Malafayde in Bordeaux, France in 1873.

In 1910 he made his film debut in Le crime de grand-père/The Crime of a Grandfather (1910), a Gaumont production directed by Léonce Perret and scripted by Abel Gance, who would become his favourite director.

Séverin-Mars appeared in such silent shorts as Le duel du fou/The Duel of the Madman (1913), Macbeth (1915), Trois familles/Three Families (Alexandre Devarennes, 1918), and L'habit de Béranger/Béranger's Habit (Maurice Mariaud, 1918).

He had his breakthrough in a feature film: Abel Gance's melodrama La dixième symphonie/The Tenth Symphony (produced in 1917, but released in November 1918, just before the end of the war).

In this film he played a composer who is unknowing of the adventurous past of his wife (Emmy Lynn). She is blackmailed by her former lover (Jean Toulout) to consent to the marriage between her ex and her daughter. When the composer realizes what is happening, he writes a symphony of pain.

Séverin-Mars appeared next in La nuit du 11 septembre/The Night of September 11 (Dominique Bernard-Deschamps, 1919), with Russian actress Vera Karalli, and in Jacques Landouze (André Hugon, 1919), again with Jean Toulout.

Séverin-Mars
French postcard for J'accuse (1919).

Romuald Joubé in J'Accuse
Romuald Joubé in J'Accuse.

From Sadism To Jealousy To Rage


Then Séverin-Mars played the lead in the classic after anti-war film J'accuse!/I Accuse (Abel Gance, 1919). In J'accuse! he is the stubborn brute François Laurin, who maltreats his wife Edith (Maryse Dauvray). She feels more for the gentle poet Jean Diaz (Romuald Joubé). The threesome seems to explode, when the war breaks out. The men meet again in the trenches, bond and share their love for Edith. Meanwhile she is raped by German soldiers and returns to the village with a child.

Mars goes from sadism to jealousy to rage to lucidity to heroism and to sacrifice, displaying intense emotions without any histrionic acting. The film was a success because it was the first production to show real footage of the carnage of the war. Abel Gance had been filming in the trenches in 1918, after having served there. In 1937, Gance would create a masterful remake of this film.

After J'accuse! Séverin-Mars played in Haceldama ou Le prix du sang/Haceldama or The Price of Blood (1919) directed and written by the debuting Julien Duvivier. Haceldama is a French western, driven by revenge and lust for money.

In 1921 Séverin-Mars was very active. With Jean Legrand he co-directed his first film, Le coeur magnifique/The Magnificent Heart. For this film he also had written the script, and he played the lead opposite France Dhélia and Léon Bernard. It was the story of a marquis who, disgusted by an immoral woman, finds love and peace with the neighbour's daughter.

With Gaby Morlay, he co-starred in L'agonie des aigles/The Death Agony of the Eagles (Julien Duvivier, Dominique Bernard-Deschamps, 1921). The film, based on a novel by Georges Desparbès, deals with a man who protects the King of Rome, Napoleon II, the son of the famous French Emperor. The gala premiere was at the Paris Opéra and coincided with the birthday of Napoleon I; it was a charity night to help war widows and orphans.

Séverin-Mars in J'Accuse
French postcard by Sadag de France, Imp., Paris, no. 109. Photo: publicity still for the film J'Accuse (Abel Gance 1919), starring Séverin-Mars. Here he is the ghost of the dead soldiers who resurrect at the end of the film, and come to the survivors, asking them whether the war was worth fighting for.

Romuald Joubé and Maryse Dauvray in J'Accuse
Romuald Joubé and Maryse Dauvray in J'Accuse. Romuald Joubé. French postcard by Sadag de France, Imp., Paris, no. 109.

An Epic of Eight Hours

Séverin-Mars' last role was also his most famous one: the railwayman Sisif in the anti-war epic La Roue/The Wheel (Abel Gance, 1923). Sisif falls in love with his foster-daughter Norma (Ivy Close), who he once had saved from a train wreck and raised like his daughter. Sisif's son Elie (Gabriel de Gravone) loves Norma too.

The epic film originally ran nine hours. Abel Gance later explained that his companion Ida Danis was struck by tuberculosis while he was surviving the Spanish flu during the preparation of La Roue in 1920. Her need for recovery brought the crew to constant different places, while Gance adapted the narrative to Ida's needs. La Roue, begun on the first day of her illness, was finished on the day of her death.

Abel Gance disappeared to the States for four months, angering the Pathé company. His discovery of the American fast paced editing made him change La Roue entirely. After a full year of editing, La Roue was finally shown in 1923 appalling critics and audiences.

Despite its 8 hours length it was hailed as such a masterpiece that audiences cried for more. Abel Gance later wrote: "The only thing we could think of was to show the last reel again." For the general release in 1924 the film was cut back to 130 minutes.

During the shooting of La Roue, Séverin-Mars had also become ill. Just after the production was finished, he died of a heart attack in July 1921 in Courgent, France. His favourite director heard the news in the US, and wrote in his diary: "I cried like a child."

Scenes from La Roue (1923). Source: Viddler. Sources: Kevin Brownlow (The Parade's Gone By), Janiss Garza (AllMovie) and IMDb.

15 September 2011

Romuald Joubé

Romuald Joubé (1876 - 1949) was an actor of the French silent cinema, who became famous for his part in Abel Gance’s J’accuse (1918).

Romuald Joubé
French postcard in the series Les Vedettes de Cinéma by A.N., Paris, no 76. Photo: G.L. Manuel Frères.

The Horrors of the WarRomuald Joubé, originally Romuald Charles Eugène Goudens Jean Sylve Joubé was born in Mazères, France in 1876. Around 1900, Joubé already acted on stage with the troupe of the Nouveau-Théàtre of Paris, directed by Lugné-Poë. Around 1909 he started at the Théàtre de l’Odéon with plays directed by André Antoine, the master of Naturalism in French theatre. In 1910 he debuted in the cinema in the film d’art productions. He played in various shorts, often directed by Henri Desfontaines. These included Polyeucte (1910, Camille de Morlhon), Philémon et Baucis (1911, Georges Denola) as Philemon, Milton (1911, Henri Desfontaines) with Constant Rémy, La Mégère apprivoisée/The Taming Of The Shrew (1911, Henri Desfontaines), Le Colonel Chabert (1911, Henri Pouctal, André Calmettes) as Chabert himself, Brittanicus (1912, Camille de Morlhon) in the title role, Serge Panine (1913, Henri Pouctal), Le Baiser supreme/The Kiss supreme (1913, Edmond Floury) opposite Gabriel Signoret, Les Deux gosses/The Two Kids (1914, Albert Capellani) with Paul Capellani, Amour sacré/Holy Love (1915, Dominique Bernard-Deschamps), and Le Dernier rêve/The Last Dream (1916, Henri Desfontaines). In 1917 Joubé started to act in various features by André Antoine, who transferred his Naturalism onto cinema as well: the Alexandre Dumas père adaptation Les Frères corses/The Corsican Brothers (1917, André Antoine) with Henry Krauss, the François Coppée adaptation Le Coupable/The Culprit (1917, André Antoine) with Sylvie, and the fishermen drama Les Travailleurs de la mer/The Workers of the sea (1918, André Antoine), based on Victor Hugo. By now Joubé was playing both leading and supporting parts. In 1918-1919, Joubé played one of his most famous roles in the pacifist, First World War drama J’Accuse/I Accuse by Abel Gance, which was released in France in April 1919, so a few months after the Armistice. Joubé plays Jean Diaz, a poet who is in love with Edith (Marise Dauvray), the wife of François Laurin (Séverin-Mars). The two men meet in the trenches and experience the horrors of the war. Laurin saves Diaz’ life and sacrifices himself for the benefit of the other two. Edith is raped by a German, raising the fruit of this encounter despite hostility. Maddened, Diaz returns from the trenches, despises his art and asks the village inhabitants: was it worthwhile, all the sacrifices, while the ghosts of the killed soldiers march up to them.

Romuald Joubé in J'Accuse
French postcard for J'Accuse (1919, Abel Gance).

Séverin-Mars
Séverin-Mars. French postcard for J'Accuse (1919, Abel Gance).

Lavish Period PieceWith J’Accuse Romuald Joubé established his career, though he didn’t continue to act with Gance. Instead he performed opposite Emmy Lynn in La faute d’Odette Marchal/Odette Marchal's fault (1920, Henri Roussel), opposite Huguette Duflos in Mademoiselle de La Seiglière (1921, André Antoine), opposite Sylviane Dumont in Fleur de neige/Snow Flower (1921, Paul Barlatier) and he played the title role in the Jules Verne adaptation Mathias Sandorf (1921, Henri Fescourt). Subsequently he played opposite Pierre Fresnay in Le Diamant noir/The Black Diamond (1922, André Hugon) and opposite Nathalie Lissenko in La Fille sauvage (1922, Henri Etievant). From 1923 Joubé alternated film with the stage. In the theatre he played e.g. the title role in Peer Gynt in 1924. Still he had big film roles as Andréa in Rouletabille chez les bohémiens/Rouletabille and the Bohemians (1923, Fescourt) with Gabriel de Gravone, as the title character in the historical adventure film Mandrin (1924, Fescourt) costarring Jacqueline Blanc, and as chevalier Robert Cottereau in the lavish period piece Le Miracle des loups/Miracle of the Wolves (Raymond Bernard 1924). In 1925 Joubé not only acted opposite Lilian Constantini in La Chèvre aux pieds d'or/The Goat with the golden feat (1926, Jacques Robert), but he also went to Italy to act in several historical films by Giulio Antamoro: La Fanciulla di Pompei/The young girl of Pompeii (1925, Giulio Antamoro) with Leda Gys, La Cieca di Sorrento/The Blind Girl of Sorrento (1925, Giulio Antamoro) and Frate Francesco/The Passion of St. Francis (1927). Probably Joubé’s last silent film was the Henri Kistemaeckers adaptation Princesse Masha/Princess Masha (1927, René Leprince). The film is about an illegitimate Russian princess, raised by revolutionary intellectuals, who flees to Paris during the revolution and falls in love with a Frenchman (Joubé), but marries a cruel Russian ambassador to save her foster father (in vain). Returned to Russia during the war, she tries to flee again, with her French lover, and sacrifices herself in the end for his honor. The film starred Claudia Victrix, a French singer who debuted in this film. Costars were Jean Toulout and Andrée Brabant. When sound cinema became standard in France, Joubé didn’t act in films for years, though he was visible in a sonorised version of Le Miracle des loups (1930). In 1929 he acted in various stage plays in Canada, together with Germaine Rouer. In the same year he also acted in Histoires de France, the play by Sacha Guitry that opened the new Théàtre Pigalle in Paris in 1929. In 1937 he returned to the film set with a small part as Jean Diaz in Abel Gance’s own remake of J’accuse (1938, Abel Gance), while the larger share of the character was played by Victor Francen. That year he also played Clouet in Sacha Guitry’s period piece Les Perles de la couronne (1937, Sacha Guitry). Joubé played his last roles in film and on stage during the Second World War: on stage he played in the Georges Simenon adaptation Le Pavillon d'Asnières (1943), while on the set he performed in a.o. Chant de l'exilé/Song of Exile (1943, André Hugon) starring Tino Rossi. Romuald Joubé died in 1949 in Gisors, France.


Scene from J’accuse (1918). Source: TCM. Sources: CinéRessources, Films de France.com, Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.