Monday, June 6, 2011

19. La Roue

La Roue
The Wheel

Why are silent films so fucking long?!?!  I mean seriously, this movie was over four hours long!!!!  Okay sorry, I had to get that out.  Moving on...

First of all, this movie is really hard to find.  It is not available on the internet and you have to pay like forty dollars to get it on Amazon.  It is available on Netflix.

This French silent film starts with a pretty amazing train crash, considering the time.  A man rescues a little girl from the wreck and raises her as his own along with his young son.  Eventually, the "father" falls in love with her and so does the son (tension...).  This whole plot reminds of a melodramatic Greek tragedy.  The plot is exciting but the character's actions are so beyond anything you would dream of doing (hopefully) that it is hard to relate.

This movie's influence is there.  I mean, you have the impressive sets and there is this cool scene where the man looks at his palm and sees his memories.  However, some parts drag on forever.  There are very few title cards but fortunately the actors are pretty talented.  Best to watch when you doing something else that doesn't take a lot of concentration.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

This film was orginally over eight hours but was edited.  There is something to be grateful for.

The director's wife died of tuberculosis which is how he got the idea for the film.  I really do not see how the two relate but whatever inspires you, I guess...

According to The Book, there are references to Greek tragedies.  I don't want to ruin the movie or the plays for you but there is an allusion to Oedipus and Sisyphus.


  1. Definitely see both the Oedipus and the Sisyphos here, but I do not know if I needed to watch four hours of silent over acting for that. Gance seems to have been the French version of von Stroheim.

  2. I had high hopes for this .. but, like 'Napoleon' .. it just ground on .. and on. Oh, it's great stuff, blow your socks off, and Il love seeing bits in 'The history of cinema' type thing, and knowing you've seen the whole lot.. but as an evenings experience? Not so sure.

  3. I get the feeling that as cinema was such a new genre then that no one had really settled down into ideas about how long a movie should be. Particularly when adapting a book to the screen. Nowadays the screenwriter would see books and films as two very distinct mediums, but at the time people like Abel Gance seemed to happily put every page in front of the camera no matter how long it took. It's not just the length, but the structure of the whole thing is much better suited to literature.

    1. Interesting Dessie! It's so weird going chronologically because the changes are so gradual you almost don't notice.

  4. I'm only near the end of 1931 at present, but I'm getting the creeping suspicion that with the sound era and everyone agreeing on what makes a good film, that I already know what I'm going to get when I watch each new film.

    Which is exactly the feeling that made me want to run away from modern films in the first place. Does that make sense? During the silent 1920s I had no idea what each new film would be like and sometimes no idea what I'd just watched afterwards, which was kind of exhilarating even if it meant sitting through a few awful ones I didn't like. Anyway, we shall see...

    1. I know what you mean. I think that might be true for most modern films, but I never feel like that with the List movies, since most of the entries have at least one unique attribute.