Silent Pick: French Masterworks: Russian Émigrés in Paris 1923-1929
By Aaron Cutler
(Flicker Alley, $59.95)
The Late Mathias Pascal
The french studio Films Albatros was formed by Russian immigrants after the 1917 Revolution. Studio head Alexander Kamenka championed Jacques Feyder in particular, and this five-film box set contains two warm, sensitive, character-driven Feyder films: the melodrama Gribiche (25) and the comedy The New Gentlemen (29). It also contains three films starring the commanding Ivan Mosjoukine, whose pale face and enormous eyes easily suggest a man haunted by past loves. Mosjoukine wrote, directed, and plays 11 roles in The Burning Crucible (23), including a detective falling for the married woman he’s tailing. He’s more subdued in Marcel L’Herbier’s supremely strange Pirandello adaptation The Late Mathias Pascal (26), in which a young man learns that he has been declared dead and decides to abandon his former life. As in other Albatros films, surreal, nightmarish scenes occur throughout, offset by fleeting moments of happiness.