Painting the life out of her
Aesthetic integration and disintegration in Jean Epstein’s La Chute de la maison Usher
in Monstrous adaptations
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Adapted from Edgar Allan Poe's story, 'The Fall of the House of Usher', Jean Epstein's 1928 film La Chute de la maison Usher incorporates nearly all the major avant-garde trends of the previous one hundred years. It also interprets them through an early twentieth-century modernist sensibility. Ultimately, the film is a sort of cryptic and anachronistic palimpsest whose modernist tendencies exist specifically in this blending and integration of a variety of aesthetic attitudes at the service of purely formalist concerns. Epstein's theories, with their conflation of 'poetic and scientific language', would greatly influence French avant-garde cinema and Impressionist cinematic theory, in particular. The entire sequence of the film is a meticulously orchestrated progression of cinematic effects, with multiple exposures, abstract imagery, slow-motion photography and dramatic camerawork. They all operate in conjunction with the melodramatic movements of the actors to create a textured imitation of dazed mourning and grief.

Monstrous adaptations

Generic and thematic mutations in horror film

Editors: Richard J. Hand and Jay McRoy

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