THE SEASHELL AND THE CLERGYMAN (41’, France, 1928)

 

As Bunuel wrote is his autobiography, surrealist filmmakers “were constantly fighting a society they despised. Their principal weapon wasn`t guns, of course; it was scandal”. When THE SEASHELL AND THE CLERGYMAN premiered in Paris on February 9th, 1928, it caused a massive scandal and controversy. Bold and confusing, the film is a captivatingly macabre exploration of the repressed violence and eroticism, uncovering the unconscious of a clergyman who falls in love with the wife of a general.

Director: GERMAINE DULAC

With the support of:

Rights owner: LIGHT CONE

 

Cast: ALEX ALLIN, GENICA ATHANASIOU, LUCIEN BATAILLE

Screenplay: ANTONIN ARTAUD

Cinematography: PAUL GUICHARD, PAUL PARGUEL

Music: IRIS TER SCHIPHORST

Producer: GERMAINE DULAC



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As one of the leading radical feminists of her day, GERMAINE DULAC was editor of La Française, the organ of the French suffragette movement. She also doubled as theater and cinema critic of the publication and became increasingly enamored with film as an art form. In 1915 she formed, with her husband, a small production company, Delia Film, and began directing highly inventive, small-budget pictures. With SPANISH FIESTA (1920) and her masterpiece, THE SMILING MADAME BEUDET (1922), GERMAINE DULAC emerged as a leading figure in the impressionist movement in French films. In the late 20s, she was an important part of the "second avant-garde" of the French cinema with the surrealistic THE SEASHELL AND THE CLERGYMAN (1927) and a number of other experimental films.

 

“Journalist and feminist activist, GERMAINE DULAC (1882-1942), an avant-garde filmmaker fond of aesthetic research, was among the first in France to consider cinema as a major art and since 1916 she entirely devoted herself to it. Starting from a screenplay by Antonin Artaud, THE SEASHELL AND THE CLERGYMAN is the story of a clergyman in love with a general’s wife, haunted by a series of tormenting visions. He sees himself killing the general and pursuing the woman he is in love with. His dreams become more and more bizarre and terrifying: they reach their climax in a scene where the clergyman takes a giant shell and greedily swallows its contents... GERMAINE DULAC uses dramatic camera movements and unusual angles to express, in agreement with Freud's theories, the young clergyman’s frustration and sexual fantasies. 'THE SEASHELL AND THE CLERGYMAN does not tell a story, it develops instead a series of states of mind which derive from each other as thoughts derive from thoughts, without reproducing a rational/logical sequence of events' wrote Antonin Artaud, the writer of the screenplay, in 1927. Disavowed by the poet, the film created a memorable surrealist scandal when it was released at the Studio des Ursulines in February 1928.”(Philippe-Alain Michaud)

 

GERMAINE DULAC (SENSES OF CINEMA)

FILM ANALYSIS (FILMMENU)

GERMAINE DULAC: "THE SMILING MADAME BEUDET"

GERMAINE DULAC: "THEMES AND VARIATIONS"