Introduction to the Gaumont Production Company

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 31, 2015

As with the films produced by and for Thomas Edison (q.v.), this cluster of French films from the pioneering Gaumont Company reminds us of the importance and beauty of early cinema. With the dizzying volume of movies released today it is easy to neglect and outright ignore formative efforts in the medium. Danger! The reasoning behind this database including so many of Edison’s ancient productions exactly applies to these turn-of-the-century films from France. Let’s see what we said about those, because we’re now saying the same thing about these:

Again, as before, we are following along with an exemplary dvd collection, Kino Lorber’s  Gaumont Treasures (1897-1913), to be exact. Here’s some helpful advertising copy from them:

This extensive array of impressive movies is culled from an even bigger collection, released the year previous in France. (Here’s Dave Kehr, then writing for the New York Times, with some further background, and an appreciation as well: Here, there, everywhere: there’s no end of good stuff to see! We’ll honour this period, then, introducing and contextualizing a few of its emblematic film productions.

We’ll be starting with a pretty thorough survey of work by the essential, incalculable Alice Guy, properly celebrated as one of the most important of female filmmakers. She would be, she is becoming even more properly celebrated as one of the most important filmmakers, regardless of gender or category. After that, Louis Feuillade. After that, the world!