Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Blanche Neige

Action Française loved Snow White (May 13, 1938). Of course they did: imagine seeing this in a period when every other film was black and white, when people were just getting used to sound film.

It's my job to figure out what this means, though. The Snow White story seems to have gone through various versions, but it was written down by the Grimms. (There's no Prince to kiss her, that's stolen from Sleeping Beauty. The dwarves drop her glass coffin and she wakes up.) So it's German, and obviously so, considering the similarities between the dwarves and the Nibelungen. This is not a connection an educated Frenchman at the time would be likely to miss, and we're talking about a rabidly anti-German paper. But there's nothing in the review about that. OK then, are the dwarves the oppressed working class? I guess not: there's no mention of economic questions, also strange since Socialism was the AF's other bête noire.

No, they just loved it because it suggested what "pure" cinema could do. They compare it to Caligari, another German film that can be read politically. The idea of "pure" cinema is interesting in itself. "Animation is the richest, freest form not only of cinema, but of all spectacle: it's the spectacle of which everything is permitted." What is "pure" cinema? Is there a connection between the desire for "pure" art and xenophobic politics? I'm guessing yes.

Go here for more Socialist dwarves, and other French language detournement.

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