RUSSIAN HOLLYWOOD ON THE SEINE

“Films Albatros” was the name of the French movie company created in 1922 by Russian filmmakers who emigrated to France after the Russian Revolution of 1917. Later the studio which quickly became the center of Russian moviemaking abroad, came to be known as “Russian Hollywood on the Seine” or “Russian Film School in Paris”.

Founded in the vicinity of Paris in Montreuil known for its film history connections (it was here that early in the past century the magician and sorcerer of the cinema Georges M?li?s reigned supreme) “Albatros” (initially “Ermolieff -cinema”) attracted the cream of Russian pre-revolutionary cinema. The studio which was headed by a prominent Russian film businessman Joseph N. Ermolieff (later his place was taken by Alexandr Kamenka and Noe Bloch) had among its employees such well-known directors as Yakov Protazanov, Alexandre Volkoff, Viktor Tourjansky and actors Ivan Mosjoukine, Natalia Lisenko and others. Soon the best talent of French cinema started to drift in the direction of the studio – Abel Gance, Jean Epstein, Ren? Clair, Jacques Feyder, Marcel Carn?. During the first stage of its existence, the “Ermolieff epoch” the studio released 11 movies, many of them are now part of the golden pool of world cinema.

It was here that the King of Russian screen Ivan Mosjoukine directed one of his most famous movies “Le brasier ardent” (1923), and also played several parts in it. He appeared in many of the “Albatros” movies.

“Films Albatros” lasted till the end of the 30’s. Recently the studio celebrated its 100th anniversary which was commemorated throughout France. It was the initiative of the French descendants of Patrick Kamenka and J?r?me Diamant-Berger from “Albatros” to hold this retrospective to commemorate the glorious studio which demonstrated the close interrelation between Russian and French filmmakers.

The retrospective includes such films produced by “Albatros” as “Le chant de l’amour triomphant” (1923) by Viktor Tourjansky and “L’enfant du carnival” (1934) by Alexandre Volkoff. For the first time the Russian audience will see segments of one of the first screen adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’s “The Three Musketeers”. These are four episodes of the 1921 series (which had 14 episodes in all) directed by Henri Diamant-Berger which were kindly given to us by the director’s grandson J?r?me Diamant-Berger. This is a unique film, which was missing for almost a century and was discovered in an archive in France only a few years ago. Music for the film was written by B?atrice Thiriet, a well-known French composer.

Evgenia Tirdatova

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