Feyder, Jacques


Feyder, Jacques
(1885-1948)
   Actor and director. Born Jacques Frédérix in Bruxelles, Jacques Feyder decided to become an actor. While this seems unremarkable, it required him to go against the wishes of his family. The Frédérix family was quite prestigious, had military and literary ties, and had planned a military career for Jacques. Feyder went to Paris to pursue his career as a stage actor, but without the blessing of the family. During his time in the theater, he met the actress Françoise Rosay, and the two married in 1917.
   Not long after beginning his stage career, Feyder turned to the cinema, initially as an actor. He had a role in Georges Méliès's Cendrillon ou La pantoufle mystérieuse (1912) and in one or two other films before signing at Gaumont in 1912, on the eve of World War I. At Gaumont, Feyder appeared in such films as Henri Pouctal's Le Trait d'union (1913), Gaston Ravel's Autour d'une bague (1915), Louis Feuillade's Les Vampires (1915), and Charles Burguet's Quand minuit sonna (1916).
   Feyder began directing in 1915. His first effort was Les pieds et les mains (1915), which he codirected with Ravel. From there, Feyder went on to direct a number of silent films on his own, including Le Pied qui étreint (1916), Têtes de femmes, femmes de tête (1916), L'instinct est maître (1917), Le Ravin sans fond (1917), and Le Frère de lait (1917). These early films are generally light, comic films and really gave no hint of what was to come later in Feyder's career.
   In 1917, Feyder's career was interrupted, as he was mobilized for war. The experience marked him, as it did so many of that time. His filmmaking, when he returned, showed evidence of this mark and began to move in a different direction. His first postwar film, La Faute orthographe (1919), was another comedy, but it had a depth and an attention to technical artistry that his early films had not.
   His next film, L'Atlantide (1921), was markedly different from his earlier works. Based on the novel by Pierre Benoît, the film was the story of two soldiers lost in a mythical, African kingdom. Feyder used the story to explore a completely fantastic world in a highly realistic mode. The film is highly exotic in the most orientalist way, presenting the non-Western world as foreign, strange, alluring, and dangerous. The mise-en-scène is probably the primary element of the film, in which image dominates over narrative. With L'Atlantide, Feyder established himself as a master of the visual image. The film was an enormous success, in France and internationally, and it has gone down as not merely one of the great silent films, but one of the great films of all time.
   Following L'Atlantide, Feyder made Crainquebille (1923), which developed his realist style, and then another masterpiece, Visages d'enfants (1925), the story of a young boy who must deal with the death of his father. Regarded as a piece of visual, psychological poetry on film, Visages d'enfants is also widely regarded as one of the greatest silent films ever made.
   All of Feyder's last silent films are solid works and all of them follow his realist trajectory, based on a desire to reveal the more invisible, intangible elements of life, such as individual psychology or the human spirit, through extremely concrete, clear images. Gribiche (1915), starring his wife, Françoise Rosay, is an exploration of class mobility and class identity; L 'Image (1925) explores the effects a single photograph has on several different people; Carmen (1926) is a brilliantly realized adaptation of the Prosper Mérimée novel; and Les Nouveaux messieurs (1926) is a satire on the bourgeoisie. Feyder is also known to have made a silent-film version of Honoré de Balzac's Thérèse Raquin (1928); however, that film has been lost.
   In 1929, Feyder, whose international reputation was well established, went to Hollywood to work for MGM. He found Hollywood a disappointment and remained there only two years. Notable films from this period are The Kiss (1929) and Anna Christie (1930), both starring Greta Garbo.
   The return after Hollywood was slow, and it was not until 1934 that Feyder again released a truly substantive film. It came in the form of Le Grand jeu (1934), the story of a lawyer who joins the foreign legion and falls in love with a prostitute. The film was followed by Pension Mimosas (1935), the story of a woman who adopts a child abandoned by his father. This was in turn followed by La Kermesse héroïque (1935), which stars Rosay, and which is considered yet another of Feyder's masterpieces. The film, which is a meditation on a Flemish painting, explores what happened in the eighteenth century when the marauding Spanish army sought shelter in a small Flanders town. It seeks to explore the period and the subject of the painting in much the same way as the painting it imitates, and in so doing, seeks to place film on an artistic level equal to painting. Its own artistic and thematic brilliance aside, La Kermesse héroïque is significant in that it is widely regarded as the film that heralded the arrival of Le Réalisme poétique or poetic realism.
   La Kermesse héroïque is also considered to be the last of Feyder's great films. He made several more following that film, including A Knight without Armour (1937), starring Robert Donat and Marlene Dietrich, Les Gens du voyage (1938) and Une femme disparaît (1944), both starring Rosay, La Loi du nord (1939), starring Michèle Morgan and Pierre Richard-Willm, and Macadam (1946), which he codirected with Marcel Blistène and was his last film. None of these, however, had the depth or the poetry of his earlier works. It is perhaps an irony that the movement Feyder announced would be developed by other filmmakers, but it is also true that he was a generation earlier than directors such as Marcel Carné and Jean Renoir, and Carné, at least, acknowledged the importance of Feyder's influence on his own work.

Historical Dictionary of French Cinema. . 2007.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Feyder, Jacques — (Jacques Frédérix / July 21, 1885, Ixelles, Brabant, Belgium May 24, 1948, Rive de Prangins, Switzerland)    After working for two years in a cannon foundry, he moved to Paris in 1910. From 191I to 1915, he had a modest career as a stage and film …   Encyclopedia of French film directors

  • Feyder, Jacques — (1885 1948)    Actor and director. Born Jacques Frédérix in Bruxelles, Jacques Feyder decided to become an actor. While this seems unremarkable, it required him to go against the wishes of his family. The Frédérix family was quite prestigious,… …   Guide to cinema

  • Feyder, Jacques — ▪ French director pseudonym of  Jacques Frédérix   born July 21, 1888, Brussels, Belg. died May 25, 1948, Geneva, Switz.  popular French motion picture director of the 1920s and 30s whose films are imbued with a sympathy for the common man and an …   Universalium

  • Feyder, Jacques — • ФЕЙДЕ Р (Feyder) Жак    ФЕЙДЕР (Feyder) Жак (наст. фам. Фредерикс, Frederix) (21.7.1888 25.5.1948), франц. режиссёр. С 1908 актёр парижских т ров. В кино с 1912 (снимался в фильмах Ж. Мельеса, Л. Фёйада и др., был ассист. режиссёра). В 1915… …   Кино: Энциклопедический словарь

  • Feyder, Jacques — pseud. di Frédérix, Jacques …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • Feyder, Jacques — ► (1888 1948) Director cinematográfico belga. Creador del realismo poético. Películas: La kermesse heroica y Thérèse Raquin, entre otras …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Feyder — Feyder, Jacques …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Jacques feyder — Nom de naissance Jacques Frédérix Naissance 21 juillet 1885 Ixelles  Belgique Nationalité(s) origine  …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Jacques Frédérix — Jacques Feyder Jacques Feyder Nom de naissance Jacques Frédérix Naissance 21 juillet 1885 Ixelles  Belgique Nationalité(s) origine  …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Feyder — Jacques Feyder (* 21. Juli 1888 in Ixelles/Elsene, Belgien; † 24. Mai 1948 in Rive de Prangins, Schweiz) war ein französisch belgischer Filmregisseur. Biografie Jacques Feyder begann 1912 als Schauspieler bei Georges Méliès und Louis Feuillade.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia


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