Lods, Jean


Lods, Jean
(1903-1974)
   Director. Jean Lods was born in Paris and decided on a career in film from a very early age. He studied at the Conservatoire of Strasbourg before beginning work on his own. Most of Lods's early work as a filmmaker was in short, avant-garde films that walked the line between impressionism and documentary. Among these short films were titles such as 24 heures en 30 minutes (1928), Champs-Elysées (1929), La Vie d'un fleuve: La Seine (1931), and Le Mile de Jules Ladoumègue (1932). He also made the film Histoire d'une ville, Odessa (1934) during a trip to Russia; however that film has been lost.
   In addition to his avant-garde poetics, Lods had a passion for things political. He made the overtly political La Marche de la faim (1929) relatively early in his career. His only feature-length film, L'Équipe (1930), was also a politically oriented proletarian film. He was also a member of the Association des Écrivains et des Artistes Révolutionnaires (AEAR), which had as stated goals the advancement of a proletarian and naturalist esthetics in literature and film. Other members included Louis Aragon, Luis Bunuel, Jean Giono, Jean Vigo, Léon Moussinac, and Yves Allegret.
   Lods's interest in things political led him to make a series of documentaries on politically or culturally iconic figures. Included in this series are the films Aristide Maillol (1943), about the French sculptor, Hommage à Albert Einstein (1955), on the great scientist, Henri Barbusse (1958), on the writer and fellow AEAR member, Jean Jaurès (1959), on the assassinated Socialist politician, and Stéphane Mallarmé (1960), on the avant-garde poet. Apart from directing, Lods also had a bit part in Claude-Autant Lara's film Ciboulette (1933).
   In addition to his filmmaking, Lods influenced the direction of French cinema through his friendship with Vigo and through his involvement in ciné-clubs, which were central to creating an appreciation for the form and to influencing film aesthetics. Vigo, it is said, was inspired to make his classic film L'Atalante (1934) during a trip down the Seine with Lods while he was filming La Vie d'un fleuve: La Seine (1931). He was also instrumental in introducing the French public to Soviet film through the founding of the ciné-club, Les Amis de Spartacus, which was devoted to the purpose. The club was founded by Lods in 1927, along with his brother-in-law, the film critic and theorist Léon Moussinac. Lods also served to inspire other filmmakers through his devotion to the teaching of the art form. He helped found the Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques (IDHEC) with fellow director Marcel L'Herbier. He also served as the head of instruction at the IDHEC from 1943 until 1952.

Historical Dictionary of French Cinema. . 2007.

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