Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Origin of Fire

 Construire un feu – French title
The Origin of Fire – English title

A 1929 French production
Producer: Rene Meyer-See
Director: Claude Autant-Lara (Claude Autant)
Story: “To Build a Fire” by Jack London
Screenplay: Claude Autant-Lara (Claude Autant)
Cinematography: Henri Barreyre, Maurice Fuillemin [black & white, Hypergonar]
Running time: 600 meters

‘The Man’ – José Davert
Miners – Ed Lartigaud, Jean LeClerc

In the Far North, in the freezing cold, a gold digger, accompanied by his dog, tries to file his claim by walking to the nearest claims office, a distance of forty miles. The man, unaccustomed to the region and the rigors of the freezing temperatures, realizes his recklessness but cannot go back. Unfortunately, he falls into a river of ice cold water. To avoid freezing on the spot, he tries in vain to build a fire but has all the trouble in the world to get it started including running out of matches. He then remembers that one of his friends told him that he had kept warm in the skin of a wild ox he had recently killed. The man tries to kill his dog who fights and escapes. He gradually succumbs to numbness and through the eyes of the dog we see him screaming to death.

[This was the first film to be shot in the anamorphic widescreen format. Its inventor, Henri Chretien, called it Hypergonar, and had originally developed it for use in tank periscopes during World War I.]

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