The wonderful exhibition Cinema’s First Crimes curated by Matthieu Letourneux (Paris X), Alain Carou (BNF) and Catherine Cauchard (BILIPO) opens tomorrow in Paris at the Galerie des Bibliothèques.
The “Visualising European Crime Fiction” project collaborated with its organisers to create a promotional website to be found at the following address:
Here below an excerpt from the press kit:
“Cinemas premiers crimes enables today’s audiences to feel the same shivers that rippled through spectators a hundred years ago.
Posters advertising serials and episode-movies, gory prints from the covers of newspapers, photographs… The crime movie experienced an extraordinary “golden age” around 1914. In times of peace as in times of war, the public of the French capital squeezes itself into the cinema halls to see Fantômas, Zigomar, Les Mystères de New York, Les Vampires. On the walls, colorful posters tout the shows as great sensations echoing popular novels and various facts reported by the newspapers. But on the screen of the dark room, this is the real world, these are the streets of Paris and its suburbs, which the viewer recognizes as the stage for the heroic deeds of detectives who face mobs of Apaches or evil geniuses.
Since the period of early cinema, film has come a long way: from one attraction among the many gracing fairs and vaudeville shows, it has become the primary medium of a thriving mass culture. It constantly reinvented its codes: comic or scary scenes, chases, rocambolesque serials, “cine-novels”, etc. In the twenties, after the exotic mysteries and costume dramas, the American gangster film imposed its definition of the crime film as a genre.
Adaptations of bestselling novels, fantasy media, a public with a passion or for serials, the appeal of American cinema, the stigmatization of crime films on behalf of youth protection: analogies with our time abound, proving that it is in this period that one own modern world was born.”