Albert CapellaniPioneer of the Silent Screen

Albert CapellaniPioneer of the Silent Screen

Christine Leteux

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780813166438

Publisher: University Press of Kentucky


In the early days of cinema, a forgotten master played a major part in the development of feature film and literary adaptation. In France, Albert Capellani directed for Pathé the first versions of Les Misérables (1912) and Germinal (1913), which were greeted as masterpieces worldwide. Capellani moved to the United States in 1915, where he directed some of the greatest stars of the screen, including Clara Kimball Young, Alla Nazimova, and Marion Davies. He even created his own production company in Fort Lee, New Jersey, then the hub of the film industry. Considered one of the greatest filmmakers of the age, Capellani sank into oblivion after his premature death in 1931. Yet cinema made a giant leap forward thanks to the extraordinary visual sense of this artist, who considered filmmaking on a par with drama, literature, and music. In 2010, the Bologna Film Festival organized a retrospective that restored him to the place he deserves in film history. His amazing career is recounted for the first time after in-depth research in archives. This is the first-ever detailed biography of this pioneer, affectionately nicknamed “Cap” by the Americans. This book follows the adventures of a filmmaker who, together with many fellow French directors, technicians, and cameramen, brought to the American film industry the “French touch.”