Capellani, Albert


Capellani, Albert
(1870-1931)
   Actor, director, and screenwriter. Albert Capellani was one of the few pioneers of cinema to have any formal training in the dramatic arts. He studied drama at the Paris Conservatoire d'art dramatique (where Charles LeBargy was also a student) and went on to become a dramatic actor in the Parisian theater, and then later a stage manager and theater manager, lastly at the Alhambra Music Hall. In 1905, Capellani abandoned the stage for the cinema on the conviction that the cinema would become the dominant art.
   He went directly to Pathé, where he worked and trained under Ferdinand Zecca. Capellani also distinguished himself early as a talented director of the melodrama, which was emerging as a genre. His 1906 film La Loi du pardon was hailed by his contemporary Victorin Jasset as one of the first great films and one of the first commercial successes in the genre, and his Pauvre mère, from the same year, did nearly as well.
   In 1907, Capellani directed La Légende de Polichinelle, the story of a robot who falls in love with a doll. The film, which starred film icon Max Linder, was an enormous success. And as a result, Charles Pathé moved Capellani over to the newly created Société Cinématographique des Auteurs et Gens de Lettres (SCAGL), which Pathé had created to make films d'art. As a director for this series, Capellani brought to the screen a number of French classics, ranging from fairy tales to histories. These included Le Chat botté (1908); La Belle au bois dormant (1908), codirected with Lucien Nonguet; L'Assommoir (1909), codirected with Michel Carré; Germinal (1912), an adaptation of the novel by Émile Zola; and a sweeping, four-part adaptation of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables (1912), which is still regarded as a masterpiece of cinema. Capellani's films elevated the cinema from a popular distraction toward an art form, and his longer-than-average films are seen to have established the trend toward feature-length films.
   Capellani is also credited with bringing a number of talented actors and directors to the filmmaking industry. He cast the great stage performer Mistinguett in Les Misérables, her first film, and established her as a silent-film star. He also brought theater actors such as Paul Capellani (his brother) and Berthe Bovy to film. The directors he helped to train include Georges Monca and Michel Carré.
   In 1914, when the war began to interfere with French film production, Capellani left France for the United States. He remained in the United States for several years, making films there for various studios, including Pathé Exchange, Metro Film, and World Film. Capellani fell ill in 1923 and returned to France with the intention of going back to the United States when he recovered. His health deteriorated, however, and he became paralyzed and was forced to give up film-making altogether.

Historical Dictionary of French Cinema. . 2007.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Capellani, Albert — (1870 1931)    Actor, director, and screenwriter. Albert Capellani was one of the few pioneers of cinema to have any formal training in the dramatic arts. He studied drama at the Paris Conservatoire d art dramatique (where Charles LeBargy was… …   Guide to cinema

  • Albert Capellani — (* 23. November 1874 in Paris; † 1931 ebenda) war ein französischer Theaterschauspieler, Filmregisseur, Drehbuchautor und Produzent. Capellani lernte Schauspiel am Pariser Conservatoire d’Art Dramatique, unter anderem bei Le Bargy. Er begann… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Capellani — Albert Capellani (* 23. November 1874 in Paris; † 1931 ebenda) war ein französischer Theaterschauspieler, Filmregisseur, Drehbuchautor und Produzent. Capellani lernte Schauspiel am Pariser Conservatoire d’Art Dramatique, unter anderem bei Le… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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