L’inhumaine (1924) Director: Marcel L’Herbier
L’inhumaine is an odd little film, certainly a deep track selection even for my list from the silent era. The set designs and cinematography are compelling, but this film is just a bit too experimental/avant-garde for my taste.
The “inhuman woman” is an experimental French silent film about a female singer in Paris. She is something of a heartless tease, with many men chasing after her at her lavish parties. One day, one man (a scientist) kills himself on account of his unrequited love for her, but she shows no emotion upon learning of his death. She attends his funeral and admits feelings for him, but then realizes he is not dead. Another woman gets envious and infects her with a poisonous snake bite, only for her to get reincarnated by her scientist lover.
The original idea L’Herbier had was for a highly abstract film called something like ‘The Woman of Ice’ but he ultimately decided to do “a miscellany of modern art” by inviting leading French practitioners in painting, architecture, fashion, dance and music to collaborate with him. He described the project as “this fairy story of modern decorative art”.