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Based on a script by ANTONIN ARTAUD

Box set with Book & DVD

With the support of the CNC and the CNL

Distribution : Doriane Films & Light Cone

Suggested retail price : 32.90 euros

Directed in 1927 by Germaine Dulac and scripted by Antonin Artaud, The Seashell and the Clergyman is generally considered to be the first Surrealist film: a key element of French cultural heritage.

Shot two years before Luis Bunuel's Un Chien Andalou, at a time when the cultural activities of the avant-gardes were in full bloom, this film denotes the encounter of two very strong personalities. On the one hand: Antonin Artaud, the unforgettable monk Massieu in Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc, author of The Theatre and Its Double and of a series of seminal texts on Van Gogh; also author of the novel Heliogabalus; a man of the theatre and of the cinema who, for this film, wrote one of his most emblematic scripts. On the other hand: Germaine Dulac, one of the most important figures in French cinema: theoretician, militant feminist, director of masterpieces such as La Souriante Mme Beudet or L'Invitation au Voyage. A collaboration between these two strong individuals could be nothing other than passionate and confrontational. The dispute came to a head during the première of the film, at the Studio des Ursulines, February 9th, 1928: led by Breton and Aragon and mobilized by Artaud, the Surrealists disrupted the screening, marking the evening down in history as one of the great artistic and cinematic scandals of the 1920s.

This box set is all the more welcome for the fact that the film has been hitherto unavailable to the French public on DVD. A number of additional bonus tracks throw light upon various different aspects of the film (aesthetic, technical, economic).

The box set includes :

The film
In its original silent version, restored by the Nederlands Filmmuseum in collaboration with Light Cone.

Three musical versions
Composed by Pascal Comelade, Thomas Köner and Iris ter Schiphorst.
Conceived by Nicolas Droin and Prosper Hillairet, with contributions from Artaud and Dulac experts:
Tumulte aux Ursulines (Uproar in the Ursulines, 2008, 15 mins)
Alain Virmaux, historian and writer, discusses the première of Germaine Dulac's film (and its Surrealist intervention) with Prosper Hillairet, at the Studio des Ursulines in Paris (location of the famous performance on February 9th, 1928).
Surimpressions (Superimpositions, 2009, 33 mins)
Alain Virmaux charts the confrontational collaboration between scriptwriter and director; Tami Williams provides a portrait of Germaine Dulac, paying special attention to Dulac's conception of cinema and to the major themes which emerge from her oeuvre; Sandy Flitterman-Lewis considers the film in terms of the unconscious and of feminism and insists upon its relevance to the field of gender studies; Prosper Hillairet (who conducted the interviews) investigates the major formal themes of the film itself and of French cinema in the 1920s in general.

A new and revised edition (160 pages)
Of the seminal book by Alain and Odette Virmaux - major Artaud and Surrealism specialists - which traces the genesis of the Artaud/Dulac relationship during the Surrealist period as well as during the making and distribution of The Seashell and the Clergyman. Bolstered by impressive supporting documentation (including two hitherto unpublished letters from Artaud, discovered in 2006), the text throws new light on the scandal of the première at the Ursulines and on Artaud's own attitude to the film; it also restores Germaine Dulac to her role as director in her own right.
Germaine Dulac's biography and filmography
An account of the restoration of the film
Catherine Cormon, director of restoration at the Nederlands Filmmuseum, retraces the history of the different versions of the film and of the restoration process.

This bilingual (French-English) box set with a DVD and a book is an indispensable resource not only for researchers and students but also for enthusiasts who want to learn more about the film. It offers the possibility to rediscover Germaine Dulac's famous film in its restored version while it facilitates comprehension of this avant-garde masterpiece thanks to the perspectives opened up by the various artistic and theoretic contributions of the participants.

The box set will be available for purchase on Light Cone's website from September 15th, 2009.

Press contact
Light Cone : +33 (0)1 46 59 01 53 / lightcone@lightcone.org