DATELINE: Pioneer Filmmaker
Alice Thru the Lens Glass!
How is it possible for someone to be erased from history in movies? Alice went through the camera lens and made the first wonderland of studio narrative movies! The film is called Be Natural: the Story of Alice Guy-Blache.
With Jodie Foster producing and narrating this insight into forgotten history, Pamela B. Greene is a researcher, director, and force to right a wrong done to a creative and mistreated woman. Alice Guy was contemporary in France to the Lumiere Brothers, and she ran the Gaumont Studios.
Yet, she was omitted time and again by critics for her massive contributions. She made about 1000 short movies from 1896 to the start of World War I.
Both Alfred Hitchcock and Sergei Eisenstein called her a tremendous influence on their directing, but she is still today relatively unknown. Director Greene does a whirlwind of research to uncover the story.
In that way, this is a thrilling and fascinating detective work. Alice Guy-Blache was the victim of critics, bad history, misinformation, and a husband who took credit for her work.
She was a driving force for Solax Pictures, one of the big movie companies in Fort Lee, New Jersey. All the others went to Hollywood, and she went out of business.
Returning to France, she was further isolated and ignored. IN her later years she tried to find her films, but most were lost. During the 1950s her glowing, brilliant works were slowly found.
Her mantra was “Be Natural,” to actors. It was heresy in the silent era, but her films feature performances that are amazing by today’s standards.
Family told her in old age to give up: she would never be recognized. Fortunately, that is not true, thanks to pioneer women in movies today uncovering the injustice done to Alice. This turns out to be an extraordinary documentary.