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THINKING THROUGH CINEMA: THE FILMS OF JEAN EPSTEIN

Jean Epstein, Coeur fidèle (The Faithful Heart), 1923, 35 mm, black-and-white, silent, 84 minutes. Marie (Gina Manès).

1921 WAS AN ANNUS MIRABILIS for Jean Epstein (1897–1953). Born in Warsaw and raised in Switzerland, the twenty-four-year-old former medical student had his first book—an ambitious study of French poetic modernism grandly titled La poésie d’aujourd’hui, un nouvel état d’intelligence (Today’s Poetry: A New Mind-Set)—published by a prestigious vanguard press, Éditions de la Sirène. Its positive reception made him a rising star in the Parisian avant-garde arts scene, and literary luminaries as different as André Gide and Max Jacob expressed disappointment that the hitherto unknown author had not included analyses of their works alongside those by Apollinaire, Jean Cocteau, Louis Aragon, and the young critic’s mentor, the peripatetic Swiss writer Blaise Cendrars. This taste of intellectual celebrity and a promised job at La Sirène encouraged Epstein to move to the French

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