The wind

Creation 2014

A film by Victor Sjöström (1928, USA, 75 min)
Original music by Carlos Grätzer

Shot in the United States in 1928 under difficult conditions in the Mojave Desert, this melodrama is a hard and shiny key, an undisputed work of silent film. It describes the relationship between man and nature, speaking about a rural drama of extraordinary beauty and a deeply lyrical breath.

Ingrid Schoenlaub, cello | Stéphane Sordet, saxophone | And recorded sounds
Electronics realized by the INA-GRM, Musical Research Group studios
Production: DRAMA | Sillages
With the support of La Muse en Circuit, National Centre for Musical Creation


Carlos Grätzer’s statement of intent

"It was whilst doing research that I discovered images of a film that immediately swept me away with its beauty and force: director Victor Sjöström’s The Wind.
Shot under difficult conditions in the Mojave Desert (United States) in 1928, this hard, brilliant melodrama is unquestionably a key silent film. It describes the relationship between Man and Nature in a drama that unfolds in a rural setting of extraordinary beauty and highly moving lyrical sweep.
However, Gilles Deleuze made this film the prototype of the action film, refusing to see it as a naturalistic film for, says he, the original world - The Wind that constantly blows across the plain - is actualized in a determined area: the Great Plains. The story according to Deleuze: "A young woman from the South arrives in this region to which she is not accustomed and finds herself caught up in a series of duels: a physical duel with the environment; a psychological duel with the hostile family that takes her in; a romantic duel with the rough cowboy who is in love with her; a hand-to-hand duel with the cattle dealer who tries to rape her... After killing the latter, she tries desperately to bury him in the sand, but each time The Wind uncovers the body. This is the moment when the environment challenges her the most and when she reaches the core of the duel. Then the reconciliation begins."
In this tale, between melodrama and fantastic western, The Wind becomes an ally allowing the young woman to become self-confident and face up.
At the summit of silent pictures, when the mastery of the cinematographic narrative was total: variety of framings, double exposures, subjective camera, acceleration of the rhythm - everything is there. The wide shots isolate the characters in a hostile environment, the close-ups show clothing whipping about frenetically: struggle is omnipresent. For me, there was no doubt: watching the film, powerful ideas of sound and music came to me. Similarly, the shots of a white horse dashing with the storm, or blending with Lillian Gish’s frightened face, are full of a poetry and fantasy that correspond perfectly to the Indian legend explaining tornadoes as being caused by a phantom horse that lives in the clouds.»

About the movie

A quasi-western, but lacking bravura scenes, shot in the middle of the desert with wind constantly blowing dust… Letty Mason arrives in Texas to move in with her cousin, persuaded that she is going to find a nice place to live.
Instead, she finds herself amongst farmers living in ramshackle cabins, and her cousin’s wife does not exactly view the arrival of this potential rival kindly. After a few days, Letty finds herself forced to choose a husband in order to get away from this place. There are
three possible choices: Wirt Roddy, a charming travelling salesman, Lige Hightower and Sourdough, two cowboys who are friends of the family...
In 75 minutes, the film shows in detail the transformation of a disappointed woman, a Madame Bovary of the South, who must confront the harshness of the world symbolized by the unending torment of the wind and sandstorms.
Sjöström’s strength in the use of scenery elements to express human passions finds a fantastic echo in an ever-juvenile Lillian Gish. Just as he manages to exploit any part of the body whatsoever to make it express emotions, Sjöström undeniably has a great sense of detail. The Wind is an admirable masterpiece, a ’must-see’ film...


American - 1928 – 75’
Genre: Drama
All publics
Directed by Victor Sjöström
Film inspired by the novel by Dorothy Scarborough
With: Lillian Gish, Lars Hanson, Montagu Love Dorothy Cumming, Edward Earle, William Orlamond, Laon Ramon

Picture copyright ©Turner Entertainment Co. An Aol Time Warner Co



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