Regarded for decades as one of the most original of cinema stylists, René Clair originally came to films by way of a childhood fascination for puppets, later through acting and writing. He started in the silent film era and established himself as a master of droll comedy.
On this program Clair discusses his silent film career, his ideas about cinema, and specifically his instinct to de-emphasize the spoken word in film. He warned early on that the addition of dialogue to film would undermine the challenge to be visually inventive and lead to telling film stories by methods imitative of theater and literature. "And now the comedians come from radio," he says, "and their writers just make them funny." Yet he himself had a long successful career in "talkies", including the classic "A Nous la Liberté". This program contains excerpts from Clair's "Le Million" (1931) and "Les Grandes Manoeuvres" (1955).