“It is to French cinema what Metropolis was to German cinema in the ’20s,” says producer Serge Bromberg of L’Inhumaine (The Inhuman Woman), Marcel L’Herbier’s much revered yet little-seen Deco-era tour de force. “The ambition went far beyond just being a film. It was a meeting point and milestone for everything in art at the time.” The creative team was a who’s who of the French avant-garde: backdrops by Cubist painter Fernand Léger, costumes by leading designer Paul Poiret, a score by modernist composer Darius Milhaud. The set was something of a clubhouse as well: Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, and James Joyce are rumored to have been extras. And yet the film—the story of a famous opera singer who is killed and then reanimated—was “so delicate, so exquisite, it missed a connection with the general audience,” Bromberg says. Thanks to the efforts of the French Cinémathèque and Bromberg’s Lobster Films, L’Inhumaine will live again, albeit for one night only. In a vividly restored print shown for the first time in its original tints, the film will be screened at the Théâtre du Châtelet with a live score (of bits and pieces by Milhaud and new segments by Aidje Tafial) performed by a seven-piece ensemble.
On March 30 at 2 Rue Edouard Colonne, Paris; chatelet-theatre.com.