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Seeing Sarah BernhardtPerformance and Silent Film$
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Victoria Duckett

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039669

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039669.001.0001

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A Little Too Much Is Enough for Me

(p.188) Conclusion
Seeing Sarah Bernhardt

Victoria Duckett

University of Illinois Press

This book has explored Sarah Bernhardt's films in an attempt to recuperate a cinema that has been lost to us, not materially but perceptually. Through an analysis of Bernhardt's films, it has enlarged not only what we know of her biography, her performance on the live stage, and her engagement with film but also our understanding of what we can achieve through the practice of film history today. It has shown that, until World War I changed the political imperative of filmmaking in France, an actress of Bernhardt's stature had no qualms in adapting her performances to film, in presuming that she could creatively engage with the cinema, and in attending screenings in cinema theaters themselves. The book has also argued that Bernhardt's films demonstrate the cinema's capacity to engage with art nouveau, to collaborate and re-present art nouveau performance and mise-en-scène to new audiences, publics, and cultures. In conclusion, the book suggests that Bernhardt is a visible reminder that excess in acting was an available, potent, and performative choice in the silent film.

Keywords:   cinema, Sarah Bernhardt, film, performance, live stage, film history, art nouveau, audiences, acting, silent film

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