The Fall of the House of Usher (1928)

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Allan (Charles Lamy) ventures to the estate of Usher, where his longtime friend Roderick (Jean Debucourt) lives with Madeleine (Marguerite Gance), his wife. The Usher home is known to be one eerie place and if the rumors are true, the domain, and the Ushers within it, is cursed and while that seems distressing, Allan pushes forward to find the house. But he has a lot of trouble getting to the Usher estate, though he does finally arrive to meet Roderick, whom he has known for a long time, to be sure. It seems Madeleine is quite sick and as such, a doctor (Fournez-Goffard) also lives within the place, just to keep the situation under control, if that’s needed. At the same time, Roderick wishes to paint a portrait of Madeleine, but it is not an easy task, as she becomes tired after only a short round of poses and stillness. In addition, the place has a sense of coldness and strange things happen, such as Roderick seeming madly insane at times. Of course, this all worries Allan and as time passes, he wonders what will become the Ushers, as well as the eerie home in which they live, as it all seems to be get crazier with each passing moment…

I had heard many varied reviews of this edition of The Fall of the House of Usher, so I was unsure of just what to expect once I started to view the picture. I’ve seen other incarnations of the story however, so I figured I was somewhat prepared, if not much. This edition doesn’t work well as a vessel for Poe’s writing, but it looks incredible and in this case, that’s enough to make the flick well worth a look. I was very taken with the film’s intense and wild visuals, including some unique technical moments, very impressive indeed. I know movies need more than visuals, but this is a silent film after all, so visuals are more important here than in most cases. You’ll note some liberties taken with Poe’s prose, but that happens often in films from literary sources, so I see no reason to complain in this one instance. I do think this movie deserves a lot of praise due to the visuals, but I think it lacks the overall impact of the true silent masterpieces. Even so, this is a more than worthwhile release and as such, it is very recommended and though this disc offers little value, film buffs will still want to give this disc a look over, to be sure.

Video: How does it look?

The Fall of the House of Usher is presented in a full frame transfer, which preserves the film’s intended aspect ratio. This film was made in 1928 and it shows at times, but this image looks much better than expected. I did see some strange white nicks here and there, but I am unsure if this is due to source flaws or the authoring work on this disc. In any case, the movie looks very good and contrast is smooth and consistent, very good work indeed. I do wish a few small problems were fixed, but this transfer should still please fans, which is what counts.

Audio: How does it sound?

This is a silent film and as such, the sole audio element is the included musical score. It sounds good in the technical sense, but I think it often sounds unnatural in terms of context, though not by much, to be sure. This track more than handles the needs of the material and in the end, that is just what counts.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes no bonus materials.

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