Some talk of an affair, none of it explicit. Man kisses woman he’s courting. Man sits naked in bathtub, no explicit nudity.


Film review:Translated by www.rabudo-ru.com


Orson wells is a talented director full of artistic innovation and is famous for Citizen Kane. Citizen Kane made the film get rid of the shackles of the traditional pattern for the first time and created a precedent of modern film. However, it is not only the beginning but also the end of wells’ film creation career. This artistic genius, who always walks in front of the audience with many fantastic ideas, has struggled with the contradiction between art and business almost all his life. He can’t live in Hollywood and has been in Europe for many years. Due to lack of funds, his films are often completed under the bad conditions of shooting and stopping. He made about 14 films in his life, which is probably the lowest number among the famous Western directors. Until his death in October 1985, he never surpassed his debut. Nevertheless, Bazin commented that “Orson wells should still occupy a prominent position in any Arc de Triomphe that praises the heroes of film history”.

The Abe sons is wells’ second film. After completing Citizen Kane in 1941, he considered several subjects that could be photographed. The managers of leileihua company can’t forgive him for neglecting the box office due to art in Citizen Kane, resulting in huge losses to the company. He must put commercial benefits first in the next film. He considered adapting Dickens’s Pickwick biography or Zoe Atkin’s Red River famine, but they all failed for many reasons. Finally, he chose booth Tarkington’s (1869-1946) not very excellent novel the Abe family. Wells adapted the 1919 Pulitzer Prize winning novel into a radio play in 1939, with himself as the protagonist. Wells loves the novel because Tarkington is an old friend of wells’ parents, and the prototype of auto inventor Eugene in the novel is wells’ father. The place where the story takes place is very similar to the living environment of wells’ family. Wells originally preferred the literary works of the late 19th century and the early 20th century. Moreover, this novel has countless connections with him, so it has a special attraction to him.

It took wells nine days to write the play. He deleted all sentimentalism in the original work and focused on the dark psychology that led to the decline of the Abe family. In his own words, his film is “an elegy for a dead morality, not for an era”.

This film is generally regarded as wells’s “quasi” masterpiece second only to Citizen Kane. The reason why it is not a masterpiece is not because of the director’s fault, but because the film was “savagely hacked and killed” by leileihua company after shooting. As soon as wells finished making this film, Leihua company transferred the tiger away from the mountain and sent him to Brazil to shoot a government funded documentary “true and correct”. While he was staying in South America, the company cut off the original 148 minute finished film for nearly 60 minutes without authorization. The most serious injury was that the company asked someone to shoot another end, that is, the scene in the hospital. As far as the fidelity of the adaptation is concerned, this change has been improved. Unfortunately, the reason why the original novel is difficult to enter the forest of good works is that the author did not treat it as a tragedy, but used a happy ending, which inevitably leads to superficial results. According to wells’ original idea, the ending should be that Eugene came to Fanny’s feeding dormitory and asked her to housekeeper for him and take care of his life. At the same time, he mentioned that George and Lucy were about to get married. Fanny refused his suggestion. Eugene walked out of the dormitory after leaving. The background of the emerging city set off his lonely body, symbolizing that in this chaotic and foolish social environment, his rise is just a struggle alone. Wells complained that the altered ending of the film “destroyed the whole heart of the film”.

The original 148 minute version is no longer available, but this “fragmented masterpiece” (truffer) still occupies an important position in film history and wells’ works. It was no accident that the influential American film magazine picture and sound ranked “the Abe clan” Ninth in 1972 when it selected the best film of all time.

The story of this film takes place in those years at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, that is, the so-called “turn of the century”. At that time, although capitalism in the United States had developed, the ideological remnants of feudalism still existed to varying degrees, especially in the relatively backward southern states. The location of the story is a small town in the middle of the United States, which is at the junction of North and south, so it can not only have the backward side of the southern states, but also absorb the advanced influence of the eastern states. The Abe clan vividly shows the struggle between advanced and backward ideological forces.

Unlike other wells films, the Abe family does not focus on one or two main characters. It depicts seven main characters, each with its representative significance. Selfish and vicious George is the last bastion of the declining landlord family. Eugene is a representative of emerging industrialists, gentle and tolerant. Isabel sacrificed her love for the hypocrisy of the landlord’s family and wasted her life in depression. Fanny is a potential rebel in the Abe family, but she has unlimited nostalgia for the landlord family in her deep feelings. Lucy belongs to a new generation with bright future. She has rich feelings, but she won’t be dazzled by them. Major Abe is the entrepreneur of the family. He lives to see the decline of the family, but he does not resent. He is always a strong man in spirit. Although jack is a member of a big family, he is in contrast to greedy George. He likes Eugene and is a calm bystander in the changes of the times. Wells also added a narrator (himself) outside the picture to the film, allowing him to introduce the background of the times to the audience and go deep into the inner world of the characters. Setting a narrator outside the picture in the feature film was a new initiative in 1942. This may be the imprint left on the screen by Wells’s long experience in radio dramas.

In the above seven main characters, the opposite poles are Eugene and George. From these two people, the contradiction between the old and new forces is typically shown. Some Western critics tend to say that their conflict is for Isabel. Truffer said, “this is a pure emotional conflict”, with Isabel as the target. Bazin also believes that what hinders Eugene and Isabel is George’s self-esteem and some kind of Oedipus complex.

But in fact, George instinctively felt Eugene’s threat to George’s old world from the time he saw this vibrant emerging bourgeois figure. It was not until a long time later that Fanny spoke of Eugene’s love for Isabel because of jealousy. This adds fuel to the fire. Isabel doted on George, “from the day he was born, she simply fell at his feet and offered him as a God”. In her eyes, the “devil” is an “angel”. George grasped his mother’s weakness, used and controlled it from an early age, and could completely control his mother’s fate. Therefore, he opposed the combination of his mother and Eugene out of his aversion to Eugene and extremely selfish psychology, rather than Freud’s so-called “Oedipus complex” of son and mother.

Equally interesting is the relationship between the central character George and other characters and the relationship between the other six characters. These relationships are complex, or love or hate, or use each other, or depend on each other. Almost any character can promote the development of the plot as long as they meet. These seven characters can combine more than a dozen vivid and interesting character relationships. As a western critic said, “it’s like seven always uncoordinated voices. They appear alternately and develop independently without chords. It takes a genius to interweave them.”.

What plays an important role in ensuring the success of the film is the excellent performance of the actors. Wells worked hard to guide the actors. Together with the actors, he deeply analyzed the characters’ character and conducted an overall rehearsal before shooting each scene. He often allows actors to change their lines according to their understanding of the role. Wells himself didn’t show up (which is a rare exception in wells’ films). He chose Tim Holt, who is very similar to him, to play George. Although American film critics were hostile and criticized the film except James Archie, Agnes morhead, who played Isabel, still won the New York film critic Award for her exquisite performance.

Like Citizen Kane, the Abe clan was a commercial flop. The new york times deeply regretted that wells wasted his abundant talent on “a play with boring theme and gloomy atmosphere”. The contradiction between art and commerce is sometimes irreconcilable. In wells, the “irreducible romanticist”, it will exist forever.

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