Alice Guy-Blache (July 1 1873 - March 24 1968)
Today her name is barely known, but Alice Guy-Blache was an astonishingly talented film-maker who influenced the earliest days of the art.
Her life began in Paris, the youngest of four daughters born to a Parisian businessman. As an adult she was first employed when hired as a typist and secretary to work for Leon Gaumont, who owned a still-photography business. When Gaumont then went on to develop his own film company, Alice's career expanded too, becoming heavily involved in the writing, direction, acting, and production of films. She was also somewhat innovative, insisting on natural poses and often employing special effects to make her films more interesting.
Here is a charming early creation - Le Fee aux Choux (The Cabbage Fairy) which is thought to have been created before the earliest Melies fiction films -
After l907, when Alice married Herbert Blache - another Gaumont employee - the couple travelled to America where Gaumont had a studio. There they founded their own studio, which was called The Solax Company. Here is one of the films they made -and remember this was in 1912. It is called Falling Leaves -
However, by 1918, Herbert left his wife and their children to pursue a career in Hollywood. This devastating blow had a terrible affect on Alice's health and business concerns and by 1922 she had return to live in France, giving up her professional life. Even so, her talents were recognised when the French government awarded Alice with the Legion d'Honneur in 1953. And she did return to America where she lived with one of her daughters, during which time she had high hopes of retrieving some of her films.
Sadly, most of those films were lost. But, today, some are coming to light, and it is hoped that very soon a new documentary will be made by Pamela Green and Jarik van Sluijs who have previously worked on such modern creations as The Bourne Supremacy, The Illusionist, Twilight, and The Cabin in the Woods. Now, they want to focus on the story of Alice Guy-Blache - to reassert her rightful place in the realms of the history of film.
For more information on their plans please watch the Kickstarter film below. The project is now fully funded and hopefully it won't be long until Alice's achievements as one of the film industry's guiding lights will be forever caught on film. The VV can't wait to see it.