Do You Believe in Fairies? Cabbages, Victorian Memes, and the Birth of Cinema: Seeing Sapphic Sexuality in the Silent Era
Famed early filmmaker Alice Guy is back in the news in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Guy inaugurated the cinematic century with her early work La fée aux choux/The Cabbage Fairy (1896), which many scholars have argued was the first film to tell a story, with others dissenting. Recent attention to Guy runs the gamut from a significant new documentary narrated by Jodie Foster, Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché (2018), which is currently in theaters and streaming, to a novelized version of Guy’s life that imagines a secret love affair between her and the engineer of the Eiffel Tower. On the scholarly front, the award-winning box set Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers, curated by Shelley Stamp, includes eleven newly restored films by Guy, while Jane Gaines’s latest book, Pink Slipped: What Happened to Women in the Silent Film Industries? returns to the scene of The Cabbage Fairy with the intensity of a serial crime drama. Taken together, this flurry of interest in Guy, her love life, and her famous first film reignite critical questions, not only about her place in film history, but also about the relationships between history, biography, and sexuality onscreen.
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