Dipartimento di Musica e Spettacolo - CONFERENZE, Women and the Silent Screen Conference

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A Female Touch or a Role Model? Dutch Filmcritic Elisabeth de Roos and the International Film Avant Garde
Anna van Beusekom

Last modified: 2010-03-01


Elisabeth de Roos started writing on film in 1925. As a Ph.D. candidate in French literature she was especially interested in French cinema and in its avant-garde in particular. She published in several Dutch literary magazines (De Stem, De Vrije Bladen) and from 1927 she contributed regularly in Filmliga. She was one of the most intelligent film critics of her time. Although the Filmliga founders tried to attract her to their organisation as head of one of the departments (The Hague), she never became practically involved.

In 1931 she published Franse filmkunst in the series Monografieen van de filmkunst, one of the first attempts to write the history of silent film as an artform. Around the same time she finished her thesis on the French essayist Jacques Riviere. In 1932 she married Eddy du Perron, a cosmopolitan intellectual residing in Amsterdam, Belgium, Paris or the Dutch Indies. After 1932 when it was clear the sound film would dominate film and film culture, she lost her fascination for film.

De Roos comes forward as a strong headed independent young woman, treated by her friends as one of the guys. Still, after her marriage, however exciting, her own voice dimmed in her dedication to her husband. In this paper I would like to shed a closer look at her writings on film (can we detect a female approach at second sight?) in context of  the Dutch "struggle for film as art." Furthermore I wish to consider her impact on later film critics like Ellen Waller, who took a comparable independent position in the Dutch film landscape from 1931 on.

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