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La souriante Madame Beudet (1923) film titles and poster

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Dec 23rd, 2020. Artwork published in .
    La souriante Madame Beudet (1923) film titles and poster 1
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    La souriante Madame Beudet (The Smiling Madame Beudet) is an impressionist short film made in 1923. It was directed by Germaine Dulac, “the first feminist filmmaker and a key figure in the development of the French Avant Garde cinema of the 1920s.” – Light Cone
    “The story of the frustrations and fantasies of a young wife and her boorish, domineering husband, is told almost entirely from the woman’s perspective.” – Irina Leimbacher

    The bilingual opening titles and intertitles of the silent film make prominent use of a sans serif that originated at Wagner & Schmidt, Leipzig. This punchcutting company specialized in distributing matrices to type foundries, who would then cast type from them, and sell the end product to printers. In other words, Wagner & Schmidt didn’t produce or sell any fonts, but rather focused on designing typefaces. Their creations can hence be found in the catalogs of numerous foundries, in German-speaking countries and beyond, under many different names. In Germany, the design in question is probably best known as Aurora-Grotesk. The film was produced by Charles Delac and Marcel Vandal with their firm Colisée-Films in Geneva, Switzerland. Chances are that the particular version used here – featuring French accents – is Akzidenz-Grotesk, which was the name used by the Swiss foundry Haas.

    Earlier this year, Forgotten Shapes released a faithful digitization as Neue moderne Grotesk FSL, made by Stephan Müller in 2011–2019. The name of the digital reconstruction references the one chosen by the Ludwig Wagner foundry, a company with close ties to Wagner & Schmidt. You can read more about the intricate history of this typeface in an in-depth article written by Indra Kupferschmid, and richly illustrated with specimens from the collection of Stephan Müller. [Disclaimer: I helped with copy-editing the article.]

    The names of Germaine Dulac and André Obey are emphasized by the use of letterspaced uppercase letters.
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    The names of Germaine Dulac and André Obey are emphasized by the use of letterspaced uppercase letters.

    La souriante Madame Beudet (1923) film titles and poster 3
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    La souriante Madame Beudet (1923) film titles and poster 4
    Source: https://www.youtube.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    The main titles are set in an older grotesk of compressed width distinguished by a flat-tailed a. This typeface or a similar one was carried by the Haas type foundry under the generic name Enge Grotesk.
    Source: https://www.youtube.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    The main titles are set in an older grotesk of compressed width distinguished by a flat-tailed a. This typeface or a similar one was carried by the Haas type foundry under the generic name Enge Grotesk.

    Deep into the 20th century, it was common in German typography (as well as in sign painting and other lettering disciplines) to use the letter J for an I in initial position.
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    Deep into the 20th century, it was common in German typography (as well as in sign painting and other lettering disciplines) to use the letter J for an I in initial position.

    While the ellipsis in the French text consists of four dots, the German equivalent has three, with more letterspacing.
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    While the ellipsis in the French text consists of four dots, the German equivalent has three, with more letterspacing.

    La souriante Madame Beudet (1923) film titles and poster 10
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    The text of a letter received by the husband is shown in (again bilingual) title cards, set in a script typeface that emulates handwriting.
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    The text of a letter received by the husband is shown in (again bilingual) title cards, set in a script typeface that emulates handwriting.

    The typeface appears to be a version of , which was cast by the Krebs foundry and others. The forms for k P S are different from the showings that I was able to consult.
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    The typeface appears to be a version of Facsimile, which was cast by the Krebs foundry and others. The forms for k P S are different from the showings that I was able to consult.

    The language versions feature the same style of quotation marks and punctuation spacing. The former is in line with contemporary German standards, the latter matches what’s still common in French.
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    The language versions feature the same style of quotation marks and punctuation spacing. The former is in line with contemporary German standards, the latter matches what’s still common in French.

    Does the five-dot ellipsis hint at an especially intense dream?
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    Does the five-dot ellipsis hint at an especially intense dream?

    In Germany, Spaß (“joke”) is spelled with an eszett (ß). In Switzerland, this character never really was widely used outside of blackletter. The sound is represented by a double s.
    Source: https://www.youtube.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    In Germany, Spaß (“joke”) is spelled with an eszett (ß). In Switzerland, this character never really was widely used outside of blackletter. The sound is represented by a double s.

    La souriante Madame Beudet (1923) film titles and poster 18
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    La souriante Madame Beudet (1923) film titles and poster 19
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    La souriante Madame Beudet (1923) film titles and poster 20
    Source: https://www.youtube.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    The film poster combines a still image featuring the two main actors,  Germaine Dermoz as Madame Beudet and Alexandre Arquillière as Monsieur Beudet, and a text card in the same typography as the titles.
    Source: https://www.senscritique.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    The film poster combines a still image featuring the two main actors, Germaine Dermoz as Madame Beudet and Alexandre Arquillière as Monsieur Beudet, and a text card in the same typography as the titles.

    Typefaces

    • Neue Moderne Grotesk / Aurora-Grotesk  I–IV
    • Grotesk eng (Haas)
    • Facsimile

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