The Fall of the House of Usher (1928 French film)

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The Fall of the House of Usher
Directed by Jean Epstein
Produced byJean Epstein
Screenplay by Luis Buñuel
Jean Epstein
Story by Edgar Allan Poe
Starring Marguerite Gance
Jean Debucourt
Charles Lamy
CinematographyGeorges Lucas
Jean Lucas
Release date
  • 4 October 1928 (1928-10-04)
Running time
65 minutes [1]
Languages Silent film
French intertitles

The Fall of the House of Usher (French : La chute de la maison Usher) is a 1928 French horror film directed by Jean Epstein, one of several films based on the 1839 Gothic short story The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe.



Roderick Usher summons his friend to his crumbling old mansion in the remote countryside. Usher has been obsessed with painting a portrait of his dying wife Madeline. When she passes away, Usher has her buried in the family crypt, but the audience soon discovers that Madeline wasn't really dead, that she was buried alive in the tomb. Madeline revives from her catalepsy, exits her coffin and returns to her shocked husband.



The Fall in the House of Usher was written by Luis Buñuel and Jean Epstein. [1] The film was Buñuel's second film credit, he having previously worked as an assistant director on Epstein's film Mauprat . [1] Following an argument with Epstein about his interpretation of the material, Buñuel left the production. Among the changes in the story from the original material was the relationship between Roderick and his sister which was changed to man and wife in the film. Film critic and historian Troy Howarth stated it was unclear how much if anything of Buñuel's writing was included in the finished film. [1]

The film co-starred French film director Abel Gance and his then-wife Marguerite Gance, fresh from their collaboration on Gance's epic 1927 film Napoleon. [2]


The film was released on 28 October 1928. [3]

The Poe story was released again in 1928 directed by James Sibley Watson, in 1950 by Ivan Barnett, and in 1960 by Roger Corman. [1]


From retrospective reviews, critic Troy Howarth commented that the film was "one of the most renowned of experimental silent films" noting "The rapid cutting, fetishistic closeups and generally dreamy ambience bring the movie closer to the realm of filmic poetry than anything else.". [1] Howarth concluded that the film was Epstein's "most enduring contribution to cinema". [1]

American critic Roger Ebert included the film on his list of "Great Movies". [4]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Workman & Howarth 2016, p. 322.
  2. Roger Icart, Abel Gance, ou le Prométhée foudroyé. (Lausanne: Editions l'Age d'Homme, 1983).
  3. "La Chute de la maison Usher (1928) Jean Epstein" (in French). Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  4. Ebert, Roger (2005). The Great Movies II . New York: Broadway.


  • Workman, Christopher; Howarth, Troy (2016). Tome of Terror: Horror Films of the Silent Era. Midnight Marquee Press. ISBN   978-1936168-68-2.

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