This chapter explores four films starring Pierre Batcheff and falling into the historical reconstruction genre as defined by Richard Abel: Destinée (December 1925), Napoléon vu par Abel Gance (April 1927), Le Joueur d'échecs (July 1927), and Monte-Cristo (May 1929). In none of them does Batcheff play a major role, but the roles he plays articulate a persona that is very clear in his starring roles, predicated on a static and often masochistic masculinity. It can be argued that the historical epic is more than likely to lead to a more static performance, given the decorative value of sets and more particularly costumes that constrain action. But this does not seem to affect the leading men in these films, who thrust and parry while Batcheff looks on, slightly bemused by it all, lost in his ‘look off’, semi-detached from what action there is.
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