Zecca, Ferdinand

(1864-1947)
   Director and film pioneer. Ferdinand Zecca was born in Corsica in 1864 and later moved to Paris with his family. His father was a machinist at the Funambule and later a stage manager at the Theatre de l'Ambigu. Zecca originally followed in his father's footsteps, becoming at first a performer and stage manager himself, and later venturing into the new world of cinema. Zecca had a few brushes with the cinema early in his career. He did voice recordings of speeches for Pathé phono (his sister worked for Pathé as a projectionist) and acted in Pathé films for the Dufayel department stores (for whom Méliès also made films). He was also hired on at Gaumont (by Alice Guy) for a brief time in 1898, during which he made his first film, Les Méfaits d'une tête de veau, often credited to Guy (ironically, one of the few she is credited with but that she actually did not make).
   Zecca's big "break" came in 1898 during the Paris Exposition, when he was hired by Charles Pathé to run the Pathé pavilion at the exposition. Pathé was so impressed by Zecca that he immediately hired him on as head of production at Pathé, and Zecca would ultimately become studio director at the enormous Vincennes studio when it opened in 1902.
   In his early filmmaking career, Zecca made mostly very popular copies of films by other people. Two of his early successes, Ce que l'on voit de mon sixième (1901) and Par la trou de la serrure (1901) were copies of English comedies. Several of his féeries, including Les Sept châteaux du diable (1901), were clearly "inspired" by Méliès. And yet Zecca also demonstrated very early a talent for filmmaking in his own right and an ability to innovate and move film in completely new directions. His fantasy film A la conquête de l'air (1901), about a flying machine flying over Paris, is a silent film classic, for example.
   Zecca is also credited with developing the sentimental social melodrama, one of the best known of which was the very successful Histoire d'un crime (1901), which recounts in several tableaux the fall of a gambler and his subsequent crime and punishment. The film is noteworthy both in its social and moralizing dimension and in its attempt to develop an extended narrative in film. However, even in this area, one might note the influence of others. Two of Zecca's other well-known social melodramas, Au bagne (1906) and L'Honneur d'un père (1906), are near exact copies of films by Guy, Un cas de divorce (1906) and Le Fils du garde chasse (1906).
   The film widely considered to be Zecca's masterpiece is the four-part La Vie et la passion de notre seigneur Jésus Christ (1907). The film was codirected with Lucien Nonguet and featured the cinematography of Segundo de Chomon. Composed of thirty-eight scenes or tableaux, La Vie et la passion was made in the way that other long epics were made at Pathé, of reels of various lengths consisting of various combinations of scenes. This structure allowed theaters to decide how much of these long films they wanted to show and how much they would pay to do so.
   Apart from its variable structure, La Vie et la passion is noteworthy in that it is one of the few life of Christ films made that was not inspired by the passion plays. Zecca and Nonguet created the story directly, inspired by paintings of the life of Jesus found in museums around Paris. In fact, many of the scenes in the film directly echo or represent such paintings. The same is true of Nonguet's epic biopic Napoléon Bonaparte. Another genre in which Zecca was a pioneer was that of the reconstructed actualité or newsreel. Such films represented events that were in the news. The most famous example is Zecca's Catastrophe de la Martinique (1902), which was not actually newsreel footage but instead recreated the eruption of Mont Pélé on the island of Martinique.
   Over the course of his filmmaking career, Zecca made several hundred films and trained many, if not most, of the key directors at Pathé. He worked most closely with Lucien Nonguet in the beginning and with René LePrince near the end, but he collaborated at one time or another with many of the directors at Pathé. Among Zecca's other films are L 'Enfantprodigue (1901), Histoire d'un crime (1901), Quo Vadis (1901), Ali Baba et les quarante voleurs (1902), La Belle au bois dormant (1902), La Fée printemps (1902), Les Victimes de l'alcoolisme (1902), La Grève (1904), Brigandage moderne (1905), Le Pêcheur de perles (1905), Rêve à la lune/L'Amant de lune (1905), Excursion dans la lune (1908), Cléopatre (1910), La Fièvre de l'or (1912), and Coeur de femme (1913).
   As time went on Zecca became more and more involved in the business of the studio and less involved in filmmaking. By 1915, he had given up filmmaking altogether and was sent all over Europe and the United States attending to Pathé business. He returned to France in 1923, where he took over control of the Pathé Baby division, a manufacturing and marketing branch that sold home movie cameras.
   Historical Dictionary of French Cinema by Dayna Oscherwitz & Mary Ellen Higgins

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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  • Zecca, Ferdinand — (1864 1947)    Director and film pioneer. Ferdinand Zecca was born in Corsica in 1864 and later moved to Paris with his family. His father was a machinist at the Funambule and later a stage manager at the Theatre de l Ambigu. Zecca originally… …   Historical Dictionary of French Cinema

  • Zecca, Ferdinand — • ЗЕККА (Zecca) Фердинан (1864 1947)    франц. режиссёр, продюсер. Был эстрадным певцом. В кино как актёр с 1898, как режиссёр с 1901. С 1905 директор кинопроиз ва фирмы Ш. Пате, в 1913 1920 амер. филиала фирмы, с 1920 во Франции рук. отделения… …   Кино: Энциклопедический словарь

  • Zecca, Ferdinand — ► (1864 1947) Realizador cinematográfico francés. Sus gags están llenos de vitalidad y gracia. Autor de El caso Dreyfus (1908) …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Zecca, Ferdinand — (February 19, 1864, Paris, France March 23, 1947, Saint Mandé, Val de Marne, France)    The son of the caretaker of the Théâtre de l Ambigu (later a stagehand chief), he began his artistic career as a café concert entertainer reciting monologues …   Encyclopedia of French film directors

  • Zecca — Zecca, Ferdinand …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Ferdinand Zecca — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Ferdinand Zecca (n. 1864 † 6 de marzo de 1947, París) fue un cineasta francés, director, productor, actor y guionista. Principal director de la Pathé Frères, la productora de cine más importante del mundo antes de la …   Wikipedia Español

  • Ferdinand Zecca — (* 1864 in Paris; † 23. März 1947 in Saint Mandé) war ein französischer Filmregisseur und Pionier des französischen Films. Er arbeitete als Kaffeehaus Entertainer, bevor er 1899 zum Film kam. Er wurde von Pathé als Regisseur angestellt und drehte …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Zecca — bezeichnet: Münze von Messina, eine ehemalige Münzprägeanstalt in Messina, Italien Zecca (Venedig), Münzprägeanstalt in Venedig Zecchine, eine venezianische Goldmünze Zecca, das italienische Wort für eine Münzprägeanstalt Zecca ist der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ferdinand Zecca — (1864 in Paris – March 6, 1947 in Paris) was a French film director. Zecca was a cafe entertainer before switching to film in his mid 1930s. His film career first film as a director was Le Muet mélomane in 1899. He is among the early directors of …   Wikipedia

  • Zecca — Zecca, Italian for mint (derived from the Arabic for die ), may refer to: * The historical Papal mint located in Vatican City. * The mint of the Italian Republic, Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato, which is still active. * The historical… …   Wikipedia

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