ARCHITECTURE-IN-MOTION

This chapter is a superstructure upon the foundations of chapters five, six, and seven.

I have said that it is a quality, not a defect, of the photoplays that while the actors tend to become types and hieroglyphics and dolls, on the other hand, dolls and hieroglyphics and mechanisms tend to become human. By an extension of this principle, non-human tones, textures, lines, and spaces take on a vitality almost like that of flesh and blood. It is partly for this reason that some energy is hereby given to the matter of reënforcing the idea that the people with the proper training to take the higher photoplays in hand are not veteran managers of vaudeville circuits, but rather painters, sculptors, and architects, preferably those who are in the flush of their first reputation in these crafts. Let us imagine the centres of the experimental drama, such as the Drama League, the Universities, and the stage societies, calling in people of these professions and starting photoplay competitions and enterprises. Let the thesis be here emphasized that the architects, above all, are the men to advance the work in the ultra-creative photoplay. "But few architects," you say, "are creative, even in their own profession."

Let us begin with the point of view of the highly trained pedantic young builder, the type that, in the past few years, has honored our landscape with those paradoxical memorials of Abraham Lincoln the railsplitter, memorials whose Ionic columns are straight from Paris. Pericles is the real hero of such a man, not Lincoln. So let him for the time surrender completely to that great Greek. He is worthy of a monument nobler than any America has set up to any one. The final pictures may be taken in front of buildings with which the architect or his favorite master has already edified this republic, or if the war is over, before some surviving old-world models. But whatever the method, let him study to express at last the thing that moves within him as a creeping fire, which Americans do not yet understand and the loss of which makes the classic in our architecture a mere piling of elegant stones upon one another. In the arrangement of crowds and flow of costuming and study of tableau climaxes, let the architect bring an illusion of that delicate flowering, that brilliant instant of time before the Peloponnesian war. It does not seem impossible when one remembers the achievements of the author of Cabiria in approximating Rome and Carthage.

Let the principal figure of the pageant be the virgin Athena, walking as a presence visible only to us, yet among her own people, and robed and armed and panoplied, the guardian of Pericles, appearing in those streets that were herself. Let the architect show her as she came only in a vision to Phidias, while the dramatic writers and mathematicians and poets and philosophers go by. The crowds should be like pillars of Athens, and she like a great pillar. The crowds should be like the tossing waves of the Ionic Sea and Athena like the white ship upon the waves. The audiences in the tragedies should be shown like wheat-fields on the hill-sides, always stately yet blown by the wind, and Athena the one sower and reaper. Crowds should descend the steps of the Acropolis, nymphs and fauns and Olympians, carved as it were from the marble, yet flowing like a white cataract down into the town, bearing with them Athena, their soul. All this in the Photoplay of Pericles.

No civic or national incarnation since that time appeals to the poets like the French worship of the Maid of Orleans. In Percy MacKaye's book, The Present Hour, he says on the French attitude toward the war:—

"Half artist and half anchorite,
Part siren and part Socrates,
Her face—alluring fair, yet recondite—
Smiled through her salons and academies.
Lightly she wore her double mask,
Till sudden, at war's kindling spark,
Her inmost self, in shining mail and casque,
Blazed to the world her single soul—Jeanne d'Arc!"

To make a more elaborate showing of what is meant by architecture-in-motion, let us progress through the centuries and suppose that the builder has this enthusiasm for France, that he is slowly setting about to build a photoplay around the idea of the Maid.

First let him take the mural painting point of view. Bear in mind these characteristics of that art: it is wall-painting that is an organic part of the surface on which it appears: it is on the same lines as the building and adapted to the colors and forms of the structure of which it is a part.

The wall-splendors of America that are the most scattered about in inexpensive copies are the decorations of the Boston Public Library. Note the pillar-like quality of Sargent's prophets, the solemn dignity of Abbey's Holy Grail series, the grand horizontals and perpendiculars of the work of Puvis de Chavannes. The last is the orthodox mural painter of the world, but the other two will serve the present purpose also. These architectural paintings if they were dramatized, still retaining their powerful lines, would be three exceedingly varied examples of what is meant by architecture-in-motion. The visions that appear to Jeanne d'Arc might be delineated in the mood of some one of these three painters. The styles will not mix in the same episode.