Abel Gance's La Roue, is the epic story about the railroad worker Sisif, who witness a fatal train crash that causes many people's life. He rescue a young girl named Norma English from the ruins, whom he adopts and raise as his own, along with his own son, Elie. Then we jump fifteen years forward in time, where we see a drunken and miserable Sisif, who is that way because he has fallen in love with his own adoptive daughter. His son does not know, but there is still a very strong connection between them. Sisif tells this secret to the railroad owner Jacques de Hersan, who propose that he might help Sisif, by marrying the young and beautiful Norma, in order to take her off Sisif's mind. Which of course Sisif does. But does it really help?
La Roue is a masterpiece of epic proportions. Gance's use of fast editing is also quiet amazing. This was some years before Sergei Eisenstein started experimenting. We have the fast editing when the train is rolling too fast, to make us audience more scared. And it also feature the very first "life flashed before my eyes" scene, with a bunch of random images from the past. There's no doubt that La Roue is a technical wonder. But the story itself is also great. It's an epic tale about forbidden love and selfless devotion. It's such a deep story, with a lot of deep characters. It's certainly no ordinary love story. It might even be something that todays directors can learn from. Thumbs up.