Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tuula Leinonen: 100 vuotta suomalaista animaatiota / [100 Years of Finnish Animation] (a book)

Tuula Leinonen: 100 vuotta suomalaista animaatiota / [100 Years of Finnish Animation]. A book. Helsinki: Aalto-yliopisto / Aalto ARTS Books, 2014. Graphic design: Camilla Pentti, Jani Pulkka. Editor of illustrations: Kyösti Mankamo. Hard cover, 245 x 215, almost a thousand illustrations, 510 pages.
    Link to Aalto ARTS Books web store

The supreme highlight and a lasting achievement of the centenary of Finnish animation, Tuula Leinonen's book 100 Years of Finnish Animation, was published today by Aalto ARTS Books at Restaurant Adams at Erottaja in Helsinki.

Dozens of key animation artists and producers from several generations were celebrating, many of them appearing as major players in the book for which Tuula Leinonen conducted about a hundred extended interviews. The book is based on first hand research. Juho Gartz and Lauri Tykkyläinen have conducted indispensable groundwork on the pioneers, some of whom they managed to get on record in the nick of time for their priceless documentaries. Tuula Leinonen has now brought the history up to date.

The chapters: - 1: The early development - 2: Commercials - 3: Cut-out animation - 4: Puppet and wax animation - 5: The living drawing - 6: Animation on the tube - 7: Experimental animation - 8: Sound in animation - 9: Professional education at animation schools - 10: The conquest of the computers - Keywords - Register of persons - Glossary.

Tuula Leinonen's book on Finnish animation is as large as the best general histories of world animation. It is in Finnish but thanks to the almost one thousand wonderful illustrations it makes sense also to a non-Finnish reader. The visual quality of the book is high, the colour register is refined, the book itself is a work of art. It can be recommended to film and art schools everywhere.

This year I have been learning a lot of new things from the rich heritage of Finnish animation. From this book I realize that there is still much more that I need to see.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Suomi-animaatio 100 vuotta 4: Tietokoneanimaation alku / Centenary of Finnish Animation 4: The Dawn of Computer Animation

Heikki Paakkanen: 19084 (1985)
Curated by Tuula Leinonen. Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Centenary of Finnish Animation), 15 Oct 2014.
Total duration 75 min.

Programme note by Tuula Leinonen: "Näytös valaisee tietokoneanimaation alkutaipaletta Suomessa. Usein animaationtekijät ovat olleet keksijöitä, jotka ovat myös soveltaneet uutta teknologiaa nopeasti tuotantoihinsa. Mediakulttuurin pioneeri Erkki Kurenniemi loi jo 1960-luvulla analogista tietokonegrafiikkaa elokuvaan Spindrift (1966, Mika Taanilan rekonstruktio 2013). Kun teollisuuspiireissä ryhdyttiin käyttämään 3D-mallinnusohjelmia piirtimineen, helsinkiläinen Tööt-Filmi kehitti laitteiston pohjalta valopiirturin animoinnin avuksi. Pieni taiteilijakollektiivi nousi tietokoneanimaation kehityksen kärkeen 1980-luvun alussa jopa maailmanlaajuisesti arvioituna. Juho Gartzin ja Lauri Tykkyläisen dokumenttisarjan viimeinen osa esittelee näiden tietokoneanimaation pioneerien lisäksi parisenkymmentä animaatiotaiteilijaa sekä runsaan kirjon esine-, pala-, piirros-, siluetti- ja nukkeanimaatiota. Näytöksen alussa pyöräytetään värikäs kimara lyhyitä mainosanimaatioita."

Mainoskimara / A commercial mix
Antti Peränne: Nokia Musta Retu, FA-animaatio: "Potkulauta" Setterit, Onni Rivakka: Esso kesätie cartoon, FA-animaatio: Fazer-Ikäneito.

Vielä pikkuisen piirrettyä elokuvaa
Still More Animated Film
FI 1983. PC: Työryhmä Juho Gartz & Lauri Tykkyläinen. P+SC+D: Juho Gartz, Lauri Tykkyläinen. DP: Kari Kekkonen, colour / b&w. S, animation reconstructions: Erkki Salmela. ED: Juho Gartz. FX: Eero Jaakkola, Antero Honkanen. Sound mixing: Tuomo Kattilakoski. Narrator: Lauri Tykkyläinen. VET 24867 – S – 1020 m / 37 min
    Juho Gartzin ja Lauri Tykkyläisen sarjan viimeisessä osassa suomalainen animaatio näyttäytyy monipuolisempana kuin koskaan aiemmin. Riitta Nelimarkka ja Jaakko Seeck valmistivat ensimmäisen täyspitkän ani-maatioelokuvan Seitsemän veljestä (87’, 1979) palatekniikalla. Yleisradio tuotti nukke-elokuvia omassa studiossaan, ja sen lastenohjelmissa nähtiin liperiläisen Ateljé Seppo Putkisen mittavia kalvoanimaatiosarjoja. Heikki Prepula ahkeroi tahollaan mm. Kössi Kengurun parissa. Dokumenttisarja on ansiokkaasti tavoittanut sittemmin pitkän uran tehneet taiteilijat heidän kultaisina nuoruusvuosinaan.
    AA: Screened in 2K DCP. A delightful, masterful documentary survey of the then latest period of Finnish animation. Interviews with Marja Seilola, Riitta Nelimarkka, Jaakko Seeck, Riikka Tuomari, Camilla Mickwitz, Elina Katainen, Marjut Rimminen, Reino Niiniranta, Seppo Putkinen, Mirja Skarp, Hannu Virtanen, Tarmo Koivisto, Jan-Eric Nyström, Jukka Ruohomäki, and Antti Kari, among others. Its value keeps growing. Full, warm colour.

Mennyt manner
The Lost Land / The Lost World / Le Continent perdu / Izgubljeni svijet
FI 1982. PC: Tööt-Filmi Oy, Helkavirsi-työryhmä. D: Antti Kari, Jukka Ruohomäki. SC: Harri Kaasinen, Antti Kari, Kyösti Mankamo, Heikki Paakkanen, Jukka Ruohomäki - based on the epic poem "Mennyt manner" in Helkavirsiä: Toinen sarja (1916) by Eino Leino. DP: Antti Kari, Kyösti Mankamo, Ville Mäkela, colour. AN: Harri Kaasinen. Antti Kari. Heikki Paakkanen. Jukka Ruohomäki. M: Jukka Ruohomäki. Reader: Harri Manner. Trick photography: Antti Lahtinen. VET 24368 – K8 – 345 m / 13 min
     Helkavirsityöryhmä toteutti Eino Leinon runojen pohjalta kokeellisen elokuvatrilogian Orjan poika (1979), Mennyt manner (1982) ja Ukonlintu ja virvaliekki (1982). Tekijöitä kiehtoi runojen kaksijakoisuus: ”Kerronnallisen loistokkuuden lävitse pureudutaan johonkin syvään, pimeään ja kiellettyyn johon runoilija kehottaa totuudenetsijää astumaan." Elokuva yhdistelee animaatiota, still-kuvaa ja tietokonegrafiikkaa. Linnasalikohtauksen kamera-ajo teki vaikutuksen yleisöön. Mennyt manner voitti tietokoneanimaatiosarjan (elokuvat yli 12 min) Zagrebissa 1983.
    AA: Screened in 16 mm. A poem cycle from Eino Leino's Kalevala-inspired magnum opus, the epic poem Helkavirsiä is read aloud, giving inspiration to dark imagery, also using computer graphics. A used print with colour slightly fading.

19084
FI 1985. PC: Tööt-Filmi Oy. D: Heikki Paakkanen. SC: Harri Kaasinen, Heikki Paakkanen. DP: Pekka Aine, Antti Kari, colour. AN: Harri Kaasinen, Kari Paakkanen, Jukka Ruohomäki - computer graphics: Antti Kari, Jukka Ruohomäki. ED: Antti Kari. M: Jukka Ruohomäki. Actor: Tommi Kitti. VET 25233 – S – 16 mm, colour – 200 m / 9 min
    Heikki Paakkasen abstrakti tieteiselokuva sisälsi tajunta-avaruuden maisemia, jotka haastoivat Tööt-Filmin työryhmän. He yhdistelivät kekseliäästi perinteistä selluloiditekniikkaa ja savianimaatioita kuvamanipulaatioihin. Tietokonegrafiikka valopiirtimineen otettiin myös käyttöön, mutta graafikot Kaasinen ja Paakkanen jäljittelivät myös käsin tietokonemaista viivaa. Syntyi painajaisunen kaltainen kuva miesnäkökulmasta, pakoyritys psyykkisestä kahlevankeudesta. 19084 sai Tampereen elokuvajuhlilla sekä Risto Jarva -palkinnon että Kotimaisen kilpailun erikoispalkinnon 1985.
    AA: Screened in 35 mm. An adventure in consciousness, expressed in abstract and figurative imagery - light dots, light contours, grids, an actor model. The music is persuasive. Print ok.

"43"
FI 1997. PC: Taideteollinen korkeakoulu / Medialaboratorio, Taideteollinen korkeakoulu / Elokuvataiteen ja Lavastustaiteen osasto ETO. D+SC+DP+AN+ED: Kai Lappalainen. M, sound rec: Kepa Lehtinen. Colour, sound – 2 min 
    Kai Lappalaisen ”43” on ensimmäisiä 3D-tietokoneanimaatioita Suomessa. Tekniikkaa oli käytetty jo mainoksissa ja ohjelmatunnuksissakin. Lappalaisen pariminuuttisessa animaatiossa Jänis kokeilee painonostoa. Se sai kunniamaininnan Tampereen elokuvajuhlien kotimaisessa kilpailussa 1998.
    AA: Screened in 2K DCP (from a Beta cassette from Kai Lappalainen, for the moment as good as it gets). A pioneering Finnish 3D computer animation; the technique had already been in use in commercials and tv channel idents. A rabbit, a soulmate of Bugs Bunny, weightlifting.

Spindrift
FI/SE 1966. PC: SVT (Sweden). P+D+S+M: Jan Bark. AN: Erkki Kurenniemi. DP: Måns Reuterswärd, Wulf Meseke. ED: Thomas Öhrström. Sound technology: Bengt Nyqvist. Musicians: Bengt Berger (tabla), Jan Bark, Bengt Ernryd (tambura).
    Reconstruction and editing: Mika Taanila 2013. PC: Kiasma. Coordination: Perttu Rastas. Sound mastering: Petri Kuljuntausta. 16 mm, b&w – 14 min
    Analogiset tietokoneet olivat digitaalisten laitteiden rinnalla toinen ja oma kehityslinjansa, joka usein unohtuu tietokoneanimaatiosta puhuttaessa. Analogitekniikalla toteutettu Spindrift on Suomen ja todennäköisesti Pohjoismaiden varhaisin tietokoneanimaatio. Erkki Kurenniemi ohjelmoi animaatiot, jotka on kuvattu suoraan tietokoneen monitorilta 16 mm:n mustavalkofilmille. Osa animaatiosta päätyi elokuvaan sellaisenaan, osa käsiteltiin rasterimaiseksi tekstuuriksi optisella printterillä. Säveltäjä Jan Bark tähtäsi teoksessaan musiikin ja liikkuvan kuvan tasavertaiseen liittoon. Alkuperäinen esityskopio on tuhoutunut, mutta rekonstruktio pyrkii olemaan sille mahdollisimman uskollinen.
    AA: Screened in 35 mm. See my Spindrift blog remarks of 2013. It keeps getting better. This time I thought about the tension between the computer-generated quality of the movie and the organic feeling it still manages to convey. There is a cosmic and oceanic feeling, of natural forms of eggs, jellyfish and spiders. There is a psychedelic affinity. There is also an undercurrent of feminine sexuality: the oceanic, opening, swelling, pulsating, vibrating, gyrating, and contracting quality, like in intercourse or childbirth. - After the show at Corona Bar Mika Taanila pointed out the friction between the image and the music which is intentional: the music is not accompanying the image but creating a tension, too. There is an epic grandeur in the score. - There is no full black. Mika told me that this was the original visual concept as the film was photographed from a computer monitor and the concern was to sustain the grayscale. - Spindrift is an early assured accomplishment in the international development of computer animation.

Programme notes in italics by Tuula Leinonen 15.10.2014

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Edwardian Entertainment (compilation programme curated by Vanessa Toulmin and Bryony Dixon)

Little Tich
Intrattenimento edoardiano / Edwardian Entertainment
    Grand piano: Stephen Horne, [with Frank Bockius at percussions?], at Teatro Verdi (Le Giornate del Cinema Muto), Pordenone, 9 Oct 2014

Vanessa Toulmin, Bryony Dixon (GCM catalog and website): "100 years ago, more or less, the film business became the cinema industry and the dominant form of mass entertainment before the arrival of television. Yet in the preceding two decades film had a more symbiotic relationship with other entertainment forms, and was in a unique position to record them."

"In Britain during these years film was itself a music hall act, on the bill of variety programmes of theatres as well as being a major attraction at fairgrounds up and down the land. With the propensity of early film-makers to film spectacle and celebrity one might expect considerable evidence of the myriad of Edwardian entertainments to have survived on film. This selection from the BFI National Archive shows traces of some of them. What doesn’t survive (with one small exception) are films of live performances inside music hall theatres – so there is no record of Marie Lloyd singing one of her suggestive songs, or of Dan Leno’s pantomime patter. What we do have however are the extraordinary films of Mitchell & Kenyon, capturing all aspects of street life in the first decade of the 1900s, overshadowing the handful of odd, fragmentary survivors from other pioneers and producing companies that also record, deliberately or incidentally, this vibrant entertainment scene."

"The range of entertainments on offer was a cornucopia of delights, including music hall and variety performers, fairs and circus shows, fairground rides, and seaside entertainment, pleasure gardens and hippodromes, pyrotechnic shows and fireworks, pageants, minstrels, pierrots and harlequinades; beach photographers, barrel jumpers, and comic sketches based on strip cartoons… All of these are captured in the films in this programme. Edwardian Britons also spent much of their leisure time in the streets, with outdoor shows, carnivals, and pageants a regular occurrence. Parades and processions offered a different type of leisure activity, a mixture of a local carnival parade with appearances by specialty and musical hall acts, interspersed with elaborate trade floats and community activities."

"The early 1900s saw the rise of leisure time, resulting in a greater diversity of places and venues solely concerned with purveying entertainment for the masses. Increased recreation time through reduced working hours and the extension of consecutive holidays stimulated an organized leisure industry aimed at the exploitation of this new mass market. A variety of entertainment industries competed for the working-class market, with local “wakes” fairs and agricultural shows, which in mid-Victorian times had primarily centred on trading and economic activities, but in the early 20th century were transformed into high-tech carnivals of fun with the latest modern attractions."

"The music hall and variety theatre, although originally embracing the cinematograph, became increasingly threatened by the growing popularity of the cinema as the first decade of the century progressed. By the start of the First World War, cinema had overtaken the music hall as the most popular mass-entertainment medium; Manchester alone had 78 cinemas. But in that first period of film’s history, cinema existed as part of an astonishing range of amusements, which demonstrates that cultural bricolage is not a solely modern phenomenon. The Edwardian era was a golden age for the development of popular entertainments such as fairgrounds, circuses, and theatres, all of which adapted and incorporated the latest novelties and attractions to capture the attention of an ever-receptive audience. G.J. Goodrick, writing in his book Tableaux Vivants and Living Waxworks (1895), stated: “There always are, always have been, always will be, people who are willing to be ‘entertained’, i.e., amused, by a ‘show’ of some kind. Not only willing are they, but eager for such amusement. And they will travel miles and part from their money with no other object than to view.”"

"The wonder of this film material is that perhaps for the first time it allows us to see both the spectators and the entertainments that they were relishing."

"This programme commemorates the 20th anniversary of the University of Sheffield’s National Fairground Archive along with the 10th anniversary of the release to the general public of the Mitchell & Kenyon Collection, thanks to a three-year partnership (2001-2004) between the NFA and the BFI. The greater part of the collection had its international premiere in a series of four programmes at the Giornate del Cinema Muto between 2001 and 2004. Since then the collection has had wide exposure, and is now available online on the BFI Player. The Mitchell & Kenyon Collection has been described as filmic time travel to a lost world – the world before the shadow of
the First World War fell across British society along with the rest of Europe." – Vanessa Toulmin, Bryony Dixon

All films except the very first one in the programme are from the BFI National Archive, London. None of the prints have intertitles.

The order was changed in the screening from the printed programme to the following. Little Tich was screened last.

GRAND DISPLAY OF BROCK’S FIREWORKS AT THE CRYSTAL PALACE (Festa pirotecnica nel cielo di Londra) (Charles Urban Trading Company – GB 1904) D: ?; 35 mm, 269 ft, 4'29" (16 fps), col. (tinting & hand-colouring); main title: ITA; print source: Museo Nazionale del Cinema, Torino. Brock’s, the fireworks manufacturers, celebrated their 40th anniversary with this
grand display at London’s Crystal Palace. The pyrotechnic display ends with a portrait in fire of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra that Brock’s had developed for the Coronation of 1902, which inaugurated the Edwardian era. – Bryony Dixon
    AA: Splendid hand-colouring in the Edwardian fireworks.

Famous music halls

ENTRÉE DU CINÉMATOGRAPHE (Lumière – FR 1896) D: ?; DP: Charles Moisson; 35 mm, 40 ft, 40" (16 fps). Exterior of the Empire Leicester Square, London’s most famous music hall, showing the poster for the Lumière cinématographe show. – Bryony Dixon
    AA: A beautiful view of life, the urban bustle at Leicester Square. Fine visual quality.

THE CROWD ENTERING ST. GEORGE’S HALL, BRADFORD (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1901) D: ?; 35 mm, 35 ft, 35" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 637. Scenes shot outside the theatre on 23 February 1901 by A.D. Thomas as the crowd waits for the afternoon show of local views and Boer War subjects. This film was screened that evening, four hours later. Vanessa Toulmin
    AA: Lively faces in the crowd - Mitchell & Kenyon caught the individuals, including children. They caught the life of the crowd. It is not a mass, not even "a lonely crowd". Fine visual quality.

THE COLLAPSING BRIDGE (Gibbons Bio-tableaux? – GB 1902) D: ?; 35 mm, 87 ft, 1'27" (16 fps). The only example of a theatrical show taken inside a theatre building, this records a water spectacular at a Hippodrome theatre, featuring Hengler’s diving horses. The show is “The Bandits”, which we know was performed at the London Hippodrome, but Walter Gibbons’ press story about filming at the theatre concerns another production. Of all the films here, this gives us the closest sense of being in the presence of Edwardian theatre at its most extravagant. – Bryony Dixon
    AA: A straight record of the performance, priceless. The scene of horses at waterfalls is astounding. Visual quality: low definition, could this be from a paper print?

Numeri comici / Acts

COMIC COSTUME RACE (Paul’s Animatograph Works – GB 1896) D: ?; 35 mm, 43 ft, 43" (16 fps). This sports day took place every year at Herne Hill, in south London, to raise money for musical hall charities. All the celebrities attended, including the famous comedian Dan Leno, who was later filmed at the event by A.D. Thomas of Mitchell &Kenyon fame, but that film unfortunately doesn’t survive. R.W. Paul’s film shows a race in fancy dress. This film was included in a programme that Paul showed to Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle on 23 November 1896. Bryony Dixon
    AA: Fun record of the race in fancy dress. Shot in exteriors. A duped visual quality.

HERBERT CAMPBELL AS LITTLE BOBBY. (British Mutoscope & Biograph Company – GB 1899) D: ?; 35 mm, 48 ft, 48" (16 fps). Herbert Campbell was the professional partner of Dan Leno, and performed with him in a series of Drury Lane pantomimes from 1888 until Leno’s death in 1904. Here he plays the character of “Little Bobby” in Cinderella. The film is operating on several levels: as a news item, as an advertisement for the pantomime, and as a “facial” comedy. – Bryony Dixon
    AA: A comic scene: Little Bobby is a big gourmand who devours food and downs a huge mug of beer in one gulp. In medium shot.

WILL EVANS THE MUSICAL ECCENTRIC (Warwick Trading Company – GB 1899) D: ?; 35 mm, 67 ft, 1'07" (16 fps). The famous music hall performer, on an open-air stage, does his act, involving tumbling while singing and playing a mandolin. – Bryony Dixon
    AA: A record of an acrobatic performance. Visual quality: duped from a challenging source.

// here the order of the films was changed, and I had difficulty with my notes //

KITTY MAHONE (British Mutoscope & Biograph Company – GB 1900) D: ?; 35 mm, 118 ft, 1'57" (16 fps). Lil Hawthorne, the popular comedienne and singer, performs her signature song “Kitty Mahone”. Lil was American, but spent most of her professional life on the music hall stage in Britain, and is most famous now as the woman who reported the notorious murderer Dr. Crippen to the police. – Bryony Dixon
    AA: If my notes are correct, this was a sonorized version of a straight stage performance record. The song is barely audible. 

ALGIE’S CIRCUS IN CARLISLE (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1901) D: ?; 35 mm, 31 ft + 32 ft [63 ft], 1'03" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 675, 677. Algie’s Circus parade, captured in December 1901 in Carlisle, where it was appearing with a mixed bill of horse acts, a dog and monkey circus, sleight-of-hand “manipulation”, and a cinematograph in a semi-permanent corrugated-iron building owned by Albert Comley, the proprietor of the show. Vanessa Toulmin
    AA: A delightful record of the circus coming to town.

DEONZO BROTHERS (Paul’s Animatograph Works – GB 1901) D: ?; 35 mm, 84 ft, 1'24" (16 fps). The Deonzo Brothers were famous barrel jumpers from Hamilton, Ohio. They performed their novelty act in all the great music halls of the era. The triumphant climax of the act is unfortunately cut short. – Bryony Dixon
    AA: A record of incredible barrel jumping feats, also with eyes tied. Ok visual quality.

LEEDS ATHLETIC AND CYCLING CLUB CARNIVAL AT HEADINGLEY (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1902) D: ?; 35 mm, 90 ft + 42 ft [132 ft], 2'11" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 552, 553. Rare footage of an amazing novelty act, the Mazondas – barrel-jumping champions of the world – who were appearing at the Tivoli Theatre on 12 July 1902. This was filmed earlier in the day as part of the Leeds Athletic Club’s annual carnival held at the local cricket ground. Vanessa Toulmin
    AA: More incredible barrel jumping achievements, now in exteriors. In long shot with a clumsy pan. Visual quality mediocre.

LIZARS EDINBURGH (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1904) D: ?; 35 mm, 91 ft , 1'31" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 692. The identity of this seasoned performer, filmed at Lizars Theatre in Edinburgh on 12 December 1904, is still a mystery. Here he is performing a comedy sketch involving a dispute or miscommunication on the telephone, then still a novel form of communication. – Vanessa Toulmin
    AA: A farcical scene of a guy sporting a turban, frustrated over the call, smashing the telephone on the floor. In medium shot.

Fiere, parchi dei divertimenti, mostre, parate
Fairgrounds, Pleasure Gardens, Exhibitions, Street Parades

MANCHESTER AND SALFORD HARRIERS’ CYCLISTS PROCESSION (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1901) D: ?; 35 mm, 22 ft + 91 ft [113 ft], 1'53" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 428, 429. Part of the Fancy Dress Cyclist procession filmed on 22 June 1901 for A.D. Thomas at the Broughton Rangers football ground. The parade features costumes ranging from cavaliers, American
cowboys, and tramps, to ladies in waiting, and scenes from the American prairie. – Vanessa Toulmin
    AA: Exciting dresses. A straight record of the parade, lively faces. Good visual quality. *

BAILEY’S ROYAL BUXTON PUNCH AND JUDY SHOW IN HALIFAX (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1901) D: ?; 35 mm, 120 ft, 2' (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 608. Professor Bailey’s Punch and Judy show filmed in October 1901 is one of the most interesting films in the collection, showing as it does no spectators but purely a rare glimpse of the performance, with the town of Halifax in the vale below. Vanessa Toulmin
    AA: Fascinating to see the epic industrial vista as the background to the Punch and Judy show outdoors. Ok visual quality.

THE BARBER SAW THE JOKE (British Mutoscope & Biograph Company – GB, c.1901) D: ?; 35 mm, 50 ft, 50" (16 fps). A barber cutting a man’s hair reads an Ally Sloper comic over his client’s shoulder. He is laughing so hard he cuts the customer’s ear with his razor. Barbershops were a stock location or “situation” for comic sketches in pantomime and the music hall. – Bryony Dixon
    AA: A comedy with a dark Van Gogh twist. Laughter can be infectuous. Medium shot. Ok visual quality.

SEDGWICK’S BIOSCOPE SHOWFRONT AT PENDLEBURY WAKES (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1901) D: ?; 35 mm, 108 ft, 1'48" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 772. A beautiful film of the front of a fairground cinematograph show, shot on 18 August 1901, with showmen enacting a comic sketch of a visit to a barbershop, perhaps hinting at the film show inside. We also catch James Kenyon making a rare appearance on the showfront, next to the showman Albert Sedgwick. Vanessa Toulmin
    AA:  The barber connection in the programming. A boisterous view by Mitchell & Kenyon. Good visual quality

TRIP TO SUNNY VALE GARDENS AT HIPPERHOLME (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1901) D: ?; 35 mm, 118 ft + 119 ft + 93 ft [330 ft], 5'30" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 588, 589, 590. Sunny Vale Gardens was one of many burgeoning pleasure gardens that flourished in the North of England at this time. The threepart sequence starts with the showman proprietor Mr. Joseph Bunce opening the gates for the spectators, to be filmed in the manner of a factory-gate film. Made in July 1901, it includes actuality shots, staged incidents for the camera, a wonderful ride on the scenic railway, and footage of the two boating lakes, tea rooms, swing boats, and vistas of the gardens. – Vanessa Toulmin
    AA: A record of the many merry entertainments at Sunny Vale Gardens. Multi-shot. Ok visual quality.

PANORAMA OF CORK EXHIBITION GROUNDS (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1902) D: ?; 35 mm, 84 ft, 1'24" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 703. The opening of the Cork International Exhibition on 20 April 1902 attracted the cream of Anglo-Irish society, with this film part of a larger group consisting of the civic opening. The whole span of the grounds is included in this panoramic shot, which also shows the range of temporary venues built for this international exposition. – Vanessa Toulmin
    AA: A holiday by the lake - with swings, pleasure rails, horses, and donkeys. A lady falls from a donkey. Ok visual quality. // I may have caught the wrong film here //

HULL FAIR (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1902) D: ?; 35 mm, 123 ft + 77 ft [200 ft], 3'20" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 651, 652. Continuous shots of the show row at Hull Fair, one of the largest and oldest travelling fairgrounds in the United Kingdom, still held every October. The shows in view include William’s Cinematograph, Bailey’s Circus, complete with acrobats, Wombwell’s travelling menagerie, and close-ups of Hughes’ boxing academy. Vanessa Toulmin
    AA: Pleasure vessels at sea. Camera looks. Dances. Ok visual quality. // I may have caught the wrong film here //

// the order of the screening was changed, and there were no title cards --- here was a long pan from right to left, covering also rooftops. Ok visual quality. --- Panorama of Cork Exhibition Grounds? //

ARMLEY & WORTLEY CARNIVAL (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1904) D: ?; 35 mm, 119 ft, 1'59" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 577. Shot on 4 June 1904, the delights of the local carnival are filmed, including scenes of the procession, children in fancy dress, and the crowning of the local Carnival Queen on a slightly precarious platform especially erected for the occasion. – Vanessa Toulmin
    AA: Another long pan full of life. Ok visual quality. // I may have caught the wrong film here //

BUXTON WELL DRESSING (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1904) D: ?; 35 mm, 84 ft, 1'24" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 540. Beautiful shots of the front of President Kemp’s cinematograph show, appearing at the local well dressing as part of the fairground attractions, on 30 June 1904. President Kemp can be seen in the large white hat, with a beautiful shot of maypole dancers performing on the front of the show. – Vanessa Toulmin
    AA: A lively parade, a merry celebration. Ok visual quality.

LEYLAND MAY FESTIVAL (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1905) D: ?; 35 mm, 58 ft, 58" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 293. Filmed on 25 May 1905, for fairground showman George Green to show in his cinematograph booth, the recently-formed carnival Morris team can be seen performing their new dances as part of the procession to mark the crowning of the May Queen. – Vanessa Toulmin
    AA: Not this film? A children's ring dance, a band, in long shot. Good visual quality.

GREEN’S RACING BANTAMS AT PRESTON WHIT FAIR (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1906)
D: ?; 35 mm, 54 ft, 54" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 771. Filmed in early June 1906, this shows the thrills of a white-knuckle fairground ride, part of the annual Preston Whit Fair held in the market-place. – Vanessa Toulmin
    AA: The fairground, the carousel, in long shot, in ok visual quality.

CREWE HOSPITAL PROCESSION AND PAGEANT (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1907)
D: ?; 35 mm, 485 ft, 8'04" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 484. This heavily-edited 8-minute sequence presents the highlights of the annual carnival procession held in Crewe on 10 August 1907. All the participants, including the different “minstrel” troupes, were workers at the local London North Western Railway Company, who were raising money for their local hospital. Featuring minstrel troupes, “customs of the world”, and other exotic themes. – Vanessa Toulmin
    AA: A parade in long shot with swordsmen, acrobats on giant walking sticks, minstrels, historical characters, indians, a brass band, incredible dancers, suffragettes. Ok visual quality.

WHITE CITY FRANCO-BRITISH EXHIBITION (British Alpha Films – GB 1908) D: ?; 35 mm, 119 ft, 1'59" (16 fps). This international exposition to celebrate the Entente Cordiale between Britain and France featured many cutting-edge entertainments, such as the legendary Flip-Flap (unfortunately not seen), dodgems, and a scenic railway. There is also a brief shot of a cinematograph show. Bryony Dixon
    AA: People emerging from a train, enjoying the performances at the show and the scenic railway. Ok visual quality.

Al mare / Seaside

E. WILLIAMS AND HIS MERRY MEN (Arthur Cheetham – GB 1899) D: ?; 35 mm, 140 ft, 2'20" (16 fps). The minstrel show was immensely popular in Britain from the mid-19th century. White men in black face perform the traditional three-act show, a combination of music, dance, and comic skits, with the “endmen” keeping up a flow of comic patter. E. H. Williams’ Merrie Men were a fixture on the beach at Rhyl in Wales in the holiday season. – Bryony Dixon
    AA: Slapstick at full blast, eight performers, literally wielding slapsticks, a chase farce with dancing elements. In exteriors. A duped quality from partly visually bad sources.

COMICAL CHRIS (William Henry Youdale – GB 1900) D: ?; 35 mm, 63 ft, 1'03" (16 fps).
A small troupe entertains holiday-makers at Morecambe in Lancashire, with a ventriloquist and a comedian dressed as a jockey on a hobby-horse. – Bryony Dixon
    AA: Thrilling clownery involving horses. Wild and breezy. Bad visual quality, low contrast.

TYNEMOUTH SWIMMING GALA IN THE HAVEN, NORTH SHIELDS (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1901) D: ?; 35 mm, 110 ft, 1'50" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 685. This event demonstrates the crossover that existed between sport and entertainment culture at the time. The competitors swam the first 30 yards in “ordinary costume, tall hat and gloves”, and completed the final 30 yards wearing a coat, vest, and trousers, and carrying an umbrella! Filmed on 31 August 1901, in anticipation of the Coronation celebrations of Edward VII. – Vanessa Toulmin
    AA: A goofy swimming contest in full costume. Mediocre visual quality.

PANORAMIC VIEW OF THE MORECAMBE SEA FRONT (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1901)
D: ?; 35 mm, 116 ft + 74 ft [190 ft], 3'09" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 251, 254.
Shot in early June 1901, as part of the film shows at the Winter Gardens Theatre in Morecambe, Lancashire. Taken from a horse-drawn tram as it traversed the promenade, the film includes shots of the holiday-makers, and is a beautiful snapshot of the seaside as a place of leisure and recreation. – Vanessa Toulmin
    AA: A beautiful, very steady tracking shot from the horse-drawn tram. One of the best films of the show. Ok visual quality. *

PARADE ON WEST END PIER, MORECAMBE (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1901) D: ?; 35 mm, 104 ft + 77 ft [181 ft], 3' (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 247, 253. This film showing people promenading on the now-lost West End pier, for a two-hour film show at the Winter Gardens Theatre presented by A.D.Thomas. Thomas had a prolific season in Morecambe; this was shown alongside the previous film (Panoramic View of the Morecambe Sea Front) in his main touring programme. Vanessa Toulmin
    AA: A charming full shot of the crowd, with a ring dance. Visual quality ok to good.

SCENES BY THE STONE JETTY, MORECAMBE (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1902) D: ?; 35 mm, 124 ft, 2'04" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 754. The varied range of amusements on show in this film include a phrenologist, a wonderful group of mutoscopes, and a strange character selling animal skins. It is one of the most beautifully shot films in the collection. – Vanessa Toulmin
    AA: A multi-event view from the Stone Jetty. The people are aware of the camera and look at it. Full shot. Good visual quality. *

PARADE ON MORECAMBE CENTRAL PIER (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1902) D: ?; 35 mm, 123 ft, 2'03" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 250. Shot in the Summer of 1902, this film shows a more respectable group of holiday-makers on Morecambe’s second and more elite pier. A more regimented approach to filming than the previous year, it includes a scene of the showman holding up a copy for the camera of The Era, the principal trade paper for the theatre and music hall. – Vanessa Toulmin
    AA: A straight record of a parade. The passers-by greet the camera. Visual quality: low contrast, a duped look. // I wonder if these notes belong to this title. //

PANORAMIC VIEW OF SOUTHPORT PROMENADE (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1902) D: ?; 35 mm, 109 ft, 1'49" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 384. Southport, the second of the North West seaside resorts, is captured here with footage of the local variety company’s day out on South Drive and the promenade taken in May that year from the front of a horse-drawn tram. – Vanessssa Toulmin
    AA: A phantom ride from the driver's seat at the horse-drawn tram. Visual quality: a bit stuffy.

BLACKPOOL NORTH PIER (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1903) D: ?; 35 mm, 125 ft, 2'05" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 205. The earliest and most beautiful of all the piers in the North of England was filmed as part of the Easter Sunday parade on the promenade. The North Pier was an exclusive venue, as reflected in the top hats and dress coats on display. The panoramic shot which finishes the sequence includes the skyline of Blackpool at that time, including the Alhambra music hall and the Big Wheel. – Vanessa Toulmin
    AA: A big crowd, well-dressed people, an impressive pan to the coast. Good visual quality.

Pantomime e intemezzi
Pantomime and Entr’acte Films

// changed order: Mr. Moon was the last in the printed programme, moved here: //
MR. MOON (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1900) D: ?; 35 mm, 106 ft, 1'46" (16 fps). This film was commissioned for Honri’s musical show, which consisted of a series of acts interspersed with quick changes covered by film. Mr. Moon is described in the show synopsis in The Era as “Quick Change to ‘The Newest Dandy’, introducing the Great Cinematograph Novelty of the Age, Oh Mister Moon”. The trick film shows Percy Honri’s disembodied head as the man in the moon, with a tiny body which attaches itself to the head as the hands play a banjo. Vanessa Toulmin
    AA: Against a black background, the huge face appears, mugging and grinning.

LETTY LIMELIGHT IN HER LAIR (Miss Bayley) (G.A. Smith – GB 1903) D: G.A. Smith; cast: Laura Bayley; 35 mm, 43 ft, 43" (16 fps). An entr’acte film, in which Smith’s wife, actress Laura Bayley, is making up in a mirror as if between acts in a show. – Bryony Dixon
    AA: A nice quick record. Visual quality: bad, duped, perforation visible.

QUICK CHANGE ACT (Charles Urban Trading Company – GB 1906) D: ?; 35 mm, 117 ft, 1'56" (16 fps). An entr’acte film starring Percy Honri, a virtuoso concertina and musical theatre performer who had a show called Concordia. The film shows him doing a rapid costume change. Sometimes these entr’acte films were shown on a pull-down screen during the show to cover the costume change. – Bryony Dixon
    AA: A goofy little number. Ok visual quality.

// the order was changed and this film, second to last in the printed programme, was screened here //
ROBINSON CRUSOE (G. A. Smith – GB 1902) D: G. A. Smith; cast: Laura Bayley; 35 mm, 225 ft, 3'45" (16 fps). Fragment of a film based on a pantomime with Laura Bayley in the principal role. – Bryony Dixon
    AA: This number has nothing to do with the title. First four maidens, then many more are dancing. It turns into a farce. Visual quality: duped, bad.

MUSIC HALL ACT (? – GB, c.1910) D: ?; 35 mm, 90 ft, 1'30" (16 fps). An unidentified Harlequinade scene with its stock characters: Harlequin and Columbine, Pantaloon, Clown, and Policeman. They enact a scene involving a sausage-making machine, a favourite comic device of the pantomime, and finish with a classic tableau shot. Bryony Dixon
    AA: Slapstick in the literal sense: the origin of slapstick in commedia dell'arte. Even splatter comedy as they turn adversaries into sausage. Ok visual quality.

MOTHER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES (G.A. Smith – GB 1902) D: G. A. Smith; cast: Tom Green; 35 mm, 38 ft, 38" (16 fps). Fragment of a series of films based on the pantomime of the 1901/02 holiday season at the Eden Theatre in Brighton, Mother Goose and the Golden Eggs. – Bryony Dixon
    AA: Visual quality: bad, duped, at times barely visible, partly in high contrast. // I may mix films here, as the order was changed. //

LITTLE TICH ET SES BIG BOOTS (Paul Decauville, S.A. du Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre – FR 1900)Prod: Paul Decauville; DP: Clément Maurice Gratioulet; artistic dir: Marguerite Vrignault; 35 mm, 173 ft, 1'55" (24 fps), sd. Harry Relph performs his most famous routine, the big boots dance. As Little Tich, he was one of the most famous British music hall artistes of all time, and an international celebrity. The source of the footage being shown is the French compilation film Cinéma Parlant 1900 (1952, Jacques de Casembroot). – Bryony Dixon
    AA: Film number eight in the printed programme, Little Tich, the best film of the programme, was understandably switched to the end. It is a delightful record of the routine of the legendary performer. Visual quality: duped, yet conveying the rich quality of the record.

The live musical accompaniment of Stephen Horne was rich and varied, reacting to the changing modes of the 41 films and conveying an impressive period feeling.

A splendid work of curatorship, Edwardian Entertainment should be edited onto a compilation DCP, complete with a Stephen Horne score.

The programme is of high value for studies of performing arts.

I have seen several shows of Mitchell & Kenyon films before, but this kind of intelligent programming elevates the fascinating views to something more, a bigger and more general view of life before the First World War. We can feel a connection with these people who lived over a century ago. We feel a connection with their joy of life.

Edwardian Entertainments belongs to a remarkable continuum in Le Giornate del Cinema Muto together with the unforgettable Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre reconstruction a couple of years ago, and with the Tonbilder compilation seen here this year.

The Bells (1926)

THE BELLS / [Not released in Finland] (Chadwick Pictures Corporation – US 1926) D: James Young; P: I. E. Chadwick; SC: James Young, based on the stage play Le Juif polonais (1869) by Émile Erckmann, Alexandre Chatrian; DP: L. William O’Connell; lighting: Perry Harris; tech. dir: Earl Sibley; C: Lionel Barrymore (Mathias), Caroline Frances Cooke (Catharine), Gustav von Seyffertitz (Jerome Frantz), Lorimer Johnston (Hans), Lola Todd (Annette), Edward Phillips (Christian), Laura Lavarnie (chiromante / fortune-teller), Boris Karloff (mesmerist), E. Alyn Warren (Jethro Koweski; Baruch Koweski), George Austin, John George, Otto Lederer; orig. l: 6300 ft; 35 mm, 5679 ft, 63' (24 fps); titles: ENG; print source: The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Compliments of the John E. Allen Archive.
    With e-subtitles in Italian, grand piano: Philip C. Carli, at Teatro Verdi (Le Giornate del Cinema Muto), Pordenone, 9 Oct 2014

Philip C. Carli (GCM catalog and website): "Plot: Mathias, an innkeeper in an Alsatian village, seeking to ingratiate himself with locals who may elect him as burgomaster, falls in debt to Jerome Frantz, who hopes to seize the inn when Mathias defaults on his debts. Frantz also has his eye on Mathias’ daughter Annette, and offers Mathias the option of cancelling the debt in exchange for permission to marry her. Mathias angrily refuses, and is already in a precarious state when the village holds its annual fair. There he witnesses a mesmerist, who, as a part of a conjuring act, hypnotizes bystanders while claiming that he has the power to force people to disclose their innermost secrets. A fairground fortune-teller, beginning to read his palm, recoils in horror at what she foresees. With the December snows, the inn is visited by Baruch Koweski, an itinerant Polish Jewish merchant. Mathias realizes that Koweski has a money belt full of gold coins. When Koweski leaves in his sleigh – sleigh bells jingling – Mathias follows him, murders him, and burns his body in a lime-kiln. Mathias, now rich and explaining his wealth as an inheritance, becomes burgomaster, and appears to secure his position by betrothing Annette to Christian, the local gendarme. Later, the mesmerist arrives at the inn in company with Jethro Koweski, who announces himself as Koweski’s brother and seeks to apprehend his killer. Mathias, taking Annette’s dowry from the hoard of gold coins, is visited by an apparition of Koweski and imagines that he hears the bells on Koweski’s sleigh. The wedding of Annette and Christian is celebrated. Exhausted from the festivities and nursing his guilt, Mathias falls into a deep dream in which he is on trial for murder, with Frantz as the prosecuting judge. When Mathias denies guilt, Frantz summons the mesmerist, who compels Mathias to re-enact his crime. Sentenced to death in his dream, Mathias seeks forgiveness but suffers a fatal heart attack."

"American director James Young, freeing himself from the constrictions and closed-in darkness of a stage drama that held the international stage from the 1870s into the beginning of the 20th century, has devised a narrative that, unlike the original, actually dramatizes the backstories of the characters who peopled the earlier play and, in the traditional manner of those who bring a stage piece to the screen, “opened out” the setting and action to include a village, a fair, and an on-screen murder."

"Lionel Barrymore, in the central role of Mathias, follows British stage legend Henry Irving (1838-1905) in a part that grew out of the Victorians’ increasing investigation into neuroscience and a consequent public awareness of the human unconscious. Gradually, it was admitted that individuals possessed a secret inner life often at odds, but controlling and interfering, with their outer selves. A side effect of the reports of Anton Mesmer’s hypnotic cures and Jean-Martin Charcot’s psychiatric treatment of hospital patients was from the 1870s observable in the theatres of Europe and America. Dramatic authors, whose stage melodramas had formerly clearly differentiated between heroes and villains, were encouraged by accounts of mental slippages and fractures in identity to fuse the two antithetical roles into a single character: the hero-villain, a character whose inner self erupts and threatens personal stability and whose consuming guilt for hidden crimes cannot be appeased or adequately expiated."

"Barrymore’s interpretation is in the tradition of Irving as a hero-villain – outwardly charming, attractive, powerful, and effective. However, inwardly – and revealed only to appalled audiences – he was a transgressor of moral and social boundaries, secretly devoured and debilitated by festering guilt, in short, a criminal and sociopath. An external cue, a real or imagined jingle of sleigh bells, for instance, triggers a response from the unconscious, overpowering rational behaviour and inducing hallucinations and hideous dreams."

"Six years earlier, in the character of Milt Shanks in the film version of Augustus Thomas’ The Copperhead (1920), reprising a role he had performed to acclaim on Broadway, Barrymore showed both the inner torture and mental fortitude of the silent sufferer, who in this case is erroneously labeled a traitor. This film, now rarely seen, matches the depth of the stage drama and shows Lionel Barrymore at his intellectual and emotional best. Again, in The Bells, Barrymore takes up a similar role, here requiring deviousness, cunning, a calculating intellect, stress-displacing stage business, and occasional jocular just-one-of-the-boys glad-handing. He performs desperation and guilt and unmastered fear in response to terrifying hallucinations. Notably, his scene counting the Jew’s money, an act which drenches his hands in imagined blood, reveals the mind of a murderer who has borne and disguised months of silent corrosive inner torment."

"James Young takes the narrative’s beginning to a village, not snowbound, but in full leaf, and introduces and makes specific the causes of Mathias’ financial peril: an inn where free drink is given to buy votes and a mill where milled flour serves the same purpose. Whereas the Leopold Lewis-Henry Irving stage text offers a Mathias who is secure and universally beloved, Young adds the character of Frantz, a constant local antagonist uncomfortably present at all events, who will feature as prosecutor in the final dream episode but who, earlier, seeks both possession of the inn and Mathias’ daughter Annette. The village fair sequence is added to make what was formerly just the memory of a fairground charlatan into a menacing presence, dangerous because, much like the gratuitous fortune-teller, he has already read Mathias’ potential murderous criminality."

"In partial compensation for this narrative cul-de-sac, Boris Karloff as the mesmerist reveals more menace and danger in his slow rictus smile than Gustav von Seyffertitz as Frantz offers in his numerous scowls, grimaces, and thin-lipped contempt. Young also makes visible the actual visit of Baruch Koweski, the heavy money belt, and the murder itself. All play to cinema’s ability to widen focus and escape the confining stage set."

"Unfortunately, Young misses a trick when Mathias is installed as burgomaster. Hitherto, in the immediate aftermath of the murder, Mathias has instinctively shied away from a looped rope dangling from a beam in his stable. Now, as the mayoral chain of office is placed about his neck, it is merely the reward for years of effective bribery. Young fails to see that the chain of office also foreshadows the hangman’s noose, and allows the moment to pass unremarked. Further, on the evidence of many snowy American winters, sleigh bells were actually a part of a horse’s harness, never held by the sleigh’s driver and never jingled separately, the equivalent of an auto horn to warn of a sleigh’s approach. Here, Young turns harness bells into a hand-prop that he displays in the superimposed visions which harass Mathias. A film audience in 1926 would have known better."

"In all, the film is a mixed blessing. Young has traded the compression, overpowering darkness, and black emotional palette of the stage Bells for the spectacle of jolly rural life with ingénues on hay wagons, a mounted posse of Alsatian cops, Christmas festivities, and a sinister village fair, but has also achieved a tale of excessive ambition, crime, and debilitating guilt, repentance, and unpurged sorrow."

"The stage play of The Bells (1871), in which Henry Irving first realized the role of Mathias in an English-language production, was altogether a different drama. In an era when four-act melodramas were the norm, The Bells required no more than two tense acts. Its plot was similar – but not identical – to the film’s. All that had happened in that Alsatian inn before Mathias began hallucinating the sound of sleigh-bells was explained in exposition, and the stage drama focused upon the last 48 hours of Mathias’ life. In consequence, the play was dark, austere, oppressive, compact, and effectively a one-man show."

"Other actors were on stage, but the play was Irving’s, and with this drama Irving rose to national prominence. It was the brevity of this claustrophobic drama and the weight of the past on the immediate present, as well as Mathias’ welling guilt and his frantic efforts to conceal his criminal past and suppress his rising fear, that give the play its undeniable power."

"The stage history of the text is somewhat complicated. Originally a drama, Le Juif polonais, by the collaborators Émile Erckmann and Alexandre Chatrian and performed at the Théâtre Cluny in Paris in 1869, the play was pirated by a shorthand writer in the audience who copied every word. Three separate translations quickly found their way to London. One of these English translations reached the hands of the alcoholic journalist Leopold Lewis, who brought the script to Irving at London’s Lyceum Theatre, where Lewis and Irving set about adapting it for a British audience and to exploit Irving’s developing acting skills."

"Irving, on his final American tour, performed in The Bells in New York in 1899-1900. Lionel, 21 years old at the time, is likely to have seen Irving in repertory in at least one of his favoured roles: Mathias, Robespierre, and Shylock. So, too, must some or all of the Barrymores caught Irving’s performances. It is interesting to speculate whether Lionel was influenced at all by seeing Irving as Mathias. A further Barrymore link is that Ethel, briefly in England, toured with Irving in 1897, playing Annette in The Bells. Well before his death in 1905, Irving had sold the play publisher Samuel French a deliberately altered version of his script, changing dialogue and reversing stage directions so that other actors could not copy his productions. His own version was later toured by his son, H. B. Irving, in a “replica production”, and still later passed, by personal gift, into the possession of other English actors. This measure ensured that Irving’s version became a legend."

"The Bells was filmed on at least four occasions before this version: in Australia (1911), with Arthur Styan as Mathias, followed by two American screen versions, with George Siegmann (1913) and Frank Keenan (1918), and in Britain (1923) with Russell Thorndike. Further versions followed on sound film and on television, including an early British talkie with Donald Calthrop, a 1931 French film of the original source, Le Juif polonais, starring Harry Baur, and a 1950s BBC television production with Bransby Williams, an actor whose music hall turn had included impersonations of Henry Irving. David Mayer"

"Isaac E. Chadwick (1884-1952) founded Chadwick Pictures Corporation in 1924 with the idea of rising above the majority of independent Hollywood studios and becoming at least a “minor major” turning out high-quality features on modest but not picayune budgets. Notable stars who made films at Chadwick – who were perhaps “between engagements” at the majors, but did good work for the company – included Pauline Frederick, Theda Bara (her last film), Betty Blythe, Betty Compson, George Walsh (after his Ben-Hur debacle), and Lionel Barrymore. Chadwick took trouble to make its films look good, renting out space at Universal and using their standing sets, and employed directors who, if not upper-tier, were good craftsmen, like James Young, Robert F. Hill, Wilfred Noy, B. Reeves Eason, and William James Craft. At first Chadwick was successful and its films were well-received and reviewed, but there was a fatal flaw: I.E. Chadwick’s main business partner was Larry Semon, fresh from being fired at Vitagraph for riotous overexpenditure. Semon’s features – including his infamous 1925 The Wizard of Oz, for which the L. Frank Baum estate was paid an enormous sum for rights – drained Chadwick’s limited capital and did poorly at the box-office. Semon’s return to shorts wasn’t enough to save the company, which ceased production in 1928." Philip C. Carli

AA: A tragedy of murder and an avenging conscience, with touches of horror.

An effective and compact drama has been stylized into the direction of a fairy-tale and a horror story. The characters are drawn strongly, without too much subtle nuance, but the ensemble playing is effective.

This film is relevant from the Jewish angle. It is an inspired idea to have the same actor play the murdered Jewish merchant Jethro and his brother Baruch, both noted by their greeting "peace be with you".

The imagery. After Mathias has strangled Jethro he keeps seeing hallucinations of a noose and hearing hallucinations of the bells of Jethro's horse carriage. The love story of Mathias's daughter with a dashing officer is brought to a happy end, but the wedding bells blend in Mathias's mind with the murdered Jethro's horse carriage bells, and he descends into a final madness and suicide.

Lionel Barrymore and Gustav von Seyffertitz ham it up as the antagonists Mathias and Jerome. It seems to irk Jerome endlessly that Mathias manages to pay his debt.

The most unforgettable performance is undoubtledly that of Boris Karloff as the mesmerist. He is already at his best here, completely modern. He is the scariest figure in the tale, not because he is evil but because he sees through the lies of everybody.

A good print.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Die Nibelungen. 2. Teil: Kriemhilds Rache (FWMS restoration in colour 2010)

DIE NIBELUNGEN. 2. TEIL: KRIEMHILDS RACHE (La vendetta di Crimilde / Kriemhild’s Revenge) (Decla-Bioscop AG - DE 1924) D: Fritz Lang; P: Erich Pommer; SC: Thea von Harbou; ED: Paul Falkenberg; DP: Carl Hoffmann, Günther Rittau; AD: Otto Hunte, Erich Kettelhut, Karl Vollbrecht; M: Gottfried Huppertz (1924); C: Frida Richard (serva runica / the maiden of runes), Margarethe Schön (Kriemhild), Rudolf Klein-Rogge (King Etzel), Theodor Loos (King Gunther), Hans Carl Müller (Gerenot), Erwin Biswanger (Giselher), Hans Adalbert Schlettow (Hagen Tronje), Rudolf Rittner (margravio / Margrave Rüdiger von Bechlarn), Aenne Röttgen (his daughter Dietlind), Bernhard Goetzke (Volker von Alzey), Fritz Alberti (Dietrich von Bern), Gertrud Arnold (Queen Ute), Georg John (Blaodel, King Etzel’s brother), Hubert Heinrich (giullare / minstrel Werbel), Georg August Koch (Hildebrand), Grete Berger (donna unna / Hun), Paul Richter (Siegfried), Hardy von François (Dankwart), Georg Jurowski (sacerdote / Priest), Iris Roberts (armigero / squire), Hanna Ralph (Brunhild); filmed: 1922-11.1923 (Ufa-Freigelände Neubabelsberg); première: 26.4.1924, Ufa-Palast am Zoo (Berlin); 35 mm, 3255 m, 128' (22 fps); titles: GER; print source: Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Stiftung, Wiesbaden. Restoration: 2010. [142'? Maybe I did not clock this right.]
    With e-subtitles in English and Italian, live music by: Maud Nelissen (piano) with Frank Bockius (percussions), Romano Todesco (contrabbasso, fisarmonica), Elizabeth-Jane Baldry (harp), at Teatro Verdi (Le Giornate del Cinema Muto), Pordenone, 8 Oct 2014

AA: The long night in Pordenone included a 45 minute break for a Die Nibelungen dinner. It was not a medieval theme dinner, just a regular buffet at Hotel Moderno in reliable good Italian fashion.

Yesterday we saw Sir Arne's Treasure, in my opinion an influence on Die Nibelungen. Mauritz Stiller's mise-en-scène of the final funeral procession has directly influenced Fritz Lang and Sergei Eisenstein. There is also the treasure theme in both Sir Arne's Treasure and Die Nibelungen (der Nibelungenhort = the Nibelungen Treasure). Most importantly, there is the approach to history as a living myth. In both Sir Arne's Treasure and Die Nibelungen there is psychological complexity and credibility in the characters. At the same time, Sir Arne's Treasure is "a winter ballad", and die Nibelungen is a German foundation myth.

The stunning surprise of Kriemhild's Revenge is that Kriemhild's hate is stronger than the rampaging fury of the Huns. Kriemhild marries Attila the King of the Huns only to wreak revenge on the Nibelungen. Attila is a strong and ruthless ruler, but Kriemhild's hate is even stronger. The men in general are often at loss with the formidable women of Die Nibelungen, and Attila is no exception. "Keinem andern Manne gehörte sie je" - "She never belonged to another man", states Attila after Kriemhild's death (another stab in the back, another Dolchstosslegende), although Kriemhild has given birth to his baby.

Die Nibelungen was filmed and edited to the score of Gottfried Huppertz, which I always expect to hear ever since I heard it for the first time.

Maud Nelissen's quartet did a great job in the two parts of the movie, each of them divided into seven cantos. Yes, even the chapters of Die Nibelungen and Metropolis have musical titles. The music was inspired, versatile, and experimental, and built to a tremendous crescendo in the catastrophic destruction of the finale.

I saw Die Nibelungen for the first time in colour, and I liked the beautiful sepia toning simulation.

Die Nibelungen. 1. Teil: Siegfried (FWMS restoration in colour 2010)

DIE NIBELUNGEN. 1. TEIL: SIEGFRIED (La canzone dei Nibelunghi: Sigfrido / Siegfried) (Decla-Bioscop AG - DE 1924) D: Fritz Lang; P: Erich Pommer; SC: Thea von Harbou; ED: Paul Falkenberg; DP: Carl Hoffmann, Günther Rittau; AD: Otto Hunte, Erich Kettelhut, Karl Vollbrecht; AN: Walther Ruttmann; M: Gottfried Huppertz (1924); C: Paul Richter (Siegfried), Margarethe Schön (Kriemhild), Hanna Ralph (Brunhild), Theodor Loos (King Gunther), Hans Adalbert Schlettow (Hagen Tronje), Bernhard Goetzke (Volker von Alzey), Erwin Biswanger (Giselher), Georg John (il fabbro/blacksmith Mime; Nibelung Alberich), Gertrud Arnold (Queen Ute), Hans Carl Müller (Gerenot), Hardy von François (Dankwart), Frida Richard (serva runica/the maiden of runes), Georg Jurowski (sacerdote/Priest), Iris Roberts (armigero/squire), Rudolf Rittner (margravio / Margrave Rüdiger von Bechlarn); filmed: 1922-11.1923 (Ufa-Freigelände Neubabelsberg); première: 14.2.1924, Ufa-Palast am Zoo (Berlin); 35 mm, 3388 m, 147' (20 fps); titles: GER; print source: Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Stiftung, Wiesbaden. Restoration: 2010.
    With e-subtitles in English and Italian, live music by: Maud Nelissen (piano) with Frank Bockius (percussions), Romano Todesco (contrabbasso, fisarmonica), Elizabeth-Jane Baldry (harp), at Teatro Verdi (Le Giornate del Cinema Muto), Pordenone, 8 Oct 2014

Nicholas Baer (GCM catalog and website): "In an article published shortly before the premiere of Siegfried, Part One of Die Nibelungen (1924), Fritz Lang celebrated the medium of film for its independence from categories of space and time. For Lang, this flexibility allowed film not only to overcome national boundaries and linguistic barriers, but also to transcend its immediate historical context. Much as the German philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey had invoked “the substratum of a general human nature” as a common ground for historical understanding, Lang contended that certain emotions and themes – “love and hate, loyalty and betrayal, friendship and revenge” – remain constant over time, changing in manifest form rather than in principle. Directing Die Nibelungen, according to Lang, thus involved the reanimation of people from a bygone era through adherence to inviolable stylistic laws. By evincing eternally valid dramatic elements, his work would revive the 13th-century epic poem through film, “the liveliest art form of our time”."

"Lang’s artistic pretense to timelessness had its own historical determinants, of course, and his emphasis on mankind’s fundamental constancy came into tension with his critical diagnosis of the present age. In a likely allusion to the world war, sociopolitical upheavals, and hyperinflation of recent years, Lang asked: “Who, in the chaos of our time, has the leisure and calmness (Nervenruhe) to read the Nibelungenlied?” Attributing a pedagogical function to cinema, Lang
identified the objective of his work as that of presenting a “new form of the old epic” to working masses. As Lang wrote in the program distributed at Siegfried’s premiere, his adaptation of the
medieval saga was intended to reinvigorate “the world of myth” for the 20th century, rendering it “vivid and, at the same time, believable.” Through the technical possibilities of film, Lang would
enable modern audiences to see – to “visually experience” (sehend miterleben) – the legendary actions of an epic from which they had ostensibly become alienated."

"While Lang hailed the pure internationalism of filmic language, his work emerged from a more dialectical interaction of global and national forces, issuing a challenge to the hegemony of Hollywood cinema through a distinctly German cultural source. Indeed, the Nibelungenlied had served as a central point of identification in the formation of a German national identity beginning in the early 19th century, and Lang’s film continued this tradition through both textual and extra-filmic strategies. Dedicated “to the German people as their own” (like Franz Keim’s 1909 retelling of the epic and, as of 1916, the Reichstag building), Lang’s work – two years in the making and the costliest European film to date – garnered national political attention upon its two-part release in 1924. At a gala following the premiere of Siegfried at Berlin’s Ufa-Palast am Zoo on 14 February, Foreign Minister Gustav Stresemann underscored the “quintessentially German” (so grunddeutschen) subject matter of Lang’s monumental work."

"In its avowed devotion to a national community, Lang’s film followed the aesthetic ideal of Richard Wagner, who had imagined “the artwork of the future” as one that would fulfill the “common and collective need” (gemeinschaftliche Noth) of a unified Volk. Similar to Wagner, who composed his four-opera Ring cycle between 1848 and 1874, Lang and screenwriter Thea von Harbou reworked the Nibelungen saga in the disillusioning aftermath of a failed revolution, seeking to provide an integrating myth for a fragmented modern society. Wagner’s heirs in fact denied Ufa the rights to the composer’s music, and the studio hence commissioned Gottfried Huppertz to write an original score, performed by a 60-piece orchestra at the film’s premiere. While Lang praised Huppertz for “transferring the Nibelungen idea into its own world, entirely remote from Wagner”, this means of distancing was futile in obscuring the influence exerted by Wagner’s musical techniques and aesthetic project on Lang’s “total work of art”."

"Due to its status as “the spiritual sanctuary of a nation”, according to Lang, Die Nibelungen demanded a visual style distinct from that of prevailing historical spectacles. Working with set designers Otto Hunte, Erich Kettelhut, and Karl Vollbrecht, as well as cinematographers Carl Hoffmann and Günther Rittau, the director conceived “four fully self¬-contained, almost mutually adverse worlds” at Ufa’s Neu-Babelsberg studios: the realm of young Siegfried, with its mythical forest, dusky meadows, and subterranean treasures; the Burgundian court in Worms, noted for its noble simplicity and stark spaces; Brunhild’s Iceland, typified by glassy countenances and harsh natural elements; and, finally, Etzel’s unmerciful empire in the Asian steppes. In tracing characters’ intersecting paths through these four worlds, Lang sought to lend their journeys a sense of fateful inexorability. The film’s mise-en-scène is thus extremely controlled and purposeful, reflecting a “will
to style” allegedly lacking from Hollywood pageantry. However discriminating in his set design, Lang drew generously from a broad repertoire of visual sources. The director studied architecture
and painting before commencing his film career in Weimar Germany, and – like the Ringstraße in his native Vienna – Die Nibelungen reveals a remarkable pluralism of architectural styles, from massive Gothic to art nouveau. The film’s compositions quote from a vast range of aesthetic traditions, extending from Greek statues, Byzantine mosaics, and medieval sculptures to the works of the Romantics (Caspar David Friedrich, Ludwig Richter, Moritz von Schwind), Symbolists (Arnold Böcklin, Fidus, Max Klinger), and Jugendstil artists (Carl Otto Czeschka, Franz Stuck, Heinrich Vogeler). This heterogeneity is also evident in the primitivist, medieval, and modernist elements of the film’s costumes (contributed by Paul Gerd Guderian, Heinrich Umlauff, and Änne Willkomm), which correspond in their designs with the film’s patterned textiles and ornamental décor."

"Running counter to the historical sweep of Lang’s film is an Expressionist drive towards total abstraction. As Wilhelm Worringer argued in Abstraktion und Einfühlung (1907), abstract art locates beauty not in a contingent natural world, but rather in “the lifedenying inorganic, in the crystalline or, in general terms, in all abstract lawfulness and necessity”. Such an abstract aesthetic manifests itself in Die Nibelungen through a wholly constructed, hermetically framed environment; fully coordinated designs and compositions; ossified figures and a slowness of action; and, finally, a symmetrical dramaturgy, geometrical order, and strict color scheme. In a sequence animated by Walther Ruttmann, the film’s “urge to abstraction” leads to a near rejection  of material reference altogether; Kriemhild’s “dream of a falcon” is envisioned through what Rudolf Kurtz, in Expressionismus und Film (1926), described as “very simple, pure forms” with “only a weak formal similarity” to the organic life-world."

"The film’s deliberate symmetry extends to its highly self-conscious narrative form. Lang’s work adopts the bipartite structure of the Nibelungenlied, its two parts likewise tracing Kriemhild’s marriage to Siegfried and her revenge of the hero’s death. Each half of the film is itself divided into seven “cantos” (Gesänge), which – like the âventiuren of the epic poem – are labelled according to the protagonists’ fortunes or deeds. The intertitles, written in an archaic script, also mimic the style of Middle High German poetry, and the film’s original subtitle, “A German Heroic Song” (Ein deutsches Heldenlied), evokes a bardic tradition represented in the story by Volker von Alzey of the
Burgundian court. Harbou’s screenplay, published in prose form as Das Nibelungenbuch (1923), drew from a plethora of sources and followed an extensive history of dramatizations – most famously, Friedrich Hebbel’s 1861 trilogy, which, alongside Wagner’s Ring cycle, was revived on German stages in 1924."

"Lang’s film was indeed one among many appropriations of the Nibelungen during the interwar years, the most notorious of which came from National Socialist ideologues. Writing for the Völkischer Beobachter in 1923, Adolf Hitler referenced the saga in conjunction with the “stab-in-the-back legend” (Dolchstoßlegende), which attributed the Armistice and German Revolution of November 1918 to current leaders of the Weimar Republic: “With the November Criminals behind us, every new outward struggle would immediately thrust the spear into the back of the German Siegfried once again.” A decade later, Joseph Goebbels noted the political resonances of Lang’s Die Nibelungen in particular, praising the film for being “so modern, so close to the times, so topical that it left even the militants of the National Socialist movement shaken inside”. An abridged version of Part One, retitled Siegfrieds Tod, was released on 29 May 1933, now accompanied by a recorded soundtrack incorporating excerpts from Wagner’s operas."

"Whereas critics including Béla Balázs and Herbert Ihering questioned some of Lang’s stylistic choices upon Die Nibelungen’s initial release, Siegfried Kracauer would later castigate the film in its entirety, describing its aesthetic patterns as precursors to Leni Riefenstahl’s ornamental masses. Lang’s work certainly betrays elements of the völkisch, blood-and-soil, and anti-Semitic ideologies propagated by the Nazi Party, but it also resists Kracauer’s analysis in many regards. However rigid or static the film’s dramaturgy may appear, it also reveals a remarkable dynamism of characterization, most explicitly in Kriemhild’s transformation from a pale, sympathetic naïf into a dark-clad, calculating anti-heroine. Furthermore, while the film seems to flee from the contingent plane of history into a realm of fateful myth, its narrative arguably tracks the destruction of metaphysical forces, and its eclectic array of aesthetic and historiographical models indicates the disintegration of a unified, cohesive worldview."

"From a contemporary vantage point, the very historical overdetermination of Die Nibelungen undermines Lang’s utopian claim to the filmic medium’s spatial and temporal autonomy. Nevertheless, if his work may be seen as anticipating Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will (1935) or Olympia (1938), it might just as well be placed in an aesthetic trajectory that includes Sergei Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky (1938) and Ivan the Terrible (1944, 1958) or Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003) and The Hobbit (2012-2014). The legacy of Lang’s film indeed remains open, and the work – with its manifold ambivalences and contradictions – is rich and ambiguous, able to stimulate a variety of distinct interpretations. A pioneering and influential effort to envision the world of myth through a modern medium, Die Nibelungen offers not only a multifaceted film-historical document, but also a complex view of history (Geschichtsbild) – one well worth rediscovering in the “chaos” of our own time." Nicholas Baer

AA: I saw for the first time this newest restoration of Die Nibelungen, by Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung from 2010, in colour. My first encounter with the classic epic was in the 1970s in a 16 mm print distributed by Goethe-Institute. The second encounter was in the 1980s in 35 mm in West Berlin. I'll never forget the frisson felt already at the dedication: "dem deutschen Volke zu eigen" - "dedicated to the German people", a frisson repeated towards the final conflagration, in Kriemhild's remark to Attila: "you don't know the German soul yet". Today I was also thinking about the film Der Untergang. The third Die Nibelungen revelation for me was experiencing the original Gottfried Huppertz score - the music was composed first, and the film made afterwards, as was the procedure in Metropolis. We produced the film concert in the early 1990s at the Finlandia Hall with a symphony orchestra conducted by Berndt Heller.

This all-night screening was the fourth Die Nibelungen revelation for me - thanks to the good quality of the image, and thanks to the good taste in the decisions about the colour.

Fritz Lang and his team are in full command of their art in this film. The structure is assured, there is always a strong sense of the general arch of the story. At the same time, there is a fine touch in the meaningful detail (the linden leaf, the magic helmet, the snake bracelet, the sewn cross). And a sense of the irrational power of jealousy that drives Kriemhild to expose Siegfried's secret to Brunhilde which sets forth the entire destructive chain of events that leads to the demise of the Nibelungen.

More remarks in the entry on Kriemhilds Rache.

Tonbilder from the Neumayer Collection

Tonbilder mit Oskar Messter. Photo: Bundesarchiv N1275 Bild-184. Just an illustration, not shown in the programme.
I Tonbilder della collezione Neumayer
Tonbilder from the Neumayer Collection

    English subtitles on the DCP, e-subtitles in Italian, at Teatro Verdi (Le Giornate del Cinema Muto), Pordenone, 8 Oct 2014

GCM catalogue and website: Anke Mebold: "In the early 20th century, Berlin’s Metropol Theater was one of the hot spots of popular music theatre in Germany. It specialized in revue, and its annual Jahresrevue was considered a highlight of the season, with tickets selling at exorbitant prices. The song and dance numbers were composed by Victor Hollaender, the Metropol’s music director, while the witty and frequently saucy libretti and lyrics were written by Julius Freund. Revue in imperial Germany provided entertainment paired with satirical commentary on the daily life, society, and political events of the period."

"Revue numbers were short and self-contained, making them perfect material for the young recording industry. Many numbers were “canned” for exploitation to a growing consumer market eager for recordings issued on shellac gramophone discs."

"The nascent German film industry naturally eyed a share of this market, and film production companies joined into collaboration with disc manufacturers and record labels. Numbers from highly popular shows, for example the Metropol’s Jahresrevue of 1906, Der Teufel lacht dazu! [It Makes the Devil Laugh!], and Das muss man seh’n! [You’ve Got to See This!] from 1907, as well as opera, operetta, and spoken comedy performances, were re-enacted on a film studio stage in front of a backdrop. The camera recorded a performance acted in playback to a pre-existing disc recording, to produce moving images made for projection with synchronous sound."

"These early audiovisual works were marketed in Germany as Tonbilder – literally, “sound pictures”. After a slow start around 1903, spearheaded by Oskar Messter, Tonbilder sound films became “the rage” for a very brief period; between 1907 and 1909 they practically dominated German film production. Tonbilder enabled audiences in urban centres, as well as rural areas (thanks to Wanderkinos, travelling cinemas), to enjoy the latest smart delights of the musical stage at affordable prices. The majority of these early sound films were produced by two companies, Deutsche Bioscop and Deutsche Mutoskop und Biograph, with smaller output by Messter, Duskes, Vitascope, and Internationale Kinematograph- und Lichtbild-Gesellschaft. The discs expressly made for cinema performance were called Filmbegleitplatten (film accompaniment records), and are easily recognizable by the film companies’ credentials on their labels. The sound recordings themselves were usually not produced exclusively for the cinema market, but were issued (and re-issued) commercially under different labels."

"Cinemas specializing in Tonbild presentations were known as Tonbildkinos, which required special equipment for these synchronous sound screenings. Several different sound systems were used: Biophone by Messter, Cinephone by Duskes, Synchroscope by Deutsche Bioscop, Vitaphon by Deutsche Vitascope, and Ton-Biograph by Deutsche Mutoskop und Biograph. Depending on the system employed, the projector and gramophone were either linked mechanically, or had to be synchronized by the projectionist, usually with the aid of an indicator system monitoring the speed alignment of the gramophone and the projector. To achieve precise synchronization of sound and image, the projector speed was adjusted; in most cinemas of the time this required cranking either
slower or faster."

"Opera and operetta, stage genres of longer standing and higher reputation in Germany, reigned supreme in the Tonbilder repertoire, and represent the highest percentage of such material that survives in archives today. Opera predominates in the extraordinary Tonbild collection at the Deutsches Filminstitut–DIF. Our programme begins with the duet Wenn ich im Kampf für dich siege from Wagner’s Lohengrin, and continues with arias from Verdi’s Rigoletto and Il Trovatore, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, and Gounod’s Faust, as well as lesser-known operas like Otto Nicolai’s Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor (The Merry Wives of Windsor) and Friedrich von Flotow’s Martha."

"The on-screen actors of Deutsche Bioscop’s stock company for Tonbild opera still await identification. But it is evident that Martha and Lucia, as well as Leonore (Il Trovatore), are played by the same actress; and that the male leads in these films, as well as other cast members, are also the same. Further research is needed to establish whether the on-screen actors are identical to the vocal performers. The suspicion seems justified that more affordable talent was often hired for the image shoot. Lead singers usually received credit only on commercially issued shellac discs, not on the Filmbegleitplatten. This definitely complicates our efforts to trace the image and sound performers."

"The preoccupation of pre-war imperial German society with patriotism and militarism is also evident in the Tonbild repertoire, in selections like the Soldatenchor (Déposons les armes) from Gounod’s Faust, or Weiß nicht die Welt (Chacun le sait) from Donizetti’s La Fille du régiment. The strong German tradition of military marches is represented by the rousing Flottenmarsch by Ottomar Schwiecker, performed by the Kapelle des 2. Garde-Regiment zu Fuß (Band of the 2nd Foot Guards) under the direction of Max Graf."
 

"We round off our programme with selections from operetta and revue. Quite a few operetta numbers from the DIF’s collection still await digitization and successful track-matching, but we are able to present the Grisettenlied (Grisettes Song) from Franz Lehár’s Die lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow). We conclude with four Metropol revue numbers, two of which have their original matching track. The other two have been partnered with “illicit” tracks: Unterm Paraplui [Under the Umbrella], an elusive song in need of further research, and Der Bummel-Compagnon [The Season’s Companion], a number from the 1907 revue Das muss man seh’n!, are both examples of decidedly daring track-matching and synchronization work on our part. Without the matching shellac discs, we chose to simulate an impression of the original cinema performance, using recordings of the same musical number, albeit with obvious discrepancies between sound and onscreen action. Abends nach Neune and Roland und Viktoria close the programme, each smoothly matched with their original recordings, digitized from commercial Zonophone records in the absence of the original Deutsche Bioscop Filmbegleitplatten."

"Of the Tonbild films conserved in the collection of the DIF – our current count is 40 in total – 34 are from the Neumayer Collection, which was sold to the DIF in 1970 by a Mrs. Neumayer from Icking, near Munich. Virtually no contextual information about this collection exists. The vintage nitrate positive prints are predominantly Deutsche Bioscop productions, without main titles. Fortunately most of them survive with handwritten leader information, usually indicating the title of the film or the piece of music, although sometimes cryptically abbreviated. Also frequently found on the leaders is a printed-in punch mark, indicating what may be the film’s catalogue number, as well as a synch-marked frame, which presumably served to facilitate synchronization of the start of the film and the shellac disc. The films’ average length ranges between 50 to 70 metres, which makes for a running time of 3 to 4 minutes at a projection speed of 16 fps. The timings naturally correspond between shellac disc and moving image, provided the sound track is an exact match. The synch-marked frame, usually displaying a number followed by a fraction, has been helpful in identifying the matching track from commercially issued records, as it indicates the length of the lead-in groove, i.e., the number of disc revolutions before the sound actually begins. The playback or digitization speed for the shellac discs has to be determined with care and a trained ear, since shellac records from the first decade of the 1900s pre-date standardization at 78 rpm. In the course of our project we discovered that recording speeds at this period ranged from 72 to 82 rpm."

"The Tonbild digitization project at the DIF began in the second half of 2013, thanks to funding provided by the German Federal Government’s Commissioner for Culture and Media (Der Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien). A close partnership was established with the Deutsches Musikarchiv (DMA) at the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek in Leipzig, where most of the research was conducted on the soundtracks, and the digitization of the shellac discs took place. Film scanning in 2K resolution, cautious sound and image restoration work, and – where necessary – speed manipulation of the image to match the soundtrack, were carried out at Arri in Munich, starting in late 2013."

"The soundtracks for two Tonbilder were kindly provided by Rainer Lotz from Bonn, sourced from a music cassette recorded years ago by the California-based “Antique Audio” dealer Tom Hawthorne, from shellac Filmbegleitplatten (presumably by Messter) no longer available. Deutsche Bioscop Filmbegleitplatten of three of the Tonbilder in this programme have just surfaced at auction, and were successfully acquired by the DIF. In the case of the FAUST. Soldatenchor (Soldiers’ Chorus), this will enable a complete exchange of the sound recording in the near future, with a proper match in all likelihood resulting. With MARTHA. Mag der Himmel dir vergeben and DER TROUBADOUR. Terzett (Il Trovatore trio), this will make possible a direct comparison between the commercial recordings on the Gramophone Concert Record label and Deutsche Bioscop’s original Filmbegleitplatten, to verify that both discs feature the identical recording."

"Of the 14 Tonbilder presented, 6 are paired with the matching music recording. In 2 cases the nature of the match is somewhat unclear. For another 6, the proper match has not yet been found; in these cases the presentation is an attempt at reconstructive simulation."

"We would like to advise viewers (and listeners!) that since these sound recordings date back to the infancy of recording technologies, prior to electric amplification, their sound quality varies, and many surviving shellac discs exhibit signs of wear. It was therefore decided to add subtitles to aid the audience’s comprehension."
– Anke Mebold

"All films in this programme are from the Deutsches Filminstitut – DIF, Frankfurt. The film listings below include DIF catalogue numbers and 35mm lengths, plus gramophone disc information and call numbers from the Deutsches Musikarchiv (DMA). The archivally supplied title card on each film displays an image of the shellac disc digitized for presentation, and also includes an assigned “matching symbol” which rates the quality of each soundtrack match: = (true match); ≈ (unclear, somewhat approximate match); ≠ (not matching)."

"The assigned numerals included in several of the film titles are not music opus numbers, but film numbers found on the original leaders on the nitrate prints. In a number of cases these have been verified by checking them against Herbert Birett’s 1991 reference work Das Filmangebot in Deutschland 1895-1911. The numbers presumably correspond to those in actual vintage catalogues of the production companies involved, unfortunately no longer extant or accessible."

"All the soundtracks feature performances in the German language. All films will be shown as DCPs, with English subtitles. The individual film timings include the opening archival titles (each of c.10 seconds duration).
"

AA: The Tonbilder are straight records of opera or music hall performances, usually in plan-séquence, in long takes in long shots, almost all in painted or constructed sets in interiors.

LOHENGRIN. Wenn ich im Kampf für dich siege (Deutsche Bioscop – DE c.1908) Mus., libretto: Richard Wagner; cast: ?; vocals: Emmy Destinn, Ernst Kraus; conductor: Bruno Seidler-Winkler; 3'59”. Duet from Act 1 of Wagner’s opera Lohengrin: “Wenn im Kampf für dich siege” (“If in Thy Cause Today I Conquer”). Image: DIF 50_105: 35mm nitrate print, c.71.5 m. (orig. censorship length: 80 m.). ≈ Sound: DMA HU 36136: Gramophone Monarch 044056 VI, 543i, 1906 (3:47 min. @ 74rpm). - AA: Wonderful. 14 performers in costume. Slightly low contrast but a fine record of the grayscale.

RIGOLETTO. O wie so trügerisch (Deutsche Bioscop – DE 1909) Mus: Giuseppe Verdi; libretto: Francesco Maria Piave; cast, vocal: Werner Alberti; 2'40”. Aria from Act 3 of Verdi’s opera Rigoletto: “La donna è mobile” (common German title, “Ach, wie so trügerisch”). Image: DIF_50_104: 35mm nitrate print, c.47.5 m. (orig. censorship length 50 m.). ≠ Sound: DMA T2011 HB 01379: Polyphon 2299, 1910 (2:25 min. @ 78rpm) - AA: A humoristic performance by Werner Alberti.

DIE LUSTIGEN WEIBER. Buffo-Duett (Deutsche Bioscop – DE 1908) Mus: Otto Nicolai; libretto: Salomon Hermann Mosenthal; cast: ?; vocals: Paul Knüpfer, Hermann Bachmann; conductor: Bruno Seidler-Winkler; 3'44”. Comedy duet from Act 2 of Nicolai’s opera Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor (The Merry Wives of Windsor): “In einem Waschkorb” (In a laundry basket); also known as “Wie freu ich mich” (So delighted am I). Image: DIF_50_109: 35mm nitrate print, c.65 m. = Sound: DMA HU 026246 (Monarch Record Gramophone 044058 .O, 190?, 3:36 min. @ 74rpm). - AA: A humoristic interpretation of the comedy duet by Paul Knüpfer and Hermann Bachmann.

MARTHA. Mag der Himmel dir vergeben (Deutsche Bioscop – DE 1908) Mus: Friedrich von Flotow; libretto: “W. Friedrich” [Friedrich Wilhelm Riese]; cast: ?; vocals: Grete Forst, Hermine Kittel, Arthur Preuss, Wilhelm Hesch, Chor der k. k. Hofoper Wien [Chorus of the Vienna Court Opera]; 3'19”. Aria from Act 3 of Flotow’s opera Martha (Martha oder der Markt zu Richmond / Martha, or the Fair at Richmond): “Mag der Himmel dir vergeben” (“Lyonel’s Prayer: May Heaven Forgive You”), quartet with chorus. Image: DIF_50_120: 35mm nitrate print, c.59.5 m. (orig. censorship length: 65 m.). = Sound: DMA HU 005648 (Gramophone Concert G.C.-2-44225, 190?, 3:14 min. @74rpm). - AA: An engrossing record of the quartet with chorus. With some 20 performers in costume.

LUCIA VON LAMMERMOOR. Sextett (Deutsche Bioscop – DE 1908) Mus: Gaetano Donizetti; libretto: Salvatore Cammarano; cast: ?; vocals: Erik Schmedes, Friedrich Weidemann, Arthur Preuss, Richard Mayr, Elise Elizza, Luise Lukschic, Chor der Hofoper Wien [Chorus of the Vienna Court Opera]; 3'27”. Sextet from Act 2 of Donizetti’s opera Lucia di Lammermoor: “Wer vermag’s den Zorn zu hemmen” (“Chi mi frena in tal momento”). Image: DIF_50_102: 35mm nitrate print, c.59.5 m. (orig. censorship length: 65 m.). = Sound: DMA HU 012553 (Gramophone Concert G.C.-44432 XII, 1907, 3:17 min. @ 74rpm). - AA: "Chi mi frena in tal momento" was almost an emblem for high culture in the cinema until WWII (Renoir's Madame Bovary, Cukor's Little Women, animated cartoons...). Here it is in German. The singing is beautiful, Lucia's suffering is moving.

DER TROUBADOUR. Terzett. Nr. 71 (Deutsche Bioscop – DE 1909) Mus: Giuseppe Verdi; libretto: Salvatore Cammarano; cast: ?; vocals: Friedrich Weidemann, Erik Schmedes, Elise Elizza; 3'00”. Trio from Act 1 of Verdi’s opera Il trovatore: “O mein Geliebter” (“Qual voce”). Image: DIF_50_107: 35mm nitrate print, c.52 m. (orig. censorship length: 60 m.). = Sound: DMA HU 015290 (Gramophone Concert G.C.-2-44026, 190?, 2:54 min. @ 74rpm). - AA: Again music by Giuseppe Verdi in Pordenone's Teatro Verdi. Friedrich Weidemann, Erik Schmedes, and Elise Elizza perform the trio with feeling.

FAUST. Soldatenchor. Nr. 79 (Deutsche Bioscop – DE 1909) Mus: Charles Gounod; libretto: Jules Barbier, Michel Carré; cast: ?; vocals: Chor der Kgl. Hofoper Berlin [Chorus of the Berlin Court Opera]; conductor: Bruno Seidler-Winkler; 4'21”. “Soldiers’ Chorus” from Act 4 of Gounod’s opera Faust: “Legt die Waffen nieder” (“Déposons les armes”) [Lay Down Your Arms]. Image: DIF_50_103: 35mm nitrate print, c.57 m. (orig. censorship length: 65 m.). ≠ Sound: DMA T2012 HC 01168 (Gramophone Monarch 044502, 1906, 4:11 min. @ 74rpm). - AA: This Tonbild starts with the music without an image, which appears a bit later.

FLOTTENMARSCH (Deutsche Mutoskop und Biograph – DE 1908) Mus: Otto Schwiecker; cast: Kapelle 2. Garde-Regiment zu Fuß, conductor: Max Graf (?); musicians: Kapelle 2. Garde-Regiment zu Fuß, conducted by Max Graf; 2'43”. Flottenmarsch (Navy March) by Ottomar Schwiecker, played by the Band of the 2nd Foot Guards, conducted by Max Graf. Image: DIF_50_136: 35mm nitrate print, c.49 m. (orig. censorship length: 54 m.). ≈ Sound: DMA T2010 HB 01185 (Gramophone Concert G.C.-3- 40288 III, 1906, 2:37 min. @78rpm). - AA: A switch to German military music.

DIE REGIMENTSTOCHTER. Weiß nicht die Welt (Deutsche Mutoskop und Biograph – DE 1909) Mus: Gaetano Donizetti; libretto: Jean-François-Alfred Bayard, Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges; cast: ?; vocals: Erika Wedekind, Chor der Kgl. Hofoper Dresden [Chorus of the Dresden Court Opera]; conductor: Bruno Seidler-Winkler; cartello titolo imbibito/tinted title card; 3'30”.
Aria from Act 1 of Donizetti’s opera La fille du régiment: “Weiß nicht die Welt” (“Chacun le sait”); also known in German as “Regimentslied der Marie”. Image: DIF_50_131: 35mm nitrate print, c.61 m. (orig. censorship length: 63 m.). ≠ Sound: DMA HU 02319 (Gramophone Concert G.C.-43948, 1907, 3:12 min. @ 74rpm). - AA: This exhilarating Tonbild has been shot outdoors, and the music track is not in synch but serves very well all the same.

DIE LUSTIGE WITWE. Die Grisetten (? – DE?, 190?) Mus: Franz Lehár; libretto: Victor Léon, Leo Stein; cast: ?; vocals: ?; cartello titolo imbibito/tinted title card; 3'10”. Grisettenlied (“Grisettes Song”; also known as “Ja, wir sind es, die Grisetten” or “Das Trippel-Trappel Lied”) from Act 3 of Lehár’s operetta Die lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow). Unfortunately, some portions of this film are affected by nitrate decomposition. Image: DIF_50_130: 35mm nitrate print, c.63 m. (orig. censorship length: ?). ≠ Sound: DMA (digitization from audiocassette, Rainer Lotz Collection; 2:52 min. @ ? rpm). - AA: Thinking about the film adaptations of Stroheim (beautifully re-scored by Maud Nelissen) and Lubitsch this less glamorous visualization is completely different but perhaps even more full of life. The image turns abstract via a damage in the source.

UNTERM PARAPLUI (Nr. 78) (Duskes – DE, c. 1908) Cast: ?; vocals: ?; tinted title card; 3'12”. Duet, “Unterm Paraplui” (variant spelling “Unter’m Parapluie”) [Under the Umbrella]. Show source unknown. Image: DIF_50_114: 35mm nitrate print, c.57 m. (orig. censorship length: ?). ≠ Sound: DMA (digitization from audiocassette, Rainer Lotz Collection; 2:54 min. @ ? rpm). - AA: A nice popular song.

DER BUMMEL-COMPAGNON. Duett aus DAS MUSS MAN SEH’N! Nr. 26 (Deutsche Bioscop – DE 1908) Mus: Victor Hollaender; lyrics: Julius Freund; cast: ?; vocals: Walter Steiner; 3'25”. Duet, “Der Bummel-Compagnon” (The Season’s Companion), from the 1907 Metropol-Theater revue Das muss man seh’n! (You’ve Got to See This!). Image: DIF_50_111: 35mm nitrate print, c.61.5 m. (orig. censorship length: 65 m.). ≠ Sound: DMA T2014 HB 00041 (Zonophone X2-22256, 11000 l, 190?, 3:13 min. @74rpm). - AA: Victor Hollaender and Julius Freund had a more earthy approach in their popular songs in the three last Tonbilder of this programme. They are full of life.

ABENDS NACH NEUNE. Duett aus DURCHLAUCHT RADIESCHEN. Nr. 11 (Deutsche Bioscop – DE 1907) Mus: Victor Hollaender; lyrics: Julius Freund; cast: Anna Müller-Lincke, Leonhard Haskel; vocals: Alfred Müller [Henry Bender], Fräulein Schulz; 3'09”. Duet, “Abends nach Neune” (After Nine in the Moonshine), from the 1903 Metropol-Theater Austtatungsposse (costume farce) Durchlaucht Radieschen (His Highness Radish). This saucy song and dance number recounts the seedy dangers threatening an unwitting country bumpkin in Berlin after 9 p.m. Image: DIF_50_117: 35mm nitrate print, c.56.5 m. (orig. censorship length: 60 m.). = Sound: DMA T2013 HB 00108 (Zonophone X-24046, 190 l, 190?, 2:32 min. @ 76rpm). - AA: See above. There is a wonderful extended final comedy kiss shot.

ROLAND UND VIKTORIA. Duett aus NEUSTES! ALLERNEUSTES! Nr. 10 (Deutsche Bioscop – DE 1907) Mus: Victor Hollaender; lyrics: Julius Freund; cast: Anna Müller-Lincke, Leonhard Haskel; vocals: Alfred Müller [Henry Bender], Fräulein Schulz; 3'19”. Duet, “Roland und Victoria”, from the 1904 Metropol-Theater revue Neustes! Allerneustes! (The Latest! All the Very Latest!). This number expresses the growing affection between the figures atop two well-known Berlin monuments, the Rolandsbrunnen, a fountain featuring a granite statue of a legendary medieval warrior, given by Kaiser Wilhelm II to the citizens of Berlin in 1902, and the grand gilded winged goddess of the Siegessäule victory column. Viktoria initially rebukes Roland’s advances, but then yields. All this is sung in Berlin dialect, in front of a wind-swept backdrop identical to that used in Abends nach Neune. Image: DIF_50_118: 35mm nitrate print, c.59.5 m. (orig. censorship length: 63 m.). = Sound: DMA T2013 HB 00108 (Zonophone X-24045 II, 189 l, 190?, 2:59 min. @ 76rpm) - AA: Anna Müller-Lincke plays the Siegessäule and Leonhard Haskel is the Rolandsbrunnen. See above.

AA: A well edited and enjoyable programme, complete with photographs of the original phonograms with their label information. The synch in most of the numbers is fine, and the not matching soundtracks work well, too.

The whole is more than a sum of its parts. It conveys a special feeling of a joy of life expressed in these songs, high and low, from Richard Wagner till Victor Hollaender.

This DCP can be recommended both for pleasure and for serious study in the history of music and performing arts.