Monday, October 06, 2008


THE CORRICK COLLECTION 1. Viewed at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone, Cinema Verdi, 6 October 2008. Grand piano: Gabriel Thibaudeau, e-subtitles in Italian.
[Coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra]
GB 1902. 257 ft /16 fps/ .4’30”, (printed on colour stock, reproducing original hand-colouring); print: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #88), no intertitles. - Good print.
Leslie Anne Lewis: "The Corrick Family often opened their shows with a film depicting the reigning British monarchs, of which they had several in their collection. After a performance in India, one reviewer noted how these patriotic images, “At once aroused the loyal feelings of the whole assembly as they stood up while ‘the King’ was sung by the Corricks. The feelings thus aroused put the audience, particularly the Military element, in the best of humour and spirits which were maintained throughout the evening.” This three-shot film of the coronation parade of Edward VII and Alexandra, which took place on 9 August 1902, is undoubtedly one of the more spectacular views of the Royals shown during these concerts. The first shot shows the carriage passing by, attended by members of the nobility and soldiers of the realm. The next is a long shot of the procession as it makes its way through Whitehall, the background dominated by Canada’s contribution to the festivities, a large archway that proudly declares, “Canada – Britain’s Granary in War and Peace – God Bless Our King and Queen”. At first, the third shot seems similar to the first – soldiers and dignitaries passing by – but the camera is positioned closer to the action rather than above the crowd, and the expressions on the faces of spectators are more clearly visible as they look down the street in anticipation. When the royal carriage comes into view, it brings with it a treat: in the last few seconds of the film, the royal carriage, horses, flags, and guards have been hand-painted – bright orange and blue, vibrant red and yellow – a pleasing detail unexpected in a newsreel-style film such as this." – Leslie Anne Lewis
The Lost Child
US 1904. PC: Biograph. D: Wallace McCutcheon; DP: G.W. Bitzer; cast: Kathryn Osterman; 479 ft /16 fps/ 8 min, print: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #66), no intertitles. - OK print
Leslie Anne Lewis: "A child left alone to play in the front yard crawls into the doghouse for a nap. His mother panics when she discovers he is missing, and begins searching frantically for the child. Spying a passer-by with a large basket, she assumes he has kidnapped the baby and so sets off in hot pursuit. In typical chase-comedy fashion, the hapless man is pursued across the countryside by a mob which swells with each passing shot – adding, among others, a policeman, a man being pushed in a wheelchair, a one-legged boy, and an entire family of farmers. After finally catching the man, the crowd watches the policeman reach into the man’s basket and pull out... a large guinea pig. Meanwhile, blissfully unaware of the trouble he’s caused, the child awakens from his afternoon slumber. Biograph advertisements claimed that The Lost Child was based on a recent event in Brooklyn, New York. Though details of that case remain shrouded in mystery, one would assume that the guinea pig was purely a construct of the filmmaker’s imagination." – Leslie Anne Lewis. - A wild escalation.
FR 1903. PC: Pathé. 516 ft /16 fps/ 8’30” (printed on colour stock, reproducing original tinting); fonte copia/print source: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #41). English intertitles. - A fine print, effective colour.
Leslie Anne Lewis: "Depictions of the lives of historical figures could provide a dash of legitimacy to a programme often filled with chase comedies and trick films. This 9-part tableau-style historical drama features scenes in the life of the ill-fated Marie Antoinette, from lavish parties at Versailles to her trial and imprisonment, and finally the slow march to the guillotine. Missing is the coup de grâce, the execution of the Queen by Revolutionaries; however, a shot showing the prisoner being taunted by a severed head on a pole stuck through her cell window adds a bit of gruesome zip to this film touted as “educational” by both the Corricks and reviewers." – Leslie Anne Lewis. - An impressive history lesson with some blunt cuts: from the merry frolick to the taking of the Bastille.
Toto exploite la curiosité
Ralph Benefits by People’s Curiosity. FR 1909. PC: Pathé. 274 ft /16 fps/ 5 min (printed on colour stock, reproducing original stencil-colour); print: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #93), no intertitles. - A beautiful print. - Leslie Anne Lewis: "Toto (or Ralph, in this English-titled version) uses a kaleidoscope to supplement his family’s meagre income by charging passers-by for a peek into the optical toy. The narrative, however, is chiefly an excuse to feature the brilliantly colored geometric designs of the kaleidoscope as they shift from one hue to the next. The precisely stenciled blues, greens, reds, and yellows seen in the Corricks’ print are bright and vivid, the dyes seemingly unfaded in the century since their application at the Pathé factory. Only briefly glimpsed in this print, the Pathé logo included with this film is unusual and specific to the subject: a kaleidoscopic view of Pathé’s trademark rooster shown in varying shades of red." – Leslie Anne Lewis. - A beautiful film bordering on the experimental with its kaleidoscope effects. Lively street scenes.
La Vie indigène au Soudan égyptien
Native Life in Egyptian Sudan. FR 1908. PC: Pathé. 404 ft /16 fps/ 7 min (printed on colour stock, reproducing original tinting); print: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #75), no intertitles. - Suffering from decomposition of the nitrate original, yet with beautiful definition of light wherever the image is intact.
Leslie Anne Lewis: "Rather than repeating the typical views of ancient pyramids, temples, and the Sphinx that had traditionally defined “Egypt” in the minds of Westerners, this documentary-style film highlights aspects of the everyday lives of modern Egyptians. Given the West’s long-standing fascination with the culture, it isn’t surprising that Egypt was one of the first places early producers sent their cameramen. As cinema is a medium that embraces movement and life, the modern inhabitants of the region and their daily lives provided a pleasing contrast to the static backdrop formed by the familiar relics of ancient Egypt, and soon more films along this vein began to find their way to audiences throughout the world. By focusing on the lives of modern Egyptians, films such as this presented a view of Egypt essentially hidden from Western audiences before the turn of the 20thcentury. Scenes include maize flour preparation, the drawing of water from a well, ‘Native Home Industries’, children reading from the Koran, ‘The Pasha Feeding the Poor’, and – as nitrate decomposition worsens – a number of women moving past the camera." – Leslie Anne Lewis. - I agree with LL, this is an interesting view of Sudan / Egypt about the everyday life.
Le Chapeau
My Hat. FR 1906. PC: Pathé. 231 ft /16 fps/ 5 min; print: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #74), no intertitles.
Leslie Anne Lewis: "Comedy ensues when two men accidentally swap hats at the barber’s. After discovering the mix-up, the first man to leave returns to the shop to correct the mistake. Furious when he finds that the other customer has disappeared with his hat, the man storms through the city demanding to inspect the headgear of every man he meets." – Leslie Anne Lewis. - A funny comedy. Too small a hat leads to a revenge to the world.
Miracle de Noël
Christmas Miracle. FR 1905. PC: Pathé. 266 ft /16 fps/ 5 min (printed on colour stock, reproducing original tinting); print: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #21), no intertitles. - Beautiful colour.
Leslie Anne Lewis: "After unsuccessfully begging from parishioners as they leave a Christmas service, a child slips into the church for warmth and collapses on the altar. A stained-glass image of a saint comes to life and scoops up the boy, who then assists the saint as he delivers toys to the homes of sleeping children. Though not screened as a part of Leonard’s Beautiful Pictures’ “Trip Round the World” programme, in the eyes of at least one reviewer (in The Ceylon Morning Leader, December 1907) Miracle de Noël was similarly enlightening, allowing viewers to experience distant lands in ways impossible before the development of motion pictures: “The subjects of the pictures were carefully chosen, and, besides being interesting, were of considerable educational value to the majority of the audience. For instance, in the course of the pretty story of Santa Claus, the snow falling on Christmas Eve was depicted in a way which brought home to Eastern minds a detail of the English climate in a vivid and living way which no amount of reading could ever do.” This five-shot film combines optical effects with studio settings reminiscent of a children’s pantomime. Starting with a child desperately begging for coins in cold weather, the film warms to a more joyous mood of wish-fulfillment fantasy." – Leslie Anne Lewis. - A moving story belonging to the tradition of A Little Match Girl.
A Canadian Winter Carnival
US 1909. PC: Edison. 659 ft /16 fps/ 11 min; print: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #24), original English intertitles.
Leslie Anne Lewis: "According to Harper’s Bazaar (8 March 1884), the Montreal Winter Carnival was founded as a means of promoting tourism to the country, aiming “to show that life in Canada may be not only endurable during the winter months, but enjoyable.” During the annual celebration, thousands of tourists would journey to Quebec to experience the charms of the Canadian winter through various snow sports, parades, races, and masquerade balls. Twenty-five years after the festival began, A Canadian Winter Carnival helped extend the reach of the founders’ efforts by transporting a glimpse of these attractions to the far corners of the globe. Included are views of the ski-jumping, tobogganing, and snowshoeing, along with a parade of sleighs. The festival’s featured attraction was the Ice Palace, a massive structure illuminated each evening by electric lamps, which at the end of the season would be destroyed in a mock battle by snowshoers with torches and fireworks. The Edison film shows workers along the St. Lawrence River harvesting of some of the thousands of ice blocks needed to construct the palace." Leslie Anne Lewis.
The Hand of the Artist
GB 1906. PC: R.W. Paul. D: Walter R. Booth; 191 ft /16 fps/ 3 min; print: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #54), no intertitles.
Leslie Anne Lewis: "Walter R. Booth, magician and stop-motion animation pioneer, began his career as one of the first British animators with The Hand of the Artist. Like the vengeful artist in later animated classics such as Duck Amuck (...), Booth’s film features subjects that inhabit a world controlled by their mercurial creator. The photographic images are composed and brought to life on a whim, and then just as quickly transformed or reduced to immobility by the Hand of the Artist. After each animated sequence, the Hand crumples the paper and disposes of it in a shower of confetti. (...) one of several films in the Corrick Collection that make use of the stop-motion technique (...)" Leslie Anne Lewis.
Les grandes eaux de Versailles
Big Fountains at Versailles. FR 1904. PC: Pathé. 183 ft /16 fps/3 min (printed on colour stock, reproducing original hand-colouring); print: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #43), no intertitles.
Leslie Anne Lewis: "Another highlight of the “Trip Round the World” programme, these images taken at Versailles were billed as “Gorgeously colored, the most beautiful fountains in the world”. Les Grandes Eaux de Versailles takes the viewer on a tour of the grounds of the historic French palace. The last section of the film shows off the famous fountains with a hand-painted, multi-coloured sequence." Leslie Anne Lewis
Les Invisibles
The Invisible Men. FR 1906. PC: Pathé. D: Gaston Velle; FX: Segundo de Chomón; 655 ft /16 fps/ 11 min (printed on colour stock, reproducing original stencil-colour); fonte copia/print source: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #59), no intertitles.
Leslie Anne Lewis: "In this remarkable film, an alchemist discovers a potion that renders the drinker invisible. After he and his assistant leave the lab, two thieves break in and steal the potion. Enjoying their new-found power, the thieves wreak havoc throughout the city, finally framing the alchemist and his assistant for their crimes. Eventually the thieves are caught and brought before the court.
Under the direction of Gaston Velle, special-effects wizard Segundo de Chomón takes full advantage of the possibilities afforded by the premise of Les Invisibles, using the fantastic nature of the story as a canvas for a series of elaborate effects. In a richly detailed laboratory surrounded by all the essential accoutrements of a proper mad scientist – including a skeleton in the closet and a giant stuffed crocodile – the great effort of the alchemist’s thinking is realized when his brain literally explodes. Surprisingly quick to recover, he then sets the stage for a series of amusing disappearing and reappearing tricks that continue throughout the film. One of the most striking scenes comes after the thieves knock out a light while making their escape. What follows is a chase scene through the city shown in silhouette, recalling the intricate shadow puppets that provided optical entertainment in previous centuries. The finale is peculiar, but right in line with the film’s other surreal imagery: the courtroom suddenly disappears and the prisoners and court officers are transformed into giant vegetables, complete with detailed stencil-colouring. These also fade away, leaving the professor and his assistant to exit the now-empty black screen." Leslie Anne Lewis. - A marvellous fantasy film of miraculous transformations.

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