Saturday, June 29, 2013

Film concert A Burlesque on Carmen (Chaplin 1915) (2013 restoration), score adapted by Timothy Brock from Georges Bizet, Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna

CARMEN / A BURLESQUE ON CARMEN. Serata promossa da GUCCI. Musiche eseguite dall'Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, dirette da Timothy Brock. Piazza Maggiore (Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna)

PART II

A BURLESQUE ON CARMEN (Carmen Charlot, USA/1915). D: Charles Chaplin. Dal racconto Carmen di Prosper Mérimée. SC: Charles Chaplin. DP: Roland Totheroh. AD: Albert Couder. C: Charles Chaplin (Darn Hosiery), Edna Purviance (Carmen), Jack Henderson (Lillas Pastia), Leo White (Morales), John Rand (Escamillo), May White (Frasquita), Lawrence A. Bowes (gitana), Bud Jamison, Frank J. Coleman (soldati). P: Jess Robbins, George K. Spoor per The Essanay Film Manufacturing Company. Premiere: 18 dicembre 1915. 2K DCP. 2 reels 31'. English intertitles with Italian subtitles. Piazza Maggiore (Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna), 29 June 2013

Da: Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna e Blackhawk Collection/Lobster Films.

Original score composed by Timothy Brock, freely adapted from the music of George Bizet, and commissioned by Teatro de la Zarzuela, Madrid - performed at a strength of 15 players

David Shepard: "Chaplin intended this burlesque of Cecil B. DeMille's popular film Carmen, starring the great opera diva Geraldine Farrar with Wallace Reid as Don Jose, to be released as a two-reel short. After Chaplin left Essanay, the company inserted discarded material and produced new scenes with Ben Turpin and Leo White, extending the film to four reels so it could be sold as a feature when belatedly released in April, 1916 (long after DeMille's film had come and gone)."

"The altered version of the A Burlesque sent Chaplin to bed for two days, and he filed a lawsuit against Essanay for mutilating his work; however, the film was judged to be Essanay's to use as they wished, which emboldened them in 1918 to create Triple Trouble out of other leftover Chaplin footage, as well as two feature films edited from portions of Essanay- Chaplin shorts."

"The version I prepared in 1999 attempts to reconstruct the two-reel version of A Burlesque on Carmen, based upon an af fidavit from the lawsuit provided by the Chaplin archives in which Charlie details his intended two-reel version. It was impossible to be guided exactly by Chaplin's testimony. Some of Chaplin's original shots were removed in the process of editing the four-reel expansion, which now seems to survive only with reissue intertitles from 1928. A few 1916 shots are retained for continuity in this version and most of the intertitles derive from DeMille, but we hope it captures Chaplin's intention. For those familiar with DeMille's production, the two-reel A Burlesque on Carmen is actually one of the better Essanay-Chaplin comedies." David Shepard

AA: I enjoyed the new restoration of Charles Chaplin's Carmen, and the double bill with Cecil B. DeMille's version was an inspired idea. I had not realized before that Chaplin's film is a direct parody of DeMille's film and had just enjoyed it as a spoof of the Carmen theme in general.

The version I have been used to seeing is the 1940s sonorized re-release version, with Herman G. Weinberg as an advisor, also with a Georges Bizet parody score. Perhaps also this version would be worthy of restoration and including as an extra on a dvd release?

It was a great pleasure to hear the music live and follow the film with its scene-by-scene references to the DeMille version, including the tragic ending where Darn Hosiery (Chaplin) stabs first Carmen (Edna Purviance) and then himself to death,, but after the pompous toreador has discovered them, aghast, they stand up laughing, and Chaplin shows us the trick of the fake theatrical dagger.

There is no Micaëla in either DeMille's or Chaplin's version. There are those for whom "Je dis que rien ne m'épouvante" is the heart of the work.

A very nice humoristic Bizet interpretation by Timothy Brock and the Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, at a strength of a third of the ensemble that played for the DeMille version.

Mostly a very good pictorial quality in this 2013 restoration. For the first time I saw Carmen in full frame (the 1940s sonorized version is cropped).

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