120 anni di cinema a Venezia
120 Years of Cinema in Venice
Le Giornate del Cinema Muto: Eventi speciali.
Teatro Verdi, Pordenone, no intertitles, live music performed by Conservatorio di musica "Giuseppe Tartini", Trieste, 7 Oct 2016.
Carlo Montanaro: "Venice is probably the most filmed city in the world, of all the places where film-making is not itself an industry (in terms of production, studios, technical laboratories, distribution, etc.) and where there are no additional costs (board and lodging, locations, services). And it has been so from the beginning, ever since the spring of 1896, with the first Lumière “takes”. It is interesting to observe that no matter how much was filmed from real life, from the very outset there was also a need for “fiction”. To celebrate this historic ”first time”, presented together with the earliest Lumière actualities of Venice, we are also showing Venetianische Nacht, a theatrical pantomime made entirely on location – interiors and exteriors alike – by one of the greatest theatre directors, Max Reinhardt, here lending his expertise to the new medium."
"1896 was the year when the Lumières’ Cinématographe conquered the world. After the runaway success of their first shows in Paris, a number of crews working for the main company in Lyon and linked to its exclusive international agents went around the globe, to all the most important cities and best-known locations. There they hired (on a profit-sharing basis) bistros, taverns, music halls, and other public venues, to present constantly-changing programmes composed of films from the company’s “sales catalogue”, which was available from mid-1897. Despite minimal spare parts and accessories, their equipment enabled them to film, print copies, and project, so the operators were adept at a variety of tasks."
"The first film show in Italy was in Rome, followed by Milan, Naples, Genoa, and Livorno. On 9 July 1896 it was Venice’s turn, at the Teatro Minerva, formerly the Teatro San Moisè. Contemporary reports mention M. Genty as a “distinguished” projectionist (assisted by Chapuis) and one Figaroli (or Figarolli) as the organizer on behalf of Vittorio Calcina, an authorized Lumière dealer who also managed the Cinématographe. The name of another collaborator of Calcina’s, Giuseppe Filippi, has also come down to us. According to other sources (nothing remains of the original documents), the first Venetian scenes were the work of cameraman Charles Moisson (filming his fiancée), shot a few days before the debut of the Cinématographe on the screen at the Minerva. Seen earlier elsewhere, they were first shown in Venice on 21 August 1896."
"It was also in Venice, during his hectic European tour in the autumn of 1896, that Alexandre Promio, one of Lumière’s busiest cameramen, understood that the mobility of the cinema could reproduce immobile objects. As a result he made what is for us the first “subjective shot”, though he considered it the simulation of a panorama. Little did he know that he had been beaten to it by a similar shot made in Cologne a short time earlier by one of his Lumière colleagues, Constant Girel."
"Vittorio Calcina, Italian agent for the Lumière company, claimed the authorship of the film coverage of the visit of the Italian and German royal families to Venice in October 1898." – Carlo Montanaro
All film notes by Carlo Montanaro.
All 9 Lumière films in this programme are 35 mm prints from the Institut Lumière in Lyon. Each entry includes the Lumière Catalogue number, the name of the cameraman, and, in all but the last two cases, the probable span of shooting dates.
ARRIVÉE EN GONDOLE (Approdo di una gondola ai Santi Giovanni e Paolo). Catalogue Lumière n° 291. Charles Moisson. 14.6. –2.8.1896. – "A gondola lands at the steps of the Rio di San Giovanni e Paolo, outside the old Scuola di San Marco. A “ganzer” [old gondolier with a boat-hook] steadies it as the occupants disembark. A woman realizes she has forgotten her umbrella and gloves, so they are fetched for her. The first one out of the gondola makes a show of checking the camera to make sure that everything is going to plan and that there is enough film to complete the shoot." – AA: There is little to add to the Catalogue Lumière (see image and caption on top) and Carlo Montanaro remarks. A beauty of composition and light. Visual and print quality: fair, duped, scratched.
PIGEONS SUR LA PLACE SAINT-MARC (I leggendari piccioni di San Marco). Catalogue Lumière n° 292. Charles Moisson. 14.6–2.8.1896. – "The same woman from the previous film offers grain to the pigeons outside St . Mark’s Basilica. With the birds on her hand she walks towards the camera, from a full-figure shot to a close-up, while a companion waves his arms to shoo them off." – AA: Feeding pigeons in a lively view. See image and remarks above. Print and visual quality: high contrast, duped look.
TRAMWAY SUR LE GRAND CANAL (I vaporetti a Rialto). Catalogue Lumière n° 293. Charles Moisson. 14.6–2.8.1896. – "The gondola and its passengers are revealed in transit towards the landing, in front of the Rialto bridge, of a vaporetto (water-bus). “Tramway” here clearly stands for “means of public transport”." – AA: Another beautiful honeymoon view with Charles and Marie Moisson. This is still a view without camera movement taken from the ground. Visual and print quality is better than in the previous views, but tending to high contrast with a duped look.
GRAND CANAL AVEC BARQUES. Catalogue Lumière n° 294. Cameraman unknown. 12.3.1896–1.8.1897. – "The San Marco water front with the island of San Giorgio in the background. A laden barge (peata) crosses the frame as a gondola enters from the right and moves towards the centre, balancing the composition of the picture." – AA: A tracking shot taken from a moving gondola. Beautiful composition and feeling of life. High contrast, duped, scratched.
PANORAMA DU GRAND CANAL PRIS D’UN BATEAU. Catalogue Lumière n° 295. Alexandre Promio. 25.10–13.12.1896. – "The left side of the Grand Canal passes by with a parade of boats propelled by oarsmen and another vaporetto. The movement is gentle and continuous. The next vaporetto fermata (stop) is San Silvestro." – AA: As the title reveals this is a panoramic view, but there is no camera pan; instead, this film has the place of distinction in film history as the first instance of a tracking shot, which it was not, as Carlo Montanaro explains above. The cinematographer was Alexandre Promio, and this film inspired Louis Lumière to name this kind of shot a "vue panoramique Lumière". But in the previous film we already saw another tracking shot taken from a moving vessel, taken half a year earlier. Anyway, this was the first famous instance of a tracking shot, and it established the invention. Visual and print quality ok albeit duped.
PANORAMA DE LA PLACE SAINT-MARC PRIS D’UN BATEAU. Catalogue Lumière n° 296. Alexandre Promio. 25.10–13.12.1896. – "Facing the Piazzetta, again seen from a vaporetto, the camera runs across the open-work façade of the Palazzo Ducale (Doges’ Palace), peers in depth towards the Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower), and then finds a corner of the Biblioteca Marciana (Marciana Library)." – AA: Another beautiful tracking shot by Alexandre Promio. Now at last good contrast. *
VENISE: PLACE SAINT-MARC. Catalogue Lumière n° 430. Cameraman unknown. 12.3.1896–6.6.1897. – "A late-winter stroll in St. Mark’s Square in front of the Basilica. The people seem unaware of the cameraman and his equipment." – AA: A lively view, good contrast, fine musical inspiration. *
ARRIVÉE EN GONDOLE DES SOUVERAINS D’ALLEMAGNE ET D’ITALIE AU PALAIS ROYAL DE VENISE. Catalogue Lumière n° 1058. Vittorio Calcina. 13.10.1898. – "Two gondolas land at the steps of the Doges’ Palace. From them alight King Umberto I of Savoy with Kaiser Wilhelm II and Queen Margherita with Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein." – AA: A stately, matter-of-fact record, an important historical document.
DÉPART EN GONDOLE DE LEURS MAJESTÉS. Catalogue Lumière n° 1059. Vittorio Calcina. 13.10.1898. – "The royals return to their gondolas." – AA: A stately and official record, and an important historical document.
Feature film VENETIANISCHE NACHT (DE 1913). D: Max Reinhardt. – See separate remarks as the next blog entry.
AA: All these nine Lumière films are non-fiction but they also document the city of Venice as a dream space, perfect for the honeymoon of Charles and Marie Moisson.
An excellent and delicious musical interpretation by Conservatorio di musica "Giuseppe Tartini", Trieste.
The tracking shot is established albeit perhaps not introduced into cinematography by Lumière cameramen in moving gondolas in Venice. A contender for the first tracking shot is Constant Girel's Panorama pris d'un bateau, Catalogue Lumière Vue N° 227, 21 September 1896.