Monday, October 11, 2004

A Cottage on Dartmoor / Fången 53

Anthony Asquith: A Cottage on Dartmoor / Fången 53 (1930) with Uno Henning.

A COTTAGE ON DARTMOOR / ESCAPED FROM DARTMOOR (British Instructional Films, GB 1929/30)
Versione svedese (muta) / Swedish version (silent): Fången 53.
    Dir/sc: Anthony Asquith; prod: H. Bruce Woolfe; story: Herbert C. Price; ph: Stanley Rodwell, Axel Lindblom; continuity: Ralph Smart; des: Ian Campbell-Gray;  cast: Uno Henning, Norah Baring, Hans von Schlettow, Judd Green; trade show: 17.1.1930; 35 mm, 7183 ft, 87’ (22 fps), BFI / National Film and Television Archive.
    Didascalie in inglese / English intertitles.
    Grand piano: Stephen Horne.
    Viewed at Teatro Zancanaro, Sacile, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (GCM): Asquith e gli altri, 11 Oct 2004.

Bryony Dixon (GCM): "Anthony Asquith stayed with producer H. Bruce Woolfe at Welwyn studios for his finest film of the silent era. A small-town hairdresser's is the backdrop for another love triangle, driven by jealousy. The film balances masterly storytelling with technical flair as Asquith explores the creative possibilities of camerawork, fast editing, and experimental special effects. In a climactic scene, Asquith inserts a montage of representative images to show Uno Henning’s jealous rage as it reaches breaking point: a cord unravels and suddenly snaps, a gun goes off and a flash of red lights up the screen, and there he is, brandishing a razor, ready to cut his rival’s throat. There are many of these virtuoso moments. Watch for the scene where the members of a cinema audience first encounter the “Talkies”, and the incredibly clever way Asquith overcomes the technical problems of synchronizing sound (which doesn’t survive) without sacrificing the fluidity of the camera movement, simply by having the cinema audience react to the sound, rather than showing the source of it onscreen. If you are familiar with other “goat-gland” movies such as Lonesome, you don’t need sound to work out the gags associated with sound emanating from an onscreen source. The members of the orchestra, so lively during the silent (Harold Lloyd?) comedy, cease playing and get out a pack of cards; an old lady with an ear trumpet can’t hear properly; then, as the audience settle down, our rapt attention to the screen takes over, and we watch the play of emotions across their faces." – Bryony Dixon (GCM)

AA: The last of Anthony Asquith's excellent "high silent" films. Impressive music interpretation by Stephen Horne. A brilliant print of the Swedish version.

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