Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Donald Richie: My Years in the Dark, 1947-2005 (The Jonathan Dennis Memorial Lecture)

Cinema Ruffo, Pordenone (Le Giornate del Cinema Muto), 11 Oct 2005.

In ricordo di Jonathan Dennis / The Jonathan Dennis Memorial Lecture

In 2002 the Giornate del Cinema Muto inaugurated this annual lecture in commemoration of Jonathan Dennis (1953-2002), founding director of the New Zealand Film Archive. Jonathan Dennis was an exemplary archivist, a champion of his country’s culture – particularly of Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand – and above all a person of outstanding human qualities.

The lecturers are selected as people who are pre-eminent in some field of work associated with the conservation or appreciation of silent cinema.


Donald Richie: “I miei anni al buio / My Years in the Dark, 1947-2005"

We are particularly proud that this year’s lecturer is Donald Richie, recently described by Tom Wolfe as “the Lafcadio Hearn of our time, a subtle, stylish, and deceptively lucid medium between two cultures that confuse one another: the Japanese and the American.” His newly published anthology, The Donald Richie Reader, has been critically hailed as an instant literary classic, the work of a major contemporary American writer.

Since the moment of his arrival in Japan in 1946, as a young Ohio-born merchant seaman, Richie has observed the country, its people, and its culture with an extraordinarily perceptive eye, and recorded his impressions in elegant and beautiful literature – to date more than 30 volumes of journals, fiction, and essays, as well as hundreds of articles and reviews. Except for studies at Columbia University in the early 1950s and a period as Curator of Film at The Museum of Modern Art in 1968-73, Donald Richie has made his permanent home in Tokyo. He currently directs the art pages of the influential English-language newspaper The Japan Times.

Donald Richie has been recognised as a world authority on Japanese cinema since The Japanese Film: Art and Industry (1959), co-authored with Joseph L. Anderson, first opened up to the West the hitherto unknown story of Japanese cinema history. His subsequent writings have included indispensable studies of Ozu and Kurosawa.
– David Robinson

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Sacile, 7–16 October, 2005

Quatre-vingt-treize (FR 1914–1921), based on the novel by Victor Hugo, directed by Albert Capellani (1914), completed by André Antoine (1919).


Light from the East: Celebrating Japanese Cinema
André Antoine and French Realism
The Griffith Project, Part 9
Peggy & Jackie
The Romantic World of Elinor Glyn
Jerry the Tyke, Part 4
21st Century Silents
Out of Frame
Collegium Sacilense
The 2nd World Forum of Live Film Music
Eventi musicali
Eventi speciali
The Jonathan Dennis Memorial Lecture (Donald Richie)
The Jean Mitry Award (Henri Bousquet & Yuri Tsivian

This year was one of the best of Le Giornate del Cinema Muto. Two retrospectives especially (Japan and French Realism) offered discoveries for rewriting film history in the proud Le Giornate tradition. There were many good films and prints every day. The music programs were ambitious. The scheduling left room for common lunch and dinner breaks. The attendance was high, and the good word keeps spreading. I think the audience appreciated the chance actually to see almost everything (and still meet people and even eat). The hospitality was excellent, and I was happy with private accommodation in Sacile (avoiding the shuttling between Sacile and Pordenone).

Besides the new brilliant Griffith Project book (Vol 9), the programme catalogue texts on the Japanese and French Realist retrospectives are first class contributions to film historical studies.

This report incorporates program notes to such an extent that it is a personal annotated version of the programme catalogue on the films I saw. The durations in square brackets are actual ones in the screenings.

The catalogue: "through the generous cooperation of the National Film Center in Tokyo and the patronage of the Shochiku Motion Picture Co., now celebrating the 110th anniversary of its founding, the Giornate del Cinema Muto is honored to present a representative selection of Japanese silent films, many of them never before screened in Europe". None of the Japanese films were released in Finland.

Goketsu jiraiya [Jiraiya, the Ninja] (Nikkatsu, JP 1921). D: Shozo Makino, starring Matsunosuke Onoe. 1250 ft /16 fps/ 21’ National Film Center, Tokyo with English subtitles. ♪ Stephen Horne. GCM Zancanaro 2005. Fumiko Tsuneishi: "One of the very few surviving films featuring Matsunosuke Onoe (1875-1926), the first movie star in Japan, who starred in more than 1,000 films. It is based on the fantastic tale of Jiraiya, the hero of a ninja novel adapted from a famous Chinese story which was so popular that from 1839 onwards it was serialized for over 30 years, and then became a staple of kabuki theatre. Jiraiya had the ability to fly, to vanish, and to transform himself into a toad at will, and it wasn’t until his filmic incarnation that his character finally found the perfect medium for the visualization of his magic powers. Matsunosuke’s popularity was by this time firmly established, and the film’s success was due both to his superb performance and the innovative ideas of director Shozo Makino (1878-1929), known as 'the father of Japanese cinema'. This film marks the end of the very last phase of their collaboration." – AA: The important and fascinating film was seen in a print of high contrast. It belongs to the cinema of wonders, transformations, apparitions, metamorphoses; a Japanese counterpart to the Méliès tradition.

Nasanu naka [Not Blood Relatives] (Shochiku, JP 1932). D: Mikio Naruse, based on the the novel by Shunyo Yanagawa; adapt: Kogo Noda; cast: Shinyo Nara, Yukiko Tsukuba, Yoshiko Okada. 7083 ft /18 fps/ 105’. [actually 99']. National Film Center, Tokyo, English subtitles. ♪ Antonio Coppola. GCM Zancanaro 2005. Fumiko Tsuneishi: "Tamae decides to return to her daughter Shigeko seven years after she had left her. But by this time Shigeko finds it impossible to open her heart to her biological mother, even though Tamae is able to provide her with a much more comfortable life than her adoptive mother Masako. No matter what Tamae does for her, Shigeko wants to go back to Masako, and Tamae eventually gives up. Although its story is undoubtedly melodramatic, by virtue of its finely shaded nuances this film goes far beyond a simplistic melodrama in which the good woman (Masako) wins and the bad one (Tamae) loses. Especially notable is the subtle way in which the film depicts Tamae’s psychological struggles once it becomes evident that she cannot regain her daughter’s affection. – Following the box-office successes of Hotei Nomura’s Konjiki yasha (The Golden Demon) and Chikyodai (Foster Sisters), and Heinosuke Gosho’s Hototogisu (The Cuckoo), which were released the same year, Shochiku commissioned Mikio Naruse (1905-1969) to direct another film based on a well-known melodramatic novel. Nasanu Naka was Naruse’s second feature drama, made just after Mushibameru haru (Motheaten Spring; 1932)." – AA: It is interesting to notice the mobile camera, the visual dynamism and the cinematographic richness of early Naruse. The narrative sags towards the end.

Asahi wa kagayaku [The Morning Sun Shines] (Nikkatsu, JP 1929), D: Kenji Mizoguchi, Seiichi Ina. 1681 ft /18 fps/ 25’ [27'42"] National Film Center, Tokyo, English subtitles. ♪ John Sweeney. GCM Zancanaro 2005. Fumiko Tsuneishi: "Osaka Asahi Shimbun commissioned this promotional film from Nikkatsu to mark the 50th anniversary of their newspaper business. Though Kenji Mizoguchi (1898-1956) is credited as co-director, it is unfortunately impossible to establish if any of the surviving footage was directed by him. Approximately one-quarter of the film remains. It seems to be the re-edited version, which is purely promotional and lacks dramatic scenes with the actors (for example, scenes with actresses Takako Irie and Ranko Sawa are thus missing). The existing footage consists of action scenes showing reporters on an airplane and a boat covering a fire on the ship Aurora, and reporters handing their copy to a motorbike rider, to impress viewers with the notion of journalism as a heroic profession. The film also shows the processes involved in producing a newspaper, such as typesetting, proofreading, making plates of paper and lead, printing with a rotary press, and delivery." – AA: This belongs to the cinema of velocity, montage cinema, it's all about speed and fast action; the devices of cinema maximized to portray the modern world of communication.

Kimo to wakarete [Farewell to You] (Shochiku, JP 1933). D+SC: Mikio Naruse. Cast: Mitsuko Yoshikawa, Akio Isono. 5398 ft /20 fps/ 72’. [75'44"] National Film Center, Tokyo, English subtitles. ♪ Phil Carli. GCM Zancanaro 2005. Fumiko Tsuneishi: "In order to support her son Yoshio, Kikue works as a geisha, although she is generally considered too old for the profession. Yoshio despises his mother’s job, and openly shows his revulsion. Terugiku, a young apprentice geisha, takes Yoshio to her parents’ home in order to bring him to reason. Terugiku’s father is an alcoholic, and plans to make Terugiku’s younger sister also work as a geisha. To save her younger sister from this plight Terugiku decides to work for a different geisha house, even though she knows it effectively means that she will no longer be just a geisha but a prostitute. This was Naruse’s first feature film on which he was in charge of the story and script as well as the direction, and it amply displays his quiet passion in full bloom. His innovative techniques and narrative lyricism coexist remarkably in this film, as seen in the sequence capturing Kikue’s and Terugiku’s facial expressions separately by using a mirror, and by enhancing the tension among the characters through the use of abrupt backward tracking shots. Naruse clearly demonstrated his own style in this film, and enthusiastic praise of his work started to fill the pages of film magazines. Sumiko Mizukubo (1916-?), who plays the leading role of Terugiku, had made her debut the previous year in Naruse’s Mushibameru haru, and quickly gained popularity." – AA: The recurring story of Japanese silent cinema: the woman sacrificing herself utterly for brother/son/man. A pretty good print. The idiosyncrasy of early Naruse: camera tracks fast towards the face. Interesting aspects: the geisha growing old; the face in the mirror; the quiet sadness.

Zanjin zanbaken [Slashing Swords] (Shochiku, JP 1929). D+SC: Daisuke Ito; cast: Ryunosuke Tsukigata, Misao Seki, Kanji Ishii. 1767 ft /18 fps/ 26’ [28'26"], National Film Center, Tokyo, digitally restored version, English subtitles. – Music composed by Kensaku Tanikawa. Performed live by Kensaku Tanikawa (piano), Toshiyuki Sakai (sassofono alto, flauto / alto saxophone, flute), Kota Miki (violoncello), Kumiko Takara (percussioni/percussion). GCM Zancanaro 2005. – Fumiko Tsuneishi: "This legendary lost film of Japanese cinema history, has finally been found. Together with Chuji tabi nikki, one of the representative films directed by Daisuke Ito (1898-1981), the master director and revolutionary of the period film. It was highly acclaimed as a pioneering work of the so-called keiko eiga (“tendency films”: the name given to Japanese films of the late 1920s with a leftist tendency), but it was long considered lost, until 2002, when just over 20% of the film was discovered on 9.5mm and digitally restored onto 35 mm utilizing the best available technology. – The film tells the story of a revolution in which repressed and exploited farmers have their consciousness raised through meeting the hero Raizaburo, and how they eventually rebel against an evil lord. To avoid the censor, however, the film resorts to the trope of dynastic family intrigue by showing how Osuga, the stereotypically evil magistrate, plots to kill the child who is the legitimate heir to the lordship and make an illegitimate child inherit the title. In other words, the film had to maintain the pretense that the farmers’ plight was caused not by fundamental class struggles, but by the character of the evil magistrate, so they will be better off once he is removed. The scenes in which the farmers shouted out their grudges were also cut for censorship reasons. As a result the film’s original intentions must have seemed extremely muddled when it was completed and shown. Even so, the superb filmmaking evident in the rediscovered footage more than justifies the historical prestige of this film. Note, for example, the striking contrast between black and white in the scene in which black horses on the magistrate’s side and white horses on Raizaburo’s side violently collide, and the overwhelming sense of speed in the scene in which Raizaburo dashes on horseback to save some farmers on the verge of being crucified on the riverbank." – AA: Again, Daisuke Ito displays his marvellous sense of action. The movement, the races to the rescue could not get wilder than this. The visual look is not good due to the origin in 9,5 mm and digital intermediate. The modern jazz played live was exciting in itself, but did not fit the film.

Yogoto na yume [Every Night's Dreams] (Shochiku, JP 1933). D+story: Mikio Naruse; SC: Tadao Ikeda; cast: Sumiko Kurishima, Teruko Kojima, Tatsuo Saito, 5754 ft /24 fps/ 64’ [65'30"]. National Film Center, Tokyo, English subtitles. Music composed by Kensaku Tanikawa. Performed live by Kensaku Tanikawa (piano), Toshiyuki Sakai (sassofono alto, flauto / alto saxophone, flute), Kota Miki (violoncello), Kumiko Takara (percussioni/percussion). GCM Zancanaro 2005. – Fumiko Tsuneishi: "Omitsu supports herself and her son by working as a bar hostess. One day, her husband Mizuhara comes home in an extremely shabby condition. Omitsu is furious and verbally attacks Mizuhara, but she nevertheless decides to remain living with him as a family for the sake of their son. Mizuhara looks for a job so Omitsu can quit her morally questionable job, but is unable to find any work. Then their son gets injured in a car accident. Desperate to get the money for their son’s treatment, Mizuhara commits burglary, runs away, and finally ends up killing himself. Although the opening sequence showing Omitsu coming out of jail after being arrested for prostitution was cut by the censors, it is clear that Naruse’s heroine has descended even lower than the geisha in his previous film, Kimi to wakarete. In the Japanese film industry the art of female impersonation continued until the 1910s. For this reason, Sumiko Kurishima (1902-1987), who joined Shochiku in 1921 and quickly became enormously popular, is considered Japan’s first female film star. By the time Kurishima appeared in this film she was already established as a big star, and was known as the “Queen of Kamata” [i.e., the queen of the Kamata studio]. The fact that Naruse was assigned to direct a film with her was clear evidence of his promotion at Shochiku. This film ranked Number 3 in the annual Top 10 film list for 1933, while another Naruse film, Kimi to wakarete, occupied fourth place, establishing Naruse as one of the most promising young directors in Japan, together with Sadao Yamanaka at Nikkatsu." – AA: Again the story of the woman sacrificing herself utterly for the son (with the worthless husband just an additional obstacle). Still the idiosyncrasy of the fast tracking shot towards the face. There is strong visualization in the film, an interesting use of mirrors, and impressive instances of editing. Naruse has a strong sense of moods of solitude, bitterness, and sacrifice. The print has a duped look to begin with, but it gets better. The musicians did not know what to do with the story.

Kobayashi Tomijiro sogi [The Funeral of Tomijiro Kobayashi] (Yoshizawa Shoten, JP 1910), 438 ft /16 fps/ 7’ [8'04"], National Film Center, Tokyo, no intertitles. ♪ Phil Carli. GCM Zancanaro 2005. Fumiko Tsuneishi: "This film documents the funeral of Tomijiro Kobayashi (1852-1910), the founder of the Lion Corporation (formerly Kobayashi Shoten), which manufactures and markets toothpaste and related products. The nitrate original negative and one projection print were kept in a box of paulownia wood, together with the delivery slip from Yoshizawa Shoten, one of the oldest film production companies in Japan. Since the ban on nitrate films was thoroughly enforced when fire laws became stricter in the 1950s, the original negative of this film is the oldest one known to exist in Japan. The new projection print was made directly from this precious original negative, and shows us its wonderful cinematography." – AA: It certainly does look brilliant, a photographic point of comparison to Japanese silents.

Kagirinaki hodo [Street without End] (Shochiku, JP 1934), D: Mikio Naruse; from the novel by Komatsu Kitamura; adapt: Jitsuzo Ikeda; cast: Setsuko Shinobu, Akio Isono, Hikaru Yamanouchi, 7835 ft /24 fps/ 87’ [92'03"], National Film Center, Tokyo, English subtitles. ♪ Phil Carli. GCM Zancanaro 2005. Fumiko Tsuneishi: "Sugiko is hit by a car on her way to meet her boyfriend Harada, and is taken to the hospital. Harada, unaware of this, mistakenly believes that Sugiko has betrayed him, and returns to his hometown. Yamauchi, the man who was driving the car that hit Sugiko, proposes to her. Sugiko marries Yamauchi, but finds that the bourgeois lifestyle of his family does not suit her. She leaves him and goes back to work as a waitress. Yamauchi cannot give her up, but he dies, and Sugiko starts her life anew. Naruse made his directorial debut in 1930, at a time when he would have been directing talkies if he had been working in North America or Europe. However, he directed over 20 silent films, apparently despite his desire to direct sound films. Although Shochiku was the first Japanese studio to develop an original sound system (the Tsuchihashi Sound System), in 1931, it continued to produce both silent and sound films, as well as many hybrid “sound versions”, until 1936, when the Kamata studio was closed. Shochiku officially kept Naruse in the position of assistant director, and did not give him an opportunity to direct a full talkie, so Naruse eventually decided to move to P.C.L., the precursor to Toho. This film was thus Naruse’s last Shochiku film, and his last silent. Although it is not of the same calibre as his earlier films, such as Kimi to wakarete and Yogoto no yume, we can enjoy its so-called “Kamata Modernism”, expressed through the characters, like the heroine who quickly changes boyfriends, and her girlfriend who decides to be a film actress." – AA: A good print. Visually more sophisticated than the previous films by Naruse. The framing, the mise-en-scène has a better style, no longer forward tracking shots (except once, and significantly). There is a lively rhythm of images, and a pleasing variation of different sizes of shots. Car accidents put the story in motion and lead it to the conclusion. Again, the man is weak, unable to protect his wife towards the oppressive strain of the ancient family heritage. The woman rises above this (cruelly even), and there is a new kind of resolve in a female character in a Naruse film (no sacrifice any more). There is a comic aspect to the film too, even incorporating the checkers scene from Lubitsch's The Smiling Lieutenant. Humoristic scenes from a film studio, where a new star is born. My favourite Naruse of his films so far.

Rojo no reikon [Souls on the Road] (Shochiku, JP 1921), D: Minoru Murata; from the plays Mutter Landstrasse by Wilhelm Schmidtbonn & Na dne (The Lower Depths) by Maxim Gorky; adapt: Kiyohiko Ushihara; cast: Kaoru Osanai, Koreya Togo [Denmei Suzuki], Haruko Sawamura, 7559 ft /18 fps/ 112’ [107'40"], National Film Center, Tokyo, English subtitles. ♪ Donald Sosin, Günter Buchwald: they had prepared the music to fit the story. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – Fumiko Tsuneishi: "Aspiring violinist Koichiro persisted in his dream and went to Tokyo, although his father, Sugino, was vehemently opposed. Koichiro has now given up hope, and is on his way back to his hometown with his wife and daughter, on foot. Meanwhile, Tsurukichi and Kamezo, ex-convicts just out of prison, wander onto the same mountain. Koichiro and his family finally arrive at his father’s house, but Sugino will not forgive his son, even though he and his family are exhausted and hungry. Tsurukichi and Kamezo attempt to get into the country villa of the aristocratic family, but are caught by the gatekeeper, who ends up pitying the pair and giving them food and shelter. The film starkly contrasts Koichiro’s cold treatment at the hands of his father and the happy ex-convicts who enjoy the gatekeeper’s unexpected kindness. This editing technique was new at the time of the film’s release, and shocked the film industry, although to our eyes today the plot has some unresolved threads. Kaoru Osanai (1881-1928), well known for his work in modernizing Japanese theatre, was appointed the principal of the acting school established by the newly founded Shochiku Kinema Company in 1920. Osanai formed many leading young actors at this school, and created an experimental production subsidiary, the Shochiku Kinema Institution, within the company. Rojo no Reikon was the first work produced by this subsidiary. Osanai himself appears as Sugino, Koichiro’s elderly father, as well as assuming the role of the general supervisor. Director Minoru Murata (1894-1937) also appears in the film as the boy, Taro. Both Yasujiro Shimazu (1897-1945), who did the lighting, and Kiyohiko Ushihara (1897-1985), who wrote the script and played the role of the butler at the villa, later became important film directors. Koichiro was played by Koreya Togo (1900-1985), who eventually became a leading star at Shochiku under the name of Denmei Suzuki. His natural acting style, free of the mannerisms of the stage, was perfect for the medium of film." – AA: There is an interesting novelistic quality to the film, although based on plays. The director takes his time to present the characters and the milieu. The mise-en-scène has style. The parallel montage with its social and psychological meanings resembles Griffith and the Russians. There are strong scenes in the film, but towards the end it loses momentum. As the protagonist is a violinist, it made sense that there was a violinist playing live.

Izu no odoriko [Izu Dancer] (Shochiku, JP 1933), D: Heinosuke Gosho; based on the novel by Yasunari Kawabata; cast: Kinuyo Tanaka, Den Obinata, Tokuji Kobayashi. 8352 ft /18 fps/ 124’ [119' 22"], National Film Center, Tokyo, English subtitles. ♪ Günter Buchwald. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – Fumiko Tsuneishi: "Mizuhara is a student traveling in Izu, a hot-spring resort area, where he meets a traveling theatre company, and falls in love with the actress Kaoru, the younger sister of Eikichi, the leader of the company. Eikichi is suffering extreme poverty, as he has spent all his inheritance. One day Eikichi hears that Zenbei, a man who bought a mine from him, has made a fortune out of the mine. Eikichi becomes furious, and goes to negotiate with Zenbei. Zenbei tells Eikichi to bring Kaoru to him, so that she can quit the miserable life of a touring actress and marry Zenbei’s son. Realizing Zenbei’s goodwill, Mizuhara wishes Kaoru happiness, and leaves for Tokyo. This film is based on a famous youth novel by Yasunari Kawabata, published in 1926. The novel depicts a romantic episode between a student and a touring actress, set in the beautiful natural landscape of Izu. Some say that Kawabata modeled the young hero after himself. While popular newspaper novels were a common source of film adaptations, it was rare for pure literature such as this to be filmed, and the film’s success opened the door to “literary films”. By the time this film was made, Heinosuke Gosho had consolidated his position as a leading director, having directed over 50 silent films at Shochiku. In fact, his filmmaking career really took off when he was assigned the extremely important task of directing Madamu to nyobo (The Neighbor’s Wife and Mine; 1931), the first talkie produced at Shochiku, and made a film that was both a critical and box-office success. Even so, Gosho mainly continued to direct silent films, and was only occasionally given opportunities to direct talkies. Gosho’s expertise in silent film is evident in this film, which effectively visualizes the fresh lyricism of the original novel." – AA: Print quality OK. This is a singing and dancing film based on two theme songs, the lyrics of which are seen on the screen, but the musician ignored them. This would be interesting to present with live Japanese music on authentic instruments (the samisen, etc.) shown in the film in prolonged close-ups. The dance and song scenes have a documentary fascination, including the wild sabre dance. On the other hand, there are impressive temps morts, and touching scenes of farewell and sadness.

Koshu saho Tokyo kenbutsu [Public Manners: Tokyo Sightseeing] (Ministry of Education, JP 1925), D: Kaname Mori; cast: Kaoru Hose, Namiko Matsuyama, Sadakazu Yanagida, 4171 ft /20 fps/ 56’ [61'17"], National Film Center, Tokyo, English subtitles. ♪ Antonio Coppola. GCM Zancanaro 2005. Fumiko Tsuneishi: "The Ministry of Education became aware of the importance of film as a medium for documentation and reportage through producing and showing the documentary film Kanto taishin taika jikkyo (The Cinematic Report on the Great Fire of the Great Kanto Earthquake; 1923) just after the Great Kanto Earthquake, and continued to produce educational films after that. In 1925 they produced as many as 20 films, including Kenji Mizoguchi’s dramatic film Furusato no uta. It introduces the tourist spots of Tokyo just as the city is recovering from the earthquake. The film also shows what the Westernized and urban lifestyle was like at the time, and humorously highlights the geographical and psychological distance between the city and the countryside. Kaname Mori (1878?-?) was a veteran director who had started making films at Yoshizawa Shoten, and continued to direct a large number of period films at the Shochiku Kamata studio. By the time Mori directed this film he had moved to Teikoku Kinema, after the earthquake, and switched to making educational films." – AA: This educational film was amusing and interesting to watch, also because the Japanese are thought to have impeccable manners. The good quality of the print helped make sense of the detail in this film of documentary value.

Tokyo no onna [Woman of Tokyo] (Shochiku, JP 1933), D: Yasujiro Ozu, based on the novel by Ernst Schwarz [Yasujiro Ozu]; adapt: Kogo Noda, Tadao Ikeda; cast: Yoshiko Okada, Ureo Egawa, Kinuyo Tanaka, 4181 ft /24 fps/ 46’ [47'37"], National Film Center, Tokyo, English subtitles. ♪ Gabriel Thibaudeau. GCM Zancanaro 2005. Fumiko Tsuneishi: "Ryoichi is attending a prep school for university. He lives with his older sister Chikako, who pays his tuition. Ryoichi thinks that Chikako works as a typist during the day and a translator in the evening, but one day he hears a rumor that she actually works at a morally disreputable bar. The anguished Ryoichi reproaches Chikako, and eventually commits suicide. With serious recession as a backdrop, this psychological drama is set almost exclusively in one room, within the time span of one day, and is narrated in an extremely crystallized, restrained manner. There are only four characters: Chikako; her brother Ryoichi; Ryoichi’s girlfriend Harue; and Harue’s older brother, whose interrogation of Chikako in his line of duty as a police officer drives Chikako and Ryoichi into a corner. In this film Ozu furthered the techniques he introduced in Sonoyo no tsuma (That Night’s Wife; 1930), and with finely designed cuts and the highly structured layout of planes he achieves continuous tension throughout the film. The original script clearly states that the heroine’s motivation is also to raise money for the Communist Party, but Ozu was not allowed to keep that element. The credits indicate that the film is based on a novel called 26 Hours by an Austrian author named Ernst Schwarz, complete with his dates, (1882-1928), but the novel, the author, and his dates are fictitious – the original story was in fact written by Ozu himself. The character setup of this film, featuring a self-victimizing woman who works hard for a man, and a weak man who cannot accept the woman’s actions, is almost the same as that of Naruse’s Yogoto no yume. It is well known that Shochiku did not treat Naruse well, saying that they didn’t need two Ozus, but viewers seeing both films should be able to appreciate the different ways in which Ozu and Naruse do their storytelling and compose their planes." – AA: Yet another tragedy of the all-sacrificing woman. Her weakling brother cannot stand the truth about how his sister earns the money to support him and commits suicide. In this standard story of this year's Japanese retrospective we meet Ozu at a dynamic drive, when he still favoured lively movement and fast editing. The beautiful print is worthy of the fine and expressive cinematography. The Lubitsch quote of this one is from If I Had a Million (Charles Laughton as a salaryman).

Nansensu monogatari daiippen: sarugashima [Nonsense Story Vol I: Monkey Island] (Nikkatsu, JP 1930), D: Kenzo Masaoka; SC: Hideo Shimizu; DP: Eiji Danya; 1642 ft /18 fps/ 24’ [24'24"], National Film Center, Tokyo, English subtitles. ♪ Gabriel Thibaudeau. GCM Zancanaro 2005. Fumiko Tsuneishi: "A sailing ship gets caught in a storm. Hoping to save their baby, the captain and his wife put it in a box and throw it into the sea. The box luckily drifts to an island, where the only inhabitants are monkeys. Believing the baby to be their ancestor, the monkeys raise the baby with loving care, but as it grows up the monkeys become suspicious because the child remains tail-less, and they start to treat the child harshly. The child attacks the monkeys, jumps into the sea from a high cliff, builds a raft, and runs away from the island. Kenzo Masaoka (1898-1988) originally aspired to become an artist, and studied with the famous painter Seiki Kuroda, but shifted to filmmaking. This film was Masaoka’s first, and was made with funding from Nikkatsu. Unlike Ofuji, who remained independent throughout his filmmaking career, Masaoka made a point of always working with big budgets, only making films for theatrical release. Masaoka did start an independent production in 1932, but as he used many expensive cels in order to realize smooth movement it went bankrupt after about three years. His filmmaking career after this continued to be difficult, but he nevertheless remained the driving force of Japanese animation, working in the vanguard up until the postwar era. Masaoka is regarded as “the father of Japanese animation”, and is also valued for training talented filmmakers such as Masao Kumakawa and Mitsuyo Seo." – AA: In this early anime, there is a sense of style in the figures and the characters. The comedy is based on the fact that the human being does not know the skills of the monkey. Interesting aspects: the erotic monkey dance, the cruelty of the human child towards monkeys, "the white monkey" evicted from the community.

Orizuru Osen [Osen of the Paper Cranes / The Downfall of Osen] (Daiichi-Eiga, JP 1935), D: Kenji Mizoguchi; based on the novel Baishoku Kamonanban by Kyoka Izumi; adapt: Tatsunosuke Takashima; cast: Daijiro Natsukawa, Isuzu Yamada, Eiji Nakano, 8173 ft /24 fps/ 90’ [89'09"], National Film Center, Tokyo, Sound version, Japanese intertitles, English subtitles. GCM Zancanaro 2005. Fumiko Tsuneishi: "One rainy day on a railway platform Sokichi, a medical doctor, finds a woman he knows well from a certain episode in the past. The woman, named Osen, is now mentally ill. She used to be a lover of the villain Kumazawa, who made her help in crimes. When the young Sokichi attempted suicide, by coincidence he was saved by Osen, and he and Osen escaped from Kumazawa to live together. In order to raise money to pay for Sokichi’s tuition, Osen began to prostitute herself, and eventually she was arrested by the police. Daiichi-Eiga was founded in 1934 by Masaichi Nagata (1906-1985), in cooperation with author/scriptwriter Matsutaro Kawaguchi, directors Daisuke Ito, Kenji Mizoguchi, and Minoru Inuzuka, and actresses Isuzu Yamada and Komako Hara. Their films were distributed by a new company created by Shochiku. Daiichi-Eiga was a highly motivated production company with first-rate directors and actresses, and it produced masterpieces such as Mizoguchi’s Naniwa ereji and Gion no kyodai. Unfortunately, however, the company was plagued by disasters such as fire and flood, and after only two years it ended up being dissolved. Following Nihonbashi and Taki no Shiraito, Mizoguchi once again chose to film one of Kyoka Izumi’s tragic novels, in which a heroine dedicates herself so much to a younger lover that she eventually pushes herself into madness. Although structured in the manner of silent cinema, with intertitles, the film was released in an “explanatory version”, with benshi Suisei Matsui’s explanation and music. It helps us experience what a benshi’s performance was like." – AA: Revisited an important Mizoguchi film. An OK, clean print of a distractingly (but interestingly) semi-silent version: the soundtrack is full with Western tunes (even the Finnish Armas Järnefelt's "Berceuse" is played at length), and there is the benshi on the soundtrack, meaning that the same voice interprets all the characters. There is again the history of the woman sacrificing herself to prostitution for the sake of the man. This seems to have been a basic story of late Japanese silent cinema, and, famously, it transformed into Mizoguchi's theme of the love of the woman saving the soul of the man. Mizoguchi is a director whose films need to be seen in good prints, and this screening made the best sense so far for me of this moving film.

The retrospective on André Antoine and French realism was introduced by Philippe Esnault and Lenny Borger. It revealed the true scope, context and significance of an important phenomenon in French film history and in the history of realism in the cinema. "At last exhumed from oblivion, here are the films of André Antoine (1858-1943), as well as diverse sites such as S.C.A.G.L. and filmmakers (Capellani, Krauss, Denola, Hervil, et al.) who show the signs of his influence" (Philippe Esnault). – Many remarkable, familiar films (Germinal, Les Frères Corses, Les Travailleurs de la mer, La Belle Nivernaise, La Brière) I skipped this time.

Ceux de chez nous (FR 1915), D: Sacha Guitry; silent version, 35 mm, 578 m /18 fps/ 28’, Archives Françaises du Film (CNC), shown with the kind permission of Madame Jacqueline Aubart. No intertitles. ♪ Donald Sosin, Maud Nelissen. GCM Zancanaro 2005. Philippe Esnault: "Glimpses of some illustrious French personalities of the period: the sculptor Rodin in his garden, and then in his studio carving some marble; the criminal lawyer Maître Henri-Robert, pleading a case; Claude Monet in his garden at Giverny, and then in front of a canvas; André Antoine directing two actors (Jane Faber and Desfontaines) in a rehearsal of a Molière play; Camille Saint-Saëns at the piano, and then conducting an orchestra; Degas walking along the Boulevard de Clichy; Edmond Rostand writing; Renoir, crippled with arthritis, painting with the aid of his son Jean; author Octave Mirbeau; Sarah Bernhardt chatting with Sacha Guitry, and then declaiming some verse; Anatole France in his library, and then in his office. – With hindsight, this film figures among the most precious incunabula of the French documentary cinema. In this two-reel short, young Guitry filmed several giants of the French intellectual and artistic scene. – Was it Antoine, his friend and benevolent elder, just then making his cinema debut, who suggested the idea for this film to Guitry? There is one moving sequence with Antoine, directing some actors in Act II of Molière’s play L’Avare (The Miser). – The film was projected as part of a talk Guitry gave at the Théâtre des Variétés in Paris in November 1915. The commentary later served as the basis for the witty soundtrack narration Guitry would append to the film, first in 1939, and then in an extended new 47-minute version of the film in 1952 (for which Guitry shot new footage, mostly of himself), which was broadcast on French television in January 1953." AA: Familiar with the 1952 issue, I saw the silent version of this fascinating documentary for the first time.

Quatre-vingt-treize [not released in Finland] (S.C.A.G.L., FR 1914-1921), D: Albert Capellani (1914), completed by André Antoine (1919); based on the novel by Victor Hugo; DP: Pierre Trimbach, Paul Castanet?, Karénine Mérioban; cast: Henry Krauss (Cimourdain), Paul Capellani (Gauvin), Philippe Garnier (Marquis de Lantenac), Dorival (Sergeant Radoub), Max Charlier (Imanus), Maurice Schutz (Grandcoeur), Charlotte Barbier-Krauss (Flécharde); 2 parts, 3394 m /18 fps/ 165’ [162'36"] Cinémathèque française (1985, Philippe Esnault). ♪ Donald Sosin, Günter Buchwald. GCM Zancanaro 2005. Luciano De Giusti: "The contribution of Antoine to this film, co-signed with Albert Capellani, was quite scanty and limited. According to the testimony of his son André-Paul, “In 1914, at the moment of signing the contract with S.C.A.G.L., Antoine was present at the shooting of some scenes of ’93.” Work on the film was, however, interrupted by the outbreak of war, and Capellani left France for the United States, leaving the film incomplete: “To recoup the capital invested S.C.A.G.L. asked Antoine to complete it, which he did in a few days, with the agreement of Capellani.” According to some sources, Antoine directed the final episode of La Torgue and some exteriors, and supervised the montage. It would have been possible to finish it sooner if the wartime censorship had not intervened to forbid the treatment of a subject which evoked civil war. Adapted from Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name, the film deals with events and characters of a crucial year in French history, 1793, when the Convention collapsed in the internal struggle between the different revolutionary factions while the supporters of the Ancien Régime gambled their reactionary chances in La Vendée. – In October 1921, Antoine stated: “Here is a film distributed seven years after it was made: fortunately, thanks to its historical character and the talent of the director Capellani, it escapes the peril of becoming dated, but, miraculously, in an art in which developments are ceaseless.” – It is enough to compare it with the preceding Les Misérables, another great novel by Hugo brought to the screen by Capellani, to recognize forcefully how much the one seems the continuation of the other, whether in the mise-en-scène or the methods of shooting: accurate reconstruction of the settings and costumes, long shots in the mid-field in which the action is played without the change of viewpoint, so dear on the contrary to Antoine, who employed the resources of montage from his first film. In this respect, the theatrical influence is again evident in the way that the interpretations of many actors trained in the school of Antoine stand out, from Henry Krauss (a titanic Cimourdain) to Paul Capellani (a passionate Gauvin), from Philippe Garnier (an icy and pitiless Marquis de Lantenac) to Charlotte Barbier-Krauss (a courageous and distressed Flécharde). But if the film stands the test of time, it is due, beyond the acting performances, to sequences of great intensity. Without citing the decorum of the tragic finale, two earlier sequences are examples: that of the sailor condemned to death because he has not properly fixed the cannon dislodged by the rolling of the ship, and the subsequent episode on the sloop, when the sailor’s brother, Halmolo, considers avhis death, getting ready to kill the Marquis de Lantenac, who has decreed it, but letting himself be seduced by the oratory of the nobleman, and desisting from his intention." – AA: One of the great epics of the French silent cinema, worthy to be screened next to Les Misérables (Capellani and Fescourt). Hugo seems to be one of the authors that have been treated well by the cinema. The film displays a passion for history, and an urge to understand many sides of the violent events. The magnificent actors are capable to express the grandeur and the complexity of the characters. These historical epic films have a quasi-documentary fascination as they were shot on locations as authentic as possible. Beautifully restored.

Le Coupable (S.C.A.G.L., FR 1917), D: André Antoine, based on the novel by François Coppée (1896); cast: Romuald Joubé (Chrétien Lescuyer), Séphora Mossé (Perrinette), René Rocher (Chrétien Forgeat), Mona Gondret (Chrétien as a child), 1724 m., 84’ (18 fps), Cinémathèque française (1987, Philippe Esnault, Renée Lichtig). ♪ Günter Buchwald. GCM Zancanaro 2005. Luciano De Giusti: "After the success of Les Frères corses, during a crucial phase of the Great War then raging, Antoine directed his second film, adapted from a novel with a rather daring and intriguing theme. During the hearing of a tribunal, an upright magistrate surprises the court by standing up and announcing that he cannot judge the young accused, Chrétien Forgeat, because he has discovered that this is his son, born from a youthful liaison with Perrinette, a poor girl whom he abandoned, even though he had made her pregnant, out of obedience to the father who had planned a different marriage for him. – Antoine allocated to the magistrate the role of narrator. This expedient permits him to continue his use of the flashback, which he had employed in his previous film, though this time in a much more complex manner. The film’s original narrative structure presents dual delving into memory, represented by a flashback within a flashback. This happens, for instance, at the moment when, reading Perrinette’s letter, the narrator once again sees himself with the sculptor friend who has introduced them. Another instance of the flashback-within-a-flashback occurs in the sequence in which Chrétien as a child, scolded by his stepfather for coming home late, thinks of the games and the friend with whom he has lingered. At some moments the return to the present is not closed on the narrator, but on the levels of expressions with which Antoine shows the reactions of the auditors in the courtroom, as, for instance, the commotion of the judges at his story. – Some points of contact link this film by Antoine with Dreyer’s debut with Praesidenten two years later. – Louis Delluc, who had loved Les Frères corses, considered Le Coupable a “mediocre” film, a view taken up by Bardèche and Brasillach, who only appreciated the scene of the killing. Philippe Esnault, on the contrary, regards it as “one of the greatest films of the French silent cinema, little short of a masterpiece”. A re-viewing of the film brings us closer to Esnault’s judgement, and to that of one unnamed critic who, on the release of the film, wrote in Le Cinéma et l’Echo du cinéma réunis: “This intense social exploration (…) justifies all the legitimate hopes placed on Antoine, a celebrated man of the theatre, who has affirmed himself as a magisterial cinema director.” The sequences devoted to the boy’s discomfort in the face of coercive institutions are a worthy anticipation of Vigo. The restoration lacks some frames, never rediscovered, cut out by the censors, who in 1916 could not permit scenes either of the imprisonment of a boy or the absolution of a killer." – AA: Yes, the story does bring to mind Dreyer's first film. The courtroom sequence is powerful, but the film comes to life in the open air on the river boat. Also the theater scenes and the pawnbroker sequence are fine. Antoine is a master of mise-en-scène. The beautiful restored print is successfully toned. I missed the ending as the screening started too late, and there was another appoinment to keep.

Les Travailleurs de la mer (S.C.A.G.L., FR 1917). D: André Antoine; based on the novel by Victor Hugo; asst. D: Georges Denola; cast: Romuald Joubé (Gilliatt), Philippe Garnier (Jacquemin Hérode, the pastor) 2 parts, b&w and tinted, 1853 m /18 fps/ 90’ Cinémathèque française (1989, Philippe Esnault). ♪ Antonio Coppola. GCM Zancanaro 2005. Luciano De Giusti: "After the positive reception of his first two films, Antoine decided to bring to the screen Victor Hugo’s powerful novel, which had the added attractions of its maritime setting and the prospect of filming in the neighbourhood of Camaret-sur-Mer, where the director owned a villa. – Even though the adaptation of a novel so vast and articulated could only result, as in so many similar cases, in abridgement, the film respects the original’s narrative structure and conception of the characters. In this respect, in the films of Antoine we find the most complex psychological portrayals, achieved by using actors who had developed and been formed through theatrical experience with him. Charles Mosnier brings great truth to the characterization of the ship-owner Mess Lethierry. Marc Gérard is equally clever at conveying, through his body language and facial expressions, the treacherous duplicity of Captain Clubin. Outstanding, however, is Romuald Joubé, one of the great actors of the Antoine circle, who had already starred in Le Coupable and would appear again in Mademoiselle de la Seiglière. Here he plays the protagonist Gilliatt, a kind of innocent “idiot” whose solitary existence arouses among the people of the neighbourhood such a mistrust – Hugo writes – that they consider him a witch or a cambion, fathered by the Devil. When Lethierry is ruined by the theft of his money by his partner Rantaine, followed by the wreck of his ship the Durande, caused by Captain Clubin, it is the tenacity of the generous Gilliatt which mends matters and miraculously restores his ship to him. Les Travailleurs de la mer is the story of a man who sacrifices himself to the point of total self-denial for the happiness of others, renouncing marriage with Déruchette, with whom he is secretly in love, and yielding to the mortal embrace of the sea. – Antoine mitigates the melodramatic elements of the plot by his strong handling of a mise-en-scène characterized by his truth to detail, to which as always he dedicates minute care. However, some difficulties occasionally result in compromising his demand for truth, like some painted backgrounds, for example. For the sequence of Gilliatt’s battle with the octopus, a symbolic incident in Hugo’s novel, Antoine fails to make it appear sufficiently large and dangerous, having had to resort to simulation. To compensate for such “artifice”, Antoine dedicates ample space to the solitary work of the protagonist, who repairs wrecked vessels, a point in the narration of quasi-documentary description. In his efforts to realize the psychological complexity of his characters, Antoine, more often here than in his other films, turns to the use of the close-up and subjective shots: from the oscillating shots of the boat in the sea, to the reciprocal double subjectivity of the protagonist vis-à-vis the pastor, his rival in love, which become glances into the camera, like Gilliatt’s enigmatic look as he closes the shutters of the house, which seems to interrogate the spectator on the very mystery of his soul. – The film was believed to be lost until the rediscovery in 1988 of a tinted print at the Nederlands Filmmuseum. The version resulting from the restoration carried out by Philippe Esnault for the Cinémathèque Française in 1989 lacks some shots, while others have been rearranged and the intertitles remade." – AA: I just revisited the beginning to witness the expressive location shooting on the coast of Bretagne (Saint-Sampson, Guernsey, Saint-Malo).

Les Grands (S.C.A.G.L., FR 1918). D: Georges Denola; based on the play by Serge Veber & Serge Basset (1909); cast: Jean Silvestre (Surot), Maurice Lagrenée (Jean Brassier), Maxime Desjardins (Lormier, the principal) Originally 1430 m. 1405 m /18 fps/ 69’ Národní filmovy archiv, Czech intertitles. ♪ Antonio Coppola. GCM Zancanaro 2005. Lenny Borger: "The mystery film of the Antoine and French realism program, one of the rare extant films directed by Georges Denola, who served as Antoine’s closest collaborator on all but one of the Maître’s films. It is the first screen version of a hugely successful French play, first staged in January 1909 at the Théâtre de l’Odéon by... André Antoine. Not only was it one of his most enduring commercial hits during his embattled years at the helm of that famous Paris playhouse, but its continuing popularity spawned no less than three film versions in a mere 20 years. The play, co-authored by Serge Veber, a leading commercial dramatist of the period, and Serge Basset, a writer and journalist who had once worked as a teacher and principal, is a facile but engaging melodrama set in a provincial “collège” (a French secondary school, not to be confused with the Anglo-Saxon university term “college”) during the Easter vacation period, when all but a handful of older students have returned to their families. The plot revolves around the growing pains of one of the boys who has stayed at school, 19-year-old Jean Brassier, who is champing at the bit to declare his love to Hélène, the young wife of the middle-aged collège principal. The plot thickens when the disreputable 18-year-old school dunce named Surot burgles an important sum of money from the desk of the principal’s office, an act witnessed by Jean and Hélène. Jean is accused of the robbery, but his denouncing the true culprit would only compromise Hélène... – It may be hard to see today what could have appealed to Antoine’s naturalistic bent in this play, though extant photos of the production afford one hint: the two main sets, the study hall and the principal’s office, are almost cinematic in their elaborate detail and lighting (the study is even fitted with a heavily carpentered beamed ceiling). No doubt, Antoine was interested more in the atmosphere of a largely depopulated provincial boarding school than in the characters’ psychology. – The original stage cast boasted some already famous Antoine players and a few hopefuls who would go on to great careers: future Comédie-Française celebrity Maxime Desjardins played the principal, and repeated the part in Denola’s film (the only one of the stage originals to do so). The dunce Surot was played by 23-year-old Pierre Renoir. Saturnin Fabre, later to become one of the most beloved of eccentric supporting actors in French sound films, was singled out by critics for his comic grotesque characterization of the school bursar. Other Antoine regulars in the cast of the play included Henri Desfontaines (to become one of the most prolific commercial filmmakers of the 1920s), Denis d’Ines, Jeanne Lion, and Jeanne Grumbach, who would also have a small role in the film version of La Terre. – Apart from his work with Antoine, little is known of Georges Denola’s career. Born in Paris in 1865, he was administrator of the celebrated La Cigale music hall before joining Radios, a film production company founded by industry pioneer Clément Maurice (who as a collaborator of the Lumière Brothers had organized the first public screenings of the cinématographe on 28 December 1895). – With the birth of the S.C.A.G.L. – the Société Cinématographique des Auteurs et Gens de Lettres – in 1908, Denola was hired by Pierre Decourcelle as a house director, and by his own account made (often anonymously, as was the case in these pioneering pre-war years) more than 200 films in his 13 or so years with the studio. Denola turned out innumerable adaptations of classics of popular literature." – AA: I watched the beginning of the least known film in the French retrospective. It seems to be interesting mostly for the Antoine connection of the director.

La Terre [not released in Finland] (S.C.A.G.L., FR 1919-21), D: André Antoine; asst. D: Georges Denola, [Julien Duvivier?]; based on the novel by Emile Zola; DP: René Guychard, René Gaveau; cast: Armand Bour (Père Fouan), René Alexandre (Jean Macquart), Germaine Rouer (Françoise), Jean Hervé (Louis, “Buteau”), Jeanne Briey (Lise), Emile Milo (Hyacinthe, “Jésus-Christ”), Berthe Bovy (Olympe, “La Trouille”), 6761 ft /19 fps/ 95’ [104'33"?]. Photoplay Productions. Restoration in collaboration with Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique, Cinémathèque Française, Gosfilmofond. ♪ Stephen Horne. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – Richard Abel: "La Terre epitomizes the French “peasant films” of the early 1920s, a subset of the numerous realist melodramas produced after the Great War that depicted a wide range of geographical areas and provincial cultures, from the seacoasts and rivers or canals to the mountains and agricultural plains. If these realist melodramas share the folklorist concerns of what Linda Nochlin has called 19th-century “picturesque regional genre painting”, they also depend on two parallel, yet not always compatible, modes of representation – that, most obviously, of French naturalistic fiction and drama, but also that of Impressionist painting as well. The one’s harsh, even fatalistic critique of the social order is combined, sometimes uneasily, with the other’s aesthetic pleasure in capturing “the verities of nature en plein air.” – The peasant films in particular document the milieu of the agricultural regions of western, central, and southern France (the north and east having been destroyed in the war). As a group, they tend to cultivate a perception of natural landscapes marked by nostalgia or even melancholy, an effect perhaps due to the war’s devastation and the country’s slow adaptation to an increasingly “modern” world. – La Terre has a subject not unlike that of Shakespeare’s King Lear in that it tells the story of an aged peasant, Old Fouan, who distributes his land among his grown children, expecting them to provide money and sustenance for him and his wife. Instead, they greedily scheme against one another as well as their own father and benefactor; even the most sympathetic characters, Jean and Françoise, eventually act out of self-interest and refuse to support Old Fouan against their chief rival and antagonist, Buteau. The result is a series of deaths and evictions that nearly destroys the family (but has no effect on the region’s wealthiest landowner) and finally concludes one early winter morning, with Old Fouan, homeless and alone, stumbling over the barren earth that used to be his. – Much of this grim story, however, takes place in a landscape of great bounty, the rich agricultural plains of the Beauce region, where nearly all of the film was shot using available light (artificial lighting is confined to just two scenes, in which attempts are made to steal Old Fouan’s savings). At the time, the meticulously painterly images reminded film critic Paul de la Borie of Jean-François Millet. Note, for instance, the many long shots, especially in the harvest scenes, that position one or more characters in carefully composed “deep spaces” that seem to make them part of the earth itself. That the principal actors, most of them from the leading Paris theaters of the day, including the Comédie Française, rarely seem “out of place” strengthens the film’s dominant aesthetic of pictorial realism. – This conception of the earth as paradoxically producing both beauty and bounty but also barely restrained, self-destructive desires is complicated by several instances of irony. Throughout, a cathedral (Chartres?) can be seen in the distant background of shots, but no priest ever appears in the story, and when Old Fouan seeks refuge there he finds the doors locked. Near the end, a sheepherder speaks to Old Fouan like a wise patriarch, but has little to offer him, even as advice. That irony becomes especially stark shortly thereafter, with the alternation between shots of one life ending and another “beginning”, as Old Fouan collapses and dies in a field, and La Cognette awakens, stretches with pleasure, and combs out her hair at an open window." – AA: The King Lear connection is indeed evident, and the final image of La Cognette surprisingly confirms Freud's interpretation of the Lear theme. The old man has embraced mother earth one last time, "the woman of his life", the one that he had lost and that now takes him in her arms again. The restoration project has saved a powerful film for us to see; largely, the visual beauty has to be imagined on the basis of the other Antoine films, as the definition of light in this one has suffered during the duplications.

L'Hirondelle et la Mésange (S.C.A.G.L., FR 1920), D: André Antoine; asst. D: Georges Denola; SC: Gustave Grillet; DP: René Guychard; cast: Louis Ravet (Pierre Van Groot), Pierre Alcover (Michel), Maylianes (Griet Van Groot), Maguy Delyac (Marthe), Georges Denola (diamond dealer); filmed: 1920; Post Prod. (Cinémathèque française, 1984): ED: Henri Colpi, historical consultant: Philippe Esnault, M: Raymond Alessandrini; 1609 m /18 fps/ 78’ [75'35"], Cinémathèque française. – ♪ composed and conducted by Raymond Alessandrini, with three additonal themes by Maurice Jaubert, performed by l'Octuor de France. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – Luciano De Giusti: "Antoine directed this, his penultimate film, at the end of the summer of 1920, from the scenario of his friend, a writer and dramatist who lived by farming. Assisted by the faithful Denola, on this occasion Antoine mixed professionals with actors taken from life, authentic people of the river, recruited together with their barge. Under his direction all act with discretion and simplicity. He sees the action from varied viewpoints of their life, using different cameras. Much material is shot in the environment encountered in the course of the journey of this “river movie”. Often Antoine diverts his view from the people to regard the river, its banks, the landscape which passes in lateral tracking shots until it becomes itself a character, a silent witness to the drama: a diversion of the attention which serves to extinguish the incandescent dramatic matter. How Antone unfolds events, removing from them dramatization, is very eloquent in the finale: the crime commited, the intruder drowns in the muddy waters of the river, while the barge resumes its journey, and the regard again turns to the landscape, which absorbs the crime and metabolizes the death in the natural biological cycle of the struggle for life. – When Pathé saw the material Antoine had shot they would have had the impression (not entirely mistaken) of a film of documentary character which would not be commercially profitable. They decided to suspend shooting (probably not much more remained to be done) and not to proceed to the editing stage. It is known that there was a unique screening of some material, organized by the Club Français du Cinéma, but there are no details as to what exactly was shown; it was most certainly an unfinished work-in-progress, and did not resurface. – Six hours of film remained in the archives until they were exhumed by the Cinémathèque Française in 1982. Henri Colpi, who was entrusted with the task of editing, sought to do so with the maximum respect for the author’s intentions. The historical consultant was Philippe Esnault, who found Grillet’s scenario and endeavoured to follow it faithfully, guided by the dialogues and the written intertitles, for the most part by Antoine himself, even to the cinematic punctuation marks – iris, curtains, dissolves – all realized on the rediscovered negative. Of course we do not know how the editing would have been had it been completed by the director. Perhaps it would not have achieved the rhythmic perfection of Colpi’s cutting, but the already very fluid montage of Mademoiselle de la Seiglière shows us that Antoine perfectly understood the expressive power of editing. Speculation on how much of the fascination of this film, which flows as calmly as the river on which it is shot, depends on the inventions of Colpi is destined to remain an open question. The Alessandrini score certainly contributed to the enthusiasm which greeted its presentation in 1984. For Bertrand Tavernier the film was a revelation: “There are few films which espouse to the limit the sentiments of their characters, without concessions either to them or to the spectator. L’Hirondelle et la Mésange, which rejects theatrical effects, facile dramatization, everything that might spoil, in an arbitrary way, the telling of the story, seems to be born (or reborn) in each shot of the interior movement of the characters.” – In September 1934, discussing L’Atalante in his role as a cinema critic, Antoine also referred to his own uncompleted film, which in some respects anticipated that of Jean Vigo. Modestly, without mentioning his own role, he wrote simply: “In this genre I recall only Marcel Achard’s La belle marinière, and another story, from many years ago, Gustave Grillet’s L’Hirondelle et la Mésange, which was also set on a barge, on the journey to L’Escaut, between Antwerp and Bruges. At the time the work was judged too new, and consequently not commercial.” – AA: Revisited the charming André Antoine film the reconstruction of which we screened at Cinema Orion soon after it had been accomplished. I heard the film for the first time with the fine Raymond Alessandrini score, with which it definitively deserves to be screened.

L'Arlésienne [not released in Finland] (Société d’Éditions Cinématographiques, FR 1922), D: André Antoine; from the short story & play by Alphonse Daudet; asst. D: Georges Denola; DP: Léonce-Henri Burel, Pierre Trimbach; cast: Gabriel de Gravonne (Fréderi), Lucienne Bréval (Rose Mamaï), Charles de Rochefort (Mitifio, the herdsman), Marthe Fabris (L’Arlésienne), 1733 m /18 fps/ 85’, Cinémathèque française. ♪ Neil Brand. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – Luciano De Giusti: "Antoine returned to a subject based on a firm literary source, for what was to be his last film. He accepted the proposition to adapt for the screen the well-known story by Daudet. It was another opportunity for a film directed en plein air, in the countryside of the Camargue; a naturalistic scenario from this melodrama on the mysterious force of passion which reason cannot restrain: even if old Balthazar and La Renaude have survived the renunciation of their love, the passion of Fréderi for the Arlésienne confirms the ancient conviction that it is possible to die for love. – In the summer of 1921, Antoine travelled for the shooting to the actual places in which the author had set the events of his story. Guided by his acute feeling for landscape, Antoine opens the film with a panorama of Arles and the river, then focuses his view on the inhabitants and the animals, finally lingering on the herds of cattle driven by the herdsmen. The filming in the countryside of this region, the Provençal light, the costumes of the inhabitants (the same attention to popular customs already demonstrated in L’Hirondelle) combine to give authenticity to the melodrama being related. Antoine also wanted to achieve the same result through the method of shooting. His son André-Paul Antoine, who worked on the film, recalled that his father reproved the cinematographer Léonce-Henri Burel: “Il passe son temps à vouloir que la vie passe devant son appareil, alors que c’est à son appareil de bouger, de suivre la vie.” He declared, “We don’t have the horses pass in front of the camera; we must run together with them.” This was probably the origin of the travelling shot following the galloping horse which carries on its back Fréderi and the Arlésienne, aware of the latter’s lover, the herdsman Mitifio. – Despite his substantially faithful adaptation, many at the time reproved Antoine’s single great infidelity, regarded almost as a betrayal: to give a visible presence, a face, a body, and motion to the personage of the Arlésienne. Perhaps the attention brought to the film by the controversy determined the relative success of the film, presented with the musical accompaniment of Bizet’s score." – AA: I saw the beginning only, with the footage on Daudet's mill etc.; the feeling for landscape indeed is there. I miss Bizet.

L'Atre / Au creux des sillons (The Hearth / Tillers of the Soil) [not released in Finland] (Films Abel Gance, FR 1923), D: Robert Boudrioz; SC: Alexandre Arnoux, DP: Gaston Brun, Maurice Arnou; AD: Georges Quénu; cast: Jacques de Féraudy (Jean), Charles Vanel (Bernard), Maurice Schutz (Père Larade), René Donnio (farmhand), Renée Tandril (Arlette), Renée Dounis (Mère Larade); 1377 m / 18 fps/ 67’ [71'49"], Cinémathèque française (restored 1984). ♪ Phil Carli. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – Richard Abel: "Boudrioz (1887-1949) was a journalist who, from 1912 to 1914, wrote scenarios for Éclair, several of which were directed by Maurice Tourneur. Although he directed at least 13 films between 1917 and 1934, Boudrioz was largely forgotten until L’Atre, shot in late 1919-early 1920, was rediscovered by the Cinémathèque Française and restored in 1984. With La Terre, L’Atre is perhaps the best of the French “peasant films” of the early 1920s. The original screenplay by Arnoux (also a film critic, novelist, and later the editor of Pour Vous), draws on Grand Guignol elements for its opening (a desperate mother commits suicide, on Christmas Eve no less) and closing (the tragic result of a struggle between two brothers, Jean and Bernard, in love with the same young woman, Arlette). It also invokes a familiar theme in French culture, opposing the modernity and artistic status of Paris (to which Jean is drawn, gaining some renown as a sculptor) and the traditional French ways of living in the rural countryside. Yet the film remains ambivalent about this opposition. – For one thing, L’Atre refuses the melodramatic convention of favoring one brother over the other: if Bernard becomes sullenly, even violently jealous, Jean initially is lazy and later obsessed in his love. For another, the film celebrates the rural landscape of Provence in lovingly composed, meditative images (often framed in oval or arched iris masks) – as in the slow montage of images when the grandfather looks out over his farm land, or in the long-take long shot of the grandmother’s funeral procession silhouetted against an immense sky and reflected in the still waters of a marsh. It also includes moments of eerily acute tension – as in the night scene where Jean and Bernard confront one another on opposite sides of the sleeping Arlette – or emotional poignancy – as when Bernard tears up one of her letters to Jean, slouching dejectedly beside a stream (his back to the camera, in a high-angle long shot), at the same time as she walks through a village archway, on her way to post another letter (in a matching high-angle long shot). – Despite an obvious love for the earth and its bounty, L’Atre ultimately gives greater weight to a sense of human loss and sacrifice. If Jean and Arlette’s mutual passion is partly responsible for the story’s tragic chain of events, no less so is Bernard and his grandfather’s unwavering commitment to the land and its possession. Indeed, the earth that feeds and protects the peasant also produces the blind passion that divides and destroys. –In a 1924 interview, Boudrioz claimed that “the ideal purpose of the cinema” was “to record as simply as possible the simplest, yet most powerful things”. In L’Atre, René Clair wrote, “the chief quality of its best parts” is precisely that – simplicity. The readers of Cinéa-Ciné-pour-tous agreed, naming the film among the Ten Best of 1923." – AA: The story of a passion, the story of jealousy of two brothers who love the same woman (which in Finland it might have been filmed by Tulio) is filmed powerfully, with a feeling for the landscape, and, yes, avoiding the obvious simplification. It's a grim story, decidedly conservative, and pointedly negative about the artist (the artist brother is the weakling, the farmer is the winner in life).

Crainquebille / Maailman murjoma. Les Films Legrand, FR 1923. D: Jacques Feyder, from the short story (1901) & play (1903) by Anatole France; DP: Léonce-Henri Burel, Maurice Forster; AD: Manuel Orazi; cast: Maurice de Féraudy (Jérôme Crainquebille), Marguerite Carré (Madame Laure), Charles Mosnier (Dr. Mathieu), René Worms (Lemerle, defense attorney), Jeanne Cheirel (Madame Bayard), Félix Oudart (police officer 64), Jean Forest (“La Souris”), Françoise Rosay (shoe store customer), 1584 m /18 fps/ 77’ [75'10"], tinted, restored by Lobster Films (Paris), with the collaboration of Lenny Borger. ♪ composed and conducted by Antonio Coppola, Performed by l'Octuor de France, Commissioned on the occasion of Paris Cinema, 2005. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – Lenny Borger: "After a modest war-time directing apprenticeship at the Gaumont studios, Feyder (1885-1948) burst into the commercial limelight with his first major feature, L’Atlantide (1921). But it was his second film, that more accurately displayed his artistic credentials – taste, wit, psychological acuity, and a powerful visual imagination – and brought him recognition as one of the most innovative and stylish new talents in French and European cinema. – Crainquebille went no further than the working-class neighborhoods and market streets of post-World War I Paris, but in its own daring way it explored a city and a society with a sense of detail that would retrospectively earn the film praise as a precursor of French “poetic realism,” even Italian neo-realism. – The success of L’Atlantide had been a double-edged phenomenon. Though the film made buckets of money for its distributor, Louis Aubert, its actual profits were reduced by the film’s astronomical negative cost, 1.8 million francs – three times the film’s original budget. Though fêted in the trade and popular press as the “man who dared”, the young Belgian-born Feyder inspired mostly distrust among producers and investors. His reputation as a prodigal director dates from this period, and it would stick till the end of his career. As a result, Feyder would lead a zigzagging cosmopolitan career. – Luckily, he found two enterprising independent Paris producers, André Legrand and Gabriel Trarieux, who were willing to invest 300,000 francs in a screen adaptation of a tale by the celebrated Anatole France, an often hilarious but finally bitter social satire about a humble Paris pushcart peddler who is wrongly accused of having insulted a gendarme, brought to trial, and sentenced to a brief prison term. He returns to his job, but his customers now snub him. The old man loses his livelihood and self-respect, and becomes a tramp. – France, then at the peak of his literary fame, never inspired the Film d’Art-style producers of the 1910s – his ornate literary style and often allegorical themes lent themselves poorly to simplistic screen visualizations. But in December 1921 France received the Nobel Prize for Literature. In the summer of 1922, with the inspired collaboration of cameraman Léonce-Henri Burel – fresh from Gance’s La Roue and André Antoine’s L’Arlésienne – Feyder took his actors into the very streets in which the author had set his tale, just as Antoine had done earlier for Le Coupable (1917). The documentary realism of these street scenes – including an opening reel shot entirely at night! – was all the more exhilarating for being shot with concealed cameras (the traveling shots were filmed from the back of a van). The curiosity and delight of these authentic bystanders-cum-unwitting movie extras to such scenes as Crainquebille’s fateful altercation with an obtuse gendarme remain among the film’s most memorable qualities. – Even Feyder’s sense of exposition and dramatic structure was unconventional. The hero doesn’t make his entrance until Reel 2, and only after we have been introduced to a handful of secondary social types – a doctor, a lawyer, a prostitute, a street urchin – whose roles in the action will only become evident later. Feyder invents a brilliant linking device for these vignettes: a procession of farmers’ carts, en route to the central market, which roll through the different social environments in which these characters live. Feyder borrowed these figures from France’s 1903 stage version, but he wove them into the film’s dramatic fabric so adroitly that their presence gives the central tragicomedy greater social and psychological impact. Even Anatole France was impressed by Feyder’s psychological toning – he was delighted in particular by the scene in which Crainquebille savors the modern comforts (!) of his prison cell. – Among aficionados of the avant-garde, Crainquebille is remembered for its satiric trial scene. Here Feyder breaks with the realistic, objective mode of representation to visualize the action through the confused mind of his naïve, intimidated hero. Using trick photography (double-exposures, distortions, hand-held POV shots) and special effects (the bust of Marianne, feminine symbol of the French Republic, craning around on her pedestal to glare down at Crainquebille), Feyder elevates a trite court scene into a bitterly funny phantasmagoria of perverted justice. – For all its qualities as a naturalistic vision of populist Paris ca. 1922 and its avant-gardish camerawork, Crainquebille was (and remains) best appreciated for the marvelously subtle, humorous, and poignant performance of Maurice de Féraudy (1859-1932). A leading member of the Comédie-Française since the 1880s, Féraudy had appeared in a number of films before and during World War I, but critics considered him hopelessly theatrical. Under Feyder’s direction, Féraudy seamlessly became one with his part. During the shooting, not even the authentic pushcart peddlers and market professionals suspected that behind the grizzled, mustachioed figure was the éminence grise of one of France’s most conservatively highbrow cultural institutions. (Feyder put Féraudy and his film to the acid test by holding a special matinee preview for an audience of real street market professionals!) – Feyder also elicits a particularly fine performance from French opera diva Marguerite Carré (1880-1947), here making her only screen appearance as Madame Laure, the prostitute with dreams of bourgeois retirement. For 10-year-old Montmartre-born Jean Forest (1912-1980) Feyder was to write his next film, a masterpiece, Visages d’enfants. – Crainquebille was one of the most high-profile French films of the early 1920s, when the French industry was still struggling to rise out of its aesthetic and commercial torpor. It was sold around the world, including the U.S., where even in a 50-minute cut-down version, retitled Bill, it impressed the critics. In general the French critics were impressed, reserving most of their disapproval for the film’s upbeat ending, in which the despairing Crainquebille is deterred from suicide by Forest’s plucky street urchin. This in fact was how Anatole France ended his play, the difference being one of tone: France’s peddler disappears alone into the night, unreconciled to his fate, whereas Feyder’s hero finds renewed hope in the boy’s friendship. The film was also hailed by Gance and Griffith. Crainquebille: The Suppressed Ending, 3’ (18 fps), unedited material, Lobster Films, no intertitles. Serge Bromberg & Eric Lange: "When Lobster Films undertook the restoration of Crainquebille, they discovered the original ending of the film cut at the last minute by Feyder. In this “suppressed ending”, of which the surviving material is unedited, we find Crainquebille, seconded by La Souris, helping a wealthy couple out of their car outside a fancy restaurant – the woman happens to be Crainquebille’s former customer-turned-nemesis, the prostitute Madame Laure. Her wealthy companion gives Crainquebille a tip, which he disdainfully throws to the ground – then discreetly retrieves once the couple is out of sight." – AA: I already loved the previous short version, and Lobster Film's restoration certainly does justice to the richness of the milieu in the story, where "God is in the detail". The music, too, is fine. The second ending brings to mind Der letzte Mann.

Au bonheur des dames [not released in Finland] (Film d’Art, FR 1930), D: Julien Duvivier; based on the novel by Emile Zola; AD: Christian-Jaque, Fernand Delattre; matte shots: Percy Day; cast: Dita Parlo (Denise Baudu), Armand Bour (Baudu), Pierre de Guingand (Octave Mouret), Germaine Rouer (Mme. Desforges), Nadia Sibirskaïa (Geneviève Baudu), 2322 m /24 fps/ 85’, Cinémathèque française. ♪ Gabriel Thibaudeau. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – Luciano De Giusti: "Antoine who dissuaded the young Duvivier from pursuing his dream of being an actor, and, putting him under the reliable guidance of Denola, invited him to join his unit. When the promising disciple went on to become a director, he was to maintain the same attention to realistic exactitude, though, in the search for his own composite style, he combined it with other incentives. In his last silent, Au bonheur des dames, known at the time in its sonorized version, traces of the Antoine influence remain in some of the names involved: Zola as a source of inspiration; René Guychard as cinematographer; Germaine Rouer, the fascinating Françoise of La Terre; and finally Armand Bour, here also playing an old man destined to succumb, like old Fouan in La Terre, supplanted by new generations. – Taking his inspiration from Zola, Duvivier makes clear, from an initial intertitle, the social theme of the film: the fierce struggle between the Grand Magasin and the little private shop, between David and Goliath, is the outcome of the unstoppable force of progress, which alone is responsible. Such determinism is recognized at the end by the protagonist Denise, who exonerates from all blame her lover Mouret, seen as the simple instrument used by progress to exercise all its power. Within the socio-economic theme whirls a complex intrigue of emotional events, yet the sentiment of love seems to undermine the inexorable logic of progress, as the final reconciliation of Denise and Mouret demonstrates. Their sentimental happy end obscures the tragic fate of Uncle Baudu, run over and killed by a van of the Grand Magasin itself. – In Duvivier’s film we find the same concern for detail as in Antoine, but incorporated with a propensity for an overloaded splendour of framing. The master’s principles are submerged in the eclectic style of the pupil. Antoine’s demand for a camera which does not stay still, waiting for life to pass before it, here assumes the appearance of a vision in continuous movement, which flies into the space of a scene to produce a virtual visual merry-go-round. It is apparent from the first sequence, describing Denise’s arrival in the city: the agitated movement of the camera, together with the rapid editing and the use of superimpositions, aims to convey in visual terms the bewildering encounter of the girl with the frenetic life of the metropolis. This dynamic vision is found again in other montage sequences. Their function, much more expressionist than simply serving the narrative, is most marked in the sequence which alternates the activity of the Grand Magasin with the demolition work and the suffering of Baudu, beseiged by the noise, vibrations, and dust. After the death of his daughter Geneviève, to convey his distressed state of mind the editing becomes even more rapid: the old walls fall and the blows of the pickaxes become so percussive that they seem to beat directly on the head of poor Baudu. This inclination to expressivity distances Duvivier from the essential simplity of Antoine, sometimes pushing him into the quest for effect." – AA: I saw the beginning only with its lively urban montage; Walter Benjamin would have been interested. The little shop vs. the big store: sounds like an Ealing story.


Paolo Cherchi Usai: "Within three years, D. W. Griffith completed two of the most acclaimed silent films ever made, Intolerance and Broken Blossoms. The parallel between a grandiose epic intertwining four different stories and the linear trajectory of an intimate drama is echoed by the shift between the collective tragedy of World War I (Hearts of the World) and the chamber-work structure of A Romance of Happy Valley. By then, Griffith was unanimously acclaimed in America as the world’s greatest director, the realization of cinema’s boldest aspirations. At the same time, he was still a contract director for Harry E. Aitken, in charge of supervising Triangle productions. Griffith’s role as supervisor of the films produced in this period is no less a matter of conjecture than it was in relation to the films credited to him in the years 1914 and 1915. It is certain that some films were publicly attributed to his supervision even though his input was close to nil, but the truth of the matter is that we still don’t know enough to conclusively rule out his participation in a number of titles."

Intolerance / Suvaitsemattomuus (D. W. Griffith, Wark Producing Corp., US 1916) D: D. W. Griffith; cast: Mae Marsh, Robert Harron, Miriam Cooper, Walter Long, Margery Wilson, Eugene Pallette, Josephine Crowell, Constance Talmadge, Elmer Clifton, Alfred Paget, George Siegmann, Lillian Gish. 10690 ft /16–18 fps/ 171', Photoplay Productions, ♪ Hi-Fi presentation of the 1986 score by Carl Davis. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – Russell Merritt: "The Mother and the Law, was intended as a companion piece to The Escape, released earlier that year. In it, Griffith recast Mae Marsh and Bobby Harron for another study of prostitution and gangs in the city slums. By January 1915, the 3-reeler was virtually complete. In late February he left California to oversee its New York premiere and battle his antagonists in the accompanying censorship brawls. Not until May, after Birth’s controversies were at their peak, did Griffith return to his slum story, now determined to build on Birth’s success. He famously decided to expand the story, transforming Mother into an exposé of industrial exploitation. He built lavish sets (notably the Mary Jenkins ball, the mill-workers’ dance hall, the Chicago courtroom, and the San Quentin gallows); added the strike sequence and last-minute rescue; and introduced the motif of mill owner Jenkins, his ugly sister, and the wicked civic reformers. – The expansion was, in part, an effort to capitalize on the headlines surrounding John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who had stirred up controversy and resentment with the creation of the Rockefeller Foundation in 1913 and was now being raked over the coals by a government board of inquiry for his role in a miners’ strike that led to the 1914 Ludlow massacre at his Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. Griffith interwove details from that strike and the even bloodier riots that accompanied the Rockefeller Standard Oil strike in Bayonne, New Jersey, in 1914, to create his powerful new introduction. In this new, expanded version of Mother, an oppressive industrialist and a Puritanical welfare foundation provide the trigger for the misfortunes that befall Mae Marsh and her hapless sweetheart, leading not just to Bobby Harron’s wrongful murder conviction, but the confiscation of their baby, and an elaborate, greatly expanded rescue sequence involving a locomotive, racing car, telephone, and the famous gallows execution razors. – Griffith continued shooting his Modern Story through the summer of 1915. Meanwhile (in mid-September), he started work on his French story. This was the first of two momentous developments in the evolution of the film — the decision to create a historical counterpart to the Modern Story that would be told simultaneously. We have no way of knowing whether at this point Griffith intended to contrast only the French and Modern episodes — juxtaposing events stemming from the Ludlow Massacre with those ending in the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in France in 1572 — or whether the idea of a 4-part structure came to him all at once. All by itself, the addition of the French sequence opened up the film in startling, innovative ways, providing a striking inversion of the Modern Story. The focus was now sharply centered on two bloody catastrophes resulting from neurotic, violent women hardened against the claims of the family in a film still aptly named The Mother and the Law. Surviving copyright frames show that the interiors of the Louvre palace were hand-tinted, and that Griffith filmed an extended version of the deadly court intrigue involving Admiral Coligny, Navarre, and the Guise family, which he would subsequently trim. – Not until the end of the year did evidence of his second momentous decision emerge, when the famous sets for his Babylon sequence began to loom over the cottages on Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard. The start of his costliest story was treated like the first day of a new production, as in a sense it was. Griffith radically reoriented and redefined his film, as now his French and Modern stories were to be set off against the Utopian pageantry of a pre-Christian hedonistic wonderland. By January 1916 Griffith commandeered the full resources of the Fine Arts studio. Fourteen cameramen were available to Bitzer between program assignments, and according to The Brooklyn Citizen, "eight cameras working at the same time was no unusual sight". – The Babylonian sequence took 4 months to shoot, from January to April 1916, longer than it had taken to shoot all of The Birth of a Nation. And when it was over, Griffith returned yet again to his Modern Story. Griffith, still dissatisfied with the trial and execution scenes, ordered the sets he had torn down the previous summer rebuilt. He then redressed the Babylonian set to shoot Lillian Gish rocking a cradle. – The result, when combined with the Passion sequence (shot in December 1915), was a conglomerate of stories and styles in search of a unifying principle. Part morality play and part 3-ring circus, the movie was of a piece with the new eclectic aesthetic that had all but buried the older ideal of organic synthesis. Along with Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha and Charles Ives’ Third Symphony, Intolerance remains one of the period’s great hybrids. – From the start, Griffith continued to treat his film as what Richard Schickel called "a mighty improvisation", tinkering with it off and on for the next 10 years. – The first-night New York critics were stunned. For all its reputation as a critical dud, Intolerance attracted consistently favorable reviews." – AA: The magnificent, experimental epic revisited. I heard the Carl Davis score for the first time, and it is a magnificent companion to the incredible film, which is always fascinating to watch. I saw the Photoplay edition for the first time, being more familiar with the 1989 MoMA edition; it might be interesting to see them during the same week for comparison.

Manhattan Madness / Aito amerikkalaista (Fine Arts Film Co., US 1916), D: Allan Dwan; supv: D. W. Griffith; cast: Douglas Fairbanks, Jewel Carmen, George Beranger, 2795 ft /18 fps/ 43’ [44'50"], George Eastman House (preserved and printed 2002). ♪ John M. Davis. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – Tom Gunning: "This early Fairbanks film has considerable charm, even if the direct influence of Griffith seems unlikely. The first reel is mainly taken up with a form Griffith pioneered, a drama of contrasts, as the film cuts between life in the West and life in Manhattan (a view of the city from the top of a Fifth Avenue bus; a view from the top of a stagecoach; a Manhattan café and a chuck wagon on the range; an effete Manhattan dandy and a Western tough guy, etc.). Perhaps the most Griffithian moment comes with the opening intertitle, which states: THE ARGUMENT OF THIS STORY CONTRASTS THE EAST WITH THE WEST IN RESPECT TO THEIR JOY-YIELDING QUALITIES — a bit like the opening explanatory titles of Griffith’s own drama in contrasts, Intolerance, if more tongue-in-cheek. A number of Fairbanks’ later films play with the contrast between East and West (such as Wild and Woolly or The Mollycoddle), but usually the pattern places an Eastern city slicker out West, encountering comic and dramatic hardships and becoming a man. The pattern here is reversed, with Fairbanks as a Westerner visiting Manhattan and being bamboozled by his Eastern friends. – Although Fairbanks’ athletic energy certainly galvanizes the film from the beginning (leaping over fences, hopping over a chair in a Manhattan club, and ultimately climbing in and out of windows and leaping from a roof), the film does not seem to be structured as an action film, as the later Fairbanks films would. Primarily, the film seems to contrast two popular genres of the era, portraying them as respectively rural and urban. On the one hand, the Western (which appears mainly in the contrasts of the first reel), and on the other, the mystery, which takes up most of the film’s second and third reels (perhaps based mainly on the serials of the era, such as The Exploits of Elaine), characterized by a creepy mansion with hidden passageways, trap doors, innocent women held prisoner, and sinister plots underway. – While the opening contrasts could be described as parallel editing, in sharp contrast to Griffith’s style, director Allan Dwan does not use parallel editing to create suspense in the mystery plot. The action is very rapidly cut, but with cuts on continuous action rather than crosscutting. The third reel, for instance, contains nearly 180 shots (plus over a dozen intertitles), surpassing even Griffith’s rapid rate of cutting in his late Biograph films. Fairbanks frequently looks directly at the camera, smiling and seeming to acknowledge his role-playing (not only at the end, the supposed privileged site of such self-conscious devices, but at several points in the film, especially during cuts to life in the West). All in all, this is a very sophisticated film, adept in cutting on action within a single location, aware of playing with genre conventions, but also not totally given over to a classical diegesis, aware of its parody nature in a self-conscious manner." – AA: A fine print, Fairbanks in great form, I as a viewer on the sleepy side.

Griffith at the Front (War Office Cinema Committee, GB 1917), DP: Frank Bassill; featuring: D. W. Griffith; 685 ft / 16 fps/ 11’ [10'55"]. Imperial War Museum. ♪ Neil Brand. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – Roger Smither: "Characterized by Russell Merritt as "as eerie a war souvenir as a film director ever collected", Griffith at the Front offers a documentary vignette of the director at a particular stage of his career, rather than a specific part of his oeuvre. Griffith almost certainly did not actually "direct" this record of his preliminary visit to the Western Front in May 1917 — an important symbolic step in his preparatory work for the project that was to become Hearts of the World — although the evidence of the material itself confirms that he was fully aware of what the camera was doing, and ensured his own starring role in most of what it covered. The intertitles originally included with the film appear to have tried to strengthen the impression of proximity to real combat, although as Brownlow observes, the feeling given by the film itself is that "Griffith, dressed for a grouse shoot, appears to be on a thoroughly pleasant afternoon outing in the midst of the bloodiest war in history". Footage of the visit was included in Griffith’s unusual on-screen prologue to Hearts of the World, where the intertitle disingenuously noted: IT HAS NO POSSIBLE INTEREST EXCEPT TO VOUCH FOR THE RATHER UNUSUAL EVENT OF AN AMERICAN PRODUCER BEING ALLOWED TO TAKE PICTURES ON AN ACTUAL BATTLEFIELD. – At the same time, however, it was this very visit that led Griffith to the conclusion which was later summarized in his notorious remark in an interview for Photoplay — "Viewed as a drama, the war is in some ways disappointing". Experience led Griffith to conclude that the reality of war was difficult to shape to the needs of the kind of story he wanted to tell."

Hearts of the World (D. W. Griffith, US 1918). D: D. W. Griffith; cast: Lillian Gish, Robert Harron, Dorothy Gish, George Siegmann, Josephine Crowell, Kate Bruce. 9881 ft /16 fps/ 162’, The Museum of Modern Art. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – AA: I just checked the beginning of the beautiful MoMA restoration job, with its tinting and toning.


Garbo (Photoplay Productions for Turner Entertainment Co., GB/US 2005), D: Kevin Brownlow, Christopher Bird; P: Patrick Stanbury; EX: George Feltenstein, Roger Mayer (Turner Entertainment Co.), interviewees: Cari Beauchamp, Clarence Brown (1969), Charles Busch, George Cukor (1978), Leatrice Gilbert Fountain, Sam Green, James Karen, Gavin Lambert, Dr. James Lax, Joseph Newman, Barry Paris, Mimi Pollak (1993), Derek Reisfield, Dr. Donald Reisfield, Gray Reisfield, Scott Reisfield, Adela Rogers St. John (1977), Daniel Selznick, Karen Swenson, Mark Vieira, Gore Vidal; narr: Julie Christie; Beta SP, 85’, Photoplay Productions. GCM Ruffo 2005. – Kevin Brownlow: "The most admired of all film actresses, Greta Garbo led a reclusive life which drove the press frantic with curiosity. They made up all sorts of stories, many of which survive to this day. One photographer stalked her for 20 years. Garbo hated all this, yet she lived in New York City, not in some remote archipelago in Sweden, so she was regarded as fair game. – Garbo played regal and aristocratic roles with such perfection that people imagined she came from a privileged background. In fact, she was born to a working-class family in Stockholm. Out of a passion for the theatre came an enthusiasm for the cinema – a favourite film was The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917) with Mary Pickford. She was already acting before the camera at 15, making advertising films for the department store in which she worked. The Dramatic Academy brought her friendship with Mimi Pollak, and her most important relationship, with Mauritz Stiller. And it was thanks to Stiller that she went to Hollywood. – This documentary was commissioned for Garbo’s centenary. Given free run of her MGM films, it chronicles her extraordinary career – her courageous fight with Louis B. Mayer, her love affair with John Gilbert – and includes tests for a 1949 film (La Duchesse de Langeais) which was never made. For the first time, Garbo’s family have agreed to be interviewed. The film also includes a rare interview with Clarence Brown, who made more Garbo films than anyone else." – AA: I just caught the end of the documentary, with the La Duchesse de Langeais footage.


Dave Berry: "When the last eight restored movies of all the known 40 Jerrys are shown this year it will be obvious even to many of those seeing him for the first time that the British series owes much to Felix’s creator Otto Messmer. Former projectionist Sid Griffiths, founder animator of the Pathé Pictorial shorts featuring the irascible and occasionally malign mutt, certainly made no effort within the films (or in his rare comments to the press) to disguise his debt to Messmer in both form and content. Strangely, it’s not the echoes of Felix which guarantee Jerry’s appeal today. It’s his feisty character and the tetchy interaction between Griffiths and his creature – in those episodes which blend live action with animation – that give the series its true originality and edge (quite apart from the technical acumen involved). The screen friction emphasizes the essential modernity of Jerry. With his demands for instant gratification, he might be a child of our day. The series also makes fruitful use of topical events and self-reflexive movie references, and owed much to the work of photographer Bert Bilby and Griffiths’ fellow animator Brian White (who formerly worked on that other, better-known, canine series, Bonzo, 1924/25). The last four years have seen the restoration of the films by the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales, with British Pathe, and the archive acknowledges the Giornate’s crucial role in bringing the hitherto neglected Griffiths to the notice of film historians."

Series: Jerry the Troublesome Tyke (Pathé / United International Corporation, GB 1925-27)

Episodi della cinerivista Pathé Pictorial / Episodes in Pathé Pictorial magazine.

Re./dir: Sid Griffiths, Bert Bilby; anim: Sid Griffiths, Brian White; f./ph: Bert Bilby; 35 mm (16 fps); National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales / British Pathe. Didascalie in inglese / English intertitles.

C.O.D. (GB 1926) 231 ft, 3’51”. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – Dave Berry: "Not to be confused with Jerry’s All Cod! (1926), shown in Sacile last year. A hungry Jerry suffers short shrift after a misunderstanding, but turns the table on unwitting tormentors."


The Unusual Inventions of Henry Cavendish (RTE/Filmbase/Restoration Film, IE 2005), D+DP: Andrew Legge; cast: Fiona O’Shaughnessy (Catherine Palmerston), Hugh O’Connor (Henry Cavendish), Frank Kelly (Thomas Palmerston), Shaun Boylan (Salacious Sommerfeld Smythe); 1440 ft /25 fps/16’, Andrew Legge. For the Giornate performance Jürgen Simpson’s piano score performed live by Mauro Colombis. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – David Robinson: "Legge’s intrepid incursion into the world of silent film affords an extraordinarily rich and concentrated experience. An Irish tale of a young inventor in Victorian Dublin, who, thanks to his time machine, undoes the villainies of the cad who has stolen the woman he loves (the kind of man who hangs a Union Jack in his drawing room), it lightly brushes a range of visual and literary references – Verne, Keaton, The Thief of Bagdad, Feuillade, Frankenstein, H.G. Wells. Most striking is the film’s visual integrity and beauty: scenes of Dublin shot by Lumière cameramen in 1897 and still photographs from the same era are, by discreet digital means, seamlessly combined with the new dramatic material. Remarkably, most of the film was originally shot on a clockwork 16 mm Russian “Krasnogorsk” camera, partly home-processed by Legge himself, and blown up on a digital intermediate to 35 mm. The actors – notably Hugh O’Connor, with his Buster melancholy, and the graceful Fiona O’Shaughnessy – achieve an authentic language of silent performance."


Entuziazm: Simfonia Donbassa / Entusiasmi / Enthusiasm: Symphony of the Donbass. (VUFKU [All-Ukrainian Photo and Film Administration], UA-SU 1930), D: Dziga Vertov; asst. D: Elizaveta Svilova; DP: Boris Tseitlin; M: Nikolai Timofeev (& Dziga Vertov); sound: Petr Shtro, Nikolai Timartsev, K. Chibisov, Kharitonov; 1849 m /24 fps/ 67’ [69'59"], Österreichisches Filmmuseum. In Russian and Ukrainian. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – John Mackay: "This year’s DVD release by the Österreichisches Filmmuseum of Peter Kubelka’s 1972 restoration of Enthusiasm: Symphony of the Donbass (1930) offers us the chance to revisit Vertov’s work in light of his pioneering experiments in documentary sound cinema. – Vertov’s greatest paean to the Soviet First Five-Year Plan for economic development (1928-32), is such an overwhelming and (for many) disorienting work that a few guides to interpretation might prove useful, especially for those encountering the film for the first time. As a whole, the film has a tripartite or “three-movement” form, as Vertov himself indicated in various talks and articles from the period. Beginning with an overture (Reels 1 and 2) on the elimination of all the old detritus impeding full socialist construction (specifically religion, alcoholism, and various tsarist residues), the film moves into a long middle section (Reels 3 through 5) that passes through many of the stages of heavy industrial production, from the initial call to industrialize, through mining, smelting, and the emergence of iron itself, culminating (in Reel 6) in a final movement, where the products of industrialization flow back to the USSR (most notably to the countryside) and are celebrated. – This much is fairly clear; yet from a historical perspective, the relation between this basic form and what Vertov actually intended – and even what he perhaps managed to film and to edit – remains a point of controversy. The Five-Year Plan began to be actualized in earnest in late 1929, with anti-religious, industrialization, and collectivization campaigns breaking upon the Donbass region in Eastern Ukraine (where most of the film was shot) simultaneously. These campaigns, and the resistance to them, generated large-scale chaos in the Donbass and elsewhere, and did not leave Enthusiasm unmarked. Enormous problems involving transport of equipment, scheduling, and massive loss of shot and recorded material led Vertov to call Enthusiasm “a film somewhat maimed in battle. Torn apart. Grown hoarse. Covered with wounds.” – Apparently, some of the wounds were made worse later on in the studio; documents reveal Vertov complaining bitterly to administrators at the Kiev studio about late preparation of prints, lifting of stills for use in other films, and (most importantly) poor synchronization. Matters are further complicated by the fact that, after some harsh criticism offered after a screening of a rough cut in Kiev in November 1930, Vertov himself apparently cut the film from (according to one source) 3100 to 1800 metres – a drastic abbreviation indeed. – Most crucially, perhaps, the difficulties encountered during shooting seem to have affected the very structure of the film in fundamental ways. The planned itineraries for spring 1930 make it clear that Vertov intended Enthusiasm to encompass far more diverse material – including footage of schools, nurseries, sanitoria, the activities of cultural centers – than we see in the finished film. A whole additional section of the film was to be dedicated to workers’ leisure, with a representative worker of the Donbass (“I, a worker of the Donbass”) ascending a marble staircase to his new palace of culture, where he would enjoy playing chess, listening to the radio, making music, singing, poetry, and so on (we might turn to the “workers’ club” sequence in Man with a Movie Camera for an analogue). It seems that Vertov couldn’t decide if this celebration of leisure would occupy the first or the last section of Enthusiasm, but it was certainly central to his conception of the film, which ended up showing all work and no (or almost no) play, so to speak. – At the same time, Enthusiasm is no mere casualty of the excesses of the Plan period, but fully participates in it by (to use the rhetoric of the day) “fulfilling and overfulfilling the Plan on the sound-cinema front”. Enthusiasm is a breakthrough work, and a quality of strain, of deliberate overreaching, was virtually explicit in the project from the start. (And was entirely deliberate: Vertov and his co-workers officially declared themselves “shock workers” [on the pages of Pravda] midway through the production.) For Soviet filmmakers the main target to be reached in 1929-30 was sound film as such; needless to say, Vertov’s own kino-eye convictions led him beyond this goal toward the truly “impossible” feat of documentary sound/image recording, including live sync sound. – Documentary sound film had widely been dismissed as a fantasy, most famously by critic Ippolit Sokolov, who claimed in 1929 that “natural sound was not phonogenic” and that sound recording outside the studio would yield only “caterwauling”. With these words, Sokolov threw down a gauntlet that Vertov was only too eager to pick up. After all, Vertov had been engaged in sound montage (in his still poorly understood “laboratory of hearing” of 1916, where he reportedly recorded water, sawmills, and other sounds, probably with a dictaphone-type device) even before he started making films. While conceiving the sound plan for Enthusiasm, he drafted and recorded a musique-concrète work (comparable in its aspirations to Walter Ruttmann’s contemporaneous Week-End) called the “sound march”, which incorporated (among other material) parts of an original score composed by Vertov and Nikolai Timofeev, and represented the transition from Old (church bells, alcoholic bellowing) to New (industrial sound, proletarian marches) in purely sonic terms. The piece was presented to a movie-theatre audience in April 1930; one reviewer present at that unique event noted that the sounds of authentic drunken profanity removed any doubts he might have had as to the “documentary character of the recording”. – But why, we might ask, was documentary sound so important to Vertov; why did he so categorically reject all suggestions (offered by, among others, Alexander Shorin, who invented the sound system used in Enthusiasm) that studio-generated simulations of industrial sound would be equally (or more) effective than on-site recordings, and far easier to realize? Comments offered in articles and discussions suggest that Vertov in Enthusiasm was intent upon making the lived experience of workers – experience that could in some way be captured, he believed, by mechanical registrations – manifest and comprehensible to a non-worker audience. Thus, no “simulation” of the sounds of industrial labor could suffice for Vertov’s purposes." – AA: The Kubelka re-synchronization does seem to do the right thing, that is, put the sound back to where it was always meant to be. Kubelka simply adds some black frames and leaves some footage silent to get it right. The print looks good and sounds as good as a 1930 Soviet film can. Watching these films is profoundly sad as the discrepancy between the Vertovian ideal and the Stalinist reality cannot be ignored.

Hindoos and Hazards / Ridolini e gli indiani (Vitagraph, US 1918), D: Lawrence (Larry) Semon; cast: Larry Semon (Larry), Frank Alexander (Necklace thief), James Donnelly (Chief Hindu Priest), Madge Kirby (Girl in park); 218 m /20 fps/ 9’23”, Ripley’s Film, Italian intertitles. ♪ Donald Sosin, Maud Nelissen. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – Simon Mayers: "A little necklace, stolen from the neck of a statue of Vishnu in a temple in India, starts all the trouble. A tourist steals the necklace from the idol, and evades the Indian priests, who have sworn vengeance. They manage to trace the tourist, but after a fierce struggle he gets away from them. Passing Larry, he hands him the necklace, saying it is worth 5 or 6 million dollars. The Chief Priest asks Larry to return the necklace, but Larry refuses to part with it. A thrilling chase ensues, with the priests turning up everywhere Larry goes. Just as it looks as though Larry will be captured at last, the picture fades out, and we find that it was only a dream after all. – Long thought to be a lost film, Hindoos and Hazards was one of Larry Semon’s last 1-reel comedies made for Vitagraph before he was given the go-ahead to expand to 2-reelers in 1918. This film is very much typical of a Semon comedy, as his humour was based on chases and stunts, strung together in a hodge-podge of gags, and he often wrote and directed as well as starred in his films. Today Semon is an all but forgotten silent comedian, but in the early 1920s he was considered a serious rival to Chaplin and Lloyd. This is a highly amusing film, and its rediscovery is long overdue." – AA: Wild and wonderful.


Livio Jacob: "In 2004 the Cineteca del Friuli and the Cineteca di Bologna launched a multi-year project to restore some twenty films from early Italian cinema, most of which have until now been considered lost or have been known only in fragmentary prints. The original nitrates are all preserved in a private British collection, Bob Geoghegan’s Archive Film Agency, and the work of preservation is being carried out in the Immagine Ritrovata laboratory of the Cineteca di Bologna."

La caduta di Troia (The Fall of Troy) (Itala Film, Torino, IT 1911), D: Giovanni Pastrone, Romano Luigi Borgnetto; SC: Oreste Mentasti; DP: Giovanni Tomatis; AD: Luigi Borgogno; COST: Luigi Zamperoni; cast: Signora Davesnes (Elena), Giulio Vinà, Giovanni Casaleggio; lg. or./orig. l: 600 m.; surviving print: 600 m /16 fps/ 33’ [33'57"], Cineteca del Friuli, Museo Nazionale del Cinema di Torino, Cineteca di Bologna. ♪ John Sweeney. GCM Ruffo 2005. – Davude Pozzi: "The restoration has been carried out by the Immagine Ritrovata laboratory of Bologna, from nitrate prints preserved by the Cineteca del Comune di Bologna, the Nederlands Filmmuseum, the Cineteca Italiana, and the Archive Film Agency. Further information was derived from copies in the National Film and Television Archive and the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia-Cineteca Nazionale. The missing Italian intertitles have been reconstructed thanks to the censorship documents preserved by the Museo Nazionale del Cinema." – “The Fall of Troy brought world-wide fame to Itala Film. No one before had brought to the design of a film this atmospheric richness, this mysterious and brooding atmosphere which dominates the framing of the wooden horse on the horizon, the battle scenes, the chromatic use of the architectonic profiles. Who had ever succeeded in concentrating the significance of the action, silhouetting in the contours of a portal, in a miraculous fire-red tinting, the figures of the protagonists who weep before the destruction of their city? Who finally had ever succeeded in creating such a depth of field from a few painted profiles? The columns of Ilium, clearly false, were nevertheless true in their framing of the movement of the actors in a space, which conquered, gradually, the third dimension. The intensity of the perspective space in The Fall of Troy has not lost its impressiveness. Its consistency is palpable as much in the space of the palace, decorated with lions and fountains, as in the mythical images of the divine lovers, consumed in a shell of allusive form, which floats in the ether in the midst of a garland of dancing putti.” (Paolo Cherchi Usai, Giovanni Pastrone, Florence: La Nuova Italia, 1985) – AA: Images of Homer and his lyre open this series of tableaux (including the Troyan horse) based on The Iliad. I agree with Paolo Cherchi Usai that there is an impressive sense of spectacle and composition in this early effort.

Giovanna di Braganza / Joana da Bragança (Itala Film, Torino, IT 1911). Orig. 283 m; print screened 131 m /16 fps/ 14’ [14'52"], Cineteca del Friuli, Cineteca di Bologna, Cinemateca Portuguesa - Museo do Cinema. Portuguese intertitles. ♪ John Sweeney. GCM Ruffo 2005. – Davide Pozzi: "The restoration has been made from two original period nitrate prints, one with contemporary Portuguese intertitles preserved at the Cinemateca Portuegesa, Lisbon, and the other, with contemporary English intertitles, preserved by the Archive Film Agency, London." “In Spain, Don José goes off to his military service, leaving behind his lover and their little son, but he does not return. Twenty years later Don José’s son has grown to a young man, and is engaged to Giovanna, the daughter of the Portuguese Commandant Don Michele di Braganza. He leaves with Don Michele to defend Lisbon from the Spanish. But the Portuguese army is defeated, and the Spaniards take possession of the city. In the conflict Don Michele is mortally wounded and Don José’s son takes the tragic news of his death to his fiancée. The young couple enter into a plot with a group of Portuguese to murder the new Spanish viceroy. The job of stabbing him with a dagger falls to the young man, but at the last moment his mother recognizes in the viceroy her old lover, and attempts to prevent the parricide. Don José is saved, but the attempted assassin is thrown into prison to await judgement. His mother then goes to Don José to reveal to him what has happened and to persuade him to save their son, but Giovanna di Braganza, in her turn discovering the truth, refuses her love to the son of the man who killed her father and who oppresses her country: with death in her heart she enters a convent.” (Lux, Naples, no. 80, 15 January 1911) “An historical drama of merit, with a realistic battle scene.” (The Bioscope, London, 26 January 1911) – AA: A historical spectacle on the defense of Lisbon. Histrionic acting, dramatic assassination attempt, some beautiful imagery. Good print.

Tontolini non vuol farsi derubare (Cines, Roma, IT 1911), starring: Ferdinand Guillaume (Tontolini), Lea Giunchi (Lea), Giuseppe Gambardella; orig. 146 m; print screened 86 m /16 fps/ 5’ Cineteca del Friuli, no intertitles. ♪ John Sweeney. GCM Ruffo 2005. – “Ferdinand Guillaume (1877-1977) was one of the outstanding director/players of the Italian silent cinema. Belonging to one of the most famous European circus dynasties, he was engaged in 1910 by Cines, along with his entire family, at the invitation of Count Antamoro, who from 8 November 1909 was in charge of comic production at the Roman firm. Antamoro launched him in the Tontolini comedy series – Cines’ first attempt of its kind – at first as actor (often in combination with the personage of Lea), then promoting him as director also. The Tontolini series, by its quality and quality, directly rivaled the more prestigious films already launched by Itala Film, with André Deed as Cretinetti, and assured the actor and his character a prime place in Italian and European cinema, and a huge popularity. Probably attracted by more favourable economic conditions, after the success of his first feature-length film, Pinocchio, direced by Antamoro, the actor left Cines in the autumn of 1911, accepting an initial provisional contract with Pasquali, for whom he created a new series in the character of Polidor.” (Aldo Bernardini, “I comici del muto italiano”, Griffithiana, no. 24-25, 1985) – AA: Tontolini has a good contact with the audience, making us complicit with his pranks. In disguise, he is about to commit a practical joke as a crook, but after his being caught, real crooks appear.


Gyongyi Balogh, David Robinson: "Of approximately 40 feature films directed in Hungary by Mihály Kertész – the future Michael Curtiz – between 1912 and his politically enforced exile in 1919, only four fragments are now known. In its 1996 Hungarian retrospective, the Giornate showed a 5-minute section from the 1917 Tatárjárás (The Tartar Invasion), adapted from the operetta by Imre Kálmán and Károly Bakonyi; and the 1919 revolutionary propaganda trailer Jön az öcsem. Thanks to the Hungarian National Film Archive and remarkably fortunate discoveries by Nikolaus Wostry of Filmarchiv Austria, we are now able to add two further pieces of visual evidence of Curtiz’s formative years. – The story of the discovery of the fragment of Az utolsó hajnal has a special charm. Nikolaus Wostry bought it when he was a young boy, but could never discover what it was. One day, many years later, he was in the Budapest archive and spotted the Phönix logo on a poster hanging on the wall, which at once gave him the clue that his film was Hungarian. It was soon identified, and in 2004 Wostry made his long-treasured nitrate original available to the Hungarian Film Archive, who have made from it the present colour safety print. Wostry also found, much more recently, the fragment of A Skorpió. Presumably both pieces, with their German-language intertitles, came from Austrian release prints."

Az utolsó hajnal (Der kritische Tag) (Phönix Film, HU 1917), D: Mihály Kertész; SC: László Vajda, cast: Leopold Kramer (Harry Kernett), Erzsi B. Marton (Mary; Princess Halasdane), orig.: 1804 m.; surviving fragment: 400 m /18 fps/ 18’ [21'59"] tinted, Magyar Nemzeti Filmarchivum, Deutsche Zwischentitel. ♪ Gabriel Thibaudeau. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – Gyongyi Balogh, David Robinson: "The story of the film is taken from an unidentified original by the elusive and oddly named producer-director-scenarist-playwright Alfred Deutsch-German. Deutsch-German’s story (as the complete synopsis below reveals) is a far-fetched exotic melodrama, somewhat weighed down by subtitles and dialogue. Even so, Kertész already shows a real sense of style in the mise-en-scène, and particularly in the skilful deployment of his players in conversational scenes. – Synopsis: Harry Kernett is deterred from a dawn suicide by the opportune arrival of some merrymakers. Invited to the home of Lord Harding, Harry meets Edward, an old friend from Oxford, and confides his despair as the last of the Kernetts, whose only talents have been living well and dying beautifully. Harry becomes Lord Harding’s secretary. – When Harding becomes bankrupt, his only solution seems to be to marry his daughter Hella to the rich Colonel Douglas. Harry opposes this, knowing that Edward and Hella are in love. Harding explains that he has squandered the fortune of his foster-daughter, Mary, and must retrieve it within the year, before she comes of age and returns from her world travels. Harry offers Harding a solution: if Harding insures Harry’s life for £100,000, he will die in one year, on 15 September. Harding reluctantly accepts. – It is at this point that the surviving fragment begins: Harry goes to India to pursue the pleasure of the East. He is captivated by the beauty of a mysterious Indian woman, whom he later sees on a boat on the Ganges. He meets her again in Madras, and importunes her in her hotel room. When he learns that she is Princess Halasdane, Harry leaves her, but the following day receives an invitation to her yacht. The Princess introduces him to an Indian doctor, Hyttara Sahib, who is jealous and hostile until Harry reveals to him his need to die. After this the two become friends. – Here the fragment ends. The original conclusion of the story was as follows: At dawn on the date appointed for his death, Harry is at the Eccentric Club in Paris. Hyttara Sahib arrives with poison which he promises will take him painlessly to Nirvana. The next day Harding arrives in Paris, seeking to prevent Harry’s death. He seeks out his foster-daughter and confesses his extravagance and Harry’s sacrifice. Mary, however, pulls back a curtain to reveal Harry and Hyttara Sahib, who reassures Harding that he has only given Harry a sleeping-pill. Harry wakes; Hyttara Sahib takes off his beard to reveal that he is Edward; while Mary and Princess Halasdane are recognized as one and the same." – AA: The story belongs to the "suicide postponed" subgenre reappearing all through the history of the cinema. This fragment displays Curtiz's sense of adventure and the exotic. Fine tinting in the footage screened.

A skorpió I-II (Der Skorpion I-II / Gewissenlose Bestien) (Phönix, HU 1918), D: Mihály Kertész; cast: Mihály Várkonyi, Jenö Balassa, Kläry Lotto, orig: 1700 m; surviving fragment: 35 mm, 100 m /20 fps/ 4’20” [4'38"], Magyar Nemzeti Filmarchivum, Deutsche Zwischentitel. ♪ Gabriel Thibaudeau. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – Gyongyi Balogh, David Robinson: "A Skorpió (originally released in two episodes) starred the young Mihály Várkonyi (1891-1976), who, like Kertész himself, emigrated after the collapse of the Hungarian Republic of Councils in 1919, and eventually made his career in Hollywood, under the new name of Victor Varconi. – Várkonyi plays Jean Morell, a wanderer who seeks shelter in what appears to be an abandoned castle. Though the place seems deserted, a fire is burning and the table is set. On the floor he sees a dead man. He tries to flee, but finds the doors now locked. As he is picking up the bloody knife beside the body, police rush in and apprehend him. He is convicted of the murder of the Count d’Orville. – In the next cell is imprisoned the Count’s valet, Pierre, the accomplice of the real killer, the cousin of the count: Pierre himself had taken the opportunity to steal the count’s treasure, which has resulted in his imprisonment. Jean and Pierre attempt to escape together, but Pierre is shot. Jean, however, retrieves the stolen treasure, and returns to the castle to seek revenge on the real murderer. Posing as the legal heir, he moves into the castle. One night the count’s cousin enters the room where the murder took place, and shoots Jean – the only one who knows his guilt. Jean, however, recovers from his wounds, thanks to the nursing of the steward’s daughter, and finds the Count’s will, showing that he had disinherited his cousin because of his dissolute life, in favour of the cousin’s vanished son. – After Jean’s recovery a garden party is organized in his honour. Following the party, the Count’s cousin and murderer follows Jean to his room and tries to kill him. As they struggle, the villain notices an amulet in the form of a scorpion on Jean’s neck. He realizes that Jean is his son. In remorse for having sent his own son to prison and now attempting to kill him, he rushes from the castle, into a ferocious storm. He is killed by a bolt of lightning. – The surviving fragment consists of two scenes from the final reel: (1) the garden party in Jean’s honour, and (2) the remorseful villain’s flight from the castle and death."


Caroline Yeager: "The winner of the 2005 Haghefilm Fellowship is Ullrich Ruedel, of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Mr. Ruedel has a Ph.D in Chemistry from the University of Münster, Germany, 1996, has been a freelance consultant for Intellectual Property Rights, and was an outstanding student of the Selznick School. He presents restorations of three films, all from 35 mm nitrate prints in various stages of decomposition, representing a variety of genres: actuality, animation, and fiction."

[Unveiling the Rochambeau Statue, Washington D.C.] (Edison Manufacturing Co., US 1902), Edison Cat. no. 5506 [code name: Unplucked]; 110 ft /16 fps/ 1’50”, George Eastman House (2005). Non-fiction. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – Caroline Yeager: "This short actuality film captures the fanfare surrounding the unveiling of the monument dedicated to the memory of Jean de Rochambeau (1725-1807), commander of the French expeditionary army (1780-82) during the American Revolution. President Theodore Roosevelt dedicates and unveils the statue. Descendants of both Rochambeau and the Marquis de Lafayette are among the dignitaries in attendance. The print is embossed with the logo of the Warwick Trading Company, indicating that it was probably used for distribution in England." – AA: The unintentionally funny unveiling would not be out of place in a Chaplin comedy.

A Ramble on Skates with Inky Dink (?, US?, c.1916?), 200 ft /16 fps/ 3’20”, George Eastman House (2005). Animation. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – Caroline Yeager: "The original source, a nitrate print, came to George Eastman House as part of the Spoor Collection of early American and British films, but with no documentation, and only scanty filmographic information has been able to be extracted from the print itself. No identifying information as to the maker, country of origin, or even the exact date of this little animation film has been found."

Chiquita, the Dancer / Chiewitter, the Dancer (American Film Manufacturing Co., US 1912), D: Gilbert P. Hamilton; cast: Geraldine Gill, Eugene Bonner, William Morse, Walter Irving; fragment, 150 ft /16 fps/ 2’30” tinted, George Eastman House (2005). Fiction. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – Caroline Yeager: "Described in Moving Picture World as a “drama of mining life in the Southwest, has the atmosphere of photoplays of this type, but is somewhat different from the usual run in several respects”. The main “respect” is the vivacious Miss Gill and her luminous screen presence. However, all that remains of her well received performance is this short fragment."



Liberty / Vapaalla jalalla (Hal Roach / MGM, US 1929), D+SC: Leo McCarey; P: Hal Roach; DP: George Stevens, Jack Roach; cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, James Finlayson, 522 m /24 fps/ 18’50”, Foundation Film in Concert, Nederlands. ♪ composed and arranged by Maud Nelissen, performed by The Sprockets. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – David Robinson: "McCarey constructs an unfaltering escalation of hysteria. Stan and Oliver having improbably switched trousers, the first half of the film concerns their efforts to correct the error, and their consequent, ever-more humiliating embarrassments when caught, trousers down, in public places. Incautiously they shelter in an elevator which sweeps them to the top of a skyscraper under construction. Their battles with disintegrating scaffolding, unravelling ropes, toppling ladders, lost footwear, and the effects of gravity in general are aggravated by the unfriendly attentions of an angry crab, relocated from the seat of Stanley’s pants to Oliver’s. At one extreme the boys out-class Harold Lloyd in thrill comedy; at the other the reactions of the strangers who chance upon their clothes-switching hint at a psycho-sexual sophistication far beyond the fantasies of the Hays Office. The music of Maud Nelissen and The Sprockets miraculously keeps pace with it all." – AA: More than one notable expert stated afterwards that this may be the best comedy of all time. No argument on that (although I have no such firm stand myself). The music overdid it. I appreciate the original L&H / Marvin Hatley approach in their early sound films: there is an obliviously light music that has apparently no connection with the escalation of disaster on screen (a favourite of mine: Helpmates, with stock music; the impact irresistible). Print OK, not the best available.

Un locataire diabolique (Georges Méliès, Star-Film, FR 1909), D+starring: Georges Méliès (the tenant). André Méliès (the concierge); 145 m /18 fps/ 7’ colorazione pochoir, Nederlands Filmmuseum. Film presentato per gentile concessione di Madeleine Malthête Méliès. No intertitles. ♪ composed and arranged by Maud Nelissen, performed live by The Sprockets. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – David Robinson: "This is the culminating version of a favourite Méliès notion: the demonic new lodger who disconcertingly produces from a small carpet-bag the furnishings for his room, down to the piano and the last picture on the wall – only to spirit everything away again when the concierge presents the rent-bill. Maud Nelissen’s music performs its own magic, elevating Méliès from the studiously revered technical master of an archaic cinema, to reveal him anew as the brilliant entertainer that his contemporaries saw, still as able to provoke his audience to fresh and unabashed laughter." - AA: Print OK, somewhat low contrast, gets better.

Onésime et le coeur du tzigane (Gaumont, FR 1913), D: Jean Durand; cast: Ernest Bourbon, Berthe Dagmar, Édouard Grisollet, Gaston Modot; 135 m / 16 fps/ 7’25”, Cinémathèque Gaumont-Pathé, Paris (1993). ♪ composed and arranged by Maud Nelissen, performed live by The Sprockets. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – David Robinson: "A former journalist, in 1910 Jean Durand (1882-1946) replaced Roméo Bosetti as supervisor of Gaumont’s comedy production, and with the creation of the comedy team “Les Pouittes” (“The Bedbugs”) established his own distinctive style, extravagant to the extent of surrealism. In 1912 he launched Ernest Bourbon (1886-1954) in the Onésime series, which continued until 1914 (though Bourbon revived the character for one or two films which he directed himself in 1918). Onésime is naïve, determined, incorrigibly romantic, and gifted with acrobatic skill and grace. The dancing fever which afflicts him and his new bride (Berthe Dagmar, in private life the wife of Durand) was a recurrent theme for comedies of the period. Maud Nelissen’s skilful contrast of the salon style with fiendish gypsy strains provides a rich counterpoint and reveals a new, inner structure to the images. The music and the images become one and the same, culminating in the magical diminuendo into natural sound that discovers the authentic mystery and magic of the film’s finale." – AA: A wild farce on the dance fever infecting everybody, the acceleration of action very well executed. A good print.

You're Darn Tootin' / Iloiset soittoniekat (Hal Roach / MGM, US 1928), D: E. Livingstone Kennedy [Edgar Kennedy]; supv: Leo McCarey; P: Hal Roach; cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Otto Lederer 1919 ft /24 fps/ 21’, Lobster Films. ♪ composed and arranged by Neil Brand, performed live by Neil Brand & The Sprockets with Mirco Cisilino & Flavio Davanzo (trumpets), Sergio Bernetti & Maurizio Cepparo (trombones), Andrea Comoretto (horn). GCM Zancanaro 2005. – David Wyatt: "Of the 106 comedies Laurel & Hardy made together, nearly a third were silent. Luckily they came together at the Hal Roach Studio, a small organization best suited to nurturing their talents. Supported by comedy specialists including director/supervisor Leo McCarey (probably the man most responsible for creating the team) and cameraman George Stevens, the Laurel & Hardy silents routinely featured more location shooting, bigger casts, and better production values than their sound films would do. – You’re Darn Tootin’, for instance, climaxes in one of the biggest and best of L&H’s street battles. Their characters are musicians “who played neither by note nor ear – they used brute strength”: they lose their jobs as bandsmen, their instruments, and finally their pants, in the course of a private altercation which gradually escalates to involve the netherwear of half the men in town. Leo McCarey seems to have initiated the formula of “reciprocal destruction”, and used it first and best with Laurel & Hardy. Director Edgar Kennedy would become better known as their on-screen, long-suffering adversary – cop, landlord, or quarrelling relative. – Randy Skretvedt calls You’re Darn Tootin’ “the first clear statement of the essential idea inherent in Laurel & Hardy …. their jobs hang by rapidly unravelling threads; their possessions crumble to dust; their dreams die just at the point of fruition. Each other is all they will ever have. That and the hope of a better day”. – AA: Even in this classic the music was overdone. Experts said afterwards that they'd prefer L&H silent, to let the laugher become the live score. Now there was less laughter than usually.

The Sentimental Bloke [not released in Finland] (Southern Cross Feature Film Company, AU 1919), P+D: Raymond Longford; from The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke by C.J. Dennis; DP: Arthur Higgins; cast: Arthur Tauchert (Bill, the Bloke), Lottie Lyell (Doreen), Gilbert Emery (Ginger Mick), Stanley Robinson (the Bloke’s friend), 8450 ft /24 fps/ 107'20" [ca 108'] tinted, National Film and Sound Archive, Reconstruction (2004). ♪ live music performed by Jen Anderson & The Larrikins. In the presence of Bruce Beresford. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – David Noakes: "Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper: “Its colloquial language and casual approach to romantic sentiments appealed strongly to the Australian market, and it sold outstandingly well...” – It achieved record box-office returns, and like the book of verse upon which it was based, it became a favourite among Australians. Director Raymond Longford and uncredited co-writer and leading lady Lottie Lyell were one of the foremost creative partnerships in the pioneering days of Australian cinema, and made 25 films together. – What was to become their best-known work remained hidden from public view until a fire in 1952 engulfed a government film library which contained the only surviving print of the film. This print was then moved for safekeeping to the National Library of Australia in Canberra, impressed and surprised at the artistry of the work. The film’s quality compelled them to create a copy so that they could strike prints and once more take the film to audiences. The National Library of Australia gave the film a new life, selling 16 mm prints to educational and other institutions and the general public. – The film’s visibility and place in history was definitively restored when it was screened to acclaim at the 1955 Sydney Film Festival. Longford was still alive, working nearby on the Sydney docks as a night watchman. He died in 1959. – The film circulated in a number of forms, all based on this one surviving print. It was not until the 1970s that the idea of a more complete and superior version became a possibility. Ray Edmondson happened upon some cans of film with the title The Sentimental Blonde at the George Eastman House archive in the US. The cans contained six 35 mm nitrate reels, believed to be the original camera negative, which had been recut for the US market in 1921. – The version for international distribution was a recut of the Australian release, said to be 75% of the original length. They rewrote the Australian slang, shot new intertitles, and even retitled. The resulting negative with the American intertitles eventually found its way to the George Eastman House vaults. – A first restoration was premiered at Pordenone in 1993. – The new reconstruction is the result of long-term cooperation between George Eastman House and the NFSA, and is largely derived from this superior quality footage. However, material deleted from the international version – such as the original Australian intertitles and scenes lost in the recut – has been replaced, to restore the film to a version much closer to that released in 1919. The entire film has been stretch-printed to compensate for later changes in standard projection speeds. – THE SCORE: "One of the musicians from the time, Tom King, played on a piano his memory of the music in 1959. This was recorded and added to earlier versions of the film. – Australian composer and performer Jen Anderson was first approached in 1995 by ScreenSound Australia, the National Screen and Sound Archive, to compose an original score for a screening of the film at the Melbourne International Film Festival. When the Archive commenced the reconstruction of the film a few years later, she completely reworked her original score, fine-tuning the music using authentic instruments of the era, including piano, guitar, mandolin, violin, and tin whistle to fit the new film: “I wanted to recreate the working-class entertainment vibe, so I chose the types of instruments that would have been available to people at the time, instruments that would have been played in their homes.” Jen estimates she has seen the film at least 250 times, painstakingly matching the rhythms of her score to the onscreen action. – The new restoration, accompanied by Jen Anderson and The Larrikins, premiered at the Sydney Film Festival in 2004, where it received the festival's audience award for Best Feature Film. – Australian Film Commission press release" – AA: A beautiful job of restoration and music, a fine instance of realism in the cinema, interesting to compare with the simultaneous realistic cycle of cinema in France.



David Robinson: "The Swiss Jesuit Abbé Josef Joye (1852-1919) was a pioneer of audio-visual methods in education. In his Basle teaching institution, the Borromäum, he used any means at hand to enliven his classes and courses. He made some 16,000 slides for his magic lantern lectures, introduced the phonograph, and around 1900 discovered the cinema. Joye clearly loved films, and collected them avidly, buying or begging them in large numbers when their commercial value had come to an end. After Joye’s departure in 1911, the Borromäum loyally retained the collection, and even catalogued it in 1940, when many prints were already marked as being in a state of terminal decay. – Davide Turconi was the first historian to discover this phenomenal hoard, some time in the 1960s. He was aghast at their condition, and recalled (in conversations with Paolo Cherchi Usai) how some prints were so wet with dissolving emulsion that he had to hang them to dry on clothes-lines before it was possible to examine them. He desperately looked for ways to save the collection, and eventually succeeded in having some films – principally Italian classics – transferred to the Vatican and thence to the Italian Historical Association. Since the Association had no facilities for storing films they were passed on to the Cineteca Nazionale in Milan, and subsequently to the archive of the Centro Sperimentale in Rome. – Turconi believed that the films he had failed to rescue in this way were in peril of irresistible decay. Desperate to ensure that they should not disappear without trace – as seemed likely and imminent – he resorted to a desperate yet systematic measure. He cut a couple of frames from almost every shot of every surviving film, carefully packaging and labelling each one. The task was phenomenal: ultimately he made upwards of 20,000 clippings. These are now held in various collections, but principally the Cineteca del Friuli and George Eastman House. – Following Turconi’s gallant effort to rescue what he could, the Joye Collection was left to decay undisturbed until 1972, when the young British filmmaker David Mingay, preparing a pioneer television series on early cinema, rediscovered it, and was able to return some of its treasures to the screen. He alerted Britain’s National Film and Television Archive to the importance and peril of the Joye treasure, and arranged a meeting between the films’ guardian, Father Bamberger, and David Francis, curator of the NFTVA. The Archive, having established that the Swiss national archives were unable to undertake the work of restoration, acquired the films, and over several years restored what was salvageable, and made black-and-white dupe negatives with some colour prints. The NFTVA hopes to be able to extend the number of colour prints available in the years to come. In the 1980s the Swiss historian Roland Cosandey dedicated several important studies to the analysis of the Collection. – The Collection was a treasury of early colour techniques – hand-colouring, stencil, tinting, and toning. The “Turconi clippings” project is co-ordinated by Joshua Yumibe, who has made a special study of early colouring techniques."


Programme selection and notes by Bryony Dixon, Curator of Silent Film, BFI/National Film and Television Archive. All prints 35 mm, 18 fps, NFTVA (Joye Collection), with the kind permission of Father Hansruedi Kleiber SJ. Presenta Bryony Dixon, ♪ Neil Brand. GCM Ruffo 2005. – AA: A wonderful show, one of the highlights of the Festival.

[Schluchten des Ardèche] / Die Abfahrt bei Wallon (Gaumont, FR, c.1910), 395 ft, 6’, colorazione pochoir, Deutsche Zwischentitel. A boat trip along the Gorges de l’Ardèche, France. – AA: Trekking on the alp streams. Good print.

Récolte et préparation des ananas (Pineapple Industry) (Pathé Frères, FR 1910), 439 ft, 6’, colorazione pochoir, Deutsche Zwischentitel. The harvesting and canning of pineapples in Singapore. – AA: Industrial documentary on the many phases of producing canned pineapples. Good print.

Au pays des singes et des serpents / Im Lande der Affen und schlafen Schlangen (Pathé Frères, FR 1910), 302 ft, 5’, colorazione pochoir, Deutsche Zwischentitel. Scenes of monkeys and snakes and clearing bats from a cave in the Sunda Islands, near Indonesia. – AA: A monkey helps collect cocoanuts. Spectacular footage on a huge swarm of bats emerging from a cave.

La Beurre en Normandie / Die Butter in der Normandie (Pathé Frères, FR 1910), 350 ft., 5’, colorazione pochoir e imbibizione, Deutsche Zwischentitel. The making of butter in Normandy, France. – AA: The beautiful smiles of the women milking and churning.

Dans le golfe de Salerne / Im Golf von Salerno (Pathé Frères, FR 1909), 330 ft, 5’, b/w & stencil colour, Deutsche Zwischentitel. Travelogue scenes in the Gulf of Salerno. Children playing in the sea by Majori, the old beggars’ castle, and panorama of the bay of Amalfi. Women carrying elongated barrels of wine in the town of Positano, others with large bundles of kindling. – AA: Visual grace, painterly beauty, fine composition.

Une exploitation forestière en Australie / Forstnutzung in Australien (Pathé Frères, FR 1912), 341 ft., 5’, tinted & toned, deutsche Zwischentitel. The lumber industry in Australia. Felling and sawing large trees in the traditional manner and with machinery. – AA: Magnificent scenes.

Les Hôtes de l'air / Die Gäste der Luft (Pathé Frères, FR 1910), D+DP: Oliver Pike; 412 ft, 6’, stencil colour, b/w & tinted, deutsche Zwischentitel .Various shots of birds in their natural habitat, including guillemots, gulls, puffins, sparrowhawks, a reed warbler, and the cuckoo, by pioneer British nature photographer Oliver Pike.

[Una festa in Giappone] (Pathé Frères?, FR? 1911?), 226 ft, 3’, stencil colour, deutsche Zwischentitel. A Japanese Shinto festival, with parades of musicians, geishas, and fishermen. This is almost certainly a Pathé film of 1911 called La Fête du Riz à Kyoto – Japon (Bousquet, No. 4167, March 1911).

[Kinder-Karno in Nizza] (?, FR, c.1911), 244 ft, 3’30”, stencil colour, intertitles & main title missing. Unidentified children’s floral/fancy-dress parade in Nice with an American theme. Possibly part of the Fêtes des Fleurs or the main Carnival. Fixed camera throughout. Probably one of the many films entitled Carnaval à Nice made by Pathé and Gaumont and other nationalities in the 1910s. – AA: Bright colour.

[Las Palmas] / Der Hafen von Luz (Gaumont, FR 1910) 242 ft, 3’30”, stencil colour, deutsche Zwischentitel. Travelogue. Scenes of the harbour at Luz and streets in Las Palmas, Canary Islands.

Pêche à la dynamite dans les Iles Salomon / Fischfang mit Dynamit (Pathé Frères, FR 1909) 277 ft, 4’, stencil colour & toned, deutsche Zwischentitel. Fishing with dynamite in the Solomon Islands.

[Picturesque Roumania] / Rumänischen Landchaftsbilder (Gaumont, FR 1912) incomplete, 260 ft, 4’, stencil colour. Travelogue of peasant scenes in Roumania: women washing and spinning flax; peasants herding pigs and geese.

L'Industrie de l'escargot (Gaumont, FR 1911) 202 ft, 3’, stencil colour. The collection, cultivation, and preparation of snails for eating.


The Scarlet Letter / Tulipunainen kirjain (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, US 1926) D: Victor Seastrom; SC: Frances Marion; based on the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne; DP: Hendrik Sartov; cast: Lillian Gish (Hester Prynne), Lars Hanson (il reverendo/The Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale), Henry B. Walthall (Roger Prynne), 7718 ft /21 fps/ 98’ [104'49"] UCLA Film and Television Archive (2004). Preservation funded by The Packard Humanities Institute. Restored in cooperation with George Eastman House, the British Film Institute, and Warner Bros, from the original 35 mm nitrate picture negative, a 35 mm master positive, and brief portions of a 16 mm print. Laboratory services by Film Technology Company, Inc., YCM Laboratories. Titles restored by Title House Digital. ♪ special accompaniment by Donald Sosin (born 14.10). GCM Zancanaro 2005. – Paul Malcolm: "Though a few missing shots had to be copied from a 16 mm print, the majority of this film has been restored from the beautiful original camera negative supplied by George Eastman House, along with additional 35 mm footage from the Danish Film Institute and the British Film Institute." (UCLA, 12th Festival of Preservation, 2004) – AA: This masterpiece I have never seen in a good print, and luckily they have managed to produce a better one, although there is evident deterioration in the source material. There were annoying (computer?) effects in the live music, which actually let the film down. This time I tended to pay attention to the weaknesses of the film like the abundance of staring gazes. Still a noble and unforgettable work.

Das Weib des Pharao / Faaraon vaimo (Ernst Lubitsch-Film GmbH / Europäischer Film-Allianz GmbH, DE 1922) D: Ernst Lubitsch, SC: Norbert Falk, Hanns Kräly, DP: Theodor Sparkuhl, Alfred Hansen, AD: Ernst Stern, Kurt Richter, COST: Ernst Stern, Ali Hubert, Ernö Metzner, CAST: Emil Jannings (Amenes, the Pharaoh of Egypt), Dagny Servaes (Theonis, a Greek slave), Harry Liedtke (Raphis, son os Sothis), Paul Wegener (Samlak, king of Ethiopia), Lyda Salmonova (Makeda, his daughter), Paul Biensfeldt (Menon, the Pharaoh's Governor), Friedrich Kühne (High Priest), Albert Bassermann (Sothis, the Pharaoh's architect). Orig. 2976 m, print screened 2246 m /16 fps/ 123' [119'06"] Preserved by Adoram München, Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Filmmuseum München with George Eastman House (2005). ♪ original score by Eduard Künneke, arranged by Berndt Heller, performed by the orchestra of Saarländischer Rundfunk, played from a DVD. GCM Zancanaro 2005. – AA: Revisited the huge Ernst Lubitsch spectacle. A magnificent reconstruction and restoration job helps make sense of the whole of the film for the first time for a modern spectator (so far I had seen short, fragmentary prints only). It's all done via a 2K digital intermediate, which shows, and is perfect for DVD. It was very rewarding to enjoy the original score, which according to Stefan Drössler became the starting-point of serious original film scores in Germany.