Sunday, October 08, 2006


A solid edition of Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, with a landmark Nordisk retrospective, discoveries of Ince and Griffith, a close to definitive Cabiria experience, "Magic and Cinema" illuminating a profound source of cinema's attraction, and "Incunabula" bringing together discoveries of early cinema. Also a seminal showcase of preservation and restoration, with surprises such as The Bargain, rescued on film from the paper print source. The wise scheduling left sufficient breaks for meetings in the cordial and hospitable atmosphere of Sacile.


"The third Giornate, in 1984, claimed its place in history by presenting the first-ever retrospective of this great but hitherto overlooked early master of American film. Two decades later we are able to supplement the original retrospective with a dozen films rediscovered or restored in the last two decades, along with Ince's most famous production, Civilization" (Livio Jacob).

Thomas H. Ince (1880–1924) came to the movies in 1910 and was soon a pioneering producer, "the most visibly successful practitioner of 'scientific management' in the early film industry. At the same time, Ince films retained their crisp, uncluttered visual style, as well as their lean narratives" (Steven Higgins). Via Imp, New York Motion Picture Corp., and Triangle he progressed to head Thomas H. Ince Studios in 1917. "With success came reliance upon formula. The irony of Ince's career is that, with the achievement of complete independence, his bold and innovative style showed signs of strain" (Higgins).

Programme 1

The Lighthouse Keeper (Imp, US 1911), D+SC: Thomas H. Ince; based on the play Shore Acres by James A. Herne; cast: Mary Pickford (Polly Berry), 890 ft /18 fps/ 13’, LoC. ♪ Phil Carli. – Mary Pickford is subtle in a film that is modest, print has scratches. The Coward (Triangle/Kay-Bee, US 1915), P+SC: Thomas H. Ince; D: Reginald Barker; cast: Frank Keenan (Colonel Jefferson Beverly Winslow), Charles Ray (Frank Winslow), Gertrude Claire (Mrs. Winslow), 5077 ft /18 fps/ 75’ MoMA, restored. ♪ Phil Carli. – Civil War drama, not of the DWG calibre, print has a pleasant definition of light, Civil War anthems I missed from the music.

Programme 2 The Lieutenant's Last Fight (New York Motion Picture Corp. / 101 Bison, US 1912) D: Thomas H. Ince; cast: Francis Ford, Ethel Grandin, 1700 ft /18 fps/ 25’ Preserved by NFM, Dutch intertitles. ♪ Neil Brand. – Francis Ford portrays Big Bear in a tragic story of the man torn between the Indians and the whites, an early entry in the same tradition as Flaming Star.

Branding Broadway / Broadwayn kivet polttivat (William S. Hart Productions / Artcraft, US 1918) D: William S. Hart; SC: C. Gardner Sullivan; DP: Joseph August; pres. & supv: Thomas H. Ince; cast: William S. Hart (cowboy Robert Sands), Seena Owen (waitress Mary Lee), 4374 ft /22 fps/ 53’, MoMA, restored. ♪ Neil Brand. – Perhaps a riposte to Bucking Broadway, the Harry Carey / John Ford film of 1917. The all too wild Hart is driven out of the West to New York, where he becomes the guardian of the spoilt, violent son of a millionaire. He grows up taming the son and finds a woman to take with him to his ranch back West.

Programme 5

The Dream (Imp, US 1911), D: Thomas H. Ince; SC: Mary Pickford; DP: Tony Gaudio?; cast: Mary Pickford, Owen Moore, William Robert Daley, Lottie Pickford; 735 ft /18 fps/ 11’, MoMA. ♪ Stephen Horne. Fine print, Mary Pickford good in a double role as the drunkard's long-suffering wife, who, in the drunkard's nightmare, becomes a drunkard, herself.

Civilization (Thomas H. Ince / Harper Film Co., US 1916; 1931 reissue), D: Raymond B.West, Irvin Willat; SC: C. Gardner Sullivan; DP: Irvin Willat, Joseph August, Clyde de Vinna, Robert S. Newhard, Dal Clawson; cast: Herschel Mayall (The King of Wredpryd), Lola May (Queen Eugenie), Howard Hickman (Count Ferdinand); 5796 ft /18 fps/ 86’ MoMA. ♪ Victor Schertzinger, original music arranged for the piano by Stephen Horne. – Maybe the most famous film of Thomas Ince, but not the best. The lofty pacifistic film is clearly inspired by Griffith, but isn't on the same level. The allegoric film suffers from the fact that it is set in imaginary lands. Its naivism becomes unintentionally parodic. Yet it is a memorable contribution to the contemporary pacifistic superproductions, to be compared with Griffith, Gance, and Nordisk.

Programme 6

War on the Plains (New York Motion Picture Corp. / 101 Bison, US 1912), D: Thomas H. Ince; DP: Ray Smallwood; cast: Francis Ford, Ethel Grandin; 1286 ft /18 fps/ 19’, UCLA, Preserved & LoC. ♪ Neil Brand. A brutal account of the war between the settlers and the Indians, worth re-seeing. From a partially deteriorating master. The Bargain (New York Motion Picture Corp., US 1914), P: Thomas H. Ince; D: Reginald Barker; cast: William S. Hart (Jim Stokes, The Two-Gun Man), J. Frank Burke (Bud Walsh), Clara Williams (Nell Brent); 4649 ft / 18 fps/ 69’, LoC, Restored from Paper Print Collection. ♪ Neil Brand. – The exhausted bandit (Hart) meets a goldminer's daughter and decides to change, but just when he is about to return the hold-up money he is caught by sheriff Walsh. Walsh loses the money on the (spiked) gambling table, and Hart makes a bargain: he steals the money back and can escape with his bride to Mexico. – El Tempo: a place called Time. – Some clumsy touches in Hart's acting here, some fine realistic expressions on the goldminer's face as he learns that Hart "had to leave in a hurry". – Print quality surprisingly good, I have never seen such a good print from a paper print source!


El húsar de la muerte (Andes Film, CL 1925), D: Pedro Sienna; cast: Pedro Sienna, Clara Werther, Dolores Anziani; 1564 m, 63´ (22 fps), Universidad de Chile. Restored in 1941, 1962, and 1995. ♪ score for orchestra: Horacio Salinas; chamber version: Katia Chornik, live performance: VIVA6: Katia Chornik (violin, direction, production), Julia Rogers (violin), Anna Davies (violoncello), Tanya Ursova (piano), Cameron Todd (trumpet), Dan Gresson (percussion). – Summarizing from the programme note by Katia Chornik: the colourful exploits of Manuel Rodríguez (1785–1818), patriot and popular hero of the Chilean War of Independence in the early 1800s. This is generally considered the best Chilean silent film, a tremendous popular success. Rodríguez was a romantic folk hero, a genius of disguise, elusive as a ghost. Despite the quality of the available material, the film's qualities remain evident: it is still surprising for its blend of humour, directness, and historical daring, as well as its artful editing. A milestone in Latin American filmmaking, it was declared a National Historic Monument in Chile in 1998. The music is specially composed by Horacio Salinas, director of the legendary group Inti-Illimani, and performed by the ensemble VIVA6. – An interesting political swashbuckler, has brio, titles printed on the image, music ok. Battle of the Somme (British Topical Committee for War Films, GB 1916), P: William Jury; ED: Charles A. Urban, Geoffrey H. Malins; DP: Geoffrey H. Malins, J.B. McDowell; 4694 ft., announced: 79’ (18 fps) actually: 73', IWM, preserved by IWM in 1931. ♪ original Morton Hutcheson cue sheet score adapted and played by Stephen Horne (music director, piano, and flute), Günter A. Buchwald (violin), Neil Brand (percussion). – A legendary work from the beginnings of the documentary war feature. At first, it looks like a newsreel compilation, but there is a strong human quality in the photography. Slowly the complexity of the reality behind the images starts to seep forth. There are the many faces of soldiers, of whom we learn that 20 minutes later they "got under heavy bombardment". Epic views of the battlefield, stretcher cases, nerve-shattered German prisoners, lunar landscapes after the battle, ruins, the dead, the booty. – The strategic vision of the battle is missing until the very end of the film. – I am grateful for the original music compilation, which is touching and vital (but not magisterial). There is even an effective counterpoint, as Schubert's love serenade accompanies the view of the wounded and the shell-shattered. – A fine companion to Léon Poirier's Verdun, visions d'histoire (1928.) – Summarizing from the programme note by Toby Haggith (with Roger Smither): the main purpose of the battle of the Somme was to help the French Army locked in the terrors of Verdun. The first 24 hours of the battle are notorious for being the bloodiest in British military history. It was filmed under extremely difficult conditions by the two cameramen. The film was hugely popular (20 million admissions in 6 weeks), the press coverage was remarkable, sequences from the film, usually unacknowledged, have been used in countless films, some scenes since then even bordering on the cliché. UNESCO took the film in its Memory of the World register in 2005. Despite the familiarity of certain scenes, few have had the opportunity to see the complete film. The Morton Hutcheson compilation score is a medley of light classics, folk songs and tunes, military band music, and pop songs, notably by Ivor Novello. Summarizing Stephen Horne: Hutcheson's "musical choices vary from the genuinely moving to the wildly inappropriate". "I now find poignancy in the contrast between the music's strident optimism and images that have acquired such terrible meaning." "I think that his selection forms a strangely effective score, partly because it displays the same tension that Toby Haggith has found in the film itself: between a senes of propagandist duty and a desire to bear horrified witness."


Walt Disney Productions

Birds of a Feather (US 1931) The Ugly Duckling (US 1931) Flowers and Trees (US 1932) Birds in the Spring (US 1933)

Water Babies (US 1935)

Music Land (US 1935)

The Old Mill (US 1937)

Merbabies (US 1938)

The Ugly Duckling (US 1939)

Wordless films in brilliant prints from Walt Disney Company. Cineteca del Friuli published a magnificent book by Russell Merritt and J.B. Kaufman: Walt Disney' Silly Symphonies: A Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series.


The Big Parade / Suuri paraati (US 1925), D: King Vidor, 11232 ft /20 fps/ 143', b&w, Desmet colour duplicating original tinted sequences, GEH, restored in 2004 from the original and duplicate 35mm nitrate negatives by Warner Bros. and GEH under the direction of Richard P. May and Edward E. Stratmann. ♪ Neil Brand (solo piano). – I checked just the ending of this brilliant print, clearly the definitive edition of this great film. Neil Brand's heroic music got a standing ovation, but I would like to experience this version with the original score by William Axt and Daniel Mendoza, one of the greatest scores of film history, not forgetting Carl Davis's magnificent 1985 version, with the bass drums providing the accompaniment to the Belleau Wood sequence.


A magnificent centenary tribute curated by Thomas Christensen and Casper Tybjerg, with Lisbeth Richter Larsen and Dan Nissen. Det Danske Filminstitut published a fine book to the festival, 100 Years of Nordisk Film, edited by Lisbeth Richter Larsen and Dan Nissen.

World War I marked the end of the golden era of Nordisk, and some key Nordisk films such as Atlantis, Verdens Undergang, and Himmelskibet, are allegorical visions of the war that started the age of disenchantment. In the centenary book, it was interesting to read that Ole Olsen predicted the domination of Hollywood already during the war.

Prog. 2 Le schiave bianche / White Slavery ♪ John Sweeney Den Hvide Slavinde (DK 1907), D: Viggo Larsen; cast: Gerda Jensen (the young woman), Viggo Larsen (her fiancé)150 m, 8’ (16 fps), DFI. Print from 1957.

Den Hvide Slavehandel / Den Hvide Slavehandel I (DK 1910), D: August Blom; cast: Ellen Diedrich (Anna), Lauritz Olsen (Georg), Ella la Cour (madam), 586 m, 32’ (16 fps), DFI. Print from 1958.

Den Hvide Slavehandels sidste Offer (DK 1911), D: August Blom; cast: Clara Wieth (Edith von Felsen), Lauritz Olsen (Engineer Faith); 868 m, 47’ (16 fps), tinted, DFI. Restored 1995. Danish & English intertitles.

Shanghai'et! (DK 1912), D: Eduard Schnedler-Sørensen; cast: Clara Wieth (Lilly), Cajus Bruun (Clausen; Consul Hansen), Carlo Wieth (Willy); 780 m, 42’ (16 fps), DFI. Print from 1957.

The first three films offer an intriguing chance to follow the development of a popular theme of early Danish cinema. Sadly the theme of international traffic in human beings for prostitution is now much more topical today than then; Lukas Moodysson's Lilja 4-Ever is a contemporary sequel. Elegant surface covers the sordid truth in these early films. A three-split telephone shot seems obligatory. The third film is the most thrilling and brutal. The fourth film offers a reversal: a man is shanghaied on the orders of his rival, and the woman (Clara Wieth, the victim in the third film) is the saviour.

Prog. 3 Melodramma / Melodrama

Rivalinder (DK 1906), D: Viggo Larsen?; 98 m, 5’ (18 fps), NFI. Preserved 1999. Deutsche Titel.

After Fiskerliv i Norden, the earliest extant Nordisk Film. Female rivals settle their affairs with guns.

Prog. 5 Evento musicale / Musical Event

Klovnen / Ilveilijä (DK 1926), D: A.W. Sandberg; DP: Chresten Jørgensen, Einar Olsen; cast: Gösta Ekman (Joe Higgins), Karina Bell (Daisy), Maurice de Féraudy (James Bunding); 2700 m, 128’ (20 fps), DFI. Digitally restored in 2006 from a 35mm preservation master. Danish & English intertitles. ♪ Ronen Thalmay (piano), Romano Todesco (accordeon). – A high profile example of the obsession with circus in the films of Sandberg, in Nordisk, and in silent cinema. The basic formula is always triangle drama. In this film, the erring woman fares worst. A polished example of the "high silent era", it is not one of my favourite Sandbergs, and of the contemporary circus/clown cycle I prefer Varieté, He Who Gets Slapped, The Circus, Looping the Loop and Der blaue Engel. The music would have benefitted from more variable themes and a sense of structure. The print is brilliant.

Prog. 6 Fantascienza / Science-Fiction

Himmelskibet (DK 1918), D: Holger-Madsen; SC: Sophus Michaëlis, Ole Olsen, DP: Louis Larsen; AD: Carlo Jacobsen; cast: Nicolai Neiiendam (Prof. Planetaros), Gunnar Tolnæs (Avanti Planetaros), Zanny Petersen (Corona Planetaros), Svend Kornbeck (David Dane), Alf Blütecher (Dr. Krafft), Frederik Jacobsen (Prof. Dubius), Lilly Jacobsson (Marya), Philip Bech (Martian Prince of Wisdom), Nils Asther (a Martian); 1700 m, 83’ (18 fps), DFI. Digitally restored in 2006 from a 35mm preservation master and the original negative. Danish & English intertitles. ♪ Gabriel Thibaudeau. – The first feature-length space odyssey in the history of the cinema, an interesting film to compare with Aelita (1924). In this Utopian film, mankind finds in Mars a better race than us, certainly a valid Pacifist statement during WWI. A delicious discovery for a fan of science fiction, a film consistent in its naivism, beautiful cinematography, brilliant print.

Prog. 7 Catastrofi / Catastrophe – ♪ John Sweeney

Krigsbilleder (DK 1914), 700 m, 38’ (16 fps), DFI. No titles. – Newsreel footage from the German front: smoking ruins, sad children, evacuated people with cattle, prisoners, wounded, military soup kitchens, graveyards, marching troops, barbed wire, landscapes after the battle, blacksmiths, a barber. Interesting in its non-heroism. Good visual quality.

Verdens Undergang (DK 1916), D: August Blom; cast: Olaf Fønss (Frank Stoll), Carl Lauritzen (West), Ebba Thomsen (Dina West); 1525 m, 74’ (18 fps), DFI. Digitally restored in 2005 from a preservation master positive. Danish & English intertitles. – Inspired by Halley's Comet (and by the world war), the first Danish feature-length science fiction film, an early example of the "end of the world" catastrophe film, and of what André Bazin called the film audience's Nero complex. As the comet approaches, there is extreme financial speculation at the stock market and a wild banquet to celebrate the last days of mankind. Interesting to see once. Print has high contrast.

Prog. 9 Il richiamo dell’Oriente / The Lure of the Orient – ♪ John Sweeney

Flugten fra Seraillet (The Caliph's Wife, DK 1907), D: Viggo Larsen; cast: Viggo Larsen, Clara Nebelong, 182 m, 9’ (16 fps), DFI. English intertitles. – A companion genre to the white slavery films was the harem films. Englishman abducts the caliph's favourite wife, Suleima, from the harem at great peril.

Bedraget i Døden / Dr. Gar El Hama I (DK 1911), D: Eduard Schnedler-Sørensen; cast: Aage Hertel (Dr. Gar el Hama), 858 m, 41’ (16 fps), DFI. Print from 1957. Danish intertitles. – Following Éclair's Zigomar but before Fantomas, there was Nordisk's master criminal Dr. Gar El Hama. Among the ingredients: a fatal inheritance, secret passages, a poisoned rose, fake death in the crypt, abduction to Constantinople, a chase sequence on a train. There is visual excitement in the film. Good definition of light in the print.

Maharadjahens Yndlingshustru (DK 1917), D: Robert Dinesen; SC: Svend Gade; cast: Gunnar Tolnæs (The Maharajah), Lilly Jacobsson (Elly von Langen), Carlo Wieth (Lt. Kuno Falkenberg); 1475 m, 72’ (18 fps), DFI. Danish intertitles. – I saw but the start, print looks ok.

Prog. 10 Il lato brillante / The Lighter Side – ♪ Günter A. Buchwald (piano, violin)

Nedbrudte Nerver (The Hill Park Mystery) (DK 1923), D: A.W. Sandberg; cast: Gorm Schmidt (reporter Erik Brandt), Olga d’Org (Grethe Sparre); 1700 m, 74’ (20 fps), tinted, DFI. Digitally restored in 2001 from the original nitrate negative. Danish & English intertitles. – A light comedy of misunderstanding which resembles the Swedish comedies of Stiller, interesting puppet sequence.

Don Juans Overmand (DK 1916), D: Lau Lauritzen Sr.; cast: Oscar Stribolt (Colonel Sejsberg), Rasmus Christiansen (Peter Pille); [announced: 362 m, 20’ (16 fps)], actual duration 16', tinted, DFI. Preserved from an original nitrate print in Filmarchiv Austria, 2001. Deutsche Titel. – Lau Lauritzen at the start of his remarkable career as a leading comedy director of the Danish cinema. This comedy is about a love potion and an anti-love potion.

Prog. 11 Adattamenti letterari / Literary Adaptation

Præsten i Vejlby (DK 1922), D: August Blom; based on the short story “Praesten i Vejlbye. En Criminalhistorie” (1829) by Steen Steensen Blicher; cast: Gunnar Tolnæs (Erik Sørensen), P: 1920; première: 1922; 1525 m, 67’ (20 fps), tinted. DFI Preserved from an original nitrate print in 2006. ♪ Neil Brand. – A period drama from early 17th century, the kind of story that could work strongly with Dreyer, but August Blom's touch is not exciting enough. I saw but the beginning.


"The last golden era in Griffith's career begins with the years following World War I, a period of great change in American society, mores, fashion, and entertainment" (Paolo Cherchi Usai). I didn't see the greatest ones True Heart Susie and Way Down East (DWG's last huge financial success film) this time. Instead I saw some of the worst of DWG and was pleasantly surprised to discover The Greatest Question.

The companion book to the retrospective, The Griffith Project Vol 10 (BFI Publishing, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, 2006), edited by Paolo Cherchi Usai, offers some of the finest writing on the cinema, especially in the profound essays of Tom Gunning, to be recommended to anyone who loves cinema. The book already covers the rest of the entire career of DWG, but there are more volumes forthcoming in the series.

There are racist and anti-racist forces in DWG, and unfortunately, the racist ones were evident in several of these films (The Greatest Question, The Love Flower, The Idol Dancer).

[Signing of United Artists Contract of Incorporation] (US 1919) 283 ft., 4’ (20 fps), Association Chaplin / Photoplay Productions. – DWG in front of the camera with Pickford, Chaplin, Fairbanks. Much more extra Chaplin footage (flying, tennis) was screened, as well.

The Girl Who Stayed at Home [not released in Finland] (D.W. Griffith, US 1919), D: D.W. Griffith; cast: Adolphe Lestina, Carol Dempster; [6202 ft., 92’ (18 fps)], actually 88', NFTVA 1965. – A late DWG world war film, starring (alas!) Carol Dempster. The funny framing story is about "the last Confederate", "the sole citizen of the Confederate States of America" in his castle in France. There is the "killing slouch" of Robert Harron, some other funny intertitles, and a lively performance by Clarine Seymour. There are some trench warfare scenes worth comparing with The Big Parade and All Quiet on the Western Front. A minor film, modest duped quality in the print.

The Greatest Question [not released in Finland] (D.W. Griffith, US 1919), D: D.W. Griffith; cast: Lillian Gish, George Fawcett, Eugenie Besserer, Robert Harron, Ralph Graves, George Nicholls, Josephine Crowell, Tom Wilson; 5449 ft., 81’ (18 fps), MoMA. ♪ Gabriel Thibaudeau. – I agree with Tom Gunning that this neglected DWG feature is worth re-discovering. It's not a masterpiece, but it has fine pastoral cinematography, composition, rhythm, and definition of light. In the prologue, the child is witness to capital crime. Much later, the orphan girl (Lillian Gish in good form) returns to the same grounds. Sadism (literally) and child abuse are among the themes. The ghostly apparitions (the greatest question = death) can be compared with Körkarlen, which was being produced at the same time. The farcical ending with the poor family hitting oil is compared by Tom Gunning with the Beverly Hillbillies.

Scarlet Days [not released in Finland] (D.W. Griffith, US 1919), D: D.W. Griffith; cast: Richard Barthelmess, Clarine Seymour, Eugenie Besserer, Carol Dempster, Ralph Graves, Walter Long, George Fawcett, Kate Bruce, Rhea Haines, Adolphe Lestina, Herbert Sutch, J. Wesley Warner; 5708 ft., 85’ (18 fps), MoMA. Reconstructed English intertitles. ♪ Phil Carli. – A confused story about "the most famous desperado and gunman" in old California, Joaquin Murieta, Barthelmess miscast in the role. Clarine Seymour funny as the Mexican lady "Spasm Sal".

The Love Flower / Meren vankeina (D.W. Griffith, US 1920), D: D.W. Griffith; cast: Richard Barthelmess, Carol Dempster, George MacQuarrie, Anders Randolf, Florence Short, Crauford Kent, Adolphe Lestina, William James, Jack Manning; 7022 ft., 94' (20 fps), Patrick Stanbury Collection. – Filmed in the Bahamas, a South Sea story of a hunted man (RB), his loyal daughter (CD), and the Javert-like detective (GM). Love conquers all, hyacinth is the love flower. Fine print, could be screened slower than 20 fps.

The Idol Dancer [not released in Finland] (D.W. Griffith, US 1920), D: D.W. Griffith; cast: Clarine Seymour, Richard Barthelmess, George MacQuarrie, Creighton Hale, Kate Bruce, Thomas Carr, Anders Randolf, Porter Strong, Herbert Sutch, Walter James, Adolphe Lestina, Florence Short, Ben Graver, Walter Kolomoku; 6818 ft., 91' (20 fps), Patrick Stanbury Collection. ♪ Günter A. Buchwald. – A romantic South Sea adventure, "perhaps the only really bad film D.W. made" (William K. Everson), his racism at its worst.


CABIRIA: SONORIZED REISSUE VERSION Cabiria (Itala Film, IT 1914; 1931 sonorized reissue), D+story+SC: Giovanni Pastrone; intertitles and names of characters: Gabriele D’Annunzio; DP: Augusto Battagliotti, Natale Chiusano, Segundo de Chomón,Vincent C. Dénizot, Carlo Franzeri, (?) Gatti, Giovanni Tomatis; AD: Romano Luigi Borgnetto, Camillo Innocenti; FX: Segundo de Chomón; cast: Lydia Quaranta (Cabiria, più tarlater called Elissa), Marcellina Bianco? (Cabiria bambina), Teresa Marangoni (Croessa, the nurse), Dante Testa (Karthalo, High Priest of Moloch), Umberto Mozzato (Fulvio Axilla), Bartolomeo Pagano (Maciste), Raffaele Di Napoli (Bodastoret), Edouard Davesnes (Hasdrubal & Hannibal), Italia Almirante Manzini (Sophonisba), Vitale De Stefano (Massinissa), Alexandre Bernard (Syphax), Enrico Gemelli (Archimedes), Didaco Chellini (Scipio); M: Luigi Avitabile, José Ribas; 3132 m, 136’ (20 fps), Museo Nazionale del Cinema, Torino. Reconstructed and printed 2006. English intertitles. Paolo Cherchi Usai: "The reissue of Cabiria with sound, made by Pastrone in 1931, is the real surprise of the restoration project undertaken by the Museo del Cinema di Torino. The motives of spectacle and of scientific rigour here combine in a happy synthesis and with exciting features. If the new 1914 version of Cabiria is a fine example of supplementary restoration, that of 1931 can be defined as a triumph of conservative restoration. Sensitive to the difference between an image filmed at 16 frames a second and its reincarination at 24 frames, Pastrone had rejected the idea of a sound track on the film in favour of synchronization with gramophone discs. The original projection speed was increased to 20 frames per second and the discs were recorded to be played with a turntable whose speed had been modified from 33 1/3 revolutions a minute to 27 1/2. The 1931 version survives practically without defects apart from three splices. The discs also survive, the grooves very worn but otherwise intact. João Socrates de Oliveira has transcribed them and digitally cleaned the sound, and has inserted blank film to cover the brief splice-cuts, so achieving perfect synchronization, which finally does justice to the lengthy holding-forth of the high priest in the scene of the sacritice to Moloch, to the point of a virtuoso matching of the recorded voice and the lip movements of the soloist. No-one has heard these discs for three quarters of a century. The score by Luigi Avitabile and José Ribas includes female voices, and I am certain that some of the singers who surround the high priest are women with false whiskers." – Having seen the film several times, my basic reference having been the beautiful preserved vintage Swedish version of Svenska Filminstitutet, for the first time Cabiria felt compelling to watch all through. The Luigi Avitabile and José Ribas 1931 music makes all the difference, and in the vintage recorded performance there is a joy of playing in a fine Italian operatic tradition. I'm looking forward to experiencing the film with the 1914 Manlio Mazza and Ildebrando Pizzetti score.

Maciste innamorato (Itala Film, IT 1919), D: Luigi Romano Borgnetto; cast: Bartolomeo Pagano (Maciste), Linda Moglia (Ada Thompson), 2000 m, 98’ (18 fps), tinted & toned, Cineteca del Comune di Bologna, Museo Nazionale del Cinema, Torino. – I checked just the beginning of this contemporary sequel to Cabiria in the battlefield of capital and labour. The appearance of Bartolomeo Pagano among the rebellious workers is enough for them to re-consider. This brings to mind the facial resemblance of Mussolini and Maciste.


Curated by Matthew Solomon. I regret having missed programme 1 with the earliest films.

Prog. 2 HARRY HOUDINI – ♪ Günter A. Buchwald Houdini, de Boeienkoning (NL, c.1920), (Dutch trailer for The Master Mystery, US 1919) 35 mm, 577 ft., 8’33” (18 fps), NFM. Dutch intertitles.

[Houdini Stunts] (?, c.1909-1923?), cast: Harry Houdini; 2135 ft., 30’ (20fps), b&w, Desmet colour duplicating original tinted sequences, GEH. – Newsreel footage about the escape artist's feats above the milling crowds of big cities, high in airplanes, and deep in Hudson river.

Terror Island / Vaarojen saari (Famous Players-Lasky, US 1920), D: James Cruze; cast: Harry Houdini (Harry Harper), Jack Brammall (Starkey), Lila Lee (Beverly West), original length 5813 ft.; 3804 ft., 51’ (20 fps), LoC. Preserved in black & white from a 35mm tinted nitrate positive. – Houdini stunts and high tech submarine science fiction elements in a South Sea adventure thriller. Good print.

Prog. 3 – ♪ Gabriel Thibaudeau Les Dés magiques (Pathé-Frères, FR 1908), D: Segundo de Chomón; 445 ft., 7’30” (16 fps), stencil colour, NFTVA. No intertitles.

Métamorphoses du papillon (Pathé-Frères, FR 1904), D: Gaston Velle; 106 ft., 2’45” (16 fps), colorazione a mano/hand-coloured, NFTVA. No intertitles.

You Never Know Women / Venäläistä verta (Famous Players-Lasky, US 1926), D: William A.Wellman; cast: Florence Vidor (Vera Norova), Lowell Sherman (Eugene Foster), Clive Brook (Ivan Norodin); 5893 ft., 71’ (22 fps), LoC. Preserved from a 35mm black & white nitrate positive. – I saw the start: good fast entertainment, charming magic scenes.

Prog. 4 – ♪ Phil Carli

L'Homme mystérieux (Pathé-Frères, FR 1910), D: ?; 35mm; 320 ft., 5’20” (16 fps), NFTVA. No intertitles.

The Medium Exposed? Or a Modern Spiritualistic Séance (Paul’s Animatograph Works, GB 1906), D: J.H. Martin; 363 ft., 6’ (16 fps), NFTVA. No intertitles.

The Show / Varieteehurmaaja (MGM, US 1927), D: Tod Browning; COST: Lucia Coulter; cast: John Gilbert (Cock Robin), Renée Adorée (Salomé); 6227 ft., 68’ (24 fps), GEH. Preserved in 1982. – I saw the start of the good-looking film with a full show sequence including the scene with Renée Adorée as Salome and John Gilbert as John the Baptist.

Prog. 5 – ♪ John Sweeney

The Cabby's Dream (Warwick Trading Company, GB 1906), D: Charles Raymond?; original length 320 ft.; 135 ft., 2’15” (16 fps), NFTVA. No intertitles.

Les Glaces merveilleuses (Zauberspiegel) (Pathé-Frères, FR 1907), D: Segundo de Chomón; cast: Julienne Mathieu; 446 ft., 7’30” (16 fps), stencil colour, preserved on colour internegative, NFM. German main title; no intertitles.

Magie moderne (Pathé-Frères, FR 1908), D: ?; 35 mm, 387 ft., 6’30” (16 fps), Cinémathèque française. No intertitles.

The Last Performance (Poslední predstavení) [not released in Finland] (Universal, US 1929), D: Paul Fejos; DP: Hal Mohr; cast: Conrad Veidt (Erik the Great), Mary Philbin (Julie), 1578 m, 57’ (24 fps), Národní Filmovy´ Archiv. Czech intertitles. – A fast, moving camera, hypnotic presence of Veidt, the standard formula triangle story now interpreted with sword tricks and some real knives. A duped look to the print with varying definition of light.

INCUNABULA – ♪ Neil Brand

A treasure show of earliest cinema based on the George Williams Family Collection donated to the National Fairground Archive, Sheffield. Curated by Vanessa Toulmin and Charles Musser.

Great Britain

[The] Arrest of a Pickpocket (Paul/Acres, GB, April 1895), 29 ft., 29”-33” (14-16 fps), National Fairground Archive, Sheffield. No intertitles.

Boxing Kangaroo (Paul/Acres, GB, May/June 1895), 35 ft., 35”-40” (14-16 fps), National Fairground Archive, Sheffield. No intertitles.

[Performing Animals] / [Skipping Dogs (?)] (Paul/Acres, GB, May/June 1895) 37 ft., 37”-42” (14-16 fps), National Fairground Archive, Sheffield. No intertitles.

[Family Group] (Birt Acres, GB, July 1895?), 5 ft., 5”-6” (14-16 fps), National Fairground Archive, Sheffield. No intertitles.

[Boxing Match] (Birt Acres, GB, 1895/96?), 58 ft., 31” (30 fps), National Fairground Archive, Sheffield. No intertitles. Possibly Acres’ Boxing Match (August 1896) or Boxing Match/Boxing Contest (1895).

[Landing at Low Tide] (Birt Acres, GB, August 1896?) / [The Lady and the Boat] (Haydon & Urry, GB 1899?), 69 ft., 1’09” (16 fps), National Fairground Archive, Sheffield. No intertitles. Identification to be confirmed.

The Launch of the HMS Albion, at Blackwell (Robert Paul, GB, 21 July 1898) 5 ft., 5”-6” (14-16 fps), National Fairground Archive, Sheffield. No intertitles.

United States

Sandow [No. 2] (Edison, US 1894) [EMP 26.1], P:W.K.L. Dickson; DP: William Heise; cast: Eugen Sandow; shot 6 March 1894; 39 ft., 20” (30 fps), National Fairground Archive, Sheffield. No intertitles.

Carmencita [No. 2] (Edison, US 1894) [EMP 28.1], P:W.K.L. Dickson; DP: William Heise; cast: Carmencita; shot 10-16 March 1894; 33 ft., 17.5” (30 fps), National Fairground Archive, Sheffield. No intertitles.

Annabelle Butterfly Dance (Edison, US 1894) [EMP 48], P: W.K.L. Dickson; DP: William Heise; cast: Annabelle Whitford; shot August 1894; 37 ft., 19” (30 fps), National Fairground Archive, Sheffield. No intertitles.

Hornbacker-Murphy Fight (Edison, US 1894) [EMP 68], P: W.K.L. Dickson; DP: William Heise; cast: Eugene Hornbacker, [Dan?] Murphy; shot August 1894; 35 ft., 19” (30 fps), National Fairground Archive, Sheffield. No intertitles.

Annie Oakley (Edison, US 1894) [EMP 86], P: W.K.L. Dickson; DP: William Heise; cast: Annie Oakley; shot 1 November 1894; 37 ft., 19” (30 fps), National Fairground Archive, Sheffield. No intertitles.

New Bar Room [Scene] (Edison, US 1895) [EMP 110], P:W.K.L. Dickson; DP: William Heise; shot 17 January 1895;39 ft., 20” (30 fps), National Fairground Archive, Sheffield. No intertitles.

ADDITIONAL RECENT EDISON DISCOVERIES Ruth Dennis (Edison, US 1894) [EMP 43], P:W.K.L. Dickson; DP: William Heise; cast: Ruth Dennis [Ruth St. Denis]; shot mid-July 1894; 42 ft., 22.5” (30 fps), NFTVA. No intertitles.

Battle of San Juan / Battle of San Juan Hill (Edison, US 1899) [EMP 652] P: James H.White; shot c. January 1899; 100 ft., c.1’30” (20 fps),Yale Film Study Center, New Haven, CT. No intertitles.

[How the Professor Fooled the Burglars] (Vitagraph?, US 1899?/1900?) [EMP 883], P, DP: J. Stuart Blackton, Albert E. Smith; 115 ft., 2’ (12 fps), Newsfilm Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. No intertitles.

Circular Panoramic View of Niagara Falls (Edison, US 1900) [EMP 901] P: James H. White; shot [August-early September 1900]; 26 ft., 23” (18 fps), NFTVA. No intertitles. Circular Panorama of the American Falls (Edison, US 1900) [EMP 902] P: James H.White; shot [August-early September 1900]; 26ft., 23” (18 fps), NFTVA. No intertitles. – Beautiful colour


Marceline, the World-Renowned Clown of the N.Y. Hippodrome (Winthrop Moving Picture Company, US 1907), cast: Marceline; 78 ft., 1’18” (16 fps), LoC. No intertitles. – The sole footage on the great inspiration to Chaplin. A short close-up, screened five times.


La Belle et la bête (Pathé, FR 1908), D: Albert Capellani?; 80 m, 4’ (18 fps), stencil colour, Lobster Films. – Quite a monster.

Figaro et l'auvergnat (Star Films, FR 1897), D: Georges Méliès; 20 m, 1’ (16 fps), Lobster Films. No intertitles. – "A big shave", even more extreme than Scorsese's.

LON CHANEY Poor Jake's Demise (Imp, US 1913), D: Allen Curtis; cast: Max Asher, Daisy Small, Lon Chaney (The Dude), Louise Fazenda; 150 m, 7’ (18 fps), Lobster Films, Paris. – The earliest surviving Lon Chaney film. Modest.

Mockery / Luokkasota (MGM, US 1927), D., SC: Benjamin Christensen; cast: Lon Chaney (Sergei), Ricardo Cortez (Dmitri), Barbara Bedford (Tatiana), Mack Swain (Mr. Gaidaroff), 5828 ft., 74’ (21 fps), GEH. Restored in 2004. ♪ Antonio Coppola. – In Siberia, a simple peasant (LC) rescues a noble lady (BB) during the Russian Revolution. Heavy emphasis in acting, charming scenes of foot fetishism, brilliant print (with some damage in source).


Die Biene Maja und ihre Abenteuer / Maija Mehiläisen ihmeelliset seikkailut (Kultur-Film AG, Berlin, DE 1926), D:Wolfram Junghans [with the special participation of Waldemar Bonsels]; P+SC: Curt Thomalla, based on the children’s book by Waldemar Bonsels (1912); SEA, restored by the Bundesarchiv Filmarchiv, Berlin, 2004, supported by the Waldemar Bonsels-Stiftung. German intertitles reconstructed from the censorship cards. – Juha Kindberg says that a much better print could be produced from our source, but even this print looks good. A one-of-a-kind fairytale film with live insects. The English lady reader of the translation was good, and – ♪ Günter A. Buchwald's musical contribution was a pleasure.

Broncho Billy's Adventure (Essanay, US 1911), D: Gilbert M. “Broncho Billy” Anderson; cast: Gilbert M. “ Broncho Billy” Anderson, Edna Fisher, Fred Church; 961ft., 16’ (16 fps), GEH. Preserved and printed 2006. – A solid Broncho Billy Western, where he is caught between two evils: the madly violent father of a girl who loves the wrong guy in the father's opinion, and the even more violent avengers. Nice print.

[The Bottom of the Sea] (Lubin, US 1914), 36 ft., 1’30” (16 fps), GEH. Preserved and printed 2006. – Interesting animation with white on black.

FUORI QUADRO Lost and Found on a South Sea Island [not released in Finland] (Goldwyn Pictures, US 1923), D: Raoul Walsh; cast: House Peters (Captain Blackbird), Pauline Starke (Lorna) fragment, 145 m, 6’ (22 fps), Cineteca del Friuli. preserved and printed 2006, L’Immagine Ritrovata, Bologna. Didascalie in italiano. – Hard to make sense of the tinted fragment.

A Movie Trip Through Filmland (DeFrenes & Co.,US 1921), D+AN: Paul Felton; P: C.R. Bosworth; DP: Joseph DeFrenes; 1914 ft., 23’ (22 fps), Desmet colour duplicating original tinting, GEH. Restored in 2005 with funding from the Eastman Kodak Company. English intertitles. – Brilliant and witty, print excellent.


Les Fleurs animées (Lebende Blumen) (Pathé, FR 1906), 99 m, 5’ (18 fps), hand-coloured, Filmarchiv Austria. No intertitles.

Lèvres collées (Verbundene Lippen) (Pathé, FR 1906), cast: Max Linder; 46 m, 2’ (18 fps), Filmarchiv Austria. No intertitles.


Chaplin’s Shadow: The Memories of Toraichi Kono – Exhibition curated by Hiroyuki Ono – A charming inside look in Chaplin's world.