Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Hundred Years Ago: Opening Programme: 1911 / Capellani: Cinema Is Life, Liberated and No Longer of This Earth

Cento anni fa: Programma di apertura: 1911: / Capellani: Il cinema è la vita, liberata e non più terrestre. Programme and notes by Mariann Lewinsky. Saturday, 25 June 2011 at 18.00 Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni (Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna). Earphone commentary in Italian and English. Grand piano: John Sweeney. Presenta Mariann Lewinsky.

Catalogue: "Come unto the cinema of 1911, all ye that labour and are heavy laden! Tontolini is depressed and cannot shake it off. Only the cinema – and a Tontolini film – can make him laugh again. The physical presence of artists leaps across a hundred years and we fall under the spell of their movement, the spell of the absolutely contemporary. Victor Klemperer, an enthusiastic cinema-goer (and diarist) wrote in 1912 that the cinema was showing “life, liberated and no longer of this Earth” and that moving pictures were “joyous games with the manifestations of life: they glide past us, delightful in the inexhaustibility of their forms, while all life’s problems recede.” (Das Lichtspiel, 1912)."

"The crime thriller was the hit genre of 1911, and it is introduced in the second part of the opening programme. There is suspense and horror in both these films by Albert Capellani, not least because innocent people are arrested and convicted of murder." [Not shown in this screening: - "The final image of L’Homme aux gants blancs (1908) is very powerful. A Paris street scene, enriched with documentary fidelity, is watched by the camera from among the watching bystanders. While it registers the events in front of the police car, the objective atmosphere is disturbed by our agonising consciousness of the unprovable innocence of the man being arrested and the unprovable guilt of the other. The feeling remains, insistent, while the passersby on the screen disperse, the protagonists disappear and the scene fades out. For the true story of the white gloves had been revealed to us, the viewers: we had seen, in a spectacular triptych, how they had been ordered by phone by a hotel bell boy and, in a close-up, as anticipatory evidence, how the salesgirl had secured a loose button on one of them, and thus could later identify the owner of the glove. We see the latter take the stolen pearls out of his pocket and with them the gloves, which fall to the ground unnoticed, to be picked up and slipped on by the one who will commit the murder…"]

"The historical case of Joseph Lesurques, who was executed in 1796 (Le Courrier de Lyon, 1911), did not merely serve as subject matter for 19th-century plays and novels. It also played a major role, as a classic example of a miscarriage of justice, in the campaign against the death penalty (which lasted from 1795 to 1981, when Mitterrand’s bill was passed into law). The acrimony of the political positions is even echoed in the language of the 1911 blurbs advertising the film: “The scene presented this week by Pathé Freres is a horrifying true story, which ends with the most appalling miscarriage of justice of the last century. This powerful drama has been reconstructed by the Société Cinématographique des Auteurs et Gens de Lettres (S.C.A.G.L.) with the most extreme care taken in its mise en scene and with the most eminent actors of the Paris theatre. The action is shot on location in the actual places where the events took place and viewers of this moving production will have a real sense of the tragic happenings of more than a hundred years ago.” (Ciné-Journal no. 135, march 25, 1911)."

TONTOLINI É TRISTE. IT 1911. Cast: Ferdinand Guillame (Tontolini); P: Cines. 35 mm. 135 m. 7’ a 16 fps. B&w. Didascalie italiane. From: Cineteca di Bologna. - AA: Comedy. The doctor's cure for sadness: go to the theatre! But at the theatre Tontolini gets even more sad. The same happens at the circus, when the clowns start a fight. But at the cinema there is a Tontolini comedy and no end to joy. Naive but funny.

TRAVERSÉE DES ALPES FRANÇAISES IN AUTOMOBILE. FR 1911. P: Gaumont. 35 mm. 90 m. 5’ a 16 fps. Tinted, toned. Intertitres français. From: Cineteca di Bologna, Cinematek (Brussels). - AA: Non-fiction. A nice phantom ride with impressive tinting and toning effects.

DAS ENGLISCHE TELMEERGESCHWADER IN MALTA UND MATROSENSPORT. GB 1911. P: Urban Kineto. 35 mm. 90 m. 5’ a 16 fps. B&w. From: EYE Film Instituut Nederland. - AA: Non-fiction. A display of the might of the British Empire, of their battleship fleet. Fine framing in the long shots, sailors jumping into the sea. Nice print.

JONGLEURS DE MASSUES. FR 1911. T. cec.: Ekvilibristé s kužely; P: Pathé Frères. 35 mm. 70 m. 4’ a 16 fps. Pochoir. No intertitles. From: Národní Filmový Archiv. - AA: Non-fiction: seamless interplay between two top jongleurs. Beautiful print.

DEUX BOXEURS ENRAGÉS. FR 1911. T. cec.: Nesmiřitelní boxeři; P: Pathé Frères. 35 mm. 128 m. 7’ a 18 fps. B&w. Deutsche Zwischentitel. From: Národní Filmový Archiv. - AA: Comedy. Construction workers restrain a fight with water jets. Ok print with slightly high contrast.

[not shown here: L’HOMME AUX GANTS BLANCS, see 29 June 2011, Cento anni fa 7: Nascita del giallo.]

[addition to the show:] L'ÉPOUVANTE. FR 1911. D: Albert Capellani. Cast: Mistinguett, Émile Mylo. A tinted and toned print. - AA: Thriller. The surprisingly advanced thriller revisited.

LE COURRIER DE LYON OU L’ATTAQUE DE LA MALLE POSTE. FR 1911. D: Albert Capellani. Based on a play by Moreau, Siraudin et Delacourt (1850); Cast: Louis Ravet. - AA: Historical tragedy. Capellani's sense of the historical epoch on display again. The story is about the robbery of 75.000 pounds sent to Napoléon in Italy in 1795 and the conviction of the falsely accused man. "Too late!"

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