Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Alice Guy: Programme 4: The Best of Solax

Alice Guy: Programma 4: Il meglio della Solax. Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 10.00, Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema / Mastroianni (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Earphone commentary in Italian. Grand piano: Maud Nelissen. Presenta Kim Tomadjoglou.

Catalogue: "At Gaumont, Guy worked with and trained a network of artists, including director Louis Feuillade, Henri Menessieur, set designer for Guy’s Passion, and cameraman Anatole Thiberville. Both Menessieur (who later worked with French directors Capellani and Jasset), and Thiberville followed Guy to the U.S. to work at Solax. Under Guy’s management, the company produced a range of genres, from comedy, to drama, mystery and crime, as well as westerns."

"Menessieur’s expressive range (his father was a theatrical set designer) is displayed in the ominous interiors of The Sewer (1913), for which trenches were dug around Solax’s Flushing studios and then inhabited with trained rats, and in the airy and atmospheric exterior garden shots of Falling Leaves (1912), where a young girl ties leaves to tree branches with the hope of preventing her older sister from dying before the last leaf falls."

"Mixed Pets (1911), an early short comedy made within a year of the establishment of Solax, is about misunderstandings that arise when a newlywed refuses to buy his new wife a dog, and the couples’ domestic help conceal the fact they are married with a baby. One of the earliest surviving Solax films, it allows us to observe how stylistic devices such as close-ups and diegetic inserts (newspaper advertisements) function somewhat simplistically as key narrative components for telling a simple story that touches on controversial class and gender relationships within the domestic sphere."

"In the fall of 1911, Guy returned with husband Herbert Blaché from a trip through Europe and reorganized Solax with the goal of specializing in comedies. The improvement and increased attention to production values (lighting, camerawork, staging, set design) are evident in Guy’s single-reel 1911 films and the feature The Sewer, when compared to Mixed Pets, where a shift in focal length evident in interior scenes results in a blurry or slightly out of focus image, offer evidence of changing production values and technique during cinema’s transitional period."

"The films of this program are screened from blu-ray. Restoration by Dayton Digital Film Works, Dayton Ohio, Funding from American Express and New York Women in film and Television."

[this I missed: MIXED PETS. US 1911. D: Alice Guy Blaché. Cast: Blanche Cornwall; P: Solax. Blu-ray. 13’ a 16 fps. B&w, tinted. English intertitles. From: Library of Congress.]

[this I missed: FALLING LEAVES. US 1912. D: Alice Guy Blaché. PD: Henri Menessier; Cast: Marion Swayne, Magda Foy, Mace Greenleaf, Blanche Cornwall, Darwin Karr, Lee Beggs; P: Solax. Blu-ray. 13’ a 16 fps. B&w, tinted. English intertitles. From: Library of Congress.]

THE SEWER. US 1912. D: Edward Warren. SC+PD: Henri Menessier; Cast: Darwin Karr, Magda Foy, Lee Beggs; P: Alice Guy, Solax. Blu-ray. 23’ a 16 fps. B&w Tinted. English intertitles. From: Library of Congress. - AA: A drama. There is a powerful atmosphere in the sewer drama. The child gives the man a blade. There is a battle against rats. The ascent from the sewer hole to the street. A blu-ray presentation of a 2010 reconstruction from battered sources, with rainy scratches, nitrate or water damage marks and missing footage replaced with stills. *

GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN. US 1911. D: Alice Guy Blaché. Cast: Vinnie Burns, Romaine Fielding; P: Solax. Blu-ray. 13’ a 16 fps. B&w, tinted. English intertitles. From: Library of Congress. - AA: A Western. A drama of rivals. Jake overhears a plot to kill Harry, and the noble rival does the right thing. Uncle Sam gets on the spot: the cavalry to the rescue. Primitive syntax.

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