Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The Jonathan Dennis Memorial Lecture 2011: Serge Bromberg, Eric Lange

Auditorium Regione, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone, 5 Oct 2011.

Introduced by David Robinson, Serge Bromberg and Éric Lange offered a lot of fun in the story of the Lobster Films from 1985 to the present, producing classic film presentations for ARTE, editing animation programmes for Channel 5, and curating he Le Retour de flamme cinema programmes. Since 1993 Serge Bromberg and Éric Lange have been Pordenone regulars.

The center of the presentation was the 2011 restoration of Le Voyage dans la Lune. It was the first blockbuster film, a worldwide success, soon copied by Lubin, Selig, and Edison. It was the first seriously pirated film.

Georges Méliès burned all his negatives at the end of his career, but in USA 50 camera negatives survived in very good condition, Le Voyage dans la Lune not among them. Some of the U.S. negatives were stolen at the time. The basis of the 2011 restoration is the hand-coloured Barcelona print, struck from a dupe negative. The Madeleine Malthête-Méliès print is a first generation black and white print struck in 1929 from the camera negative. It has better definition and a fuller image (one can even spot the Méliès studio key at the right edge of the image with the cannon). All prints are dupes except that single one. Méliès shot films with a camera that shot two original camera negatives simultaneously. Edison perforation was used before 1905. In 1902 there were no opening or end titles in films. There is no original colour to Le Voyage dans la Lune. Each print is unique. A feature of hand-colouring is that in the first frame the colour is bright, and it gets successively less bright frame by frame. Hand-colouring by Segundo de Chomón is completely different than the one used in the Barcelona version in Le Voyage dans la lune, the basis of the 2011 restoration.

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