Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Hundred Years Ago: 1912: Programme 1: Dark Mirror: The War

CENTO ANNI FA (1912): PROGRAMMA 1: LO SPECCHIO SCURO. LA GUERRA. Saturday, 23 July 2012 at Sala Mastroianni (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Grand piano: Gabriel Thibaudeau.

Programma e note di / Programme and notes by Mariann Lewinsky

"The phrase ‘Belle Époque’ conjures up Manet’s paintings, fashionable picnics and boating parties, Toulouse-Lautrec posters and Viennese coffee-house literati. But in fact, in these golden years of peace before 1914, many European states were waging war; not yet against each other, but against the Ottoman Empire, at whose expense they were expanding their own terrain. In 1907 France occupied Morocco; in 1908 Austria annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina; in 1911 Italy joined in, with the invasion of Libya; after Libya, the Ottoman Empire lost more territories in the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913. These, fronted by Serbia, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Greece, were steered from behind the scenes by the European powers. Vainqueurs et vaincus brings news, in reportage form, from the theatres of war."

"Peace conferences and massive antiarmament demonstrations – such as took place in several towns in 1912 (Válka válce shows the demonstration in Prague) – had no effect. In 1914 a nationalistic war policy won out over the international and non-partisan peace movement of the turn of the century, whose major champion had been Berta von Suttner (18431914). As in Suttner’s novel Lay Down Your Arms (Die Waffen nieder! 1889), The Rosary (Lois Weber 1912) and The Bond of Music (Vitagraph 1912) are powerful evocations of the devastating effects of war on ordinary people’s lives. Berta von Suttner died in June 1914. Jean Jaurès, the French socialist pacifist, who had espoused the cause of reconciliation with Germany, was murdered on 31 July 1914 by a right-wing nationalist."

VAINQUEURS ET VAINCUS. FR 1912. German title: Sieger und Besiegte. PC: Gaumont. 35 mm. 160 m 8’ a 18 fps. B&w. Didascalie tedesche / German intertitles. From: BFI National Archive. - AA: Powerful images of a military hospital and of relatives queueing to see wounded soldiers. Turkish and Bulgarian officers. Scenes from an escape towards Constantinople. Ok quality.

THE ROSARY. US 1913. D: Lois Weber, Phillips Smalley. SC: Lois Weber. C: Lois Weber, Phillips Smalley. PC: Rex Motion Picture Company. 35 mm. 320 m, 16’ at 18 fps. B&w. Didascalie inglesi / English intertitles. From: BFI National Archive. - AA: based on a poem called "My Rosary". The film is a rosary come alive: inside the circle of the rosary the memories start to flow. A Sunday school type story.

BONDS OF MUSIC. US 1912. D: Charles Kent. Dutch title: De Oude Musicus. SC: W. A. Tremayne. C: Charles Kent (Francois Vian), Earle Williams (Lt. Oscar Mulbach), William Shea (Pierre le Noir), Kate Price (Bertha le Noir). PC: Vitagraph. 35 mm. 249 m 15’ at 18’ fps. Didascalie olandesi / Dutch intertitles. From: EYE Film Instituut Nederland. - AA: impressive storytelling from Vitagraph. The protagonist is a musician oblivious of the world. He plays duets with Oskar, a German who turns out to be a spy. When the spy is discovered, the musician provides him with a hideaway at his home. Soon the Germans occupy the town and go on rampage. At the last minute Oskar, now in the uniform of a German officer, saves the musician. An ok print with beautiful toning and tinting (red for the terror of war).

VÁLKA VÁLCE. Bohemia 1912. Italian title: Guerra alla guerra. PC: ASUM. 35 mm. 194 m 9’30’’ at 18 fps. B&w. Didascalie ceche / Czech intertitles. From: Národní filmový archiv. - AA: remarkable newsreel footage from a huge anti-war demonstration. "War on War" is a great title for a movie. There was no piano music during this movie. Instead, Mariann Lewinsky read aloud the relevant anti-war declaration. Print is ok with a duped quality.

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