Thursday, October 11, 2012

Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre (2012 restoration)

Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre: Les précieuses ridicules. Molière. Scène IX jouée par M. Benoît-Constant Coquelin aîné (Mascarille) et Mlles Marguerite Esquilar (Magdelon) et Jeanne Kervich (Cathos) (1900).

Phono – Cinéma – Théâtre: Visions animées des artistes célèbres

    FR 1900. PC: Paul Decauville, S.A. du Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre. P: Paul Decauville; DP: Clément Maurice Gratioulet; artistic director: Marguerite Vrignault; camera and film: Parnaland frères.
    C: Sarah Bernhardt, Brunin, Jeanne Chasles, Coquelin aîné, Émile Cossira, Desjardin, Footit et Chocolat, Jeanne Hatto, Christine Kerf, Little Tich [Harry Relph], Pierre Magnier, Félicia Mallet, Louise Mante, Suzette Mante, Mason & Forbes, Rosita Mauri, Cléo de Mérode, Mily-Meyer, Jules Moy, Polin, Désirée Pougaud, Gabrielle Réjane, Mariette Sully, Michel Vasquez, Achille Viscusi, Carlotta Zambelli; 2K DCP (from 35 mm), 75'
    Including a 5 min documentary: Le Cinéma parlant en 1900, sd.; print source: Gaumont Pathé Archives & La Cinémathèque française, Paris (restoration and reconstitution 2012). Cylinders lus par L'Archéophone.
    Teatro Verdi, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone (Special Events), e-subtitles in English and Italian, 11 Oct 2012.

Benoît-Constant Coquelin (Coquelin ainé)
Les Précieuses ridicules, de Molière, avec Coquelin aîné, Mlle. Esquilar, et Kervich [Kerwick?] - sound synchronized from a wax cylinder
Cyrano de Bergerac, scène du duel, par Edmond Rostand, avec Coquelin aîné, Desjardin - sound synchronized from a wax cylinder
Gabrielle Réjane
Ma Cousine, scène mimée, avec Mme. Réjane
Sarah Bernhardt
Hamlet, scène du duel, scène mimée, avec Mme. Sarah Bernhardt (Hamlet), M. Pierre Magnier (Laërte), Mlle. Seylor, Hommes d’armes
Félicia Mallet
L’Enfant prodigue, pantomime, de Michel Carré, musique d’André Wormser; 3 tableaux:
1. Le Vol;
2. Pierrot chez Phrynette;
3. Le retour; avec Mlle. Félicia Mallet (Pierrot fils), Mme. Marie Magnier (Mme. Pierrot), Mlle. X… (Phrynette), M. Duquesne (Pierrot père)

Mariette Sully
La Poupée, musique d’Edmond Audran, chantée par Mariette Sully, MM. Fugère et Soums - sound synchronized from a wax cylinder

Émile Cossira
"Lève-toi, soleil!": Air de Roméo and Juliette, musique de Charles Gounod, chanté par Émile Cossira, ténor de l’Opéra
Jeanne Hatto
"Invocation à Diane": Air d’Iphigénie en Tauride, musique de Christoph Willibald Gluck, chanté par Mlle. Jeanne Hatto, de l’Opéra - sound synchronized from a wax cylinder

Footit et Chocolat (du Nouveau-Cirque)
Entrée des échasses
Guillaume Tell
Mason and Forbes, Excentriques américains
Chez le photographe, pantomime
Little Tich des Folies Bergère
Little Tich
Little Tich, danse espagnole
Brunin des Ambassadeurs
Le Déshabillé de la mariée, pantomime, parodie comique
Le Troupier pompette, monologue par Polin
Jules Moy
Le Maître de ballet - sound synchronized from a wax cylinder
Une poule introduite dans un concert

Mily-Meyer et Désiré Pougaud
Duo Mily-Meyer et M. Pougaud
Fleur de l'âme, musique: ?, paroles: Victor Hugo - sound synchronized from a wax cylinder
Pourquoi garder ton cœur, musique: Jean-Baptiste Weckerlin; paroles: J. Leybach, Victor Wilder - sound synchronized from a wax cylinder

Blanche et Louise Mante, de l'Opéra
Danse Louis XV, musique de William Marie, dansée par Mlles. Blanche et Louise Mante de l’Opéra
Danse Directoire, musique de William Marie, dansée par Mlles. Blanche et Louise Mante de l’Opéra
Carlotta Zambelli, Michel Vasquez
Le Cid (Pas de la Castillane) (La habanera), musique de Jules Massenet, dansé par Mlle. Carlotta Zambelli et M. Michel Vasquez de l’Opéra
Carlotta Zambelli  
Sylvia (La pizzicata), musique de Léo Delibes, dansé par Mlle. Carlotta Zambelli de l’Opéra
Rosita Mauri
La Korrigane (Le Pas de la Sabotière), musique de Charles-Marie Widor, dansée par Mlles. Rosita Mauri, Violat, et Suzanne Mante de l’Opéra
Le Rêve (Pas de la Mikagouva), musique de Léon Gastinel, dansé par Mlles. Rosita Mauri, Violat, et Suzanne Mante de l’Opéra
Jeanne Chasles
Le Cygne, de Catulle Mendès, musique de Charles Lecocq, dansé par Mlle. Jeanne Chasles de l’Opéra-Comique
Jeanne Chasles, Achille Viscusi
Danses slaves, musique de William Marie, dansées par Mlle. Jeanne Chasles de l’Opéra-Comique et M. Achille Viscusi
Christine Kerf, Achille Viscusi
Ballet de “Terpsichore” (Un mariage aux flambeaux), musique: Léon Pouget, dansé par Mlle. Christine Kerf, M. Achille Viscusi du Palais de la Danse
Cléo de Mérode
Gavotte, danse ancienne, musique de Samuel Rousseau, dansée par Mlle. Cléo de Mérode
Danse javanaise, dansée par Mlle. Cléo de Mérode

Répertoire du Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre: *the films indicated by asterisks have not been found
*Caroles du Moyen Age, danse ancienne, musique de William Marie, dansées par Mlles. Blanche et Louise Mante de l’Opéra
*Chapeau récalcitrant
*Concert arabe, Jules Moy
*Danse comique, par Brunin des Ambassadeurs
*J’ai le pied qui remue, Louis Maurel
*Ma Gigolette, Louis Maurel

 2011-2012 restoration: Gaumont-Pathé Archives (Manuela Padoan, Agnès Bertola, Julien Boury, Pierre Philippe); La Cinémathèque française (Laurent Mannoni, Céline Ruivo, Joël Daire, Sébastien Martineau) with the collaboration of Lobster Films, Henri Chamoux (Archéophone)
    With the precious collaboration of Jean Guillaume Bart, Claude Bessy, Camille Blot-Wellens, Serge Bromberg, Dr. Richard Copeman, Eric Lange, Martin Pénet, Touve R. Ratovondrahety, David Robinson, John Sweeney, Olivier Auboin Vermorel, Nicolas Villodre.

The piano accompaniment is compiled and performed by John Sweeney; and has involved extensive research to discover the (often obscure) authentic musical accompaniments, particularly for the 11 sequences of ballet, totalling 25 minutes of film. Frank Bockius and Romano Todesco provide additional musical effects. Seven of the films are accompanied by synchronized sound from the original wax cylinders.

Laurent Mannoni: "The long history of the sound film began with the appearance of the Edison Kinetoscope, but achieved a prodigious leap forward during the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1900, when talking and colour films were in evidence in a variety of forms. Among the shows presented during the Exposition, Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre was one of the most successful both from the technical and artistic point of view."

"On 27 December 1899, the engineer and industrialist Paul Decauville secured the concession for a space of some 210 square metres in the body of the Exposition Universelle, near the entry at 43 rue de Paris, close to the Pont des Invalides. The limited company S.A. Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre was established by Decauville on 2 March 1900, with a capital of 100,000 francs. The actress and dancer Marguerite Vrignault, initiator of the project, was named artistic director. The theatre for Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre was designed by the architect R. Dulong, modelled on the “Pavillon frais” created in 1751 by Ange-Jacques Gabriel in the gardens of the Petit Trianon at Versailles."

"The photography was undertaken by Clément-Maurice, a close associate of the Lumière Brothers, under his real name Clément Maurice Gratioulet. He filmed with a 35 mm camera using film with a central perforation or two lateral perforations, made by Ambroise-François Parnaland, an excellent maker of reversible cameras and notably, again with Clément-Maurice, a collaborator of Dr. Doyen, the pioneer of medical cinematography."

"A studio was installed on the roof of the “Pavillon frais” and the films were recorded shortly before the opening of the Exposition."

"They were made in “play-back”, like the later Gaumont phonoscènes."

"The phonograph used was Henri Lioret’s Idéal, which used large cylinders (22 cm long, 13 cm diameter) which could record 4 minutes; in September 1900, the Idéal was to be replaced by Pathé’s Céleste."

"Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre is an attraction which mingles several different genres: sound films synchonized with the phonograph (songs, monologues, extracts from plays), but also dances and pantomimes which were simply accompanied by a pianist or orchestra. There was also a sound effects man and possibly a  bonimenteur (narrator)."

"The programme presented the most prestigious artists of the time, coming from the Comédie-Française and the theatres of the Grands Boulevards, from the music hall and the circus. For the first time, L’Enfant prodigue was adapted to the screen – a little marvel of pantomime by Michel Carré, with music by André Wormser, first produced in 1890 and a great success of the day. Another current theatrical success filmed was Henri Meilhac’s Ma Cousine, which premiered at the Théâtre des Variétés on 27 October 1890, with the great actress Gabrielle Réjane (1856-1920). The film is only comprehensible if the action of the scene represented is known – the rehearsal of a pantomime entitled Le Piston d’Hortense, which appears in the 3-act play."

"The first performance of Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre took place at the Exposition on 28 April 1900. The projectionists were Georges and Léopold Maurice, the sons of Clément-Maurice; the synchronisation was manually controlled by the projectionists, who slowed or accelerated the phonographic cylinder as necessary."

"Despite the celebrity of the actors, singers, dancers, clowns, and mimes who had taken part in the enterprise (Sarah Bernhardt, Coquelin, Réjane, Mily-Meyer, Émile Cossira, Jeanne Hatto, Carlotta Zambelli, première danseuse of the Opéra, the dancer Cléo de Mérode, the clowns Footit and Chocolat, and the comic Polin in his soldier act, etc.), despite the enthusiasm of the press, despite the beautiful poster by François Flameng, despite the gala soirées (notably for the Shah of Persia at the Palais de l’Optique on 10 August 1900), the public did not flock to Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre and the accounts, at the close of the Exposition, showed only a tiny profit."

"Although the Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre company was dissolved on 26 November 1901, the show continued in Paris (42 boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle, 10 November 1901; Olympia, 1901), and toured in Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Britain, Germany, Austria, and Italy during 1901-1902. The Lumières’ former cameraman Félix Mesguich undertook some of the projection during these tours."

"After this the attraction was forgotten, until the early 1930s, when a group of the original negatives was rediscovered. In 1933 the producer Bernard Nathan, who had a great interest in the origins of the cinema, financed a documentary directed by Roger Goupillières, Le Cinéma parlant en 1900. Thus it was once again possible to see several titles from Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre, among them Cyrano de Bergerac, Sarah Bernhardt in Hamlet, Mariette Sully in La Poupée, Little Tich, and others, either with the original sound from the cylinders or newly-recorded music. The original Parnaland negatives had to be reperforated in Edison format in order to be copied."

"Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre was again discovered by chance in 1961, thanks to Mme. Bernhart (!), an employee of the distributors and producers U.G.C. (Union Générale Cinématographique). This time 24 negatives (sometimes several takes of the same title) and one positive print, comprising 18 different titles, were found."

"In 2010, the Cinémathèque française decided to restore this entire collection digitally in 2K. The work was carried out at Bologna’s L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory. Some negatives have suffered over the years, but many are still of fine quality. At the end of one of the takes, a beautiful woman crosses the scenene: it is the artistic director, Marguerite Vrignault, in person."

"In 2011, the important collector of early cinéma, Olivier Auboin-Vermorel, deposited in the Cinémathèque française a group of very precious early films, among them works by Méliès, Marey, Nadar, and several Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre films until now unseen, for example Ma Cousine, with Réjane, and L’Enfant prodigue – unfortunately two only of the three tableaux. All in good state, these films were also digitally restored."

"With the object of reconstituting as far as possible the near-totality of the repertoire of Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre, with its original sound, the Cinémathèque française asked the expert Henri Chamoux to provide the recordings already made from the still-existing original cylinders. He located 17 Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre cylinders, corresponding to 8 titles, including Cyrano de Bergerac, Iphigénie en Tauride, and Les Précieuses ridicules. The majority of the cylinders are conserved at the Musée de Radio-France in Paris. Chamoux perfected the “Archéophone”, an apparatus able to read and record cylinders in bad condition or even broken. The synchronisation was therefore once again possible, above all thanks to the use of digital techniques. Certain sounds still sometimes remain difficult to hear."

"It was already miraculous that so many negatives and cylinders of Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre had survived to the present, given the great fragility of the supports – nitrate and wax. Then excellent news came from Manuela Padoan of the Gaumont Pathé Archives, which have themselves conserved an important collection of original nitrate prints of Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre, very prettily painted by hand."

"This collection has been preserved for several years on colour film and recently 4K digital scans have been made in collaboration with Lobster Films, with the prospect of attempts at synchronisation."

"The combined collections of the Gaumont Pathé Archives and the Cinémathèque française now make possible the reconstitution of practically the entire Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre repertoire, moreover with colour! Henceforth, to cite Baudelaire, “les couleurs and les sons se répondent”."

"A final miracle: in the collection of the Gaumont Pathé Archives was the missing first tableau of L’Enfant prodigue. The film is thus now complete in its three parts. Final discovery: in 2012 the director of the École de Danse of the Opéra de Paris, Claude Bessy, put at the disposal of the Cinémathèque française a positive print, in very good condition, of Le Cid (La Habanera), danced by Carlotta Zambelli (1875-1968), prima ballerina of the Opéra, who had astonished Paris in 1896 with her unprecedented (in France) 15 fouetté turns in a divertissement in La Favorita."

"The two teams of the Cinémathèque française (Céline Ruivo) and the Gaumont Pathé Archives (Manuela Padoan and Agnès Bertola) have worked in concert to achieve this magnificent project, which permits us to savour, almost as in 1900, one of the most beautiful cinema attractions of the Exposition Universelle. But keep your ears open: the sound is, as it was at the beginning, less than perfect! But savour the pleasures of seeing again, sometimes in colour, the greatest artists of that era: Sarah Bernhardt, Jeanne Hatto, Jean Coquelin, Victor Maurel, Rosita Mauri, Félicia Mallet, Carlotta Zambelli, Mily-Meyer, Little Tich, Cléo de Mérode, Jules Moy, etc. – the élite of the dance, the theatre, pantomime and music hall of the Belle Époque." – LAURENT MANNONI

AA: The first performance of the 2012 restoration of Phono – Cinéma – Théâtre: Visions animées des artistes célèbres, the showcase of the performing arts of la Belle Époque produced for the Paris world's fair of 1900, was the most magnificent highlight of this year's Giornate. There were 34 records of legendary performances, seven of them synchronized with the original wax cylinder sound, and the dances presented with their actual music played live. The whole was much bigger than the sum of its parts: a great cross-section and celebration of performing arts. A lot of talent and skill has been spent to this reconstruction, sometimes from extremely difficult sources, such as the wax cylinders. The sound is sometimes barely audible, yet it conveys a precious feeling. The digital look of the scanned images is sometimes slightly too polished-lifeless, but they have been restored from challenging sources with a special Parnaland perforation, and the show conveys a feeling of grandeur and stability, and often a sense of the original colour world of the images. The beautiful 12-page souvenir programme, notes written by David Robinson, is a collector's item and full of interesting information about the legendary performers and their legendary performances. This is a classic achievement with permanent value for lovers and professionals of performing arts.


Charlotte Tarskikh said...

This is amazing! I had no idea these films were still extant. Is there any way I can see them, either online or on DVD?

Antti Alanen said...

Dear Charlotte Tarskikh, please contact Gaumont Pathé Archives and La Cinémathèque française !