Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Nautavaellus / Cattle Roam

FI 1988. PC: Nautavaellus-työryhmä. D: Lasse Naukkarinen. DP: Lasse Naukkarinen, Sakari Rimminen (colour) - 16 mm. Trick photography: Lauri Pitkänen. ED: Tuula Mehtonen. S: Matti Kuortti, Jorma Harjamäki, Tuomo Kattilakoski (mix). Featuring: Miina Äkkijyrkkä. Loc: Pöljä (Siilinjärvi), Kuopio, Helsinki. 28 min. KAVA 35 mm print with English subtitles viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (In the Core of the Documentary 72: The First Documentary Project, Finnish Film Foundation 1988-1989, curated by Ilkka Kippola and Jari Sedergren, introduced by Jari Sedergren), 16 Oct 2013.

Miina Äkkijyrkkä (born 1949) is a Finnish artist, sculptor, and promoter of Finncattle. Every day I pass by her sculpture Peltilehmät / Metal Cows / Sacred Cows at Sörnäisten rantatie. (In Finnish "peltilehmä" = "metal cow" is a synonym for a motor car.) They are bigger-than-life cows sculpted from wrecked cars, with an affinity with Picasso's bulls, but entirely original. At home we have a big Marimekko print of an expressionistic Miina Äkkijyrkkä cow. Somehow her works are always full of life, no matter how wild and stylized they are.

Lasse Naukkarinen's documentary is an account of Miina Äkkijyrkkä's demonstration in the cities of Kuopio and Helsinki to promote Finncattle during a hot summer. Finncattle may not produce as much milk as Ayrshire cattle, but it is a healthy, resilient breed which does not consume much fodder and does not need much medication, so may be all told even strictly economically at least competitive with the more productive breeds.

The movie is a humoristic yet thoughtful study of the determined artist-promoter and the puzzled reactions of all kinds of observers, from policemen to men of the street.

Shot in juicy 16 mm, the blow-up to 35 mm has been conducted very well, and this print belongs to the ones which give today the frisson of glorious photochemical film.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sampled: Le Havre in 35 mm

Le Havre (2011), Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 15 Oct 2013.

I sampled the first 20 minutes of Le Havre in 35 mm. Shot and edited on 35 mm, Le Havre went to general release in digital, and it has been almost impossible to see it in 35 mm. The Sodankylä screening was in 35 mm, but there was something wrong in the projection. I then was about to visit the gala preview, but there it turned out that the screening was in 2K DCP.

In our screening I finally got to see how Le Havre is supposed to look like. The print is fine, and there is a vibrant photochemical sense of light. This I had guessed, now I know.

Le Havre is now more topical than two years ago, after the Mediterranean tragedies in Lampedusa and elsewhere. Similar tragedies have been already startlingly covered by Emanuele Crialese in his films such as Terraferma.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pordenone: Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, 5-12 October, 2013

Hans engelska fru (1927) Movie poster 70x100cm B Gustaf Molander/Gösta Ekman/Einar Nerman art

I like the sense of adventure in Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, prominent in this year's edition.

Le Giornate del Cinema Muto has always had the ambition of rewriting film history. It achieved that goal long ago, already during the first ten years of its existence. The most amazing thing now is that it still keeps going on with the same ambition level, presenting so many great discoveries, not resting on its laurels, not repeating itself, although there is now a new generation of GCM aficionados who were not even born when the festival started.

The 32nd Giornate del Cinema Muto was thus not based on the tried and true but on the unexpected and the unknown, with a good balance between works of real substance and flights of fancy.

The age of the silent film lasted 35 years, but the period of the silent feature film lasted only 17 years. Even contemporary cinemagoers could not know how magnificent the achievements of the cinema were globally. Pioneering historians from Paul Rotha to Georges Sadoul, Jean Mitry, Jerzy Toeplitz and Rune Waldekranz did not have the wide access to the treasures that we have now. A young film historian of today is in a privileged position to assess film history thanks to festivals such as the Giornate del Cinema Muto.

Essential to the GCM experience is the catalog, written by the best experts, and offering new information in each chapter. Full of interesting insight, and a great pleasure to read. It is available online on the festival website.

UKRAINE. Ivan Kozlenko's introduction made new sense for me of the Ukrainian film phenomenon. Such classics of the Soviet film as Zvenyhora, Arsenal, Earth, Man with a Movie Camera, The Eleventh, and Spring were significantly Ukrainian films which could not have been made elsewhere. Shown now were other great but less known films such as Nichnyi viznyk / The Night Coachman by Heorhii Tasin, and Shkurnyk / The Opportunist and Khlib / Bread by Mykola Shpykovskyi. For the first time I saw Alexander Dovzhenko's Sumka dipkuriera / The Diplomatic Bag, a wild and crazy exercise. I look forward to seeing Borotba veletniv / The Struggle of Giants by Viktor Turin and Dva dni / Three Days by Heorhii Stabovyi another time.

SWEDEN. Jon Wengström's focus was on the last years of the silent cinema in Sweden. There was then an ambition towards the international market with urban and pan-European themes, and foreign screenwriters and actors were hired to achieve that goal. Of his selection I had only seen Ivar Johansson's masterpiece Rågens rike / The Kingdom of Rye before. I finally got to see another masterpiece, Alf Sjöberg and Axel Lindblom's justly famous Den starkaste / The Strongest. Karin Swanström's Flickan i frack / The Girl in Tails is a suave humoristic tale based on a screeplay by Hjalmar Bergman. Gustaf Molander was the director most prominently on display. Polis Paulus' påskasmäll / The Smugglers is a contender for the all time best comedy starring Fyrtornet och Bivognen (Fy och Bi / Pat and Patachon). Hans engelska fru / His English Wife starring Lil Dagover and Urho Somersalmi is a curious mix of quintessential Swedish countryside drama and urban high society drama set in London. The film includes a rapid-shooting sequence which we Finns decided was the most terrific we have ever seen in the cinema. Förseglade läppar / Sealed Lips starred an enchanting Mona Mårtenson in an Italian drama about a novice who gets to decide between life and monastery. Synd / Sin was based on the play Brott och brott / Crime for Crime by August Strinberg, starring Lars Hanson, Elissa Landi, and Gina Manès, but a happy end had been substituted to the original tragic one by Molander's current screenwriter Paul Merzbach, whose work in my opinion was far from the level of Molander's own achievements as a screenwriter. It was exciting to see Anthony Asquith's Swedish version of A Cottage on Dartmoor, Fången n:r 53, shot by the master Axel Lindblom, significantly different in structure. Finally, there was a key Swedish transitional film from the silent to the sound cinema, expertly restored by the Swedish Film Institute, Konstgjorda Svensson / Artificial Svensson by Gustaf Edgren.

LAMPRECHT. Gerhard Lamprecht was a survivor, managing to make films with dignity in the many changing political circumstances of Germany, becoming a pioneering archivist and filmographer as an important sideline. His cycle of realistic Berlin films from the late 1920s was screened in newly restored versions. I saw the restored Die Verrufenen / The Slums of Berlin, Die Unehelichen / Children of No Importance, and Menschen untereinander / [People among Each Other], and look forward to seeing Unter der Laterne / Under the Lantern later. A Deutsche Kinemathek 50th Anniversary tribute programme with solid program notes by Rolf Aurich and Wolfgang Jacobsen.

ANNY ONDRA became a film actress in Czechoslovakia in 1919, and soon she was a part of a creative team which included the director-screenwriter-actor Karel Lamac, the cinematographer Otto Heller, and the screenwriter Vaclav Wasserman. From the Anny Ondra series I saw Gilly poprvé v Praze / [Gilly in Prague for the First Time], Dama s malou nozkou / [The Lady with the Small Foot] (the delightful introduction), Setrele pismo / [The Missing Letters], Chyt'te ho! / [Catch Him!], and [The Anny Ondra sound test for Blackmail]. I seem to have made the wrong choices and missed the best films of the retro, films such as Prichozi z temnot / Redivivus, Drvostep / [The Lumberjack], and Lucerna / [The Lantern]. A Národní filmový archiv 70 programme, the general introduction written by Briana Čechová.

THE CANON REVISITED 5. Paolo Cherchi Usai had selected stunning films for reappraisal: William Wellman's Beggars of Life, Vsevolod Pudovkin's Mat / Mother (this I didn't watch this time, nor the Alexander Rasumnyi adaptation Mat / Mother, which I had also seen before), Lupu Pick's Scherben / Shattered, and Viktor Turin's Turksib [this we have screened ourselves this year].

ANIMATION: FELIX THE CAT, KO-KO THE CLOWN. Every day was bookended with masterpieces of animation. The days started with Otto Messmer's Felix the Cat animations, and they ended with "Goodnight Ko-Ko" selections from the Fleischer brothers. I saw all the Felix movies and none of the Ko-Ko films, being a morning person who cannot help being prone to falling asleep after nine in Italian time (ten pm. Finnish time).

ANIMATION: SOVIET SILENT ANIMATION. Sergei Kapterev and Peter Bagrov introduced to us the first-ever retrospective of silent Soviet animation. The greatest masterpiece, one of the most remarkable animations of all times, was Pochta / Mail by Mikhail Tsekhanovski, based on the screenplay by Samuil Marshak.

ITALIAN REDISCOVERIES. I saw Enrico Guazzoni's comedy Il gallo nel pollaio / [A Rooster in the Henhouse] and look forward to seeing later Guido Piacenza's Viaggio in Congo / [A Voyage in Congo], Eleuterio Rodolfi's I promessi sposi / [The Betrothed], Giuseppe Di Liguoro's Giuseppe Verdi nella vita e nella gloria (1813-1913), Giulio Donadio's Giorgio Gandi, and Mario Roncoroni's Ironie della vita / [Irony of Life].

JOLY-NORMANDIN. A super collaboration, for a long time in preparation, was the international co-production of restoring Joly-Normandin films from 1896-1897,  based on Coleccao Joan Anacleto Rodrigues (Cinemateca Portuguesa), Coleccion Antonino Sagarminaga (Filmoteca Española), Fonds Joly-Normandin (Musée suisse de l'appareil photographique, Cinémathèque Suisse), British Cinématographe Company (BFI National Archive), Normandin (Archives francaises du film du CNC), Lobster Films, Cinémathèque francaise, and Svenska Filminstitutet, all this curated by Camille Blot-Wellens. A remarkable archeological feat in the field of very early cinema.

THE CORRICK COLLECTION 7. The Corrick Family was a troupe of singers, entertainers and film presenters from New Zealand who toured widely in Southeast Asia and England in 1898-1915. Their remarkable film legacy has been restored with loving care by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. I have been a big fan of these shows from the beginning, and now we saw the final screenings, 19 short films altogether this year. The program notes of Leslie Anne Lewis make sense of these early short films in the best way, both for their cinematic significance and for the implications of culture, history, and society. An exemplary way to treat early cinema. On display was beautiful print quality of well-known films often seen in horribly battered copies (The Lonely Villa by D. W. Griffith) and colour-driven féeries in amazingly preserved colour (La Fée aux pigeons / The Pigeon Fairy by Gaston Velle and Segundo de Chomón).

MEXICO. Dr. Aurelio de los Reyes has compiled a three-part, six-hour chronicle of early Mexican cinema and history. I saw the beginning, 43 short films by Lumière, Edison, Salvador Toscano, and los Hermanos Alva / The Alva Brothers. I realized that this is an indispensable source for a student of Mexican cinema and history with "the longest, and the most violent political revolution of the 20th century, and the first to be extensively chronicled on film" (Aurelio de los Reyes).

TOO MUCH JOHNSON. Stranger than fiction: Orson Welles' lost pre-Citizen Kane film was found last year in Pordenone. I was certainly not the only one to think that there must be a practical joke here somewhere, but the incredible story seems true. The world premiere was, appropriately, in Pordenone. The silent footage was shot by Mercury Theatre for prologues to be used in their theatrical production of William Gillette's comedy Too Much Johnson, but the plan was rejected after the film had been shot and rough-edited. Paolo Cherchi Usai narrated live the projection of the work print screened as it was found, transferred onto safety film. The visual quality was mostly fine. Too Much Johnson does not make sense in itself, but in the Mercury Theatre context the discovery is invaluable. Aspects of Welles's visual sense (but not his mastery) are already in evidence. Too Much Johnson is a spoof full of the joy of play. They had fun, and so have we.

THE BLACKSMITH. Another surprise discovery, via Argentina, Fernando Peña alerting Lobster Films: the first version of Buster Keaton's The Blacksmith which was only released in France, and includes scenes missing from the generally known version (scenes such as Buster's lighting-fast proposals during a chase, and a break during that same chase to watch the silhouette of an undressing woman). This earlier version makes more sense as a narrative.

ICHIRO KATAOKA IN A BENSHI PERFORMANCE. A benshi (a talking live explainer of a film show) of a new generation performed for three shorts and one feature, a first screening outside Japan of Jiro Kawate's Fukujuso / The Scent of Pheasant's Eye, a tale of love between women.

THE CLOSING GALA was a film concert to Harold Lloyd's The Freshman with Carl Davis conducting his own brilliant score, played by FVG Mitteleuropa Orchestra at a strength of 40-50 players. I like the moment of self-revelation and started to think about the autobiographical symbolism of the story. Harold Lloyd also started by imitating others but found greatness by being himself.

REDISCOVERIES. Der geheime Kurier / The Mysterious Messenger, Gennaro Righelli's adaptation of Le Rouge et le Noir, starring Ivan Mosjoukine and Lil Dagover, did no justice to Stendhal but was a piece of splendid adventure entertainment. Vasili Zhuravliov's Kosmicheskii reis / Cosmic Voyage was a fine science fiction discovery, well made and humoristic, also a piece of light entertainment.

PORTRAITS. Musidora, la dixième muse by Patrick Cazals, and Natan - the Untold Story of French Cinema's Forgotten Genius, by David Cairns and Paul Duane. Both new documentaries have lasting value.

STRIKING A NEW NOTE. My perennial favourite show in Pordenone is where the schoolchildren of Pordenone and Cordenons play to silent comedies, this time to two Our Gang films, No Noise and Crazy House, the later starring Jean Darling, present at 91 years, and performing at the festival. I hope these children live as long as Jean Darling, building a bridge of two centuries of living memory.

Some of the Gerhard Lamprecht and Gustaf Molander movies from the late 1920s seemed too slow and long, perhaps because too fast a speed had been avoided, but it would be interesting to know how long the screenings were at the time of the original release.


Pamela Hutchinson in Silent London, ten articles, 5-13 October, 2013
Pamela Hutchinson in The Guardian, 14 October, 2013
Jay Weissberg in Variety, 22 October, 2013
Ivo Blom in his blog, 21 October, 2013
Wellesnet on 9 and 14 October, 2013, on Too Much Johnson
David Cairns on Mubi Notebook, 30 October, 2013, on Too Much Johnson
Daniel Fairfax in Senses of Cinema, December 2013, 18 Dec 2013

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Film concert The Freshman, score composed and conducted by Carl Davis, performed by FVG Mitteleuropa Orchestra

Harold Lloyd Entertainment, Inc.

THE FRESHMAN / Keltanokka / (IT: Viva lo sport!; GB: College Days) (Harold Lloyd Corp., dist: Pathé Exchange, US 1925) Titolo di lavorazione/Working title: The Rah Rah Boy D: Sam Taylor, Fred Newmeyer; SC: Sam Taylor, John Grey, Ted Wilde, Tim Whelan; DP: Walter Lundin; 2nd cameraman (foreign release neg.): Henry Kohler; casting dir: Gaylord Lloyd; prod. mgr: Jack Murphy; asst. dir: Robert A. (“Red”) Golden; C: Harold Lloyd (Harold Lamb), Jobyna Ralston (Peggy), Brooks Benedict (il mascalzone/college cad), James Anderson (l’eroe/college hero), Hazel Keener (la bella/college belle), Joseph Harrington (il sarto/college tailor), Pat Harmon (l’allenatore/football coach); rel: 20.9.1925; 35 mm, 6883 ft, 76' (24 fps); print source: Harold Lloyd Entertainment, Inc., Los Angeles. English intertitles. Teatro Verdi (Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone), with e-titles in Italian, 12 Oct 2013

Score composed and conducted by Carl Davis, performed by FVG Mitteleuropa Orchestra.

Kevin Brownlow: "“The whole idea of The Freshman can be said almost in a line,” recalled Harold Lloyd. “A boy had an obsession to be the most popular student in the college, and he went about it in the wrong way.”"

"Lloyd worked without a script, but he employed the largest number of gag writers of any comedian in the business. “His gag men used to sit in a room with a long kitchen table and canvas chairs,” said Lewis Milestone, who directed Lloyd briefly on The Kid Brother. “They would come in in the morning with awful expressions. They hated the world. Not so much as a good morning. They’d sit there reading magazines."

"“Then they’d hear Harold’s dogs barking. They’d stick the magazines behind them and Harold would come in. One of the fellows would stand up and point at another across the table and say, ‘So-and-so’s got a great idea.’"

"“‘Well,’ Harold would say, ‘Let’s hear it. I’m all ears.’"

"“And, of course, so-and-so hadn’t any idea at all. But he was in a spot. He had to think of something. He would start babbling, and then the others would start talking – they wanted to impress the boss because he was Harold Lloyd. And out of this would come a gag.”"

"“Lloyd was there all the time,” said his friend, John Meredith. “Let’s be honest about it, it was all Harold Lloyd. If he liked it, it was made. If he didn’t, it wasn’t made.”"

"Whatever the drawback of the gag man system, it enabled Lloyd to start a film with little more than a football game in his head, and to end up with a film considered by many to be his masterpiece."

"“We went out to Pasadena where all the Rose Bowl football games were held,” he said, “and we worked for two or three days. Somehow the business or the spirit wouldn’t come, and finally I said to the boys, ‘Fellows, let’s call it off. We can’t do the picture this way. I’ve got to know the character. I’ve got to feel it, or we’re not going to get out of it what I think we’ve got here.’ So we scrapped what we’d shot. We still didn’t have a script, but we went back and we did The Freshman right from the beginning. And as I look back, it’s a good thing that we did.”"

"Hal Roach said that the original idea had been his. But a Charles Ray film of 1917 called The Pinch Hitter survives as an obvious starting point – although the difference is that between a Ford Model T and a Pierce- Arrow. Yet it was not Charles Ray who sued Lloyd for plagiarism, but a writer called H.C. Witwer, author of Universal’s Leather Pushers series. He had related a college story to Lloyd, who had passed it to his gag men. They subjected it to professional scorn. But they kept remembering the story and invited Witwer back to listen to their outline. He was generous in his praise, said it was nothing like his, and if they wanted to use any gags from it they were welcome. So when The Freshman turned into (almost) the most successful comedy ever made, Witwer slapped them with a lawsuit. Not until 1933 did the Harold Lloyd Corporation emerge (mildly) victorious. “Why should Lloyd pay $40,000 to a literary staff to work up the play if it had already been done and could readily have been purchased and copied for a much smaller sum?,” read the court’s decision. “Such a contingent taxes our credulity.”"

"In common with most picture people, Lloyd had never been to university. But one of his gag men had. Sam Taylor (ex-Fordham) was so obviously brilliant that Lloyd promoted him to director, usually in partnership with Fred Newmeyer. They made Safety Last!, Girl Shy, For Heaven’s Sake, etc., after which Taylor graduated to directing John Barrymore, Norma Talmadge, and Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks."

"The Freshman is the nearest to outright satire that Lloyd ever attempted, and yet it isn’t satirical because Lloyd so clearly believes in the society he makes fun of. He convinces us that the world he wishes to join is eminently worthwhile, whatever misery it makes him undergo. Perhaps this was one of the reasons the picture upset students in the 1960s and 70s – that and the fact that The Freshman so quickly develops into an epic of embarrassment."

"When Harold performs his movie jig, his father says, “I’m afraid, Ma, if Harold imitates that movie actor in college, they’ll either break his neck or his heart.” And that’s the last moment of compassion in the picture. From then on, the treatment meted out to Harold is ferocious – particularly in the training sequences."

"Lloyd used real football players in these scenes, one of whom told us Lloyd used a double. But during the making of our documentary The Third Genius we submitted the film to the closest examination, and had no doubt Lloyd did the whole thing himself – perhaps after watching the doubles. “I had some of our own boys in that scene,” said Lloyd, “and they were rough. Boy, when they hit you, you knew about it. But the real footballers didn’t hurt at all.”"

"Lloyd was a great believer in previews. At the first one, everything went well up to the College Ball, where his suit begins to disintegrate. Something was missing. At the second, what was missing was obvious. The gag men (and his close friend, scenarist Frances Marion) insisted Lloyd loses his trousers. “And of course it was one of the high points in the sequence,” said Lloyd. “It’s like slipping on a banana peel. If you don’t step on the banana peel, you’d better have something equally funny for not doing it.”"

"The Ball would have been climax enough for most comedies, but Lloyd still has the football game. Gag after gag convinces us that Harold is an unreconstructed idiot, until there remains just one minute to play. He races after the player with the ball, leaps on him, grabs the ball, and takes off at incredible speed, leaping over opponents in seven-league boots, the camera hurtling across the football field in front of him. “Part of the scene was made at an actual football game,” said Lloyd. “One of the big games of the year, between Stanford and California. It was the only time they had ever allowed a motion picture company to come into a football game. We worked before the game, but with the people there, and in between halves. Instead of having their cards and all their marching, they gave it over to us, and scene after scene that you saw in there was something that we had rehearsed and had all set to go – and shot it at the actual game. You know when I’m running and my shoe comes off, where the whistle blows after me? It was all done actually at the real game.”"

"The big game was filmed at the University of California’s Memorial Stadium in the hills above UC Berkeley. A future film historian, Geoffrey Bell, was in the stands: “You always think of comedy as being casual, and just happening. All of the work and planning that went into this simple scene, the number of technicians, the number of cameras that were set up, and the seriousness of it. They impressed me very much with their dedication."

"“During the 20s I would consider Lloyd at the very top. To me he exceeded the others because of his accessibility. There was something spontaneous and fresh and very, very likeable about him. I think that was one reason he got such a big cheer when he arrived at the game. Everyone identified with him.”" – Kevin Brownlow

The Music. "The spirit of my score for Harold Lloyd’s hilarious and moving comedy is the march: not military, but patriotic in the style of John Philip Sousa, America’s “March King”. This ties in with Harold’s desire to be the most popular man at college, which means he must be a football hero. Around this is the music of the 1920s – a romantic waltz, jolly optimistic tunes, and above all blues and jazz, particularly when Harold throws a party and we see a small band hard at work. At the same time I see this film as large-scale, and now Harold has got a grand orchestra of 40 players." – Carl Davis

AA: The last time I saw The Freshman was five years ago in Harold Lloyd: The Definitive Collection, the 10-dvd box set. Also in that box The Freshman was offered with the splendid Carl Davis score. Initially I had seen The Freshman in the 1970s abridged television version, and it is now puzzling to reflect why such a shortened version had been made in the first place since there is nothing superfluous in the full-length version.

The Freshman is a bold and stunning satire about the emptiness of external success. Harold literally creates for himself a cut-and-paste external identity. In the incredible ball sequence his glued-together tuxedo comes apart. It's a masterful case of a comedy of embarrassment. It can be compared with Charles Chaplin's heartbreaking ball sequence in The Gold Rush, but the psychology of the comedy is entirely different.

The second high point, the football game, is a jaw-dropping showcase of action comedy, both thrilling and funny.

But for me the real climax and turning-point is Harold's moment of self-recognition during the ball sequence. For the first time Harold realizes how others see him. He bursts into tears in Jobyna Ralston's lap. But the moment of the deepest crisis and the biggest embarrassment can also be a turning-point to a new beginning and a new growth. "You have been pretending. Be yourself." Until then Harold has been a stupid clown. Now, after the self-revelation, his true spirit can emerge.

On our way to the Marco Polo airport next morning we discussed The Freshman with another Pordenone regular, and she told that the moment of Harold bursting into tears was cut from the 1970s abridged television version!

This story seems also semi-autobiographical. Harold Lloyd, himself, started by imitating others, and evolved into greatness when he found himself and started to do his own thing. His theme was the American dream of success, and he was also capable of the bitterest satire of its emptiness.

I loved the engrossing performance of Carl Davis's music with the marches and the dances and the currents of emotion which enrich the film experience in a way that is parallel to but different from what Chaplin did to his silent films. Una grande finale to a splendid Festival.

The stills of The Freshman do not do justice to the film. They fail to convey the sense of humour and the gravity of Harold Lloyd's masterpiece.
Harold Lloyd Entertainment, Inc.
Harold Lloyd Entertainment, Inc.
Harold Lloyd Entertainment, Inc.
Harold Lloyd Entertainment, Inc.

The Blacksmith (the 1921 version = the first version = unreleased in the US)

THE BLACKSMITH (Saltarello fabbro) (Comique Film Corporation, Inc., US, 1921 / 1922) D, SC: Buster Keaton, Mal St. Clair; P: Joseph M. Schenck; DP: Elgin Lessley; tech. dir: Fred Gabourie; C: Buster Keaton, Virginia Fox, Joe Roberts.

Version 1 (Malec forgeron): 1921; not released in US. DCP (from 35 mm, 496 m.), 20' (22 fps); source: Lobster Films, Paris. No intertitles. Teatro Verdi (Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone), grand piano: Neil Brand, 12 Oct 2013

In the presence of Fernando Peña (Buenos Aires) and Serge Bromberg.
Screened earlier: Version 2: 1922; released in US through First National. DCP (from 35 mm, 550 m.), 21' (22 fps); source: Lobster Films, Paris. English intertitles, with French subtitles. Benshi commentary: Ichiro Kataoka; M: John Sweeney.

David Robinson: "For many The Blacksmith remains one of Keaton’s best-loved shorts. The narrative line is casual, but the film has memorable moments: the giant horseshoe magnet that snatches everything in sight, from a cart-wheel to the sheriff’s badge; Buster the horseshoe clerk, deferring to his demanding equine client; a sprung support devised for a saddle-sore equestrienne; the dirtying-up of a patrician white horse and the systematic destruction of a couple of automobiles."

"The film now commands fresh attention, however, with the discovery that it was made in two different versions, probably shot as much as 10 months apart. The revelation comes from Fernando Peña, already celebrated for his part in two major discoveries in the Museo del Cine de Buenos Aires: the complete version of Metropolis and the fragmentary My Son, the only known surviving film of the legendary Yevgeni Cherviakov (it was screened at last year’s Giornate). Peña was not particularly excited to discover The Blacksmith in a cache of 9.5mm films bought by his friend and fellow collector Fabio Manes – until they screened it and found much of the action quite different from the known versions. The film had French subtitles, which led Peña to consult Serge Bromberg. In turn, Bromberg sought out 35 mm prints of The Blacksmith that had survived in France. His hunch was rewarded: two of these – including one in Lobster’s own collection – proved to contain the scenes from Mr. Peña’s version, along with an extra gag, and a further scene which the French distributors probably thought too saucy for home viewers on 9.5mm. Lobster have now restored this version and the Giornate is privileged to present its premiere screening."

"The months since the discovery have led to energetic detective work on both sides of the Atlantic to try to reconstruct the history of the two Blacksmiths. John Bengtson, the undisputed authority on Hollywood silent film locations, has demonstrated that scenes in the two versions were filmed several months apart: in the interim new buildings have appeared and existing ones changed: Hollywood was developing fast in those years (see Bengtson’s “Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations” website)."

"Meanwhile, Susan Buhrman discovered two obscure but vital newspaper reports. On 22 September 1921, the Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger reported that Keaton had just finished The Blacksmith, and that it would be forwarded to New York for preview within the next week. Not until January 1922 however was there a report of any preview, when the magazine Photoplay moaned that “There is hardly a smile in his latest comedy, if such it can be called. The situations are forced and his work laborious. His scenario writer should consult Webster and discover that the words silly and funny are not synonymous”. The attack was premature. The Blacksmith was not to be released until 6 months later, and then – as we now know – in a much revised version."

"In speculating on the chronology of the two versions of The Blacksmith, we are helped by knowing that the production schedule at the Keaton studio was fairly regular: generally the time between releases stayed close to an average of 35 days. If the first version of The Blacksmith was ready for shipping on 22 September 1921, therefore, it had presumably been started not later than the second week of August. This followed a period of inactivity. In the spring of 1921 Keaton had to abandon The Electric House when he broke his ankle on a prop escalator, while on 31 May he married Natalie Talmadge – two contrasting distractions. It seems likely that The Blacksmith marked resumption of work in the studio, and it may be significant that Keaton does not undertake any major physical feats in the film, apart from a long shot of his being dragged on the back of a truck."

"Perhaps, however, production had taken place earlier than this speculative August-September dating, and the film, though completed, had already been held back, since by the time The Blacksmith was shipped to New York in the last week of September 1921, The Playhouse must already have been far into production: it was ready for release on 6 October 1921. A complicated production, The Playhouse must have been begun early in September, almost a month before The Blacksmith was deemed ready for shipping to New York. Perhaps Photoplay only corroborated Keaton’s own misgivings about The Blacksmith."

"The very much made-over version that is now familiar was finally issued on 21 July 1922. In the interim the studio had released The Playhouse, The Paleface, Cops, and My Wife’s Relations. We cannot guess when the new work on The Blacksmith was carried out, though there was a 4-month interruption in releases between Cops in February and My Wife’s Relations in June 1922, which might have provided some opportunity."

"So how did the apparently suppressed version get away – to reappear now, after 90 years? The only answer can be that in September 1921, before the need to rework the film had been acknowledged, a negative or prints of The Blacksmith had been optimistically shipped to France, where it was presumably screened commercially, and later reduced to 9.5 mm for the Pathé-Baby home projector market. Though launched in October 1922, it was not until 1927 that the Pathé Baby projector could project films as long as 15-20 minutes: the Argentinian 9.5 mm print is of the complete film, so must have been struck in this later period." – David Robinson

AA: The Blacksmith has been a dear film to me for a long time. As a schoolboy and as a student, when we were running various film societies, including ones based on 16 mm prints, I loved the classic comedies available at 16 mm rental companies such as Viihde-Kuva, and we screened The Blacksmith many times, but I believe it was the general release version of 1922. That was forty years ago so I cannot swear it was that version.

It was very rewarding to see both versions of The Blacksmith within a few days. The first observation is that even the scenes and gags we have always known get better when there is a chance to see them again. Of course also this film is available on dvd, but there is a fundamental difference in seeing a film like this with an appreciative audience. And what audience would not be appreciative to a masterpiece like this.

Joe Roberts plays the hulking blacksmith, and Buster Keaton plays his small but agile assistant.

They told there are some five minutes of unknown material in this rare first version of 1921, unreleased in the US. I believe those five minutes include scenes such as - Buster Keaton driving a motorcar, smoking a cigar, while the blacksmith is in prison - The steering wheel comes unstuck - Having lost control of the car Keaton runs over the blacksmith - The gag with Keaton carrying the long plank - The blacksmith chases Keaton, but when Keaton notices the silhouette of an undressing woman they take a break to watch - The chase goes on around a shack - The sweetheart emerges from the shack, and during the wild chase Keaton uses each fraction of a second to propose. Having locked up the blacksmith inside the shack he can finally focus on the proposing.

As a narrative this early version is more coherent. The happy ending (with a flash-forward to the young family with a child) is abrupt in the general release version, but here it is satisfyingly founded and inevitable.

The Corrick Collection 7, Programme 2 (2013 Pordenone programme from National Film & Sound Archive, Canberra, introductions by Leslie Anne Lewis)

The Lonely Villa. National Film & Sound Archive, Canberra
Cinemazero (Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone), with e-titles in English and Italian, grand piano: Donald Sosin, 12 Oct 2013

PRINCE OF WALES VISITS LAUNCESTON (Corrick, AU 1920) D: Leonard Corrick; 35 mm, 361 ft, 6'01" (16 fps); print source: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #87). English intertitles.

Leslie Anne Lewis: "Though not technically a Corrick Family Entertainers film, to finish out the story of the Corricks as filmmakers we are presenting the final film in the collection produced by Leonard Corrick himself. Taken in the family’s adopted home town of Launceston, Tasmania, this short film documents the visit of the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VIII, later Duke of Windsor) to the area over four days in late July 1920. The Prince’s visit to Australia was part of a post-World War I tour intended to thank the Dominions for their service and sacrifice in the war; he spent nearly three months in the country, visiting over 110 towns."

"In the 13 years since producing the family’s first films – Bashful Mr. Brown and Street Scenes in Perth, W.A. – Leonard had obviously picked up a few tricks. Unlike these earlier films, Prince of Wales Visits Launceston includes several intertitles, shots taken from multiple angles, and more sophisticated editing. He worked on the film with a Mr. Thomsen, projectionist at the Princess Theatre in Launceston, and it is believed to have been screened at the theatre the night the Prince left Tasmania." – Leslie Anne Lewis

AA: Non-fiction. This film belongs to another period than the other Corrick films. A good composition of the image in the filmed record of a crowd greeting the Prince of Wales. The source is a worn print, but the image is rich in detail

THE LONELY VILLA (Biograph, US 1909) D: D. W. Griffith; DP: G.W. Bitzer, Arthur Marvin; SC: Mack Sennett, Frank E. Woods; C: David Miles, Marion Leonard, Mary Pickford, Gladys Egan, Adele De Garde, Owen Moore, Mack Sennett; 35 mm, 607 ft, 10'07" (16 fps); print source: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #35). English intertitles.

"This well-known Griffith short featuring some of Biograph’s most iconic performers – including Mary Pickford, Owen Moore, and Mack Sennett – is undoubtedly familiar to the Giornate audience. Struck from an original release print, the Corrick Collection copy is unfortunately missing the initial action, picking up the story just prior to the servants leaving for the day while the robbers wait outside for their opportunity to strike." – Leslie Anne Lewis

AA:  See image above. Thriller. An interesting print of one of the most famous films by D. W. Griffith. In Le Giornate del Cinema Muto's screening about early telephone thrillers called "Before The Lonely Villa" the print of The Lonely Villa (The Library of Congress print screened in Pordenone, 2008) had a brilliant image but no titles. This print has titles. The image is fairly good, slightly on the soft side.

[SCENES IN SINGAPORE] (Charles Urban Trading Co., GB, c.1907) D: ?; 35 mm, 140 ft, 2'20" (16 fps); print source: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #104). No intertitles.

"Fragment of a scenic film produced by the Charles Urban Trading Company showing views of Singapore. Any further information the Giornate audience can provide on this title would be much appreciated." – Leslie Anne Lewis

AA: Non-fiction. Singapore street scenes, views from the harbour, an impressive parade, a fine composition, a suave movement of the camera. A fair print.

D: J.H. Martin?; 35 mm, 246 ft, 4'06" (16 fps), col. (tinted); print source: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #32). Main title in English, no intertitles.

"Two thieves put the local cop out of commission with a doctored beer, but soon find they have his brothers-in-arms to contend with. This is the third of three R. W. Paul films in the Corrick Collection, along with The Hand of the Artist (1906) and The Fakir and the Footpads (1906)." – Leslie Anne Lewis

AA: A farce. Villains outwit a policeman with spiked beer and even frame him as a drunkard piling more bottles on his side. They also cleverly trap a policeman between two doors.

BRIGANDAGE MODERNE (Modern Brigandage) (Pathé, FR 1905) D: Ferdinand Zecca; 35 mm, 496 ft, 8'16" (16 fps), col. (tinted); print source: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #77). Main title in English, no intertitles.

"Advertised by the Corricks as The Capture of a Highway Robber, Modern Brigandage both conforms to and cracks the mould of the popular chase film. An enterprising highwayman makes his living by robbing passing cars on a deserted section of roadway, then quickly making his getaway by motorcycle. A policeman who happens upon the scene shortly after one robbery gives chase, and as to be expected, the next several shots show the bandit being pursued by an ever-increasing mob of police and victims. This usual pattern is short-circuited, however when the police stop to phone ahead for reinforcements, giving the hunters the opportunity to lay a trap for their prey." – Leslie Anne Lewis

AA: Another clever bandit, equipped with a motorcycle, beats the policeman whose vehicle is a mere bicycle. The bandit is even able to rob a motorcar. This movie must be one of the earliest documentations of a mobile phone. The police has a portable telephone which can be switched into the telephone network at a telephone pole. There is a rope trap, but the final arrest takes place at the river when the bandit tries to cross it on a raft. The camera is immobile. An ok to good print.

LE DÉJEUNER DU SAVANT (The Scholar’s Breakfast) (Pathé, FR 1905) D: ?; 35 mm, 123 ft, 2'03" (16 fps), col. (tinted); print source: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #115). Main title in English, no intertitles.

"Sensing something amiss with his breakfast, a scientist foolishly decides to examine the food under a handy microscope. What he sees turns his stomach and he wisely decides to stick to dry toast."
"The popular craze for scientific films – be they micro-cinematography, stop-motion, X-ray, or high-speed photography – and their unique means of viewing the world fit well into the wide-open range of early cinema, less constrained as it was by the narrative bias that would eventually predominate. As early as 1903, the Urban company’s series The Unseen World brought microcinematography to the public; two years after Le Déjeuner du savant, Pathé set up a dedicated scientific cinema laboratory to allow scientists and the public to explore, as Hannah Landecker describes it, “the realm of the very small and the very slow”. Other firms such as Edison and Gaumont also found success in both the educational and commercial realms with films produced for or inspired by scientific inquiry." – Leslie Anne Lewis

AA: A comedy parodying a scientific film with displays of microbic life under the microsope. The scientist examines with his microscope first a piece of cheese... full of worms. Even a glass of water is full of living creatures. The scientist sticks to bread.

CIRCUIT DE DIEPPE 1907 (The Dieppe Circuit 1907) (Pathé, FR 1907) D: ?; 35 mm, 739 ft, 12'19" (16 fps), col. (tinted); print source: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #37). English intertitles.

"Motor racing in France began the mid-1890s as a way for auto companies to advertise their products. Held in 1894, one of the first races – advertised as a “Competition for Horseless Carriages” – covered the 128-km distance between Paris and Rouen and lasted nearly 7 hours, with racers reaching an average speed of just 19 km/h (12 mph). By the time Circuit de Dieppe 1907 was filmed, showing the second year of the French Grand Prix, things had definitely changed. Organized by the Automobile Club of France, this race took place on 2 July 1907 and consisted of 10 laps along a 77-km circuit of the city of Dieppe on France’s northern coast. Held on closed public roads, the 38 entrants set off at one-minute intervals. Winner Felice Nazzaro of Italy finished with a time of 6 hours, 47 minutes, averaging a speed of 113.6 km/h (70.6 mph) while driving a Fiat 130HP F2 Racer. Over half of the contestants dropped out during the course of the race because of equipment failure, accidents, or driver injury; of the 17 entrants who finished, the last crossed the finish line nearly 11 hours later."

"Not surprisingly, with cars travelling at such speeds and little-to-no safety equipment, crashes were common and injuries abounded – two accidents occurred in just the first lap of this race. The knowledge that one skilled driver, the son of a well-known auto manufacturer, had died while practicing on the track for this race the month before upped the ante for racers and spectators alike. Certainly, watching the open-topped cars careen around the sharp corners of the triangular-shaped track (where Pathé operators wisely set up their cameras to catch the most dramatic footage possible) is as nail-biting an affair for viewers today as it must have been then."

"This was the first Grand Prix filmed by the Pathé company; similar films were also released in 1908, 1912, and 1913 (the event was suspended from 1909-1911 due to infighting between the car companies). Shown here are competitors preparing for the race, the race itself, and the medals ceremony." – Leslie Anne Lewis

AA: See image below. Non-fiction. A highly important documentation of an early Grand Prix auto race. However, as a film it is slightly boring. The most dramatic incident, as seen in the image below, is of a car toppling by the side of the track. Somewhat clumsy camerawork. An ok print.

[MIDDLE EAST TRAVELOGUE] (Urban?, GB?, c.1907) D: ?; 35 mm, 431 ft, 7'11" (16 fps); print source: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #99). No intertitles.

"Contextual evidence provided by the Corrick family’s scrapbook suggests this film may be a version of Train Journey from Jaffa to Jerusalem, produced by the Charles Urban Company and released under slightly varying titles several times (1904, 1907, and 1908); however, this has not yet been confirmed. Scenes include a steam strain arriving at a station, travelling over a bridge and through a gorge, a religious parade, Roman ruins, and crowd scenes. The first mention of the Jaffa to Jerusalem film in Corrick advertisements comes in 1907, when it was screened as part of their “Trip Round the World” program." – Leslie Anne Lewis

AA: See image below. Travelogue. It starts with a phantom ride on a train. On a square vases are carried on top of the head. There are Christians. A procession. Elephants. A Muslim flag with a crescent. A boy has toothache. On the square people stare at the camera. The shepherds with their sheep. The palms, the camels. An ok print with occasional scratches and damage marks.

CACHE-TOI DANS LA MALLE! (Keep It Straight!) (Pathé, FR 1905) D: ?; C: Fernand Rivers; 35 mm, 301 ft, 5'01" (16 fps), col. (tinted); print source: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #69). Main title in English, no intertitles.

"Advertised by the family as Keep It Straight! or This Side Up With Care, Cache-toi dans la malle! (literally, “Hide in the Trunk!”) follows (as one Corrick reviewer put it), “the terrible adventures of a man who would kiss his friend’s wife”. A man visiting his lover is nearly caught by the woman’s husband. He quickly ducks into a large trunk, but before he can make a clean escape the trunk is picked up by two movers. On their way to delivering the box to the railway station they are anything but gentle – dropping it down the stairs, off the back of a truck, and into the river. When the poor man is at last freed, he is hardly the dapper gentleman he once was – covered in dirt, clothes in tatters, bumped and bruised from his wild ride." – Leslie Anne Lewis

AA: A farce. A wild adventure of an unlucky lover who hides in a trunk, tumbles down the staircase, falls again from a carriage, dips deep down to the river when the carriage is crossing a bridge, and at the railway station falls again down the stairs. An ok print.

LA FÉE AUX PIGEONS (The Pigeon Fairy) (Pathé, FR 1906) D: Gaston Velle; DP, FX: Segundo de Chomón; 35 mm, 137 ft, 2'17" (16 fps), col. (stencil-colour); print source: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #78). Main title in English, no intertitles.

"Pathé stalwart Gaston Velle produced this elaborately-stencilled spectacle of color and special effects with the help of frequent collaborator Segundo de Chomón. Aided by cinematic magic, a woman conjures birds out of thin air and then makes them disappear just as quickly. As her final trick, she herself transforms into a stunning peacock whose colors shift and shimmer before the viewer’s eyes." – Leslie Anne Lewis (The GCM Catalogue)

AA: See image below. A féerie. A transfiguration. The fairy of the pigeons, the rain of plumes. A radiating colour. A brilliant finale to seven fascinating years of opening the Corrick Collection.

Corrick films not surviving
"For all of the fascinating Corrick films that still exist, the list of their prints that are not known to survive is equally compelling. We may never know if they were traded or sold, or simply decomposed over the years, but from the various records available we can see that at some point the Corrick’s repertoire also included the following titles, as well as dozens more mentioned in advertisements and reviews that unfortunately cannot be concretely identified."

CASCADES DE FEU (Pathé, FR 1905)
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN (?, c.1906)
ÉCRIN DU RAJAH, L’ (Pathé, FR 1906)
ÉVENTAIL, L’ (Pathé, FR 1909)
[HUMAN SQUIB] (Gaumont, FR 1909)
JEU DE PATIENCE, LE (Pathé, FR 1909)
LOÏE FULLER (Pathé, FR 1905)
PATHÉ ANIMATED GAZETTE (October 1910) (Pathé, GB 1910)
RESCUED BY ROVER (Hepworth, GB 1905)
RÊVE À LA LUNE (Pathé, FR 1905)

La Fée aux pigeons. National Film & Sound Archive, Canberra

[Middle East Travelogue]. National Film & Sound Archive, Canberra

Circuit de Dieppe 1907. National Film & Sound Archive, Canberra

Natan – The Untold Story of French Cinema's Forgotten Genius

David Cairns, Paul Duane: Natan – The Untold Story of French Cinema's Forgotten Genius (IE 2013).

Natan : L'Histoire oubliée.
    IE 2013. Screenworks / The Arts Council / An Chomhaire Ealaíon.
    D, SC: David Cairns, Paul Duane; EX: Craig McCall; DP: David Cairns, Paul Duane, Rob Cawley, Louis-Joseph Auguste, Simone Fanthorpe, John Ebright; lighting camera: Scott Wald; ED: Eoin McDonagh; AD: Charles Suddaby; effetti grafici/graphic effects: Enda O’Connor; M: Seti the First; narr. (Natan voice-over): Gavin Mitchell;
    with: Lenny Borger, Serge Bromberg, Serge Klarsfeld, Françoise Ickowicz, Lenick Philippot [granddaughters of Natan], Gilles Willems, Frédéric Tachou, Bart Bull, Gisèle Casadeus, Joseph W. Slade - and with: Sophie Seydoux
    66 min
    Source: Screenworks, Dublin, Ireland. English and French dialogue with English subtitles.
    Cinemazero (Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone), with e-titles in Italian, 12 Oct 2013

David Robinson: "Bernard Natan, says one of the witnesses in this documentary, “has not been airbrushed out of history. He has been actively destroyed.” Natan Tanenzaft arrived in Paris from his native Romania in 1905, at the age of 19. Already crazy about the cinema, he worked as a projectionist and technician (briefly at Pathé), and was soon involved in independent production. In 1911 he had a set-back when he was one of a group of newsreel-makers convicted for “outrage des bonnes mœurs”: the nature of the offence was not specified, though later it was supposed it might have involved distribution of “gentlemen-only” films. He volunteered to fight in the First World War, and took on French citizenship as well as the name Bernard Natan. His company Rapid Film enjoyed success: its productions included the official filming of the 1924 Olympics and the spectacular La merveilleuse vie de Jeanne d’Arc, directed by the painter Marco de Gastyne. In 1929 he established France’s first television company, Télévision Baird-Natan. By the end of the 1920s Natan was able to take over Pathé, which was in a state of hastened decline, mainly thanks to Charles Pathé’s lack of confidence in the film business following the coming of sound. The company now became “Pathé-Natan”."

"Serge Bromberg compares Natan’s entrepreneurial genius to DeMille. Marcus Loew had said that talking films would permanently establish English as the universal language; but the confident and prolific production of Pathé-Natan in the early 1930s consolidated a powerful French-language cinema, which was to define and shape the whole future of the national cinema. Natan was tirelessly innovative. He revived Pathé’s defunct newsreel, but now with sound. He built new cinemas. He developed the home cinema market. Two decades before CinemaScope, Pathé-Natan exploited Henri Chrétien’s anamorphic lens, as “Hypergonar”, to make vertical as well as horizontal panoramic films. Natan’s initiative, skills, and success inevitably brought enemies, and by the mid-1930s he was the victim of vicious xenophobic and anti-Semitic campaigns, whose publications were comparable to those of the Nazis in Germany. It did not help that Pathé-Natan’s production of René Clair’s Le Dernier Milliardaire was seen as anti-Nazi and was banned in Germany. Not only was Natan attacked personally and racially, but the ambiguous conviction of 1911 was expanded into a mythical career as a pornographic producer and actor spanning the 1910s and 20s, unconvincingly demonstrated with frame stills purporting to show Natan himself as an erotic performer. This documentary shows how the story is perpetuated to the present by an Ohio academic, Joseph Slade – who states, with cautious afterthought, that his lovingly collected evidence proves that Natan “may or may not” have been a pornographer! Nevertheless, thanks largely to Slade, Natan is now generally written into the history of screen pornography."

"In 1935 the effects of the Great Depression finally hit Pathé, and left Natan to seek desperate and often injudicious strategies to save the day. A revolt of the shareholders was led by a certain Dirler, who was known to have connections with German cinema. Natan was charged with fraud on the strength of convoluted evidence of his handling of Pathé-Natan’s finances, and in 1939 was sentenced to imprisonment. He was released in 1942 and his French citizenship was withdrawn. Sent to the French holding camp at Drancy, Natan was considered an important enough detainee for special notification to be sent to Eichmann when he was transferred to Auschwitz, where he was to die, most likely in late 1943."

"Paul Duane and David Cairns’ film is determined to correct the still too easily received image of Bernard Natan as a cheat and pornographer – a person “actively destroyed” by history. The film takes stylistic risks in making Natan the autobiographical narrator, and intermittently representing him as a grotesquely masked personage. But this is only a link for a line-up of witnesses for his defence who are impressive and wholly convincing – notably Serge Bromberg, who can categorically contradict the “stag-film” attributions, while his own grandfather was sent, like Natan, to the notorious holding centre at Drancy. For all devotees of the golden age, however, the most moving moment of this tragic tale – and the last word on Natan – is the closing title, a simple statement by the granddaughter of Georges Méliès, Madeleine Malthête-Méliès." – David Robinson

AA: Bernard Natan belongs to the giants of French film history, perhaps not quite as forgotten as the film-makers say. A WWI hero, he founded Rapid Film, produced the first Olympic feature film (Les Jeux Olympiques 1924, in many ways one of the models for Leni Riefenstahl), was a pioneer of the "making of" (Autour de L'Argent), made commercials, newsreels, believed in television already in the 1920s, financed the original CinemaScope technology (Hypergonar), produced the epic La merveilleuse vie de Jeanne d'Arc, completely different from Carl Th. Dreyer's intimate and ascetic interpretation, believed in colour (Les Gaîtés de l'escadron with Raimu, Gabin, and Fernandel, in Pathécolor), and produced the most formidable French epics of the 1930s, Les Croix de bois and Les Misérables, both directed by Raymond Bernard. Serge Bromberg makes a strong case here that both films were personal projects for Bernard Natan. When Charles Pathé lost faith in the cinema Natan bought his company and made it successful during the adversities of the great crash and depression.

The perhaps most evil conspiracy in the history of cinema was then first the character assassination of Bernard Natan, followed by his physical destruction in the holocaust. He was framed as a pornographer and a swindler, and even his voice was distorted in newsreels to make him sound ridiculous. This movie is a strong entry in the history of the Jewish contribution to the cinema, and about the persecution of Jews in the cinema. The most moving moments are about the German occupation, the "Le Juif et la France" exhibition, and the Drancy story (Serge Bromberg: "my grandfather was there").

The film-makers have seen Gainsbourg by Joann Sfar and copied the idea of a masked Bernard Natan speaking in the first person from there. This device I find unnecessary. Although the film-makers rebut the accusations of Bernard Natan as a pornographer they devote quite a bit of screen time to juicy excerpts from pornographic films such as Sœur vaseline, Un cocktail bien servi, and Le Canard. Why?

Madeleine Malthête-Méliès tells that a stranger sent a check in 1922 to his impoverished grandfather Georges. That was the "discreet, generous, and practical Natan".

A perplexing, magnificent, and upsetting story.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Shkurnyk / [The Self-Seeker] (2011 digital restoration in 2K)

Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre, Kiev
SHKURNYK. Satiritshka povist / Шкурник. Сатірітшка повість / [a film unreleased at the time] / [L’opportunista / The Self-Seeker] (VUFKU, Kyiv, SU / UkrSSR 1929). Working titles: Tsybala / Znayome oblychchia [Una faccia familiare / Familiar Face] / Istoriya odnoho obyvatelia [Storia di un filisteo / The Story of a Philistine]. D, P: Mykola Shpykovskyi; prod. asst: Luka Liashenko; SC: Vadym Okhrymenko, Mykola Shpykovskyi, Boris Rosenzweig, based on the short story “Tsybala” by Vadym Okhrymenko; DP: Oleksii Pankratiev; AD: Solomon Zarytskyi; prod. mgr: M. Zghoda; M: Marcin Pukaluk (2012), Vyacheslav Nazarov (2012); C: Ivan Sadovskyi (Apollon Shmyhuev, il filisteo/ the Philistine), Luka Liashenko (capo partigiano/Partisan Leader), Dora Feller (comandante/Commandant), Dmytro Kapka (colonello/ Colonel), S. Vlasenko (capo dell’ufficio contro i liquori fatti in casa/ Head of the Office for the Struggle against Homemade Liquor); filmed: early 1929; banned by the censor: 27.4.1929 (not released); orig. l: 2158 m.; restored edition: 2200.4 m.; DCP (from 35 mm), 77' (24 fps); print source: Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Film Centre, Kyiv. Ukrainian intertitles. Teatro Verdi (Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone), with e-titles in English and Italian, grand piano: Marcin Pukaluk, 11 Oct 2013

Ivan Kozlenko: "The Self-Seeker is the story of an enterprising Ukrainian “philistine”, Apollon Shmyhuev, whose peaceful bourgeois existence is upset by the 1917-1921 Civil War. He accidentally joins a Bolshevik military regiment that leaves the city, and is made responsible for the regiment’s “vehicle” – a camel. Escaping from the regiment, he finds himself in a locale occupied by the Bolsheviks. Zealous and adaptable, Apollon quickly becomes the head of the local commissariat. However, his unquenchable thirst for profit puts his life in danger, and he has to flee. When the Whites capture him as a spy for the Reds, he quickly gains their confidence. Travelling on the camel to hostile camps of the Bolsheviks, royalists, and “neutrals”, Shmyhuev succeeds in making friends with everybody, until the Bolsheviks ultimately consolidate their rule."

"In 1917, after graduating from the Faculty of Law at Novorossiysk University in Odessa, the Kyiv resident Mykola Shpykovskyi found himself in Moscow. In 1925 he made his film début as the screenwriter and co-director (with Vsevolod Pudovkin) of Chess Fever (Shakhmatnaya goryachka), a short comedy whose action took place during an international chess tournament in Moscow. After filming another satire on bourgeois life, A Cup of Tea (Chashka chaya, 1927), for Sovkino, Shpykovskyi returned to Ukraine, where he made one more satirical comedy, Three Rooms with a Kitchen (Try kimnaty z kukhneyu, 1928), based on Vladimir Mayakovsky’s script How Are You? (Kak pozhyvayete?)."

"The Proletkult experimental movement in Soviet Russia enjoyed a widespread revival in the early days of “War” Communism, up to 1922, but by the second half of the 1920s it was increasingly criticized by the Party and its leaders sought refuge in Ukraine. There the People’s Commissariat of Education, headed by Mykola Skrypnyk, the ideologist of the strategy of Ukrainianization, provided an independent liberal policy of national protectionism, encouraging experiments by Vladimir Mayakovsky, Dziga Vertov, Nilolai Okhlopkov, and Mykola Shpykovskyi. It was in this cultural climate that VUFKU commissioned from Mayakovsky 10 scripts, 3 of which were filmed in 1928: Shpykovskyi’s Three Rooms with a Kitchen, Oktiabriuhov and Dekabriuhov (Oktiabriuhov i Dekabriuhov), directed by Oleksii Smirnov and Oleksandra Smirnova, and The Three (Troye), directed by Oleksandr Solovyov."

"Shpykovskyi’s film satires took particular aim at the “philistines” of the NEP (New Economic Policy), the apolitical and zealous petty bourgeoisie who were not ready to accept Soviet austerity. The Self- Seeker, filmed by Shpykovskyi in 1929, is an adventure road-movie with touches of the absurd. Featuring a camel as one of the main characters and mocking Bolshevik bureaucracy and fanaticism, as well as the White Army’s kleptocratic pomposity in the Civil War, this adroit farce is one of the best examples of early Ukrainian comedy. The revolutionary agitation of the Red Army is depicted in an openly sarcastic way. When the Soviet government saw itself caricatured, the film was banned, on the grounds described in report No. 2974 of the Senior Repertoire Committee of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, dated 27 April 1929: “The Civil War is presented in the film only in terms of its dark ugly side. It shows only robbery, dirt, the stupidity of the Red Army and the local Soviet authorities, etc. As a result, a nasty lampoon on the reality of that time was produced.” However, the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam evaluated The Self-Seeker differently in his essay “The Spy”, dedicated to the film: “The more perfect the film language is, the closer it is to the not-yet-implemented thinking of the future, which we call film prose with its powerful syntax, the more valuable is the cinematographer’s work in the film. From this perspective, Shpykovskyi’s work of art, despite its modest realistic ‘appearance’, is an achievement of a very high quality.”"

"Since the film was never screened until the 1990s, it had to wait to be rediscovered by the Russian scholar Naum Kleiman and introduced to the academic public by another Russian scholar, Yevgenii Margolit, in his 1995 book Izyatoe kino (The Withdrawn Cinema, 1924-1953). As with most Ukrainian films, the negative and prints of The Self- Seeker were removed from Ukraine and transported to the USSR’s newly created Gosfilmofond in 1938. Since neither Shkurnyk nor Shpykovskyi’s next film, Bread (Khlib), were distributed in Soviet Russia, their original Ukrainian intertitles were retained."

"Restoration. A 2K digital restoration of the film was implemented in 2011 by the Dovzhenko National Film Studios on the orders of the State Film Agency of Ukraine."

"Music. In 2012, a new orchestral score for the film was created by the cinema composer Vyacheslav Nazarov at the request of the Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Film Centre. The restored version of The Self- Seeker was screened with live accompaniment by the Symphony Orchestra of the National Opera of Ukraine as the opening film of the 42nd Molodist International Film Festival in Kiev in October 2012. The film will be accompanied live at the Giornate by the Polish composer, musicologist, and performer Marcin Pukaluk, whose varied career has included an enthusiastic involvement in silent film accompaniment. His scores include Metropolis, The General, and Earth (Zemlya), which he has already performed upwards of a hundred times in Poland, Russia, and Ukraine. His music for Shkurnyk was commissioned by the 3rd Odessa Mute Nights Festival." Ivan Kozlenko

AA: A rich sense of milieu and juicy characters are strengths of this movie full of funny details. The civil war is seen from the viewpoint of a coward and a turncoat. There are memorable scenes of making moonshine liquor and making hay. Maybe there was not a feeling of an irresistible force in the total vision of this movie. There was a royal disregard to the images in the live music. A movie that occurred to me during the screening was Andrzej Munk's Zezowate szczęście / Bad Luck, also a film with the sum less impressive than the parts. Or perhaps I am suffering from festival fatigue.

Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre, Kiev

Joly-Normandin (1896-1897), (2013 Pordenone programme curated by Camille Blot-Wellens)

[LE COCHER ET LE MAUVAIS PAYEUR] Photothèque Cinémathèque Suisse
Teatro Verdi (Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone), with e-titles in English and Italian, grand piano: Antonio Coppola, 11 Oct 2013

“Cinématographe perfectionné...” The Joly-Normandin System
“The authentic Cinématographe perfectionné. System Joly patented S.G.D.G. Be suspicious of worthless imitations, because the good price is just an illusion. One can get rich with a good apparatus. One can be ruined with a bad one. The CINEMATOGRAPHE System Joly, is the only one with a warranty, and which doesn’t damage the films. Its functioning is irreproachable, without any vibration or flickering. Ready for immediate delivery. Certified by customers. Original views. The apparatus allows shooting films. We are at customers’ disposal to develop the films for them. Contact M. Normandin, engineer- manufacturer-electrician. 9 rue Soufflot Paris. Special fares for stallholders.” (L’Industriel forain, no. 372, 20-26 September 1896)

Camille Blot-Wellens: "The “Cinématographe Joly-Normandin” (patented in March 1896 by Henri Joly, and marketed by Ernest Normandin) offered some special characteristics, which were also commented upon in contemporary publications, like a better quality of projection thanks to a bigger image (5 perforations per image), thus being recommended for projections in big theatres."

"These characteristics seem to have convinced a number of exhibitors in France, as well as abroad. In Paris, the photographer Eugène Pirou acquired a cinematograph which he would then present as the “Cinématographe E. Pirou” or “Cinématographe Pirou-Normandin”, and already from October 1896 he started screening films at the Café de la Paix and then at the Maison Doisteau in Paris. The “Cinématographe Pirou” would also be presented in Ghent, Belgium, in November 1896, and at the Casino in Nice (from late December 1896 until April 1897)."

"The Cinématographe Joly-Normandin was used inside and outside Europe in 1896 and 1897: in Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands, in New York at the Eden Musée, and in New Caledonia and Australia. Presented as the “Animatographo” by João Anacleto Rodrigues in Madeira and the Azores, or as “Prof. Jolly’s Cinematographe” at the Star Theatre of Varieties in Dublin and the Empire Theatre in London. On 23 November 1897 there was a special screening at Windsor Castle, to celebrate Prince Henry of Battenberg’s birthday. In South Africa, the circus owner Frank Fillis organized screenings in Cape Town (early 1898). In Spain the collector Antonino Sagarmínaga hosted private screenings from October 1897."

"Unfortunately for Henri Joly and Ernest Normandin, their cinematograph was the one used the day when the terrible fire at the Bazar de la Charité occurred in Paris, on 4 May 1897 (when more than 100 people, mostly of the French nobility, died), the operator having improperly manipulated the oxygen-ether lighting system. Even if it was acknowledged that the cinematograph was not at the origin of the fire, it seems nevertheless to have made life difficult for their apparatus (its name was even changed)."

"The scarcity of the catalogue was something that was also commented upon by users. The special characteristics of the Joly-Normandin cinematograph – the 5 perforations per frame – meant that exhibitors using their apparatus needed to buy new films exclusively from the firm, and not from other producers. No catalogue of films made with the Joly-Normandin system seems to have survived, but we can with some certainty state that (at least) a hundred films were made with this system (an important part of them being produced by Pirou), and it seems that most of these were indeed shot before the Bazar de la Charité disaster. An ad published by Normandin offers lab services for its users, and it seems that the collections discovered in Spain, Portugal, and Switzerland include films which were shot by the local exhibitors in the respective country, which could have been sent to Paris." – Camille Blot-Wellens

Acknowledgements: Chema Prado, Catherine Gautier, Alfonso del Amo, Encarni Rus (Filmoteca Española, Madrid); Rui Machado, Tiago Baptista (Cinemateca Portuguesa, Lisboa); Roland Cosandey (École cantonale d’art de Lausanne); Caroline Fournier (Cinémathèque suisse, Lausanne); Bryony Dixon (BFI National Archive, London); Jean-Baptiste Garnero, Éric Le Roy, Fereidoun Mahboudi (Archives françaises du film du CNC, Bois d’Arcy); Emilie Cauquy, Céline Ruivo (Cinémathèque française, Paris); Jon Wengström (Svenska Filminstitutet, Stockholm); Eric Lange, Serge Bromberg (Lobster Films, Paris).

The Programme
Camille Blot-Wellens, Tiago Baptista: "The collection housed at the Cinemateca Portuguesa was deposited there in 2005 by the Photographia Museu “Vincentes” (Funchal), whose director, Helena Araújo, is the great-granddaughter of João Anacleto Rodrigues, a businessman and amateur photographer, who settled in Funchal on Madeira. In March 1897, Rodrigues bought a Joly- Normandin apparatus together with accessories and several films. In May of the same year he began organizing screenings, and would later travel with his equipment throughout the archipelago (including the Azores) until December 1897, when he organized his last screenings. The Rodrigues collection includes 42 films, and a Joly-Normandin cinematograph and its accessories."

"Antonino Sagarmínaga was a Basque industrialist fascinated by optical devices, who bought a magic lantern in 1883 to organize screenings at the cultural society El Sitio in Bilbao. In October 1897 he acquired a Joly-Normandin apparatus and some films. He soon encountered problems in finding new films compatible with the peculiar 5-perforation system, and decided to change to a more universal system. Until 1907, he would acquire more than a hundred films, of which 24 were produced with the Joly cinematograph. In 1996 the Filmoteca Española acquired his collection from the Sagarmínaga family. It included two magic lanterns with more than 400 plates, two 35 mm projectors, accessories, and more than a hundred films."

"In 2005 the Cinemateca Portuguesa approached the Filmoteca Española for the joint study and restoration of both collections. Some films existed in both collections, but altogether there were 53 different titles made with the Joly-Normandin cinematograph, comprising the most significant body of films made with this system that is known to exist."

"When identifying and restoring the films in the Rodrigues and Sagarmínaga collections, the titles given to the films come from the titles and their variations published in contemporary press sources, including those compiled by Jacques and Chantal Rittaud-Hutinet in the Dictionnaire des cinématographes en France (1896-1897) (Paris, 2000). Another important source of information were the paper prints deposited by Eugène Pirou on 11 February 1897 at the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris. The exhibitors Rodrigues and Sagarmínaga had given Portuguese and Spanish titles to the films (Rodrigues even composed his own main titles for his the prints), which facilitated the identification of the surviving films. The physical characteristics of the original nitrate prints, as well as the system used by the exhibitors (under different names), also helped the work of identification."

"For the projection copy that was made after the restoration, the titles chosen were those which first appeared in the press or in their more recurrent formulation (for the Pirou films, we used the titles as they were indicated on the paper prints), but we have also included the titles given by Rodrigues and Sagarmínaga."

"Regarding the restoration, in the case of titles present in both collections, the best material was used. The special characteristics of the films (the 5 perforations), and the poor physical condition of some of them, required a special treatment. The films were digitally restored at the laboratory of the Filmoteca Española and a new duplicate negative was made. The restoration work took more than three years, and was completed in 2010."

"We do know how Rodrigues programmed some of the films, but we don’t know if Sagarmínaga also compiled special screening programmes (as he did with the Edison-format films in his collection). For this reason, we have decided to present the films in chronological order following their possible date of production, which seemed the most neutral method." – Camille Blot-Wellens, Tiago Baptista

Prog.: 56' (16 fps)

Film titles with uncertain identification are in boldface roman within square brackets. Attributed titles, unidentified or without references from contemporary primary sources, are preceded by an asterisk.

1. JARDIN D’ACCLIMATATION (1896), D: Henri Joly?; filmed: summer 1896; 35 mm, 19.3 m. (Sagarmínaga: Jardin d’acclimatation / Rodrigues: Caravana do jardim de aclimatação em Paris) - AA: A view from the zoo. A lot of people, several elephants. Soft image.

2. L’ARROSEUR ARROSÉ (1896), D: Henri Joly?; filmed: summer 1896; 35 mm, 18.7 m. (Rodrigues: O jardineiro; Sagarmínaga: El jardinero / El regador regado). - AA: Different from the Lumière gag: two grown-up men make pranks to each other. A duped look.

3. SORTIE DE L’ÉGLISE NOTRE-DAME-DES-VICTOIRES (1896), D: Henri Joly?; filmed: summer 1896; 35 mm, 18.9 m. (Rodrigues: Sahida da igreja de Notre-Dame des Victoires / Sagarmínaga: Salida de la iglesia). - AA: Gentlefolk emerge from the church. Ok print.

4. LEÇON DE BICYCLETTE (1896), D: Henri Joly?, filmed: summer 1896; 35mm, 16.2 m. (Rodrigues: Primera lição de velocipede). - AA: A man teaches a woman to ride a bicycle. She tumbles down. Flicker.

5. ENFANTS AU BOIS (1896), D: Henri Joly?; filmed: summer 1896; 35 mm, 15.4 m. (Rodrigues: Creanças no Bosque de Vincennes; Sagarmínaga: La familia / Los niños). - AA: See image below. A family in the wood. The belle époque atmosphere resembles Lumière's family views.

6. AVENUE DE L’OPÉRA (1896), D: Henri Joly?; filmed: summer 1896; 35 mm, 15.3 m. (Sagarmínaga: Avenida de la Ópera). - AA: A street view, city traffic. A fair print.

7. DANSE SERPENTINE (1896), filmed: summer 1896; 35 mm, 30.8 m, col. (hand-coloured) (Rodrigues: Dança serpentina). - AA: A favourite subject of the earliest cinema, also familiar from Edison, Lumière, etc. This is a good one, and the multiple colours are a delight.

8. *CLOWN (1896?), filmed: summer 1896?; 35 mm, 19.5 m. (Rodrigues: Clown). - AA: A filmed performance of two clowns and an acrobat.

9. [*CLOWN] (1896?), filmed: summer 1896?; 35 mm, 18.6 m. (Rodrigues: O palhaço). - AA: Two clowns with different pranks than in the previous film. Cog marks.

10. LES PLONGEURS SOUDANAIS (1896), P: Eugène Pirou; filmed: summer 1896; 35 mm, 18.1 m. (Rodrigues: Mergulhadores negros / Sagarmínaga: Soudaneses). - AA: Sudanese divers, many onlookers.

11. DISPUTE DU COCHER ET DE SON CLIENT (1896), P: Ernest Normandin?; filmed: summer 1896; 35 mm, 14.5 m. (Rodrigues: Altercação entre o cocheiro e o cliente / Sagarmínaga: El cochero). AA: A client argues with a cabdriver on a square. A fair print.

12. PLACE DE L’OPÉRA (1896), D: Ernest Normandin?; filmed: summer 1896; 35 mm, 18.8 m. (Rodrigues: Praça do Theatro da Ópera em Paris). - AA: A lot of people on the square. Fair / signs of damage.

13. LA MER À DIEPPE (1896), D: Ernest Normandin?; filmed: summer 1896; 35 mm, 19.9 m. (Rodrigues: O mar em Dieppe). - AA: By the ocean, ten people embark on a boat. High contrast.

14. ASSAUT DE BOXE ENTRE DEUX CHAMPIONS DE JOINVILLE (1896), D: Henri Joly ?; filmed: summer 1896; 35 mm, 15.3 m. (Rodrigues: Assalto ao boxe). - AA: A boxing scene. Damage marks.

15. DÉFILÉ D’UN RÉGIMENT (MUSIQUE EN TÊTE) (1896), filmed: summer 1896; 35 mm, 12.2 m. (Sagarmínaga: El Regimiento). - A military parade. Fair.

16. [ARRIVÉE D’UN TRAIN] (1896?), filmed: summer 1896?; 35 mm, 19.2 m. (Sagarmínaga: El tren / Rodrigues: Chegada d’um comboio á gare d’Asnières). - AA: The camera angle and the visual drama are copied from Lumière. Passengers also embark on the train. Passable.

17. PLACE DE LA RÉPUBLIQUE (1896), filmed: summer 1896; 35 mm, 19 m. (Sagarmínaga: Plaza de la República). - AA: A long shot of traffic and bustle on the square. There is one cut or a join. Fair.

18. [LE POCHARD ENTÊTÉ] (1896?), filmed: summer 1896?; 35 mm, 19.7 m. (Rodrigues: O bebedo – I). - AA: Fiction. A drunkard gets into a fight in a restaurant. Fair.

19. LE TSAR AU PANTHÉON (1896), filmed: 10.1896; 35 mm, 24.7 m. (Rodrigues: O Tsar e a Tsarina sahindo do Pantheon / Sagarmínaga: El Czar en el Panteón). - AA: Nicholas II of Russia. A long shot with a moment of the official programme. Soft.

20. DÉPART DES SOUVERAINS RUSSES POUR VERSAILLES (1896), P: Eugène Pirou; filmed: 10.1896; 35 mm, 11.3 m. (Sagarmínaga: El Czar en la embajada. - AA: Nicholas II of Russia. More about the Czar's official agenda. Damage marks.

21. ARRESTATION D'UN IVROGNE (1896), P: Eugène Pirou; filmed: summer-autumn 1896; 9.5
m. (Rodrigues: O bebedo –II). - AA: Fiction. A drunkard fooling around. Serious damage marks.

22. LE BALLET DES PETITS INCROYABLES (1896), P: Eugène Pirou; filmed: summer/autumn 1896; 35 mm, 19.4 m. (Rodrigues: Quadrilha dos incroyables). - AA: A record of a performance of a ballet of four children. Soft.

23. LES CHARGEURS DE DÉCOMBRES (1896), P: Eugène Pirou; filmed: summer-autumn 1896; 35 mm, 19.4 m. (Rodrigues: Trabalhos d’uma demolição / Sagarmínaga: El carro). - AA: See image below. Hard labour on a street construction site. The workers enjoy a well-deserved drink. Fair.

24. LES FORGERONS (1896), P: Eugène Pirou; filmed: summer-autumn 1896; 35 mm, 17.5 m. (Rodrigues: Oficina de ferreiros). - AA: Another favourite topic of early cinema, also popular with Edison and Lumière. Two blacksmiths at work, with a young boy at the bellows. Even here a drink is well earned.

25. AVENUE DU BOIS DE BOULOGNE (1896), filmed: summer/autumn 1896; 35 mm, 36.3 m. (Rodrigues: Avenida do Bosque de Bologne e Arco do Triumpho). - AA: The avenue is being doused. Ok.

26. LE CONSOMMATEUR MALADROIT (1896), P: Eugène Pirou; filmed: autumn 1896; 35 mm, 15.2 m. (Rodrigues: Desavença n’um restaurante). - AA: Fiction. An accident with the siphon at the restaurant.

27. CHARGE OBLIQUE (1896), P: Eugène Pirou; filmed: autumn 1896; 35 mm, 15.9 m. (Rodrigues: Carga de Dragões). - AA: A record of a military drill exercise: a charge of the cavalry. Modest quality of print.

28. [LES TROIS FARCEURS] (1896?), P: Ernest Normandin ?; filmed: autumn 1896?; 35 mm, 12.2 m. (Rodrigues: Partida a um vendedor de castanhas). - AA: Fiction. Pranks of boys at the corner store.

29. [SCÈNE D’IVROGNE] (1896?), filmed: autumn 1896?; 35 mm, 16.3 m. (Rodrigues: A prisão d’um ebrio). - AA: Fiction. Drunken mayhem. A painted backdrop.

30. [SCÈNES DE LA VIE PARISIENNE] (1896?), filmed: autumn/winter 1896?; 35 mm, 19.1 m. (Rodrigues: Bon Marché em Paris). - AA: A view of the Bon Marché store.

31. [*CORRIDA] (1896?), filmed: autumn-winter 1896?; 35 mm, 15.4 m. (Sagarmínaga: Corrida). - AA: A view from a bullring. The image is so damaged that it borders on abstract expressionism.

32. LE PRESTIDIGITATEUR (1896), P: Eugène Pirou; filmed: autumn-winter 1896; 35 mm, 12.8 m. (Rodrigues: O prestidigitador). - AA: A filmed record of a conjurer's act with playing cards and with eggs emerging from the mouth.

33. FARCE DE CHAMBRÉE À LA CASERNE (1896), P: Eugène Pirou; filmed: c.12.1896; 35 mm, 19.7 m. (Rodrigues: Farça de soldados na caserna). - AA: Fiction, military farce, with three soldiers on their bunks.

34. DANSE ESPAGNOLE (1896/1897), P: Eugène Pirou; filmed: winter 1896/1897?; 35 mm, 17.1 m. (Rodrigues: Dança Espanhola). - AA: A filmed record of two women dancing. Soft.

35. LE DÉJEUNER DE PIERROT (1896/1897), P: Eugène Pirou; filmed: winter 1896/1897?; 35 mm, 14.5 m. (Sagarmínaga: Pierrot). - AA: A filmed record of a performance with Pierrot and a woman at breakfast. Passable, with damage marks.

36. [ARRIVÉE D’UN TRAIN] (1896/1897), filmed: inverno/ winter 1896/1897; 35 mm, 19.8 m. (Rodrigues: Chegada d’um cómboio á gare de Bel-Air). - AA: Again the Lumière angle and dramaturgy, this time at the station of Bel-Air. Damage marks.

37. PARTIE DE CARTES ENTRE DEUX MOINES (1896/1897), filmed: winter 1896/1897?; 35 mm, 17 m. (Rodrigues: Uma partida d’ecarté). - AA: Another popular Lumière subject, a game of cards, this time between two monks. Fair.

38. AUTOMOBILES ET CYCLES (PORTE MAILLOT) (1896/1897), filmed: winter 1896/1897; 35 mm, 17.5 m. (Rodrigues: Corrida de velocipedes e carros eléctricos no Bosque de Bologne / Sagarmínaga: No title). - AA: See image below. Many kinds of vehicles on the road. Low contrast.

39. THE 13th HUSSARS ON THE MARCH THROUGH DUBLIN STREETS (1897), P: Prof. Joly’s Cinematographe; filmed: c.2.1897; 35 mm, 20.2 m. (Rodrigues: Hussards inglezes, desfilando). - AA: A military parade. Damage marks.

40. PLACE DU GOUVERNEMENT (ALGER) (1897), D: André Milhès ?; filmed: winter-spring 1897; 35 mm, 17.1 m. (Rodrigues: Uma praça em Alger). - AA: A view from a square in Algiers with a lot of people, water hoses, beggards.

41. LA BATAILLE DE FLEURS À NICE (1897), P: Eugène Pirou; filmed: 2-3.1897; 35 mm, 16.4 m. (Sagarmínaga: Batalla de flores)

42. UN BAIN SUR LA PLAGE (NICE) (1897), P: Eugène Pirou; filmed: c.3.1897; 35 mm, 18.8 m. (Sagarmínaga: La playa). - AA: Bathing in Nice.

43. LA MI-CARÊME À PARIS (1897), filmed: 3.1897; 35 mm, 20.4 m. (Rodrigues: Cortejo carnavalesco em Paris / Sagarmínaga: Jubileo)

44. DÉBARQUEMENT D’UN BATEAU À VAPEUR (1897), filmed: spring 1897; 35 mm, 17.2 m. (Rodrigues: Descarregamento no Porto do Bordeaux). - AA: A harbour view: the arrival of a steam ship in Bordeaux.

45. [FAMILLE STÉPHANOISE AU BOIS-NOIR] (1897), filmed: spring 1897; 35 mm, 2.8 m. (Senza titolo Rodrigues/No Rodrigues title). - AA: A family outing in the forest.

46. INTÉRIEUR DE FERME DANS LA CHARENTE (1897), D: Ernest Normandin; filmed: spring 1897?; 35 mm, 3 m. (Sagarmínaga: El Corral). - AA: Inside a farm, with animals. The damage marks make it look like abstractr art.

47. SCÈNE DE LA PASSION (1897?), D: Albert Kirchner [Léar]?; filmed: 1897?; 35 mm, 14.3 m. (Sagarmínaga: La Pasión). - AA: A filmed Passion Play. The Christ on the Cross. With painted backdrops.

48. [PAYS ET PAYSE OU LA SURPRISE DU SOLDAT] (1897?), filmed: spring 1897?; 35 mm, 17.3 m. (Rodrigues: Um militar surprehendido (escena comica)). - AA: Fiction, farce, a soldier, a countrywoman, and a child.

49. [*PALL MALL (THE DIAMOND JUBILEE PROCESSION)] (1897), P: British Cinematographe Company, Ltd., filmed: 22.6.1897; 35 mm, 25 m. (Rodrigues: Festejo da Rainha Victoria). - AA: A busy street view during the procession.

50. [*EXPOSIÇÃO DE QUADROS] [Exhibition of Paintings] (1897), 35 mm, 12.9 m. (Rodrigues: Exposiçao de quadros). - AA: Artists present their paintings.

51. [*VIAJEROS] [Travellers] (1896-1899), 35 mm, 15.8 m. (Sagarmínaga: Viajeros). - AA: Bathers arrive at Dieppe on a train. Interesting composition of the image. Passable, with damage marks.

52. [*DESFILE DE CABALLERÍA Y ARTILLERÍA] [Parade of Cavalry and Artillery] (1896-1899), 35 mm, 15.4 m. (Sagarmínaga: Desfile de caballería y artillería). - AA: A military parade, drilling with weapons on a training field.

53. [*DESFILE DE HÚSARES DE CABALLERÍA] [Parade of Cavalry Hussars] (1896-1899), 35 mm, 12.3 m. (Sagarmínaga: Desfile de húsares de caballería). - AA: A cavalry parade in the city. Damage marks resembling abstract expressionism.

II. Fonds Joly-Normandin (Musée suisse de l’appareil photographique, Cinémathèque Suisse)
Roland Cosandey: "The 15 Joly-Normandin films deposited with the Cinémathèque suisse resurfaced in 1994, at the time of an inventory made by the Musée suisse de l’appareil photographique in Vevey. The origins of the deposit are unknown, but without doubt these films were included in one of the first touring screening programmes that took place in French-speaking Switzerland in September and October of 1896. When these films were rediscovered, very few films of this rare 5-sprocket system were known and catalogued in archives; up until then, most of the knowledge about this system was related to the actual apparatus itself, not to the films. An added value for the Swiss heritage was the fact that two of the films were actually shot in Lausanne; together with the Casimir Sivan and Lumière films, they form part of the around 20 films shot in Switzerland in 1896 that are preserved."

"The Swiss Joly-Normandin collection was screened for the first time in 1997, with assigned titles and in three chapters, in a print which must be considered an interpretation. The access to this collection of very rare material was part of a global project formulated at the time of its discovery, which meant that resources were immediately provided to preserve, duplicate, circulate, and study the collection. (See Cinéma 1900. Trente films dans une boîte à chaussures, Lausanne: Payot, 1996.)"

"Since the end of the 1990s, the discovery and study of the Sagarmínaga and Rodrigues collections have significantly modified the Swiss collection’s overview and context. Archivists and scholars now also have new tools at their disposal. These developments, which include Irela Núñez del Pozo’s monograph, Henri-Joseph Joly: quando lo schermo era quadrato. I film a cinque perforazioni della collezione di Antonino Sagarmínaga 1896-1898 (Rome: Associazione Italiana per le Ricerche di Storia del Cinema, 2012, Immagine Numero Speciale 2010), made it necessary to update the 1996 publication on the website of the Cinémathèque suisse (see Cinéma 1900 in “Documents de cinéma”, http://www."

"The 15 films preserved in Switzerland are now seen as part of a larger body of films, all of which share in common the special characteristic of surviving in prints from collections and countries peripheral to the centre where the majority of the films were produced." – Roland Cosandey

Prog.: 14' (16 fps)

1. [ARRIVÉE D’UN TRAIN EN GARE, PARIS], 35 mm, 16.7 m. - AA: See image below. The Lumière angle.
2. [DÉBARQUEMENT DU MAJOR-DAVEL, OUCHY, LAUSANNE], 35 mm, 15.2 m. - AA: Shot from the ship.
3. [AU JARDIN D’ACCLIMATATION, PARIS I], 35 mm, 8.7 m. - AA: A zoo view, different from the one seen earlier. Elephants prominent.
4. [AU JARDIN D’ACCLIMATATION, PARIS II], 35 mm, 8.5 m. - AA: Yet another different zoo view with elephants.
5. [PRESTIDIGITATION DE SALON], 35 mm, 15.8 m. - AA: See image below. A conjurer's trick with eggs.
6. [BOXE FRANÇAISE], 35 mm, 17.8 m. - AA: See image below. A filmed record of a boxing match.
7. [REPAS À LA CASERNE], 35 mm, 10 m. - AA: See image below. Soldiers having lunch.
8. [REPAS À LA CASERNE], 35 mm, 3.6 m. - AA: More of the same.
9. [LE BATAILLON 8 À LA CASERNE DE LA PONTAISE, LAUSANNE], 35 mm, 18.1 m. - AA: A military marching exercise.
10. [DÉFILÉ MILITAIRE, PARIS (?)], 35 mm, 15.7 m. - AA: A military parade with a band, with cavalry and infantry.
11. [CORTÈGE DU TSAR NICOLAS II À PARIS], 35 mm, 3.2 m. - AA: Nicholas II of Russia.
12. [NICOLAS II ET LA TSARINE QUITTANT LE PANTHÉON], 35 mm, 19.5 m. - AA: See image below. Nicholas II of Russia, shot from behind the cavalry guard.
13. [LE LIVREUR, LE COURSIER ET LE PETIT RAMONEUR], 35 mm, 13.5 m. - AA: See image below. Fiction. A mishap with a little chimney sweep.
14. [LE COCHER ET LE MAUVAIS PAYEUR], 35 mm, 14 m. - AA: Fiction. The coachman in dispute about payment with the customer.
15. [L’HOMME IVRE ET LE BISTROT], 35 mm, 16.2 m. - AA: See image below. Fiction: farce. The drunkard is forbidden entry into the bistro.

III. British Cinématographe Company (BFI National Archive, London)
QUEEN VICTORIA’S DIAMOND JUBILEE (British Cinématographe Company, Ltd., 1897)
Filmed: 22.6.1897; 35 mm, 90 m, 5' (16 fps). - AA: An epic touch in this non-fiction record. The image is badly damaged.

Bryony Dixon: "The Joly-Normandin apparatus was offered for hire in Great Britain by the British Cinematographe Company, which shot five films – Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, The Spithead Review, Hussars Passing Through Dublin, A Scene in Parliament Street, and Scene Taken from a Moving Train Near Clapham Junction."

"The BFI National Archive appears to hold two separate sources (one cropped, one not) for the set of shots, totalling 121 feet, of the Jubilee procession filmed at the corner of Piccadilly and St James’s. Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee procession, on 22 June 1897, was filmed by many companies, but the location is identifiable through the known position of British Cinematographe from press reports and the Corinthian column which stood at the end of St. James’s Street. Passing the camera were Indian cavalry, Horse Guards and other mounted troops, and a gun carriage. Then came several open carriages holding colonial dignitaries, followed by a mounted band, Indian princes on horseback, and, on his own, the Prince of Wales’ ADC, Sir Pertab Singh." – Bryony Dixon

IV. Normandin (Archives françaises du film du CNC)
FILM DE FAMILLE NORMANDIN: À LA BASSE-COUR (1897) D: Ernest Normandin; filmed: 1897; 35 mm, 30 m, 1'40" (16 fps), col. (hand-coloured). Restored by the Archives françaises du film (CNC), Bois d’Arcy, under the auspices of the French Ministry of Culture’s film preservation plan. - AA: A fascinating early example of a hand-coloured film. Life on a farm yard: chicken and pigs are being fed.

"This film, also known as Intérieur de ferme dans la Charente, was shot by Ernest Normandin himself, in the courtyard of his farm in Les Champagnères. His wife and children appear, as well as his mother and servants, all in traditional costume from the Charente (according to Bruno Sépulchre). The print, restored by the Archives françaises du film du CNC, is hand-coloured, and originates from the Normandin family." – Camille Blot-Wellens

V. Lobster Films, Paris
DÉFILÉ DE SAINT-CYRIENS, 35 mm, 18 m, 1' (16 fps). VI. Pirou (Cinémathèque française, Svenska Filminstitutet). - AA: A military parade. High contrast.

QUADRILLE D’AUTREFOIS (1896) P: Eugène Pirou; filmed: summer- autumn 1896; 35 mm, c. 5 m, 18" (16 fps); print source: Cinémathèque française, Paris. - AA: A filmed record of a country dance, filmed against a painted backdrop, a print in colour.

"This film, also known as Menuet Louis XV, was produced by Eugène Pirou during the summer or autumn of 1896. Pirou produced a series of films featuring country dances: Quadrille d’autrefois, Quadrille de l’avenir, Quadrille des Titis, Quadrille des Gommeux, Quadrille des petits Incroyables… " – Camille Blot-Wellens

LE COUCHER DE LA MARIÉE (1896) D: Albert Kirchner [Léar]; P: Eugène Pirou; C: Louise Willy; filmed: 1896.
(1), 35 mm, 42 m, 2'20" (16 fps); print source: La Cinémathèque française, Paris.
(2), 35 mm, 36 m, 2' (16 fps), col. (hand-coloured); print source: Filmarkivet vid Svenska Filminstitutet, Stockholm.

Camille Blot-Wellens: "Le Coucher de la mariée, produced by Eugène Pirou and made with the collaboration of Albert Kirchner (also known as “Léar”), presents a risqué scene from the famous pantomime written by G. Pollonnais and O. de Lagoanère, which was performed on stage by Louise Willy and Marquetti at the Olympia in Paris."

"Thanks to the paper prints deposited by Pirou at the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris, we know that he used to make two versions of some films of his catalogue, one with the Joly-Normandin gauge, and the other in the more widely used Edison format. The Cinémathèque française holds two black-and-white nitrate prints made for the Joly-Normandin apparatus, while the Archival Film Collections of the Swedish Film Institute have a nitrate hand-coloured print made for the Edison system." – Camille Blot-Wellens

AA on the final films: Two prints of the same film. - "Jolly Normandin", "the first sex film" where nothing is shown but everything is anticipated. - Fiction: wedding night, the husband impatiently waiting for his wife to undress. There are many layers in a belle époque woman's clothing. Funny, with joie de vivre. The hand-coloured print is far, far superior, more delightful, more brilliant.

AA on the total programme: A super collaboration, for a long time in preparation, was the international co-production of restoring Joly-Normandin films from 1896-1897, based on Coleccao Joan Anacleto Rodrigues (Cinemateca Portuguesa), Coleccion Antonino Sagarminaga (Filmoteca Española), Fonds Joly-Normandin (Musée suisse de l'appareil photographique, Cinémathèque Suisse), British Cinématographe Company (BFI National Archive), Normandin (Archives francaises du film du CNC), Lobster Films, Cinémathèque francaise, and Svenska Filminstitutet, all this curated by Camille Blot-Wellens. A remarkable archeological feat in the field of very early cinema.

"Un cadre plus grand en hauteur", an image bigger in frame height: this technical characteristic made Joly-Normandin films especially good, and it has been an obstacle for making these five-sprocket-frame films better known since.

It was interesting to see the familiar early-cinema subjects revisited by Joly-Normandin: the camera angles of trains arriving at stations were copied from Lumière, but the arroseurs arrosérs had a different comedy plot. There were the serpentine dancers, the blacksmiths and the cardplayers, too. The passion for life was similar to the Lumière brothers, and the visual talent was quite remarkable.

[REPAS À LA CASERNE] Photothèque Cinémathèque Suisse


[PRESTIDIGITATION DE SALON] Photothèque Cinémathèque Suisse

[ARRIVÉE D'UN TRAIN EN GARE, PARIS] Photothèque Cinémathèque Suisse

[L'HOMME IVRE ET LE BISTROT] Photothèque Cinémathèque Suisse

[LE LIVREUR, LE COURSIER ET LE PETIT RAMONEUR] Photothèque Cinémathèque Suisse

[BOXE FRANÇAISE] Photothèque Cinémathèque Suisse

AUTOMOBILES ET CYCLES (PORTE MAILLOT) (1896/1897) Filmoteca Española / Cinemateca Portuguesa

LES CHARGEURS DE DÉCOMBRES (1896) Filmoteca Española / Cinemateca Portuguesa

ENFANTS AU BOIS (1896) D: Henri Joly? Filmoteca Española / Cinemateca Portuguesa