Tuesday, October 08, 2013

A Day with John Burroughs (Haghefilm / Selznick Fellowship 2013, George Eastman House)

George Eastman House Motion Picture Department Collection
THE HAGHEFILM / SELZNICK FELLOWSHIP 2013: the recipient Carole Fodor (Paris).

A DAY WITH JOHN BURROUGHS (World Film Corp., US 1919) D: ?; C: John Burroughs; 35 mm, 880 ft, 13' (18 fps), col.; print source: George Eastman House, Rochester, NY. Preservation funded by The Haghefilm Foundation. English titles. Teatro Verdi (Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone), with e-titles in English and Italian, grand piano: Donald Sosin, 8 Oct 2013

Caroline Yeager, James Layton, Carole Fodor: "The American naturalist and essayist John Burroughs (1837-1921) played a significant role in the development of the conservation movement in the U.S. Travelling a similar path as Henry David Thoreau, and a contemporary of Teddy Roosevelt, Burroughs was not only respected, but beloved as a mentor and teacher, and was regarded as the “Grand Old Man of Nature” by conservationists dedicated to preserving American natural landscapes and wildlife."

"Born and raised in the Catskill Mountains of New York, Burroughs developed his distinctive view of nature through daily chores on the family farm. His own hard-won education inculcated in him a desire to share his knowledge and love of nature through teaching and writing. His prodigious literary career contained his observations on birds, flowers, and the rustic (and still largely pristine) expanses of rural America, especially his native Catskills. Burroughs also turned his insightful commentaries towards religion, philosophy, and literature. His lifework was rewarded with his election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1921."

"A Day with John Burroughs vividly captures the essence of the man’s passionate love of nature in a simple, understated manner. Shot in Prizma Color, Burroughs is shown at Woodchuck Lodge, his summer retreat located on his boyhood farm in Roxbury, New York. He greets three local children and guides them through the countryside, investigating and identifying flowers, birds, and other wildlife. The beauty of the rolling Hudson River countryside is clearly dear to Burroughs, whose grandfatherly demeanour is as resilient and timeless as the landscape that surrounds him."

"The New Jersey-based Prizma Color Company was established by William Van Doren Kelley and Charles Raleigh in 1913. A two-color additive system initially similar to the Kinemacolor process, Prizma Color had been refined by 1919 as a subtractive process. Prints were made onto double-coated film, with each color record printed on either side and dye-toned red and green."

"Following the demise of Kinemacolor, Prizma dominated the natural-color market in the U.S. from 1919 to 1922, until Technicolor’s improved cemented process was first introduced with The Toll of the Sea (1922). Hundreds of short subjects shot all over the world were produced in Prizma Color during this time, from Kilauea’s Lakes of Fire (1919), filmed in Hawaii, to On the Trek into Swaziland (1920), shot by William T. Crespinel in Africa. Most of these successful shorts enjoyed prominent billing in first-run movie theatres alongside features. Despite the increasing success of these shorts – many premiered at New York’s Rivoli Theatre on Broadway – the subject matter remained limited due to the Prizma camera’s technical flaws. Travelogues and scenics were common, as static landscapes and natural environments hid the temporal fringing on moving subjects caused by the camera’s spinning filter wheel. One feature, The Glorious Adventure (1922), and several inserts into features were made, but poor management, increased competition, and patent problems led to the company’s demise by 1925." – Caroline Yeager, James Layton, Carole Fodor

AA: A fascinating glimpse of the environmentalist and writer (not as well known in our country as Thoreau, for example), and an important display of the Prizma Color process.

George Eastman House Motion Picture Department Collection

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