Saturday, May 06, 2017

Rouen, martyre d'une cité (The Nitrate Picture Show)

Louis Cuny, France 1945
Running time: 15 minutes
The Nitrate Picture Show, George Eastman Museum, Dryden Theatre, 6 May 2017

Print source: Österreichisches Filmmuseum (Austrian Film Museum), Vienna
About the prints: The print of Rouen was donated to the Austrian Film Museum by the Institut français d’Autriche in Vienna on June 1, 1976, as an example of work deemed important by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development in Paris, and thus exported abroad. The print of Die Todesmühlen was acquired from a private collector who most likely found it at a flea market. Both nitrate prints show extensive wear and tear throughout the footage. Shrinkage: 1.2%, in both prints
About the films: Both films address the destructive consequences of World War II. Rouen is about the “martyrdom of a city”; Todesmühlen is the most important postwar re-education film made by the Allied Forces, showing to the German and Austrian population the horrors of concentration camps.

AA: Shown as the second film in the context of Alexander Horwath's James Card Lecture, a vintage "ruin film", equally devastating as the unforgettable documentaries of Berlin, Warsaw, etc. (Their ruins documented even in contemporary fiction such as Germania anno zero and Miasto nieujarzmione / Robinson Warszawski based on Wladyslaw Szpilman's Smierc miasta).

There is a deep historical dimension as we observe the ruins of the city of Jeanne d'Arc and Corneille, with its all-important harbour and Gothic cathedral.

The print has been heavily used and is slightly in low contrast. In a screening like this the wear and tear become a part of the impact. Time has put its seal on the matter.

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