Friday, October 06, 2017

Med bærerkaravane gjennem Œstafrika / [By Caravan through East Africa]

[In carovana attraverso l’Africa orientale], ?, ca 1920, prod: ?. DCP (from 35 mm), 10’28”, tinted; titles: NOR, print from: Nasjonalbiblioteket, Norway.
    Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone: Silent Africa in Norway.
    Grand piano: Günter Buchwald.
    Teatro Verdi, e-subtitles in English and Italian, 6 Oct 2017.

Tina Anckarman (GCM 2017): "Med bærerkaravane gjennem Østafrika and [Kaffeplantasje i Afrika / Kenya] share, as the titles reveal, geographic locations with the three ethnographic films. Med bærerkaravane gjennem Østafrika is a safari-travelogue, but instead of showing “the bravery of the white man” it focuses on native peoples from various tribes, probably Kikuyu and Kamba, working as porters for the colonialists, presumably heading north from Nairobi, much as Theodore Roosevelt had done in his well-documented safari of 1909. On the way, the caravan stops for supplies at the trading town of Maragua. [Kaffeplantasje i Afrika / Kenya] appears in records with two title variations; the title card is missing, so which one is more correct in this case can’t be determined. Here the focus is less on the native Maasai and Kikuyu labourers, instead concentrating on production activities at a coffee plantation."

"These two reels derive from the collection of one of the earliest filmmakers / distributors in Norway, Hans Berge (1877–1934). In cinema’s early years Berge made actualities documenting major and minor events, and like other filmmakers he also arranged screenings and lectures. The surviving collection of approximately 300 reels bears testimony to Berge’s many activities, and contains a wide range of genres, from all continents. The collection was incorporated in the holdings of the Norsk Filminstitutt in 1996 and later moved to the Nasjonalbiblioteket. According to the catalogue, the original length for Med bærerkaravane gjennem Østafrika was 130 metres, thus shorter than the surviving reel at the Nasjonalbiblioteket and perhaps indicating that several versions were available at the time. The original nitrate prints are unfortunately considered lost, but an earlier intervention preserved these titles. In the process the nitrate full-frame print was copied over to acetate sound format, resulting in some information loss on the edge.
" Tina Anckarman

AA: The previous films seen in the Silent Africa in Norway series were documentary records of lives of authentic African tribes. This film is a record of colonialism.

One hundred black porters are engaged on a safari caravan. A market is visited to stock up on provisions. Maize and beans are purchased. We see black children with sad faces. The proprietors are usually Hindu merchants. During the trek a well is being dug. White men's tent is erected under a tree, equipped with solid camp beds. The main food of the negroes is corn flour: a kilo a day for each. Corn gruel is their normal supper. On a hunting trip meat is also needed. A chilly dusk fills the savanna.

A good visual quality in the material, slightly marred by a simulation of tinting.

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