Monday, October 07, 2019

Films on Film – Prog. 2: Histoire(s) du Cinéma (three French films by Raoul Grimoin-Sanson, Julien Duvivier, Pierre Chenal)

L'Histoire du cinéma par le cinéma (FR 1927) by Raoul Grimoin-Sanson. Photo: © CNAM – Collections Direction du patrimoine cinématographique du CNC.

Films on Film – Prog. 2: Histoire(s) du Cinéma
Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (GCM), Pordenone.
Grand piano: Philip Carli.
Teatro Verdi, e-subtitles in English and Italian by Underlight, 7 Oct 2019.

L’HISTOIRE DU CINÉMA PAR LE CINÉMA (Le ciné par le ciné) (FR 1927)
regia/dir: Raoul Grimoin-Sanson, collab. Louis Forest. scen: Raoul Grimoin-Sanson, Louis Forest. did/titles: Louis Forest. consul: André Debrie, Ernest C. Schmitz. prod: CNAM (Conservatoire national des arts et métiers). tech. asst: Bernard Natan, Rapid-film. uscita/rel: 11.3.1927. copia/copy: 35 mm, 968 m, 52′ (16 fps); did./titles: FRA. fonte/source: CNC – Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée, Bois d’Arcy.

Dimtrios Latsis (GCM): "On 11 March 1927, the President of the French Republic, Gaston Doumergue, inaugurated the first permanent exhibit on the history of cinema in a state museum anywhere in the world: the “section cinéma” of the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers. The collection was partly composed of artifacts collected over the years by the Société française de photographie. To accompany the display of artifacts from the pre-history and early years of the medium in this “ancestor” of the Cinémathèque française’s museum, a special film was produced that promised to tell the history of cinema by means of cinema itself. The prime instigator behind both the display and the film was Raoul Grimoin-Sanson (1860–1941), one of those fascinating pre-Langlois figures to whom the cause of film preservation owes quite a lot. The son of an industrialist and tinkerer par excellence, Grimoin-Sanson was the inventor of the Phototachygraphe and the ill-fated but revolutionary Cinéorama, which debuted at the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle as the first immersive cinema technology in history."

"As Christophe Gauthier has shown in his book La Passion du cinéma. Cinéphiles, ciné-clubs et salles spécialisées à Paris de 1920 à 1929, the film was also meant to counterbalance the prevailing narrative of then-emerging historiography that skewed heavily in favor of the Lumières as the “inventors of cinema.” Grimoin-Sanson was the president of the Étienne-Jules Marey centenary committee, and advocated that Marey’s chronophotographic experiments should be given priority as fundamentally giving rise to the underlying technology of cinema: the line between the lumièristes and the anti-lumièristes was drawn."

""The film was screened well into the 1930s for specialized and general audiences, both in France and abroad, as a conférence filmée, often accompanied by an actual lecturer, including, among others, a young Jean Mitry and Marey’s colleague at the Collège de France, Charles Richet.""

"L’Histoire du cinéma par le cinéma is more focused on what we would now call an “Archaeology of Cinema” than is the case with Julien Duvivier’s La Machine à refaire la vie, or indeed any other comparable film of the time. The film’s two parts – The Past: Chronophotography, Origins, Development, First Inventions; and The Present: Modern techniques, and applications in science and spectacle – guide spectators through the various stages of the development of moving images as they were understood at the time: from the discovery of the persistence of vision, to the magic lantern, the various -scopes, -tropes, and -oramas of the 19th century, to Marey and Demenÿ’s chronophotography, and on to the other “fathers”: Edison, the Lumières, Gaumont, and … Grimoin-Sanson himself."

"Roland Cosandey has rightly noted that, similar to the case of Francis Jenkins in the United States, Grimoin-Sanson’s film was part of a campaign of self-promotion during a period when film history as an ensemble of artifacts and stories was first coming together. Indeed, L’Histoire du cinéma par le cinéma was, strictly speaking, an adaptation of Grimoin-Sanson’s own memoirs, Le Film de ma vie (1926). Like Terry Ramsaye, who was a consultant and helped shape Thirty Years of Motion Pictures during the same time in the United States, Grimoin-Sanson also adopted the book-and-film concept, a multimedia strategy borrowed from the educational lecturer circuit, which was an important model for early historians of cinema seeking to disseminate and market their work."

"The film and the book ignited a polemic within the Chambre Syndicale de la Cinématographie as well as in the pages of trade journals, with a commission of “experts” like Georges-Michel Coissac formed to examine matters such as whether it was Grimoin-Sanson or Pierre-Victor Continsouza who first used the Maltese Cross in a film projector (it was Jules Carpentier and René Bunzl). Grimoin-Sanson, in fact, accused the commission of stalling the distribution of his film so that a rival one (which would ultimately become La Machine à refaire la vie) could be rushed to theatres by Pathé, with an alternate narrative of inventions and “firsts.” In a sense, however, Grimoin-Sanson had the last laugh: the cinema section of the CNAM remained largely unchanged until the 1980s, and his film is still projected today in the museum where it debuted 93 years ago, thus forming part of the French State’s official narrative on the origins of cinema." Dimitrios Latsis (GCM)

AA: I saw for the first time this fascinating film whose patriotic credentials are impeccable ("the role played by French genius is overwhelming"). It provides a wealth of fascinating detail on the archaeology of the moving image, as pointed out by Dimitrios Latsis in his program note above. The film is particularly rewarding about such figures as Étienne Gaspard-Robert, Émile Reynaud, Louis Lumière and Raoul Grimoin-Sanson himself. The visual quality tended towards low contrast and the gray register, as if the source might be a b&w copy from a colour print.

La Machine à refaire la vie (FR 1933) by Julien Duvivier. Photo: Direction du patrimoine cinématographique du CNC.

LA MACHINE À REFAIRE LA VIE (FR 1933) [riedizione sonora/sound reissue]
regia/dir: Julien Duvivier, Henry Lepage. photog: Edouard Pasquié, asst. Charles-Henri Montel. mus: Roger Desormière. narr: Robert Finet. prod: Julien Duvivier. dist: Pathé. première: 30.3.1924 (Paris). uscita/rel (sd. reissue): 3.1933. copia/copy: 35 mm, 808 m, 29′ (24 fps), sd.; did./titles, dial: FRA. fonte/source: CNC – Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée, Bois d’Arcy.

Dimitrios Latsis (GCM): "Julien Duvivier and Henry Lepage’s La Machine à refaire la vie (1924/1933) was the first feature-length documentary on the history and pre-history of cinema, indeed the first non-fiction film of any substance to systematically treat the subject. Debuting in 1924 as a three-hour extravaganza, it only survives in the present half-hour sound version which the co-directors themselves assembled in 1933. It preceded by two years Otto Nelson and Terry Ramsaye’s Thirty Years of Motion Pictures (1926), which had a similar initial length, overall structure, and origins as a lecture on the history of the medium, accompanied by extracts from what were then often called the “primitive” origins of motion pictures. La Machine à refaire la vie is a product of two interrelated phenomena of 1920s French cinéphile culture: the rise of the cine-club movement and the interest in the past of the Seventh Art, which started in the middle of that decade with the 30th anniversary of the first Lumière projections and intensified as the specter of sound increasingly threatened silent film art with obsolescence. The film was sponsored by the “Club des Amis du 7ème art” and supported by the Ministère de l’Instruction publique. It was previewed in Lille, promoted as a “retrospective” with a live narrator, in essence a compilation of extracts from one hundred films with a running commentary by Duvivier, later one of the key figures of French poetic realism in the 1930s and beyond. It premiered at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées as a Gala screening of the Société des Auteurs de films in honor of Louis Lumière, and had many subsequent screenings from 1926 to 1932 (including one at the Comédie Française)."

"Originally structured in four parts – History of Inventions (Invention du cinéma), the development of cinema before World War I (Les étapes du cinéma d’avant-guerre), Modern Cinema (Le cinéma moderne), and Artistic Tendencies of Contemporary Cinema (Les tendances artistiques du cinéma d’aujourd’hui) – the film was a technological and aesthetic history with a teleological mandate to showcase the evolution of French cinema into a fully-grown artistic industry in the mid-1920s. It set the template for subsequent films of this kind by establishing a canon of key films (from La sortie de l’usine Lumière to Le Brasier ardent) and inventors, an overview of technical features (effects, color, even three-dimensional films), a focus on artistic currents (Expressionism, rhythm, montage, and mise-en-scène), sidebars on non-fiction and non-theatrical films (war, documentary, educational and scientific films), and a didactic conclusion on the “making of a film.” A section on sound film, French film studios and their productions in the early 1930s, and a tribute to septuagenarian Louis Lumière was added to the 1933 sound version."

"While intensely nationalistic in tenor (Reynaud, Marey, Lumière, Pathé, and Gaumont get their dues with nary a word on Muybridge, Edison, or Dickson), La Machine à refaire la vie, along with Raoul Grimoin-Sanson’s L’Histoire du cinéma par le cinéma, remain landmarks in the historiography of cinema as filmed counterparts to the first written histories of the medium and pioneering attempts at media archaeology avant la lettre." Dimitrios Latsis (GCM)

AA: This film I knew only from Julien Duvivier biographies, and apparently the short resume screened is all that remains. The light keeps shining brightly from France in this movie. We visit Plateau's phénakistiscope, Marey's fusil photographique, le cinématographe des frères Lumière, Le Film d'Art, Pathé Frères, Max Linder (Max pédicure, 1914), Léon Gaumont, The Cheat (Forfaiture) by Cecil B. DeMille (the branding scene had a special Me Too sting in today's screening), Le Miracle des loups, El Dorado, La Roue (a stunning display of Blitz montage), film parlant (the sing-along in Sous les toits de Paris), jumping to La Fin du jour (1939) and La Kermesse héroïque before ending with a jubilation of Louis Lumière in 1935. Thus this 1924 film was being revised at least until 1939 (during the Nazi occupation Duvivier was in exile in Hollywood).

Une cité française du cinéma (FR 1928) by Pierre Chenal. Photo: © Gaumont-Pathé-Archives – Collections Direction du patrimoine cinématographique du CNC.

UNE CITÉ FRANÇAISE DU CINÉMA (Une cité du cinéma) (FR 1928)
regia/dir, scen: Pierre Chenal. photog: Edouard Pasquié, Marcel Desnos, asst. Charles-Henry Montel. prod: Pathé-Natan. dist: Pathé. uscita/rel: 1.4.1928. copia/copy: 35 mm, 208 m, 10’56” (18 fps); did./titles: FRA. fonte/source: CNC – Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée, Bois d’Arcy.

Dimitrios Latsis (GCM): "As a French counterpart to the American studio tour films, Une cité française du cinéma represents both a late arrival to the genre and a refreshing shift of focus to the labor and workers involved in film production. Adopting the structure of an industrial film, the short starts where others usually finish: it presents the technical workflow of the Pathé Laboratories at Joinville (a true “city of cinema”), from the development and drying of the negatives (both 35 mm and the company’s home-movie format Pathé Baby), the striking of positive copies, to stenciling and final assembly by an army of skilled women film-workers. We are then transported to Pathé’s various movie palaces in the Paris region, plastered with posters of current and coming attractions, before the film concludes with brief visits to the props and sets departments back at Joinville. This striking découpage, the flair of the camerawork with its long tracking shots and close-ups, and the detailed intertitles written with more pedagogical than promotional intent, testify to the distinct approach that European studios took in producing newsreels and “novelty reels” about their own activities. At the outset of an illustrious career, director Pierre Chenal (1904–1990) directed a number of short and medium-length non-fiction films, including Paris Cinéma (1929) and the equally labor-focused Les petits métiers de Paris (1932), based on Eugène Atget and André Kertész’s photographs of Paris street traders." Dimitrios Latsis (GCM)

AA: In the beginning of his career Pierre Chenal was a fine documentary film-maker. I know his works such as Paris Cinéma and Les petits métiers de Paris, but I was not even aware of the existence of Une cité française du cinéma made before them. It is an excellent and sober view on film production: labs where negatives are developed, including Pathé Baby negatives and the striking of positive prints. It was particularly fascinating to witness as late as 1928 the use of stencil colour, portrayed here in exemplary detail. We visit cinema theaters, the great canteen of lady workers, and a giant depot for set designers. The use of the mobile camera is engaging. A beautiful print.


AA Facebook capsule:

The French angle to the series was contributed by three great figures: Raoul Grimoin-Sanson, Julien Duvivier and Pierre Chenal. Many rare glimpses were included.


1928 1 1 NU


1ère diffusion : 04/01/1928
Résumé catalogue

Les ateliers d'un laboratoire cinématographique révèlent les traitements successifs du film : développement des négatifs, séchage des films développés, développement et séchage des films Pathé-Baby, tirage des copies positives, pochoir et montage (Résumé Archives du Film - CNC).
Résumé descriptif

Document sur les laboratoires PATHE.

Carton 1 : "Les laboratoires de développement des négatifs" : Intérieur du laboratoire de développement, un homme en blouse blanche rentre dans le laboratoire de développement, des hommes sortent de grands chutiers de pellicules de cuves contenant les bains de rinçage, les chutiers sont mis à sécher en hauteur, on les déplace sur des rails.

Carton 2 : "Le séchage des films développés" : une femme déroule au fur et à mesure la pellicule en tournant le cadre (ou chutier), travelling sur la chaîne de séchage. Plan rapproché d'une femme qui vérifie la pellicule sur une sorte d'enroulement verticale.

Carton 3 : "Développement et séchage des films d'amateur (Pathé Baby) : Dans un atelier, des hommes trempent dans des cuves de lavage les pellicules sur de petits cadres, un homme en blouse blanche pose les cardes sur un rail vertical. Ouvrières de dos déroulant les pellicules des cadres pour séchage.

Carton 4 : "Le tirage des copies positives" : Vue générale en plongée et travelling sur l'atelier de tirage des copies, postes de travail avec enrouleuses verticales. Autre plan en plongée de l'atelier de tirage, nombreuses femmes portant une charlotte sur la tête et plaçant la pellicule dans des enrouleuses. Plongée verticale et travelling sur l'atelier.
Nombreuses femmes à leur poste de travail, plan rapproché de l'une d'elle faisant défiler la pellicule, travelling sur d'autres postes de travail.

Carton 5 : "Les ateliers du colori au pochoir" : Vue générale et panoramique sur l'atelier de colorisation, chaque femme est assise à son poste devant une visionneuse protégée par un rideau , gros plan sur un poste de travail, la femme travaille avec un pantographe (sorte de stylo mécanisé) sur une surface dépolie et déroule les photogrammes perforés au fur et à mesure, travelling sur d'autres postes.

Craton 6 : "L'image du film est agrandie sur un verre dépoli et "suivie" au pantographe. Un stylet découpe les parties de l'image de la même couleur" : Gros plan, pantographe sur verre dépoli, une main enlève le surplus au stylet sur la pellicule découpée.

Carton 7 : "Les "pochoirs" terminés sont envoyés au colori" : Panoramique sur les postes de l'atelier de colori occupés par des femmes, autre plan en travelling sur les postes, les femmes déroulent la pellicule, corbeilles contenant la pellicule à côté d'elles. Gros plan d'une femme qui nettoie la pellicule.

Carton 8 : "Au montage, les ouvrières assemblent les différentes parties du film" : Panoramique sur la salle de montage, nombreux postes occupés par des femmes. Plan rapproché d'un poste, une femme place un film dans la colleuse, nettoie la pellicule et colle une section de pellicule.

Carton 9 : "Quelques salles de cinéma du circuit Pathé" : façade du Pathé Marivaux, 15 boulevard des Italiens à Paris, à l'affiche "Nicolas Koline dans "Sheherazade", inscription "French and english sub titles". Façade de l'Impérial, à l'affiche le film "Asphalte". Façade du Ciné Max Linder, 24 boulevard Poissonnière à Paris, à l'affiche "Chant hindou - Nicolas Koline dans "Vive la vie". Façade du Cinéma Royal Wagram (il deviendra le Royal Pathé le 24 avril 1929), 37 avenue de Wagram à Paris, à l'affiche "Sur le fil de la mort". Façade d'un cinéma, à l'affiche "Trois clowns" et "Lili Loulou et Cie". Façade du cinéma "Le Select". Façade du cinéma "Le Louxor", 170 boulevard de Magenta à PARIS. Façade du "Cinéma Demours", 7 rue Pierre Demours, Paris 17ème, le coq de Pathé derrière le nom du cinéma, à l'affiche "Domino noir" et "Lili Loulou et Cie". Façade u cinéma "La Capitole", à l'affiche "Les Roses blanche de Gilmore", "La Divine croisière". Façade du cinéma "Le Métropole". Façade du "Féérique cinéma" au 146, rue de Belleville à Paris, à l'affiche "Domino noir", "Anny de Montparnasse", "La Divine croisière". Façade du cinéma "Palace".

Carton 10 : "Midi !" : Plan rapproché d'une pointeuse, les ouvrières et ouvriers pointent en perforant leur carte dans la pointeuse. Cuisinière commune, les femmes cuisinent à la poêle ou à la casserole, travelling sur la cuisinière.

Carton 11 : "Le grand réfectoire des dames" : Vue plongeante du réfectoire des dames. Travelling sur les tables du réfectoires sur lesquelles les ouvrières en blouse mangent. Plan large d'une table. Plan rapproché d'assiettes.

Carton 12 : "Le magasin de meubles possède une importante réserve pour les besoins de la mise en scène" : Vue générale extérieure du vaste bâtiment de la réserve.

Carton 13 : "1800 pièces de toutes les époques..." : Vue générale d'une table supportant des horloges de toutes époques.
Plan rapproché de bustes divers. panoramique sur un établi supportant plusieurs roues. Plan rapproché d'un tableau ancien. Gros plan d'un mannequin de femme en cire. Gros plan d'une statue tribale. Gros plan d'un mannequin en costume de grenadier.

Carton 14 : "Le magasin des décors" : Vue générale de l'entrée du grand entrepôt des décors, verrière en guise de toit. Travelling le long d'une allée de décors divers entreposés.

OPE : Edouard Pasquié

Mots clés


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