Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Musée Albert-Kahn (2019 digital transfer by Hiventy, curated by Teresa Castro, Anne Sigaud)

Indes britanniques, Bénarès “Les Baigneurs”, photographer: Stéphane Passet, Jan 1914 Photo: Musée départemental Albert-Kahn

Albert Kahn, Paris, rue de Richelieu, 1900. Photo: Musée départemental Albert-Kahn

Musée Albert Kahn.
Programme curated by Teresa Castro, Anne Sigaud.
All films from: Département des Hauts-de-Seine/Musée départemental Albert-Kahn (Collection des Archives de la Planète).
Digitization: Hiventy, 2019; supervised by Frédérique Le Bris, Musée départemental Albert-Kahn.
All film notes by Teresa Castro, Anne Sigaud (GCM).
    Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (GCM), Pordenone.
    Grand piano, piano strings, flute, accordion: Stephen Horne.
    Teatro Verdi, e-subtitles in English and Italian, 8 Oct 2019.

photog: Stéphane Passet. riprese/filmed: 1.1914. copia/copy: DCP, 9’40” (da/from 35 mm nitr. pos., 197 m); senza did./no titles. [Inv. 119990]
photog: Stéphane Passet. riprese/filmed: 1.1914. copia/copy: DCP, 7’52” (da/from 35 mm nitr. pos., 161 m); senza did./no titles. [Inv. 119991]

Teresa Castro, Anne Sigaud (GCM): "The autochrome photographer and cameraman Stéphane Passet, employed by Albert Kahn from 1913 to 1919, was sent to British India between December 1913 and February 1914, where he became intrigued by local religious practices. In Benares, he devoted some 400 metres of film to ritual ablutions by the banks of the Ganges, and the scenes were privately screened for Albert Kahn in Boulogne-sur-Seine in May 1914, under the titles “baignade” (bathing) and “bains sacrés” (sacred baths). The period positives we have are simply copies of the negatives that were spliced end to end on two separate reels, in no particular order."

AA: Epic, slow, meditative panoramic shots on the much filmed subject, but this is one of the finest records ever. There is a sense of the holy.

Musée Albert-Kahn: France, Paris, Place de la Concorde, "Fêtes de la Victoire", 14 July 1919. Foto di: Valerio Greco. Teatro Verdi, 10 Oct 2019. Source: Le Giornate del Cinema Muto 2019 / Flickr.

photog: Camille Sauvageot. riprese/filmed: 14.7.1919. copia/copy: DCP, 3’07” (da/from 35 mm nitr. neg., 65 m.); senza did./no titles. [Inv. 141057]
photog: Lucien Le Saint. riprese/filmed: 14.7.1919. copia/copy: DCP, 16’22” (da/from 35 mm interpositivo/fine grain master, da/from nitr. neg., 337 m); senza did./no titles. [Inv. 127462]

Teresa Castro, Anne Sigaud (GCM): "During the First World War, France’s national film services, patriotic associations, and commercial studios pooled their resources in the name of national propaganda. Albert Kahn’s private organization was thus given a contributing role. The varied and fragmentary material in the war collection of the Archives de la Planète offers a fair reflection of the constant movement of negatives, edited films, cameramen, and their equipment from one sector to another."

"Lucien Le Saint and Camille Sauvageot were two emblematic figures in this context. Working together as cameramen for the civilian and military sectors, they were then recruited as employees of Albert Kahn after being demobilized in late 1919."

"On 14 July 1919, during the great Victory celebrations, Sauvageot filmed the parade of Allied troops and the jubilant crowd from the rooftop of the Centre d’Action de Propagande contre l’Ennemi, a state agency located at 8 Place de la Concorde. Le Saint was positioned in front of the Arc de Triomphe, filming the march-past on behalf of the Union des Grandes Associations contre la Propagande Ennemie. The negatives from these two shoots were developed, printed, and stored at Albert Kahn’s."

AA: Huge crowds of people celebrate the end of WWI seen in extreme long shots with slow panoramic movements. These belong to the most impressive records about WWI.

Musée Albert-Kahn: France, Paris, "Incendie des Magasins du Printemps", 28 Sep 1921. Foto di: Valerio Greco. Teatro Verdi, 10 Oct 2019. Source: Le Giornate del Cinema Muto 2019 / Flickr.

photog: Lucien Le Saint, Camille Sauvageot. riprese/filmed: 28.9.1921. copia/copy: DCP, 3’17” (da/from 35 mm nitr. pos., 67 m); senza did./no titles. [Inv. 121048]

Teresa Castro, Anne Sigaud (GCM): "During the war, Albert Kahn had the idea for a grand “documentary” project intended to enlighten global political powers and guarantee the maintenance of world peace. In 1919 he began to assemble printed records, to which in 1920 he added the Archives de la Planète, at the heart of a Centre de Documentation with a “photographic and cinematographic section” that continued to function along the collaborative lines practiced during the war."

"Within the institution, a number of cameramen worked for Albert Kahn himself, or for his circle (his scientific advisor Jean Brunhes, his family and business partners, the people behind his philanthropic and academic foundations); sometimes they were hired by the Foreign Ministry or the Ministry of War. Professional instinct could also prompt cameramen to spontaneously cover specific current events, as was probably the case with the fire that tore through one of the great sites of Parisian life in 1921, the Printemps department store."

AA: A record of the catastrophe covering the smoking ruins of the department store and the daring of the firemen on their highest ladders.

photog: Lucien Le Saint, Camille Sauvageot. riprese/filmed: 2.10.1921. copia/copy: DCP, 5’36” (da/from 35 mm nitr. pos., 115 m); senza did./no titles. [Inv. 118320]

Teresa Castro, Anne Sigaud (GCM): "Le Saint and Sauvageot retained their method of shooting with two cameras, as they had done during the Great War. This allowed them to create dynamic editing, another legacy of their experience with the war propaganda service, which was nothing less than a training school for documentary film-making."

"The people in Albert Kahn’s circle were particularly sensitive to the evolving international situation and especially to Franco-American relations. They appreciated the significance of the tribute paid by the United States Congress to France’s Unknown Soldier in 1921 with the awarding of the Congressional Medal of Honor, and in the general climate of declining relations between traditional allies, this manifestation of fraternité had significant value, given the high political and economic stakes of the time."

AA: An epic and majestic record of the memorable event. Views from high angles. A vision of dignity and grandeur.

photog: Lucien Le Saint, Camille Sauvageot. riprese/filmed: 13 + 23.2.1921. copia/copy: DCP, 6’10” (da/from 35 mm nitr. pos., 128 m); senza did./no titles. [Inv. 120195]

Teresa Castro, Anne Sigaud (GCM): "The principal scenes here were shot by Lucien Le Saint on 13 February 1921, and Camille Sauvageot shot complementary material, especially landscapes, ten days later."

"This film depicts members of the Ignatieff family, Russian aristocrats who following the establishment of the Soviet government took refuge in France, where they spent time as gentlemen farmers. Since the 1917 Revolution, the situation in Russia was of recurring concern to Albert Kahn and his circle, which included a number of socialist-leaning but rigorously anti-Bolshevik individuals. One thus finds regular contact and collaboration with aristocrats or émigré Mensheviks in the period 1919-1921."

AA: A magnificent documentation of aristocratic country life with cows, geese, hens, et cetera. Cinéma-vérité.

France, Paris, "Éclipse partielle du soleil du 8 avril 1921. Photo: Musée départemental Albert-Kahn.

photog: Lucien Le Saint, Camille Sauvageot. riprese/filmed: 31.3, 1.4, 8.4.1921. copia/copy: DCP, 9’57” (da/from 35 mm nitr. pos., 205 m); did./titles: FRA. [Inv. 119615]

Teresa Castro, Anne Sigaud (GCM): "Preparing this shoot, Lucien Le Saint carried out preliminary technical tests in Albert Kahn’s garden. One of them, “the sun and its path through space”, was appended to the end of the present material, no doubt for the sake of consistency in terms of storage and future film classification."

On the day of the partial solar eclipse, Le Saint shot the images of the sky and composed the intertitles, while Camille Sauvageot filmed “Parisians watching the phenomenon through smoked glass”. In its technical, experimental, and didactic aspects – comparable to the fully evolving genre of scientific and educational films – this production stands apart from the images of the event released at the same time by news agencies."

AA: People observing the partial solar eclipse with different kinds of protective measures.

photog: Camille Sauvageot. riprese/filmed: 11-12.1922. copia/copy: DCP, 10’49” (da/from 35 mm nitr. neg., 224 m); senza did./no titles. [Inv. 90807]

Teresa Castro, Anne Sigaud (GCM): "Camille Sauvageot and the autochrome photographer Frédéric Gadmer were sent to Turkey from 20 October 1922 to 17 February 1923. They covered Constantinople and soon became interested in the activities of Mustafa Kemal [Ataturk]’s government in Anatolia. They then travelled through Asia Minor to film the devastating consequences of the recent Greek-Turkish war. We do not know how their mission was planned, but the images suggest support for the policy of Franco-Turkish rapprochement, a topic of debate in Albert Kahn’s circle."

"This film is a rough cut made in the 1970s from part of the negatives shot in Constantinople."

AA: An epic record, still catching glimpses of archaic ways of life in Constantinople in long shots and majestic pans, covering an awesome mountain, a funeral at a graveyard, and slaughtering a lamb. * See Elif Kaynacki's remark (17 Oct 2019) below.

photog: Camille Sauvageot. riprese/filmed: 24.5.1925. copia/copy: DCP, 4’56” (da/from 35 mm nitr. pos., 101 m); did./titles: FRA. [Inv. 126044]

Teresa Castro, Anne Sigaud (GCM): "Lucien Le Saint left the Archives de la Planète in 1923, and although other cameramen worked for Albert Kahn, here Camille Sauvageot was filming alone."

"The “montée au Mur des Fédérés” – a march up to the so-called “Wall of the Communards” in the Père Lachaise Cemetery – is an annual event held by the revolutionary-pacifist wing of the French Left to commemorate the mass execution which took place there at the end of the Paris Commune uprising in 1871."

"The event was filmed for the Archives de la Planète in 1919, 1922, and 1925. The intended destination and use of this material remain unknown."

AA: A moving record of three memorials to the martyrs of the Paris Commune at Père-Lachaise. The crowds gathering in the rain covered with umbrellas are huge, and different groups are represented over the years, including a Groupe Anarchiste and representatives of L'Humanité.

photog: Camille Sauvageot. riprese/filmed: 3-17.10.1925. copia/copy: DCP, 10’41” (da/from 35 mm nitr. pos., 220 m); did./titles: FRA. [Inv. 75707]

Teresa Castro, Anne Sigaud (GCM): "The Locarno Pact marks an important turning-point in the inter-war period in Europe, reintroducing a formal dialogue between Germany, four former Allies, and two successor states, all preoccupied with guaranteeing the stability of Germany’s borders. The treaties, which promised a general détente in the international political climate, also heralded Germany’s prospective membership of the League of Nations and the establishment of a new international order. For both Albert Kahn – an early activist for Franco-German rapprochement and a precocious promoter of the League – and his milieu, the event represented a philosophical and political victory."

"The montage of this film is constructed along similar lines and includes images resembling those released by the news agencies, but it is unusually long (about 20 minutes). Only the first part is presented here."

AA: There were direct connections in four films of this show to Le Giornate's commitment to the memory of World War One. We saw the 14 July 1919 victory celebrations at the Place de la Concorde and by the Arch of Triumph. We saw General Pershing awarding the Congressional Medal of Honour at the grave of the Unknown Soldier under the Arch of Triumph in 1921. And most movingly, the show ended with a documentary on the Locarno Treaties in 1925, securing the post-war territorial settlement.

Films of universal relevance and dignity.

Stephen Horne highlighted the message of the films in his musical interpretation, for instance with the flute and playing directly on the piano strings in the Indian films and the accordion in the film about the Russian gentlemen farmers.

Visual quality: rich, subtle and refined, light, medium low contrast, black levels missing.


AA Facebook capsule:

In Pordenone a show of great dignity and grandeur was presented by Musée Albert-Kahn, curated by Teresa Castro and Anne Sigaud, with an insightful musical interpretation by Stephen Horne. I have never seen more impressive records of the sacred baths on the Ganges. There were four films relevant to the Giornate's commitment to the memory of WWI: victory celebrations with huge crowds at the Place de la Concorde and by the Arch of Triumph, and, most movingly, a documentary on the Locarno Treaties in 1925. There was also an intriguing compilation of memorials to the martyrs of the Paris Commune. Slow, meditative pans covering huge crowds is a hallmark of this important film collection.

* PS 17 Oct 2019 Facebook, Elif Kaynakci
Hi Antti, here is what I think about the Constantinople footage: Le Giornate del Cinema Muto screened some shorts from the Albert Kahn museum, among which also a 10 minute non-fiction film showing Constantinople in 1922. The catalogue note is very generic, and upon seeing the film, it is clear that much more research can be done on what the context of the film is. The flash titles are impossible to read during projection, and it would be great to study some of the faces, street signs etc. more in detail. All in all, it is likely that this film is showing Refet Pasa (Refet Bele) and his regiment arriving to Istanbul on Oct. 19th 1922, or a few days later in November, as he was given the task by the National Assembly in Ankara to get Constantinople back from the Occupying Allied forces. As such these images then document the very last days of the Ottoman Empire, as Sultan Vahdettin sent a note to General Harrington on Nov. 16th, asking to be removed from Constantinople into exile, leaving the city boarding a British navy ship the next day. The Kahn footage also shows a departure, from the main train station Sirkeci, but the image is too crowded and needs further viewings and research.

Anne Sigaud 19.10.2019 klo 12.05
Much more to come in Pordenone on those films, research is on its path !

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