Monday, October 03, 2022

Regen / Rain (the 1932 re-release edited by Helen van Dongen) (GCM 2022)

Joris Ivens & Mannus Franken: Regen / Rain (NL 1929). From: Eye Filmmuseum, Amsterdam.

REGEN (Rain) [Pioggia]
La Pluie [the title on the print]
(NL 1929)
Directed by Joris Ivens, Mannus Franken
photog: Joris Ivens.
prod: Capi-Holland.
dist: Filmliga, Amsterdam.
uscita/rel: 14.12.1929.
copia/copy: 35 mm, 324 m, 11’48” (24 fps); did./titles: NLD.
fonte/source: Eye Filmmuseum, Amsterdam.
The 1932 re-release edited by Helen van Dongen.
The credited musician was Günter Buchwald at the grand piano. Besides, there were also Frank Bockius alla batteria, and Romano Todesco.
Le Giornate del Cinema Muto 2022: Venezia 90/Venice 90
Viewed at Teatro Verdi, Pordenone, 3 Oct 2022

Mark-Paul Meyer, Federico Striuli (GCM 2022): "The long career of Dutch documentary filmmaker Joris Ivens (18981989) took off with the international acclaimed success of two short films, De Brug (The Bridge, 1928) and Regen (Rain, 1929). Both films were silent, with a strong emphasis on the poetic qualities of the photographic image and montage. Inspired by Ruttmann’s Berlin, Die Symphonie einer Großstadt, which Ivens saw during a visit to Berlin in 1927, and by his then companion, photographer Germaine Krull, with whom he made the lyrical Études des mouvements à Paris (1927), Ivens made The Bridge in 1928, and, one year later, with Mannus Franken, Rain. Pudovkin saw the films during a visit to Amsterdam in 1929 and invited Ivens to come to Russia and show his films there. In Paris the films were warmly received by critics such as Germaine Dulac. By 1930 the international reputation of Ivens was established. Ivens came in contact with Pudovkin through the Filmliga, a film society that was principally interested in film as an autonomous artistic form and presented films and filmmakers of the international avant-garde in the Netherlands. The screenings were gatherings of members of the Dutch and international intelligentsia. The writer/composer Lou Lichtveld (19031996) was the music specialist of the Filmliga; in 1931 he wrote the music for Ivens’ film Philips Radio. In 1932 Ivens asked Helen van Dongen and Lou Lichtveld to create a sound version of Rain. Lichtveld travelled with Van Dongen to Paris, where they recorded the score for the film in the studio at Épinay. The sound version was half-heartedly received. Although the music intended to reinforce the visual strength of the film, Ivens himself felt that the music failed in this regard. During the 1930s Ivens worked on a number of films with Hanns Eisler, a collaboration that Ivens highly esteemed. In 1940 Eisler wrote a new score for Rain; his work was entitled Fourteen Ways to Describe Rain (Vierzehn Arten, den Regen zu beschreiben)."

Venice 1932 

"The first Venice Film Exhibition was definitely one of the main springboards for the international contemporary success of Joris Ivens’ masterpiece. Screened as the opening film on the final [16th] evening, Sunday 21 August, Regen was affected by the fact that in the following day’s articles the press coverage focused more on reviewing the success of the whole festival, rather reducing the space for the last day’s shows."

"Nevertheless, it is clear that both the audience and the film critics enthused over the “Dutch short”. One of the first reviews appeared in the local newspaper Il Gazzettino, describing Regen as “an extraordinary documentary, sent by the Dutch Government, depicting the rage of a violent and sudden storm with a meticulous wealth of detail”. A few days later, the political daily Il Lavoro Fascista couldn’t help praising the film: “But, as for documentaries, Joris Ivens’ and Franken’s Regen deserves an honorable mention; finally, the simple photographer from Amsterdam, who, in a short time, thanks to his documentaries, has become one of the most prominent directors, has been introduced to Italy. His Regen (Rain) is one of the most felicitous examples of documentary, where editing creates a perfectly spot-on rhythm of images.”
" Mark-Paul Meyer, Federico Striuli (GCM 2022)

AA: Revisited Regen, which I saw in a version I probably did not know before. We have screened the print with the Hanns Eisler music, which was also shown in Bologna in Madeleine Bernstorff's La donna con la Kinamo shows. On 12 Feb 2012 we even mounted a film concert Regen conducted by Dalia Stasevska in which "12 manières de décrire la pluie” by Hanns Eisler was played live by a 25 piece orchestra.

I confess I cannot spot the differences between the versions having seen the projections within many years' distance. The movie starts "before the rain" and builds slowly into a crescendo. The rain changes everything. Ivens and Franken play with the blurred vision. Hitchcock may have been inspired by the umbrella vision in Foreign Correspondent. The streets get empty.

I keep thinking about Tarkovsky for whom water was the perfect way to convey time. The many ways, forms and densities in which time passes and flows. After a break the rain starts again, building into a new crescendo.

The musicians let themselves be inspired by the images, undaunted by their predecessors Lou Lichtveld (whose name is printed in the opening credits as the composer) and Hanns Eisler. Frank Bockius was in great form, electrified by the rhythms of the rain.

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