Thursday, October 05, 2017

Der Gang in die Nacht (2016 restoration Filmmuseum München)


Der Gang in die Nacht (DE 1920), D: F. W. Murnau. With Conrad Veidt. Photo: Filmmuseum München. Please click to enlarge the image.

Der Gang in die Nacht. Eine Tragödie in 5 Akten (Love’s Mockery) [Il cammino nella notte], F. W. Murnau (DE 1920), scen: Carl Mayer, based on a script by Harriet Bloch, photog: Nax Lutze, des: Heinrich Richter, cast: Olaf Fönss (Eigil Boerne), Erna Morena (Helene), Conrad Veidt (a blind painter), Gudrun Bruun-Steffensen (Lily), Clementine Plessner, prod: Goron-Films, dist: Progress-Film GmbH, rel: 21.1.1921, Berlin (Schauburg), censor date: 20.10.1920 (B.00616), copy: DCP (from 35 mm, orig. 1927 m), 81 min (transferred at 21 fps), col. (tinted); titles: GER, source: Filmmuseum München, Restored: 2016.
    Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone.
    Grand piano: Richard Siedhoff.
    Teatro Verdi, e-subtitles in English and Italian, 5 Oct 2017

Stefan Drössler (GCM 2017): "The earliest surviving film directed by Murnau anticipates themes from his later masterpieces: a siren’s attempt to seduce a man away from his ordered world, as in Sunrise; the contrast between the city and the countryside; Conrad Veidt’s stylized portrayal of a blind man, which seems to prefigure Max Schreck’s performance as the vampire in Nosferatu. Carl Mayer’s screenplay discloses the narrative through a series of scenes in the Kammerspiel style. Murnau’s skilled direction manages to seamlessly bridge the temporal ellipses, while at other points stretching the time out, as during the film’s dramatic climax in the third act, which unfolds in near real-time."

"Considered at the time to be something of an experiment, the film was hailed in Der Kinematograph (no. 728, 30 January 1921) as “the first example of a new level of film art.” Immediately after the press screening, film critic Willy Haas (who would later write the screenplay for Murnau’s Der brennende Acker) raved in his review for Film-Kurier (no. 277, 14 December 1920): “Where does the art of the writer end, and the art of the director and the actors start? One doesn’t know. Everything is intertwined. Everything is – there’s no better word for it – complete. Carl Mayer wrote the script – nothing less than a work of poetry. The film follows his words painstakingly. Unbelievable how he rushes through passages, pressing, breathless, with just two indications. Wonderful how he knows at other times when to pause, easy, almost persistent, as when the lights of cars reflect on the rain-soaked asphalt of the big city [streets], or when the sea churns or the pale sun rises – how he repeats passionately again and again throughout the story: ‘Dear spectator, this belongs in the film, it is part of the storyline.’ Or how he invents elegant flourishes – like the scene with the wounded foot of the woman who is supposedly a farmer – and one can feel the dainty air of creativity. Or when he lets the woman confess to her husband that she is in love with another man: three words, then she bows over his hand – nothing more. All these moments are unforgettable, as simple and inexplicable as life itself, as casual and tirelessly convincing as fate.”"

"According to Lotte Eisner, Henri Langlois discovered the original nitrate negative of the film, which since 1945 was believed to be lost, at the Staatliches Filmarchiv der DDR (the state film archive of the German Democratic Republic), and had a new print struck. However, the negative was incomplete: there were no titles present and Reel 3 was missing in its entirety. The film was shown in this mutilated form throughout the 1960s and 1970s, until Enno Patalas learned that the negative had been copied at Gosfilmofond in Moscow prior to being sent to the GDR, and at that time it had still contained the third reel. Using parts of Murnau’s personal copy of the shooting script, then still in the possession of his heirs, Patalas spliced newly created intertitles into a print he received from Gosfilmofond. Unfortunately, Murnau changed a number of details during the filming and completely rewrote the ending of the film. Thus, the precise number of intertitles and their wording could only be speculated."

"The new digital restoration by the Munich Film Museum draws directly on the original camera negative, now held at the Bundesarchiv, as well as on the workprint edited by Enno Patalas and Murnau’s complete shooting script, which is now held at the Deutsche Kinemathek. By studying these materials intensively and comparing them with existing contemporary reviews from newspapers and magazines, slight corrections could be made to the editing as well as to the frequency, position, and wording of the intertitles. The colour tints and the font of the intertitles were reconstructed following the conventions of the time. Scanning and picture restoration were carried out by Thomas Bakels, while Christian Ketels performed the colour grading and editing. Richard Siedhoff, who was involved in the restoration process, has composed both a new piano soundtrack as well as a full orchestral score. Historian David Bordwell has rhapsodized about the experience of seeing the new restoration: “The Munich Film Museum’s team has created one of the most beautiful editions of a silent film I’ve ever seen. You look at these shots and realize that most versions of silent films are deeply unfaithful to what early audiences saw. In those days, the camera negative was usually the printing negative, so what was recorded got onto the screen. The new Munich restoration allows you to see everything in the frame, with a marvelous translucence and density of detail. Forget High Frame Rate: This is hypnotic, immersive cinema.
” Stefan Droessler

AA: A half of F. W. Murnau's films are believed lost, including his first six films, all from the years 1919–1920. Der Gang in die Nacht, also from 1920, has a precious special status since it is Murnau's earliest surviving film. And what's more, the camera negative exists. In many other Murnau's surviving films the visual quality is inconsistent but in Der Gang in die Nacht we can truly and fully admire the refinement of the cinematography. I saw Der Gang in die Nacht for the first time in 1981 and believe that I have always seen it in prints of fine visual quality. This movie has in a way been a standard-setter to watching the Murnau corpus, a key reference to the Murnau look especially earlier when most of Murnau's films were only available in terribly battered versions.

In the new restoration the editing and intertitles have been carefully reworked to make much better sense of this haunting film.

Murnau's sense of composition and mise-en-scène is immediately striking, and his conviction in visual storytelling is already comparable with Griffith and Dreyer. The great quality of the source material does full justice to the deep focus cinematography.

Carl Mayer's screenplay based on Harriet Bloch's story is wildly incredible in rational terms. But it provides Murnau a framework for visual poetry. Like in his forthcoming masterpieces, he excels here in two different modes. There is the Kammerspiel mode: the psychological mode of interiority. There is the haunted nature mode: the exterior world is already seen as a soulscape in terms of lyrical romantic symbolism. We are in the company of a refined artist who is discovering for the cinema the insights of the great painters.

The performance of Olaf Fønss belongs to the old world of early cinema, fully compatible with the approach of the remarkable early anti-war film Ned Med Vaabnene (1914), but here he is a fish out of water with his histrionic gestures. In this tragedy he fails to move.

The female leads Erna Morena and Gudrun Bruun-Steffensen remain bystanders.

Conrad Veidt is not a naturalistic actor, either, but his exaggerations are much more refined than those of Fønss. Veidt's presence is tremendous as the blind painter. He seems to carry all the suffering of the world on his shoulders. He really conveys such gravity. The blocking of Veidt can already be compared with Nosferatu (and Terence Fisher's Dracula). His mere immobile existence is unsettling. There is a mystery in his sorrow that goes deeper than the nominal plot can convey. His performance is a study in cosmic solitude.

An immaculate digital presentation with beautiful simulations of toning and tinting.

Der Golem (1915) (2017 restoration Filmmuseum München)



Der Golem (DE 1915), with Lyda Salmonova and Paul Wegener.

Der Golem. Phantastisches Filmspiel von Henrik Galeen (Monster of Fate), Heinrich Galeen (DE 1915), scen: Paul Wegener, Heinrich Galeen, photog: Guido Seeber, cast: Paul Wegener (Golem), Heinrich Galeen (the Jew), Lyda Salmonova (the Jew’s young daughter), Rudolf Blümner (the scholar), Karl Ebert (the Count), Jakob Tiedtke (the Count’s servant), prod: Deutsche Bioscop GmbH, filmed: 1914, censor date: 22.12.1914, rel: 15.1.1915, Berlin (U.T.-Lichtspiele Kurfürstendamm, Friedrichstraße, & Alexanderplatz), copy: incomp. (orig. 1250 m), DCP, 24 min (transferred at 18 fps), col. (tinted); titles: GER, source: Filmmuseum München, Restored: 2017.
    Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone.
    Grand piano: Richard Siedhoff.
    Teatro Verdi, e-subtitles in English and Italian, 5 Oct 2017.

Stefan Drössler (GCM 2017): "While Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (1920) is today considered part of the canon of German silent film classics, Paul Wegener’s first Golem film made in 1914 is essentially believed lost. Until recently, only two very short fragments – of 20 metres and 77 metres respectively – were known to exist. These fragments survived in private collections and were subsequently preserved by the Staatliches Filmarchiv der DDR, the state film archive of the German Democratic Republic, in the 1960s and the Bundesarchiv in the 1990s. In addition, the screenplay and a number of stills survive in Paul Wegener’s estate (the Kai Möller collection), held at the Deutsches Filminstitut. The impulse to bring all these materials together in an attempt to reconstruct the film came about when Fernando Peña identified a 16 mm duplicate negative held at the Museo del Cine Pablo C. Ducrós Hicken in Buenos Aires as the second reel of the American version of Der Golem."

"Paul Wegener, who became famous as an actor in Max Reinhardt’s theatre company in Berlin, objected from the outset to any attempt “to force stage plays and literary storylines into film’s Procrustean bed” and sought out distinctly cinematic subject matter: “The first thing you must do is forget theatre and literature and learn to create films from filmic ideas. The true poet of the cinema is the camera. The possibility to constantly change the viewer’s perspective, the multitude of special effects (produced via double exposure, mirrors, etc.), in short the technology of film should dictate the choice of the story.” (Paul Wegener, lecture, “The Artistic Possibilities of Film”, 24 April 1916)"

"The saga of a clay statue magically brought to life, set in a Prague ghetto, was Wegener’s second success after Der Student von Prag, released in 1913. Since the production’s modest budget didn’t allow for expensive period costumes and settings, the story was shifted to the (then) present-day. Shooting took place in Summer 1914, at the Deutsche Bioscop studios in Babelsberg and on location in the historic town of Hildesheim. By the time the film premiered in January 1915, Paul Wegener was serving as a lieutenant in the German army in Flanders. Wartime advertisements promoted Der Golem as a “film for educated people”, and highlighted that Wegener was serving at the front and had been decorated with the Iron Cross."

"The “most successful film of its time” ran for four weeks in a number of cinemas in Berlin, and was seen by more than 100,000 picturegoers. The film was also exported to Scandinavia, Poland, Japan, and the U.S. In America, where it was retitled The Monster of Fate, the film’s German origin went unmentioned. Instead, it was advertised as a “Bohemian production”. The only members of the cast mentioned in public announcements were “Lydia Salmonova” and “Henry Galeen”, most likely due to their apparently non-German-sounding names."

"Wegener conceived his big-budget 1920 remake of Der Golem as a prequel rather than a sequel to the earlier film. Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam is essentially an origin story set in the past, featuring period costumes and Expressionist sets by Hans Poelzig. Although the second Golem film follows the storyline of the first film very closely, going as far as to copy certain shots outright, Paul Wegener is credited as sole writer and director. Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam ultimately did not serve as a companion piece to the first Golem film, but as its replacement. There is no indication that Der Golem and Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam were ever screened together on a double bill.
" Stefan Droessler

AA:

"Natur wirkt immer tief,
so innen wie auswendig,

Und alles lebt im Tod,
und tot ist es lebendig."
– Angelus Silesius (quoted in the finale of Der Golem)

An exciting discovery. Paul Wegener's Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (1920) has rightly retained its status as a key work of Weimar cinema and the international cinéfantastique. We have been aware of the previous Golem film interpretations. Now that footage of the 1915 film has finally become available the revelation is how assured the approach already is.

The 1915 Golem belongs to the earliest films of Paul Wegener and his wife and co-star Lyda Salmonova, but they had already starred in the first film adaptation of Der Student von Prag (1913). For Henrik Galeen this Golem project was his first film credit (his later credits would include Nosferatu, Das Wachsfigurenkabinett, the second adaptation of Der Student von Prag, and Alraune). The true veteran of the team was the master cinematographer Guido Seeber whose career had started already in 1898.

The 1915 Golem starts in the present time at a Jewish antique dealer's store. Old books don't sell, but there is a new treasure in the old vault. A strange clay figure and books that have survived the ravages of the 30 Year War tell the story of the charm of life, a magic paper roll inside a David's Star capsule. Inserted into the clay figure Golem comes alive, awesomely powerful: he breaks the anvil, and his hand does not burn in the tremendous flame of the fire. But when the star is removed Golem becomes lifeless again. Golem guards the daughter and observes the world in silent awe. He crashes a party at the castle. Bullets and daggers do not stop him. The party guests flee, and when Golem enters the street with a knife in his chest he meets a loving couple. The maid removes the star, and Golem crashes lifeless on the ground.

The film is well acted, the pantomime is engaging, and there is an assured approach to the fantastique. The simulation of red toning is impressive.

Lovingly rescued from the ravages of time this fragmentary footage of 24 minutes gives a good idea of the lost movie.

Russell Merritt: “David Shepard – Shadowing Silent Film for Fifty Years”. The Jonathan Dennis Memorial Lecture (Pordenone 2017)


Image: Silent Cinema Society.

Russell Merritt. Photo: Le Giornate del Cinema Muto.

Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone.
Grand piano: Donald Sosin.
Teatro Verdi, 5 Oct 2017.

In 2002 the Giornate del Cinema Muto inaugurated this annual lecture in commemoration of Jonathan Dennis (1953–2002), founding director of the New Zealand Film Archive. Jonathan Dennis was an exemplary archivist, a champion of his country’s culture – particularly of Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand – and above all a person of outstanding human qualities.

The lecturers are selected as people who are pre-eminent in some field of work associated with the conservation or appreciation of silent cinema
.

2017 Lecture: Russell Merritt: “David Shepard – Shadowing Silent Film for Fifty Years”

“For more than half a century, David was at the forefront: discovering, restoring, and giving new life to the great works of classic silent cinema. His achievement was colossal. His friendship was enriching. His bequest is immense and enduring.”
– David Robinson

David Shepard’s story can be told in several ways. He touched many lives and his career intersected with many aspects of silent film culture. The purpose of this talk is to bring his extraordinary career to light, from his earliest days as a film collector to his long heyday as a pre-eminent force in film preservation. In the course of a career that lasted almost 50 years, he was an important part of the American Film Institute, Blackhawk Films, the Directors Guild of America, and the University of Southern California’s film department, while masterminding his own company, Film Preservation Associates.

He was no less prolific in creating and supporting silent film societies and festivals around the world. He was an avid supporter of the Giornate; he was just as passionate in his support of his local library’s film group.

The talk will be lavishly illustrated with film clips that are an important part of David’s legacy. Even if you think you know what silent films David rescued and brought back to life, prepare to be amazed
. – Russell Merritt

AA: A profoundly moving memorial lecture by Russell Merritt dedicated to David Shepard, the great homme du cinéma. I was just listening and did not take any notes except of the titles of the films screened (listed below). (I am not sure about the title Le Compositeur toqué and do not remember what the Shepard connection might have been). Liberally displayed was also a video tribute to David Shepard by Natasha Hoskins, complete with an amazing listing of film classics which Shepard helped discover, restore, and re-release in various formats: 35 mm, 16 mm, video, dvd, blu-ray.

I had not seen footage in a while of Chuck Workman's Precious Images (1986) in which Shepard was DGA Advisor. The excerpt brought to mind fond memories of our Centenary of the Cinema screenings in Helsinki in which that title was in such demand that the 35 mm print had to be shelved. It may seem mad to cover 470 films in 8 minutes, but Workman with his colleagues managed it, and it still works.

Fantasmagorie (FR 1908), Émile Cohl. Preserved by David Shepard. It was on Aug. 17, 1908, that Gaumont released Cohl’s two-minute animated short. Though physical objects (J. Stuart Blackton’s “The Haunted Hotel,” 1907), chalk drawings (Blackton’s “Humorous Phases of Funny Faces,” 1906) and various “trickfilms” using animation for special effects predate Cohl’s film, “Fantasmagorie” was the first to feature drawn cartoons on paper shot sequentially frame by frame on a makeshift animation camera stand. Cohl also had to invent a lightbox in order to sketch and register the drawings. Annecy artistic director Serge Bromberg scoured the world to find the best print to show at this year’s fest, where the short will screen as part of a retrospective on early animation. To his surprise, he found a vintage 16 mm print, thought to be the only surviving full-frame original copy, at the Academy Film Archive in Los Angeles. Years earlier, film preservationist David Shepard had obtained the footage through a high school classmate, himself the grandson of one of the original Lumiere Cinematographe operators sent to the U.S. It is this 16 mm print, which Gaumont recently scanned in 2K, digitally cleaned and recorded back to 35 mm, that will screen at Annecy. (A digital copy from the same source also appears on the DVD set “Saved From the Flames” from Flicker Alley.) May 30, 2008 Jerry Beck.

The Painted Lady (US 1912), D. W. Griffith, with Madge Kirby and Blanche Sweet. Distributed by David Shepard. "A friendless country girl meets a stranger at an ice cream social and falls in love. But the stranger has taken up with her only to learn the whereabouts of her father's money. After a series of clandestine rendezvous in an isolated bower, the stranger breaks into the young woman's parlor to crack the safe. She investigates the disturbance, and not recognizing the masked burglar, shoots him dead. The effect is traumatic. When she discovers she has killed her sweetheart, the young woman's mind disintegrates. As her father watches helplessly, she retreats into an imaginary world, re-enacting her assignations at the bower, and finally suffers a fatal collapse." - Russell Merritt [DWG Project # 433]. The Griffith Project 6: Films Produced in 1912 (GCM 2002).

Le Compositeur toqué (FR 1905), Georges Méliès. "M. Tape Dur essaye de composer un morceau au piano. Il n’y arrive pas et s’endort. La Muse de la musique apparaît alors et l’emmène dans le paradis de la musique. À son réveil, M. Tape Dur est tellement déprimé qu’il se suicide en fonçant contre son piano."

Precious Images (US 1986), Chuck Workman. David Shepard as DGA Advisor. IMdB: "Chuck Workman's theatrical short, "Precious Images," made for the Directors Guild of America, won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short and has become the most widely shown short in film history. It was recently selected as a landmark film for preservation by the Library of Congress National Film Registry." Wikipedia: "Precious Images is a 1986 short film directed by Chuck Workman. It features approximately 470 half-second-long splices of movie moments through the history of American film. Some of the clips are organized by genre and set to appropriate music; musicals, for example, are accompanied by the title song from Singin' in the Rain. Films featured range chronologically from The Great Train Robbery (1903) to Rocky IV (1985), and range in subject from light comedies to dramas and horror films. Precious Images was commissioned by the Directors Guild for its 50th anniversary. Workman had previously produced two documentaries, The Director and the Image (1984) and The Director and the Actor (1984), for the Guild. Editing took two or three months to complete. Precious Images features half-second-long splices from approximately 470 American films. Chuck Workman described the film's editing structure as "a sprint. You take a breath and you go." “Of course, I had so many movies I wanted to include that the time constraint forced me to compress the film more and more. The cutting got faster and faster, but I realized that the film was still working. And I was moving things around, and it was still working. I started finding these wonderful little combinations of shots, the kind of edits that I’d been doing for years in other things, but suddenly in this film I wasn’t selling anything. It was a wonderful moment for me." Precious Images won the Academy Award for Live Action Short Film during the 1987 ceremony, where it was featured in its entirety. In 1996, the film was reissued with new scenes from more contemporary films up to that point. It was also shown every 15 minutes within London's Museum of the Moving Image (opened 1988) but this very popular attraction was closed in 1999. The film was screened out of competition at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival". (Wikipedia)

Tableaux vivants (a cura di Valentine Robert) (2017 DCP montage by Le Giornate del Cinema / Université de Lausanne) (a Domitor programme)


Luc-Olivier Merson: Rest on the Flight into Egypt. Oil painting, 1879. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Public domain. Photo and data: Wikipedia. Please click to enlarge the images.

DCP, 120 min, source: Le Giornate del Cinema Muto / Université de Lausanne, Section d’histoire et esthétique du cinéma.
    Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone.
    Introduction: Valentine Robert.
    Grand piano: Stephen Horne (also at the drums, the flute, and the accordeon).
    Teatro Verdi, 5 Oct 2017.

Valentine Robert (GCM 2017): "This Domitor programme aims to shine a new light on early cinema. It is conceived as a visual experiment intertwining films with more than 30 paintings, allowing us to compare these now largely forgotten (but at the time very famous) compositions with early films of all genres. The aim is to discover, examine, and evaluate how early cinema production directly referenced paintings, creating visual re-enactments known as Tableaux vivants (literally, “living pictures”)."

"The link between cinema and painting is usually said to have emerged around 1910, when purportedly “artistic” film productions such as the Film d’Art strove to assert a cultural legitimization of cinema. This programme however will show that pictorial references of all kinds and provenances haunted films from the very first animated images. The screening will start with a 1902 duel film, recreating down to the last detail an 1857 genre painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme, Suites d’un bal masqué, also known as The Duel After the Masquerade. On both sides of the Atlantic, at Pathé as well as American Mutoscope & Biograph, early films staging petty crime, picturesque everyday life, or mischievous children were using genre painting as a major source of visual inspiration. But early cinema’s depictions of “Great History” were no less pictorial: the deaths of Nelson or Marat, American Revolution battle scenes, Franco-Prussian War episodes, French Revolution trials… In order to bring history back to life, early films were modelled on historical paintings. Whether still famous today, like Archibald Willard’s The Spirit of ’76 (c. 1875), or mostly forgotten, like the non-David Assassinat de Jean-Paul Marat par Charlotte Corday (engraved in 1793 and often reproduced), these naturalistic and well-documented 18th- and 19th-century historical paintings were considered “authentic” visual references for early filmmakers."

"However, our programme doesn’t focus on costume films alone. On the contrary – an important part is devoted to films featuring nudity. Recreating a painting of Venus, the Ancient Greek courtesan Phryne, or other mythological/artistic subjects offered the perfect justification for the exhibition of naked models, making tableaux vivants the first alibi of erotic cinema. Through an association that may seem surprising, it was also the ally of religious cinema. In many theatres, the depiction of Christ was considered as outrageous as displaying nudity on stage. Yet the pictorial treatment of the cinematic embodiments of the Life and Passion of Jesus made it a “hit” of early cinema. Not only did these images of light appear in two dimensions (sometimes even projected on church walls), but many of the first biblical films were composed of highly accurate tableaux vivants, reanimating large academic paintings, or making Bible illustrations by Gustave Doré or James Tissot come to life."

"Exceptional films are included, such as early advertising clips (imitating posters derived from paintings), and lustful 1903 images of nude models “artistically” posing while rotating and exhibiting their unclothed corporeality. We’ll also discover the successful tableaux vivants created as a series by Biograph from 1899 to 1903, promoted as “excellent photographically, and of the very highest grade pictorially”. When these “risqué” paper prints were rediscovered in the 1960s, they were stigmatized as “pseudoartistic” by scholars ignorant of the original paintings and the precision of the imitation. Now, a comparison with the newly identified pictorial sources allows us to evaluate the seriousness of their pictorial efforts, and enables us to properly appreciate the skillfulness of these often ignored tableaux."

"Another element of the programme is the juxtaposition of multiple remakes of the same tableaux. For example, Alphonse de Neuville’s painting of a Franco-Prussian War episode, Les Dernières Cartouches (1873), formed the subject for films by Lumière (1897), Méliès (1897), Pathé (1899), Gaumont (1898), and Gaumont again (1907). Who is copying who, and where is the original? Yet these questions are irrelevant. Early cinema’s remakes of tableaux vivants represent the culmination of an aesthetic of reproduction that reigned in visual culture around 1900. Every medium reproduced and renewed the same Images, which were treated as models to be repeated. As just one example, Neuville’s painting was re-appropriated in engravings, sculptures, photography, and theatre, as well as film. Imitation came with emulation, and tableaux vivants (also extremely popular on stage and in photography) were considered edifying as much for the imitators, challenged in their artistic means, as for the public, challenged in their visual knowledge. Tableaux vivants in early cinema thus became a laboratory for artistic consciousness and aesthetic experiment, exploring the new medium’s ability to transform painting into flesh (more or less unveiled), movement (more or less posed), and life (more or less immortal).
" Valentine Robert

Acknowledgements

"To realize the screening of this programme required the digitization of a wide variety of prints, from many archives and on many film supports. The editing was financially supported by the Film Studies Department of the University of Lausanne, and has been expertly executed by Andrea Tessitore at the Cineteca del Friuli in Gemona."

"Special thanks for their invaluable help and collaboration also to: Jay Weissberg, Elena Beltrami, Alessandro De Zan, Rosa Cardona, Mariona Bruzzo, Bryony Dixon, Steve Tollervey, Mike Mashon, Mark J. Williams, Peter Bagrov, Béatrice de Pastre, Éric Le Roy, Fereidoun Mahboubi, Aleksandar Erdeljanović, Agnès Bertola, Stéphanie Tarot, Ana Marquesán, Begoña Soto Vázquez, Michel Dind, Caroline Fournier, Carole Délessert, Pierre-Emmanuel Jaques, Carlo Montanaro, David Robinson, Tami Williams, Scott Curtis, Paolo Cherchi Usai."

"Finally, an extra-special thank-you to Roland Cosandey, who initiated the project."

THE POUTING MODEL (US 1901), dir: F. S. Armitage. prod: American Mutoscope & Biograph Co., source: Library of Congress Packard Center for Audio-Visual Conservation, Culpeper, Virginia.
    IMdB: "A very strong pose. The little girl who has been posing as a model refuses to continue and stands by the easel pouting. Copied from a famous painting."
    AA: A vignette about a tired child model. Visual look: like from a paper print.

WAITING FOR SANTA CLAUS (US 1901), dir: F. S. Armitage, prod: American Mutoscope & Biograph Co., source: Library of Congress Packard Center for Audio-Visual Conservation, Culpeper, Virginia.
    AA: Misplaced in the Giornate catalogue and online data after What Are the Wild Waves Saying, Sister?, this title was screened as the second film in the program among the other American Mutoscope living pictures.

Louis Maurice Boutet de Monvel: La leçon avant le sabbat (1880), Château de Nemours. Photomontage by Le Giornate del Cinema Muto. Please click to enlarge the images. The image to the right is from the American Mutoscope series.

LIVING PICTURES PRODUCTION (US 1903) [re-edition of 1900 footage], dir: Arthur Marvin, prod: American Mutoscope & Biograph Co., source: Library of Congress Packard Center for Audio-Visual Conservation, Culpeper, Virginia.
    AA: Santa Claus and children.

BIRTH OF THE PEARL (US 1901), dir: F. S. Armitage, prod: American Mutoscope & Biograph Co., source: Library of Congress Packard Center for Audio-Visual Conservation, Culpeper, Virginia.
    Library of Congress: "women in tights opening a curtain, an oyster shell with a sleeping woman in a flesh colored body suit, and the woman standing in the shell."
    AA: Inspiration from Botticelli, with a theatrical framework complete with drapes, a giant shell from which she emerges in tights as a substitute for nudity. A compilation of four tableaux. Paper print look.

Un duel après le bal (FR 1902). Photo: Gosfilmofond of Russia, Moscow.
Jean-Léon Gérôme, Le Duel après le bal (The Duel After the Masquerade), 1857-59. Oil on canvas, 39 x 56 cm, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore (MD)

UN DUEL APRÈS LE BAL (Duel After the Ball) (FR 1902), dir: Ferdinand Zecca?, prod: Pathé Frères, source: Gosfilmofond of Russia, Moscow.
    AA: Split screen opening, long shot covering the duel in the snow. A painted backdrop. Visual quality ok, exterior scene low contrast.

Originally entitled Yankee Doodle, this is one of several versions of a scene painted by Archibald MacNeal Willard in the late nineteenth century that came to be known as The Spirit of '76. Often imitated or parodied, it is one of the most famous images relating to the American Revolutionary War. The life-sized original hangs in Abbot Hall in Marblehead, Massachusetts. The flag in the painting, often assumed to be the Betsy Ross flag, is actually the Cowpens flag, flown during a major turning point in the war, the Battle of Cowpens. Public Domain. Image and caption: Wikipedia.

SPIRIT OF ’76 (US 1905), dir: G. W. Bitzer, prod: American Mutoscope & Biograph Co., source: Library of Congress Packard Center for Audio-Visual Conservation, Culpeper, Virginia.
    AA: Archibald Willard's painting come alive. Stephen Horne played the drums and the flute. Visual quality: weak, duped look.

Combat sur la voie ferrée. Vue N° 963. Plusieurs groupes de soldats viennent successivement prendre position sur la voie et font feu. Titre issu du Catalogue des vues - Septième Liste. Opérateur: Alexandre Promio. Date: [1897] - 5 décembre 1898. Lieu: France, Paris. Projections: Déposée au Greffe du Conseil des Prud'hommes de la Ville de Lyon le 5 décembre 1898. Programmée le 18 décembre 1898 à Lyon (France) sous son titre (Lyon républicain, 18 décembre 1898). Décorateur : Marcel Jambon. Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière. Pays: France. Ville: Paris. Lieu: décor. Événement: affrontement, scène historique reconstituée. Genre: art, comédie, militaire. Sujet: comédien, soldat. Objet: arme, costumes. Séries: Les scènes reconstituées tournées par Alexandre Promio (1898). Image and data: Catalogue Lumière.

COMBAT SUR LA VOIE FERRÉE (Combat on the Railway) (FR 1898), dir: Alexandre Promio, Georges Hatot, scen: Marcel Jambon, prod: Lumière, source: Archives françaises du film du CNC, Bois d’Arcy.
    AA: A Lumière / Alexandre Promio & Georges Hatot reconstruction of a battle scene on the railway. A duped look.

COMBAT SUR LA VOIE FERRÉE (Combat on the Railway) (FR 1899), dir: Ferdinand Zecca?, prod: Pathé Frères, source: Filmoteca de Catalunya – ICEC, Barcelona; Filmoteca Vasca-Euskadiko Filmategia, San Sebastián.
    AA: A Pathé reconstruction of the same scene, in pochoir colour, painterly, very different from the previous one.

Mort de Marat. Vue N° 749. Assassinat de Marat et arrestation de Charlotte Corday. Opérateur: [Alexandre Promio]. Date: septembre 1897. Lieu: France, Paris. Projections: Déposée au Greffe du Conseil des Prud'hommes de la Ville de Lyon le 27 novembre 1897.Programmée le 20 février 1898 à Lyon (France) sous son titre (Lyon républicain, 20 février 1898). Technique: Metteur en scène : Georges Hatot - [Décorateur : Marcel Jambon]. Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 1 copie Lumière. Pays: France. Ville: Paris. Lieu: décor. Événement: scène historique reconstituée. Genre: travail. Sujet: comédien. Objet: arme, costumes. Séries: Les vues mises en scène par Georges Hatot (1897), Vues historiques et scènes reconstituées. Photo and data: Catalogue Lumière.

MORT DE MARAT (Death of Marat) (FR 1897), dir: Alexandre Promio, Georges Hatot, scen: Marcel Jambon, prod: Lumière, source: Filmoteca de Catalunya – ICEC, Barcelona.
    AA: This tableau vivant is based on the painting by Jean-Jacques Hauer (not the painting more famous today by Jacques-Louis David). This print is tinted green.

Jean-Joseph Weerts (1847-1927): L'Assassinat de Marat. 1880. Musée "la piscine", de Roubaix. Domaine publique. Wikipédia.

CHARLOTTE CORDAY (FR 1908), dir: Georges Denola, prod: Pathé Frères, source: Archives françaises du film du CNC, Bois d’Arcy; La Cinémathèque française, Paris.
    Moving Picture World synopsis as quoted in the IMdB: "The scene of this beautifully colored film is laid in that period of the French Revolution, showing the tragic ending of Charlotte Corday, who, through her iron nerve, planned to rid France of Marat, one of the leaders of the revolution, because be represents in her mind the party responsible for so many crimes. Charlotte Corday was born in Normandy of noble parentage, and was a girl of striking beauty and a powerful personality. Being highly educated, she made a close study of current polities, and was in sympathy with a party known as the Girondins, whose power was overthrown. While living at Caen she met and talked over conditions with Barbarous, a leader of the party, and. through him she learned that Marat was an enemy to France, so takes it upon herself to avenge the death of many who were being sent to the guillotine every day. She comes to Paris, where she writes to Marat, begging him to grant her an audience, and stating that she has important information to reveal, but he would not see her. Finally she goes to his home, and when she is refused admittance, forces her way in and presents herself to Marat, who is seated in a bathtub. She tells him the names of the men at Caen who are affiliated with the Girondist party, and as he eagerly writes them down, mentioning that they will die on the guillotine, she plunges a knife into his heart, killing him instantly. The servants and police rush in and drag her to jail through the clamoring mob who are eager to strike her down. Taken then to the tribunal of justice, she makes a confession of her guilt and is condemned to die. Listening to her doom with cold indifference, she is then taken back to prison, and we next see her on her way to the guillotine, followed by a mob which howls with fury as the beautiful girl bravely mounts the steps and stands erect, her face pale, her eyes steady, facing death like a soldier. Laying her beautiful head on the block, in an instant all is over with Charlotte Corday." —Moving Picture World synopsis
    AA: Inspired by the Weerts painting, with exteriors, shows a commotion, tragic, bringing up Corday's motivation, she takes the knife, "pour venger son fiancé", a street scene, overacting. Visual quality: an ok dupe, at times quite good.

William Marshall Craig (fl. 1788 - 1828): The Battle of Trafalgar and the Death of Nelson (1806). Etching, watercolour. Image: Repro-Tableaux.com.

DEATH OF NELSON (GB 1905), dir: Lewin Fitzhamon, cast: Sebastian Smith, Tim Mowbray, prod: Hepworth, source: BFI National Archive, London.
    AA: Based on the picture by W. M. Craig, a tableau vivant against a painted backdrop.

Les dernières cartouches. Photomontage by Le Giornate del Cinema Muto. Please click to enlarge the images.

LES DERNIÈRES CARTOUCHES (The Last Cartridges) (FR 1897), dir: Alexandre Promio, Georges Hatot, scen: Marcel Jambon, prod: Lumière, source: Filmoteca de Catalunya – ICEC, Barcelona.

LES DERNIÈRES CARTOUCHES (The Last Cartridge) (FR 1899), prod: Pathé Frères, source: Cinémathèque suisse, Lausanne.

LES DERNIÈRES CARTOUCHES / BOMBARDEMENT D’UNE MAISON (The Last Cartridges) (FR 1897), dir: Georges Méliès, prod: Star-Film, source: Archives françaises du film du CNC, Bois d’Arcy; La Cinémathèque française, Paris.
    AA: Last summer in Bologna I blogged about the Lumière and Méliès tableaux based on the Neuville painting. Now Valentine Robert adds a Pathé Frères version of the same scene. The Lumière film was coloured yellow in this screening. The Méliès version is still the liveliest.

LA FIANCÉE DU VOLONTAIRE (The Hand of the Enemy) (FR 1907), dir: Alice Guy-Blaché, prod: Gaumont, source: BFI National Archive, London.
    AA: This film starts differently but ends in the "Les dernières cartouches" tableau. Look: duped, low contrast.

A picture based on the painting La Constat d'adultère (1876) by Jules-Arsène Garnier.

Flagrant délit d'adultère. Collection Filmarchiv Austria / CNC. 1899, France. Une jeune femme, engagée dans une relation avec un homme autre que son mari, a juste le temps de se cacher pour éviter d'être prise en flagrant délit d'adultère. Mais le commissaire, qui accompagne le mari cocufié, ne se décourage pas. Il retrouve l'infidèle, nue dans une pièce contiguë à celle du méfait. L'amant s'apprête à bondir sur le mari, mais il est intercepté par les agents de police présents sur les lieux. Photo: CNC / AFF.

FLAGRANT DÉLIT D’ADULTÈRE (FR 1899), prod: Pathé Frères, source: Archives françaises du film du CNC, Bois d’Arcy.
    AA: Theatrical overacting in a tableau with real nudity for a change, no bodystockings. Stephen Horne played the accordeon. Low contrast.

Jean-Léon Gérôme: Phryné devant l'Aréopage / Phryne before the Areopagus. A depiction of Phryne, a famous hetaera (courtesan) of Ancient Greece, being disrobed before the Areopagus. Phryne was on trial for profaning the Eleusinian Mysteries, and is said to have been disrobed by Hypereides, who was defending her, when it appeared the verdict would be unfavourable. The sight of her nude body apparently so moved the judges that they acquitted her. Some authorities claim that this story is a later invention. 1861. Oil on canvas. 80 × 128 cm (31.5 × 50.4 in). Kunsthalle Hamburg. Image and data: Wikipédia.

LE JUGEMENT DE PHRYNÉ (The Trial of Phryne) (FR 1899), prod: Pathé Frères, source: Cineteca di Bologna.
    AA: A tableau vivant based on the Jean-Léon Gérôme painting. Acted in histrionic style. The nude Phryne is seen from behind. – Phryne was the model and muse of the great sculptor Praxiteles. Casanova in his memoirs still praised breathtaking female beauty as being "worthy of the chisel of Praxiteles".

Akt-Sculpturen (Oskar Messter, Messter Projection GmbH, DE 1903). Photo: Jugoslovenska Kinoteka, Beograd.

AKT-SKULPTUREN (STUDIENFILM FÜR BILDENDE KÜNSTLER) (DE 1903), dir: Oskar Messter, prod: Messter Projection GmbH, source: Jugoslovenska Kinoteka, Beograd.
    AA: A simple and eloquent series of nude poses for artists. Valentine Robert listed famous artists who have inspired the poses: James Pradier, Albert Bartholomé, Auguste Rodin. A woman and a man pose on a rotating platform. Subtitles: Kauerndes Mädchen / blottie – Sitzendes Mädchen / assise – Kugelspielerin / Joueuse de boule – Adam und Eve – Nacht / La Nuit – Das verlorene Paradies / Paradis perdu – Büsserin / Pénitente – Raub der Sabinerin / Enlèvement des Sabines – Ariadne – Der erste Kuss / Le premier baiser – Evchen / Eve – Tanz / Danse – Tänzerin / Danseuse.

Gustave Doré: Les Noces de Cana (1866). La Grande Bible de Tours: Nouveau Testament. Gravure. Domaine publique. Photo: Wikipedia.

LA VIE ET LA PASSION DE JÉSUS-CHRIST (Life and Passion of Christ) (FR 1902): Les Noces de Cana, La Cène, Jésus devant Pilate, L’Ange et les Saintes Femmes, dir: Ferdinand Zecca?, prod: Pathé Frères, source: Cinémathèque suisse, Lausanne.
    Les Noces de Cana (Le nozze di Cana / At the Wedding Feast)
    La Cène (L’ultima cena / The Lord’s Supper)
    Jésus devant Pilate (Gesù davanti a Pilato / Jesus before Pilate)
    L’Ange et les Saintes Femmes (L’angelo e le pie donne / The Angel and the Holy Women)
AA: Pathé's series of the life of Christ inspired by Gustave Doré and Mihály Munkácsy. Pochoir colour.

LA NAISSANCE, LA VIE ET LA MORT DU CHRIST (The Birth, the Life and the Death of Christ) (FR 1906): La Flagellation, Ecce Homo, La Crucifixion,  L’Agonie, dir: Alice Guy-Blaché, asst: Victorin Jasset, scen: Henri Ménessier, prod: Gaumont, source: Gaumont Pathé Archives, Saint-Ouen, Paris.
    La Flagellation (La flagellazione / The Scourging)
    Ecce Homo
    La Crucifixion (La crocefissione / The Crucifixion)
    L’Agonie (L’agonia / The Agony)
AA: Gaumont's series of the life of Christ inspired by James Tissot.

VIE ET PASSION DE N.S. JÉSUS-CHRIST (Life and Passion of Jesus Christ, Our Savior) (FR 1907): Jésus devant Pilate, La Fuite en Égypte, dir: Lucien Nonguet, Ferdinand Zecca, spec. eff: Segundo de Chomón, prod: Pathé Frères, source: Cineteca del Friuli, Gemona.
    AA: Pathé's new series made by Nonguet, Zecca and Chomón, inspired by Doré again. In colour with pochoir effects.

I. La fuite en Égypte. Vue N° 934. “Joseph, conduisant dans le désert l’âne qui porte la Vierge et l’enfant Jésus, s’arrête au pied du Sphinx pour y passer la nuit. Après avoir installé la Vierge, il s’enroule dans son manteau et s’endort. Les soldats romains se précipitent pour s’emparer de la Vierge, mais apercevant tout à coup le Sphinx, emblème d’une divinité, ils tombent agenouillés pleins de terreur, pendant que Joseph éveillé se jette au-devant d’eux pour protéger la Vierge et son Enfant.” Opérateur: Alexandre Promio. Date: [1897] - 5 décembre 1898. Lieu: France, Paris. Projections: Déposée au Greffe du Conseil des Prud'hommes de la Ville de Lyon le 5 décembre 1898.Programmée le 25 décembre 1898 à Lyon (France) sous le titre La Fuite en Égypte (Le Progrès, 25 décembre 1898). Décorateur : Marcel Jambon. Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 4 copies Lumière - 2 copies Edison. Pays: France. Ville: Paris. Lieu: décor. Genre: art, comédie, religion. Sujet: comédien. Objet: costumes. Séries: La Passion, Les scènes reconstituées tournées par Alexandre Promio (1898). Image and data: Catalogue Lumière.

LA VIE ET LA PASSION DE JÉSUS-CHRIST (FR 1897): La Fuite en Égypte, dir: Alexandre Promio, Georges Hatot, scen: Marcel Jambon, cast: Gaston Breteau?, prod: Lumière, source: Archives françaises du film du CNC, Bois d’Arcy.

LA NATIVITÉ (FR 1910): Le Repos en Égypte, dir: Louis Feuillade, prod: Gaumont, source: Gaumont Pathé Archives, Saint-Ouen, Paris.
    AA: The Lumière and Gaumont (Feuillade) scenes have been inspired by Luc-Olivier Merson's painting Rest on the Flight to Egypt (1880).

Jean-François Millet: L'Angélus (1857-1859), huile sur toile, 53,3 × 66 cm, Paris, Musée d'Orsay. Jean-François Millet — The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. Domaine public. Photo and data: Wikipedia.

LES CLOCHES DU SOIR (FR 1913), prod: Gaumont Phonoscène, cast: Marie Dorly?, source: Gaumont Pathé Archives, Saint-Ouen, Paris.
    AA: A fine tableau in hommage to Millet.

Isidore Pils: Rouget de l’Isle chantant La Marseillaise (1849). Musée historique de Strasbourg. Domaine public. Photo and data: Wikipedia.

ROUGET DE LISLE CHANTANT LA MARSEILLAISE (FR 1899), prod: Gaumont, source: Cinémathèque suisse, Lausanne.
    AA: A tableau based on the Isidore Pils painting. Stephen Horne played vigorously you guess what.


WHAT ARE THE WILD WAVES SAYING, SISTER? (US 1903), dir: A. E. Weed, prod: American Mutoscope & Biograph Co., source: Library of Congress Packard Center for Audio-Visual Conservation, Culpeper, Virginia.
    AA: A living tableau based on the popular lithograph which has also inspired countless other images, including advertisements. Visual quality: like from a paper print.


Le Rêveil de Chrysis. Image: The Movie Database.

LE RÉVEIL DE CHRYSIS (FR 1899), prod: Pathé Frères, source: Filmoteca de Zaragoza; Filmoteca Española, Madrid.
    AA: A tribute to the voluptuous odalisques of Ferdinand Roybet. Full uninhibited nudity, no body stockings.

Le Bain des dames de la cour (1904). "The Pathé catalogue called similar items “scènes grivoises d’un caractère piquant” — “loose scenes of a provocative nature.” In films such as The Undressing of the Model (1897), actresses appeared clad only in flesh-colored body stockings, and many of these—Peintre et modèle (1903), Le Bain des dames de la cour (Ladies in Court Bathing, 1904) — mimicked well-known paintings in order to capitalize on the respectable eroticism of “classical” art. Photo and text: Cinemathequefroncaise.com.

LE BAIN DES DAMES DE LA COUR (FR 1904), prod: Pathé Frères, source: Filmoteca de Zaragoza; Filmoteca Española, Madrid.
    AA: A tableau inspired by François Flameng's eponymous oil painting from the year 1886. The bathing ladies are wearing flimsy transparent bathrobes.

Emile Bayard: An Affair of Honor (1884). Photo: Autostraddle.

AN AFFAIR OF HONOR (US 1897), prod: American Mutoscope & Biograph Co., source: Library of Congress Packard Center for Audio-Visual Conservation, Culpeper, Virginia.
    AA: A chaste tableau based on the Emile Bayard female duel paintings. Visual quality: paper print look.


MAX JOUE LE DRAME (FR 1914), prod: Pathé Frères, cast: Max Linder, source: La Cineteca del Friuli, Gemona.
    AA: When Max appears in serious drama, everybody is laughing when his wig gets stuck. He has two lovers who decide to settle it in a duel like in Emile Bayard's painting. The result is tragedy. Max cries out loud and takes poison. The audience is shocked. Then there is a big jet of water to the audience. Visual quality: like from a paper print. – Not listed in the Giornate catalogue but included in the online program information.

Dewar's Perth. "The Whisky of His Forefathers advertisement by Matthew B. Hewerdine, 1894, shows a whisky so good as to entice ancestral spirits out of a painting frame." Text: Creators website. Photo: Dewar's.

THE SPIRIT OF HIS FOREFATHERS (GB 1900), prod: British Mutoscope & Biograph Co., source: BFI National Archive, London. Advertising film for Dewar’s Whisky.
    AA: A tableau based on Matthew B. Hewerdine's painting.

THE WHISKY OF HIS ANCESTORS (GB 1977), prod: ?, source: BFI National Archive, London.
Modern television commercial for Dewar’s Whisky incorporating a variant version of the 1900 British advertising film.
    AA: Advertising on a meta level, incorporating both Hewerdine's painting concept and the original film adaptation.

AA: Juxtaposing paintings and films based on them is a simple but highly illuminating concept. Valentine Robert and her collaborators have performed a wonderful work in creating this presentation. It throws new light on well-known films and inspires further study on others. This is one of the best early cinema montages I have seen. Highly recommended for film education. The duration of the presentation in my estimate was not 120 min but closer to something like 105 min.

The fantastic musical interpretation by Stephen Horne playing at least four instruments added extra layers to the experience.

Tokyo no yado / An Inn in Tokyo (saundo-ban version)


Tokyo no yado (JP 1935). Takeshi Sakamoto (Kihachi) and Choko Iida (Otsune). Photo: National Film Center, Tokyo / Shochiku.

Tokyo no yado (JP 1935). Yoshiko Okada (Otaka) and Kazuko Ojima (Kimiko). Photo: National Film Center, Tokyo / Shochiku.

Tokyo no yado (JP 1935). Kazuko Ojima (Kimiko), Yoshiko Okada (Otaka), Takeshi Sakamoto (Kihachi), Takayuki Suematsu (Masako), and Tokkan Kozo (Zenko). Photo: National Film Center, Tokyo / Shochiku.

東京の宿 / [Una locanda di Tokyo], Yasujiro Ozu (JP 1935), scen: Tadao Ikeda, Masao Arata, story: “Winthat Monnet” by Yasujiro Ozu, Tadao Ikeda, Masao Arata, photog, ed: Hideo Mohara, mus: Keizo Horiuchi, cast: Takeshi Sakamoto (Kihachi, the father), Tokkan Kozo [Tomio Aoki] (Zenko), Takayuki Suematsu (Masako), Yoshiko Okada (Otaka), Kazuko Ojima (Kimiko), Choko Iida (Otsune), Chishu Ryu, prod: Shochiku, 35 mm (from 16 mm), 80′, sd.; titles: JPN, subt. ENG, source: National Film Center of The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.
    Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone: Japanese Cinema: Saundo-Ban Films.
    Teatro Verdi, e-subtitles in Italian, 5 Oct 2010.

Alexander Jacoby, Johan Nordström (GCM 2017): "Ozu held out against making talkies longer than any other major Japanese director: his first full sound film, The Only Son (Hitori musuko), was released in 1936. Rather touchingly, Ozu’s intransigence was not out of aesthetic fidelity to the silent cinema, but was the result of a promise made to his cameraman, Hideo Mohara, who was developing his own sound-on-film system. Ozu had assured Mohara that he would not make a sound film with any other system."

"But by 1935 Ozu was obliged to accept that a pre-recorded musical score would be attached to this late silent, along with some sound effects. Moreover, the influence of the talkies, which by that time constituted nearly half of Japanese film production, is widely apparent in this film, which Ozu stated that Shochiku “made me make … just as though it were sound”. The film makes frequent use of “offscreen sound”, with the lines of dialogue in the intertitles not always spoken by the character shown onscreen. This technique is highly unusual in silent cinema, and still makes demands on the spectator."

"The film’s realism is characteristic of Ozu, and it is one of his most downbeat films. Made after several years in which Japan’s social harmony and economic prosperity had been rendered precarious by the worldwide Great Depression, it offers an unsparing portrait of poverty in Japan’s capital. A decade before the equivalent term was borrowed in Italy, Japanese critics used the term “neo-realismo” to describe the film’s approach; and indeed, Tadao Sato has compared the film to Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves (Ladri di biciclette). Nevertheless, Ozu’s formalism is also remarkable, as witness the striking shots of chimneys, telegraph poles, and large wooden spools in the opening scenes. For David Bordwell, the film “brings style into prominence through repetitive patterning and parametric variation”."

"Takeshi Sakamoto (1899-1974) reprises the role of proletarian father Kihachi, a character on whom he had played variations in Passing Fancy (Dekigokoro, 1933) and A Story of Floating Weeds (Ukigusa monogatari, 1934), while one of Kihachi’s two sons is played by Ozu’s regular child star, Tokkan-Kozo (real name Tomio Aoki, 1923-2004). The film placed ninth in the Kinema Junpo Best Ten critics’ poll of the year.
" Alexander Jacoby, Johan Nordström

AA: I saw for the first time An Inn in Tokyo, another Yasujiro Ozu masterpiece.

As a film about children it ranks with I Was Born, But... (1932) which to Donald Richie was the first of Ozu's great films.

This edition of Le Giornate del Cinema Muto started with King Vidor's The Crowd, and An Inn in Tokyo can be compared with it, too. The sons Zenko and Masako want look up to their father Kihachi who is poor, homeless, and unemployed and constantly discouraged in his attempts to find a job. Tables are turned as the little boys feed the family, earning money via catching stray dogs. Even then, the choice has to be made between "inn or dinner".

Then they meet Otaka and her daughter Kimiko. Otaka is even worse off because Kimiko catches dysentery and Otaka has no money to take her to the hospital. To Otaka her daughter is the best thing in life: "she is the one who keeps me going".

"Children become friends quickly", states Otaka as Zenko and Masako start to play rock-paper-scissors with Kimiko (after first having shown her the tongue). "Childhood is the best time in life" says Otaka, too.

Kihachi has moments of desperation but the kindly innkeeper lady Otsune lets his family stay at the inn and finds him a job. But the money is not enough to save Kimiko. Kihachi commits robbery, sends the money to Otaka and asks: "where is the nearest police station?" but not without confessing to Otsune first that "these ten days have been the happiest in my life".

In conventional terms An Inn in Tokyo is the story of a loser. In terms of a soul battle it is the story of a winner. Kihachi is a winner in dignity, self-respect and love. He does the wrong thing in order to do a much greater right thing. He saves more than one life: we know that Otaka would not stand losing Kimiko.

Excellent direction of actors. An assured rhythm with silences and ellipses, and moments of humour in an account of an era of depression. Recurrent visual motifs include smokestacks, clouds, and big cable reels. To me they spell transcendence, unobtrusively.

The music of this saundo-ban movie is often interesting.

Visual quality: a well made print from challenging sources, blown up from 16 mm with damage marks on the image and noise on the soundtrack.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Nebuvalyi pokhid / [An Unprecedented Campaign] (2015 digital transfer from Kyiv), film concert, score by Anton Baibakov, performed by Anton Baibakov Collective


Плакат до фільму «Небувалий похід». Кордиш Юхим Хізерович (1905—1973), Літинський Ібрагім Мойсейович (1908—1958) — художники, автори плакату - http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/whats-on/arts-culture-news/av-festival-2016-socialism-under-10729385. Перегляд ліцензії: File: Небувалий похід Необыкновенный поход (Кордыш, Литинский)) 0912HR.jpg. Створено 1931 (видано). Українська Вікіпедія.

Nebuvalyi pokhid (Ukraine-SU 1931), D: Mikhail Kaufman. Online images of this poster are cropped.

Небувалий похід / Небывалый поход (Незабываемый поход) / [Una campagna senza precedenti], Mikhail Kaufman (UkrSSR, 1931), dir, photog: Mikhail Kaufman, asst: O. Pobadalenko, asst. photog: N. Bykov, asst. ed: A. Levadarova, prod: Ukrainfilm: Kyiv Studio, DCP (from 35 mm, 2049.5 m), 70 min (transferred at 25 fps); titles: RUS, source: Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Film Centre, Kyiv.
    Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone: Rediscoveries.
    Score by Anton Baibakov (2016), performed by Anton Baibakov Collective.
    Teatro Verdi, e-subtitles in English and Italian, 4 Oct 2017

Ivan Kozlenko, David Robinson (GCM 2017): "In the course of their collaboration, relations between the brothers began to sour. Vertov seems to have resented a degree of independence in what Kaufman chose to film. He seems also to have been annoyed when Kaufman made use in his own films of material shot for Vertov but not used. Thus scenes of  “cleaning” Uspensky Cathedral and Kyiv skyscrapers, which were filmed for Man with a Movie Camera but rejected, subsequently appeared in In Spring. In an article on The Eleventh in Novyi LEF (New Left Front of Arts) in Spring 1928, Osip Brik complained that Vertov’s neglect to provide a treatment meant that “Kaufman did not know for what scene he was shooting.” Kaufman pointedly ignored Vertov’s demand to repudiate Brik’s assertion."

"VUFKU, exceptionally, published a brochure dedicated to The Eleventh – perhaps a gesture in a distribution trade conflict with Moscow. As well as an exposition of Vertov’s Kino-Eye theory, not yet well known or loved in Ukraine, the publication included Kaufman’s Expedition Notes, which clearly demonstrate that he had considerable independence in choosing what to shoot. He mentions Vertov in describing the filming of the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station and the Kamianske metallurgical plant in the Dnipro region. He does not however refer at all to his brother when discussing scenes that were filmed in the Donbas mines (in Rutchenkove) and during military exercises in Odessa. Two years later, An Unprecedented Campaign was to begin and end with scenes that Kaufman describes in detail in Expedition Notes, but were not included by Vertov in the final version of The Eleventh."

"At its premiere, The Eleventh was still Vertov’s film for the Ukrainian critics, with Kaufman glimpsed only as his shadow, but after In Spring the brothers’ collaborative works were reconsidered, to perceive Kaufman as the equal co-author of The Eleventh and Man with a Movie Camera. Critics remarked how in their collaborations, Kaufman’s lyricism was evidently at odds with Vertov’s mechanistic fascination: in his 1922 manifesto Vertov had declared frankly, “We temporarily exclude a human being as a filming object…” In their contributions to Man with a Movie Camera Vertov was more interested in the camera, Kaufman in the human being."

"Kaufman’s joy in people, his fascination with a live individual captured unawares in a particular psychological state, is the overwhelming characteristic of An Unprecedented Campaign. In principle, it is a dutiful celebration of the first Five Year Plan (1928-1932), chronicling the triumphs of industry, of agriculture, and of social care and literacy. What makes it distinctive from conventional agit-prop is Kaufman’s gift of capturing a personality in a single shot. The film is crowded with vividly real people, beaming (too optimistically, as we know too well) with enthusiasm and hope. Here too are Kaufman’s favourite portraits of children, animals (especially newly born), and frames of ripe watermelons and apples, duly borrowed from Dovzhenko. It is hardly surprising that In Spring and An Unprecedented Campaign exposed Kaufman, like Dovzhenko, to criticism for “biologism”."

"Kaufman shot more than 14,000 metres of film, and 14 months went by before An Unprecedented Campaign was released, in June-July 1931. Kaufman had reasons not to hurry. In late 1929 the Soviet government adopted a decree urging production of agitational-propaganda films extolling industrialization, agricultural collectivization (dekulakization), and eradication of illiteracy. In November 1930 VUFKU fell under the control of the new USSR organization Soyuzkino and could no longer protect Ukraininan film artists from Moscow interference. Recent films that did not meet the new requirements, like Dovzhenko’s Earth (Zemlya, 1930) and Mykola Shpykovskyi’s Bread (Khlib, 1930), were withdrawn. The year 1931 saw a catastrophic decline in Ukrainian film production: ongoing productions were halted and films were banned. Kaufman’s caution was understandable."

"He filmed the scenes of collectivization and the new rural social organization near Odessa, and probably included material originally shot for Nursery (1928). The daring mechanization scenes were filmed in “Gigant”, one of the biggest grain kolkhozes in the Kuban region, and a major attraction for foreign tourists. In the autumn of 1931 he was able to film the first Soviet tractor coming out of the factory in Stalingrad: hitherto the collectives had relied on American and British agricultural machinery, whose signs – Clayton & Shuttleworth, Caterpillar, Holt, Case, McCormick-Deering — are very visible in the film."

"Yet this beautifully crafted and oddly persuasive image of a failed or false utopia ends with a moment of horror: a final title (is it Kaufman’s, or a Moscow interpolation?) calls quite simply for “The liquidation of the Kulaks as a class”. We know that to a considerable and horrible extent this persecution of the class of small farmers who tried to resist collectivization was soon to be accomplished – “an unprecedented campaign” indeed. This is just one of the aspects that make Kaufman’s images of rich harvests, happy villagers, dedicated workers, and silent children now seem so tragic, when we remember that the generous summer of 1931 was the last before the great catastrophe of the Holodomor, the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33 artificially engineered as punishment by the Bolsheviks, and which resulted in still uncalculated millions of deaths and reduced thousands to cannibalism. Kaufman was not without foresight. Even while filming the striking and lofty pictures of social transformation he was shrewd enough to record in his diary the other side of collectivization: jerry-built urban apartments without water, life in tents in the middle of the fields in rural areas. It all feels like a presentiment of catastrophe."

"It is the Holodomor, as it might have been predicted by Kaufman in An Unprecedented Campaign, that has provided the key for the Ukrainian composer Anton Baibakov’s musical accompaniment, created in 2016."

"Forgotten for eight decades, An Unprecedented Campaign was first shown by the Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Film Centre in Kyiv in December 2015. The 35 mm negative of the film had been transferred to Gosfilmofond of Russia in 1950, but in 1981 a positive print from this was given to the Pshenychnyi Central State CinePhotoPhono Archive of Ukraine in Kyiv, where it remains, to provide the source of the material screened at the Giornate." Ivan Kozlenko, David Robinson

AA: As Ivan Kozlenko and David Robinson indicate in their remarks above, there is a harrowing context to this Unprecedented Campaign, a film which belongs to the context of key Soviet masterworks shot in Ukraine (Battleship Potemkin, Man with a Movie Camera, Earth), soon followed by one of the cruellest and most callous genocidal operations in history, the Holodomor, in which millions died of hunger in prosperous Ukraine.

On the other hand this film is an important piece in the saga of the Kaufman brothers. While Boris Kaufman was busy working with Jean Vigo, and Dziga Vertov was making Enthusiasm, Michael Kaufman, the man with the movie camera, directed An Unprecedented Campaign.

There is a hard-line Stalinistic propagandistic approach in this work of industrial poetry with eloquent compositions, fast edits, and striking framings. Blast furnaces, coke ovens, Bessemer steel. Rapid agricultural reconstruction is the aim. "Let's give rural areas high quality grain". "Life itself tends towards collective farming". "Small farms will never escape poverty". We visit farms where tractors are seen for the first time. Expressive close-ups emerge at last. The kulaks (kurkuls) are claimed to sabotage collectivization. Planned economy leads to prosperity on a large scale. Cutting edge machinery is at our disposal. Women become equal workers. Everybody goes to school, There is no way back to the primitive village. The joy of the children is genuine. Women are radiant on fields. The combined harvester is introduced. Only for members of collective farms are they available.  A competitive spirit catches the agricultural sector. Record grain crops are harvested. Montages on melons, grapes, sunflowers and bees remind us of Dovzhenko. Cotton, soybean, and corn are harvested and stocked in bunker silos. Livestock farming is covered: cowsheds, pigsties, henhouses. The long fight with the kulaks who let bread rot. Those who witnessed serfdom have seen the great change of communities. Stalingrad tractors are introduced. Shock workers emerge in the city and the rural areas. "Working masses of the world salute you". Workers relax and restore their physical health at sanatories. We witness a huge kitchen. The navy is included in the final montage about an industrial liquidation of the kulaks. "Towards Socialism".

An Unprecedented Campaign is a chilling document of its time.

The Anton Baibakov Collective at the strength of five players created a musical experience which helped make emotional sense of the disturbing and complex film.

The visual quality tends to a low contrast in the beginning but gets better, although black levels seem to be missing.

Carmen (Ernst Lubitsch 1918), film concert of a score by Gabriel Thibaudeau, played by Gabriel Thibaudeau and Cristina Nadal


Carmen (1918), poster by Josef Fenneker. From Rocaille, a blog curated by Annalisa P. Cignitti.

Carmen (DE 1918) with Pola Negri (Carmen) and Harry Liedtke (Don José). Photo: The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

(Carmen / Gypsy Blood). D: Ernst Lubitsch (DE 1918), scen: Hanns Kräly, based on the novella by Prosper Mérimée (1847), photog: Alfred Hansen, des: Kurt Richter; asst: Karl Machus, cost: Ali Hubert, cast: Pola Negri (Carmen), Harry Liedtke (Don José), Leopold von Ledebur (Escamillo, a bullfighter), Grete Diercks (Dolores), Wilhelm Diegelmann (prison guard), Heinrich Peer (English officer), Paul Biensfeldt (Garcia, smuggler), Margarete Kupfer (innkeeper), Sophie Pagay (mother of Don José), Paul Conradi (Don Cairo, smuggler), Max Kronert (Remendato, smuggler), Magnus Stifter (Lieutenant Esteban), Victor Janson, Albert Venohr, prod: Paul Davidson, Projektions-AG “Union” (PAGU), Berlin, for Universum-Film AG (Ufa), Berlin [Union-Film der Ufa], filmed: Ufa-Union-Atelier Berlin-Tempelhof; Rüdersdorf (limestone quarry & mountains), censor date: 11.1918 (BZ.42598, 2133 m), 30.4.1921 (B.02105, 1784 m, première: 20.12.1918 (U.T. Kurfürstendamm, Berlin), 35 mm, 1802 m, 88′ (18 fps); titles: GER, source: Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, Wiesbaden.
    Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone: Pola Negri.
    Score composed by Gabriel Thibaudeau.
    Played by Gabriel Thibaudeau and Cristina Nadal.
    Teatro Verdi, e-subtitles in English and Italian, 4 Oct 2017

Stefan Drössler (GCM 2017): "Ernst Lubitsch’s career as a filmmaker blossomed just as the First World War was drawing to a close. A bit player in Max Reinhardt’s Deutsches Theater, he began to act in comedy films from 1913. By 1915 he was also directing them. Supported by producer and theatre owner Paul Davidson, Lubitsch realized increasingly ambitious film projects, in which he frequently cast fellow actors from the Deutsches Theater like Emil Jannings and Pola Negri. His exotic adventure film Die Augen der Mumie Ma (The Eyes of the Mummy), shot in the summer of 1918, was still awaiting release when Lubitsch began shooting an even bigger and longer historical film: “It was going to be Carmen. A costume drama! With ‘masses’ (as they were then called). And – the German film industry considered us crazy – with authentic sets in Tempelhof! We quietly worked away. Wild ‘sierras’ were created in the limestone quarries of Rüdersdorf, a Spanish marketplace in Tempelhof. Davidson had faith in the film and invested sums considered inconceivable at the time. Today you would easily spend such money in a single day. The ‘crowd scene’ was invented. When our company of several hundred paraded around Tempelhof dressed as Spaniards, they ushered in a new era for film extras.” (Ernst Lubitsch, Lichtbild-Bühne, Deluxe Issue 1924/25)"

"As Pola Negri recalled in her autobiography Memoirs of a Star, published in 1970: “In those early UFA days, even though the world around us was falling to pieces, Lubitsch and I shared many antic moments on the set. Perhaps we could only have flowered so successfully in the Berlin of that period. The tragicomedy of life was our métier and was echoed in the films we made. Even our jokes had an edge of fatality to them.” Following a press screening that took place at the beginning of November 1918 in the grip of post-war revolutionary turmoil in Berlin, the film premiered just before Christmas 1918 at the U.T. Lichtspiele on Kurfürstendamm. Contemporary reviewers unanimously praised Negri for her portrayal of the title character: “Ever since her star started to shine in Ufa’s sky, its light has grown increasingly bright and dazzling. Until just recently one had to endure her in unpleasant kitsch, but now Negri, with an unbroken string of serious works, has been making every effort, if not to completely dethrone the reigning queens of the cinema, then to at least well and truly totter them. She truly has all the capabilities, both in her outward appearance as well as her expressions and gestures, for creating a Carmen following Mérimée’s formula. One is led to believe that one should be careful when she is in love; that she defies heaven, iron, and fire, and that blood rages through her veins. She dances with charm and grace; flirts with her pearly white smile and suggests with her eye movements that she enjoys it. One is instantly reminded of the song lyric [from Carl Millöcker’s operetta Der Bettelstudent]: ‘Die Polin hat von allen Reizen’ [“The Polish woman has all the charms”]. Pola Negri subtly transforms the love-crazed Spaniard into a fiery Pole.” (Egon Jacobsohn, Der Kinematograph, No. 628, 15 January 1919)"

"Pola Negri truly dominates the film, which seems unconcerned with plumbing the psychological depths of Mérimée’s original novella. The supporting characters are remarkably weak. The Spanish setting meanwhile bears unmistakably Teutonic features: “Pola Negri as Carmen has a broad, Slavic face, two spit curls, and an aggressive air of somewhat heavy-handedly applied femininity. Don José (Harry Liedtke), in make-up and wigs borrowed from Joseph Schmidt and Richard Tauber, resembles a paunchy allotment holder plagued by the memory of his front lawn adorned with sunflowers and the virginal Dolores (Grete Diercks) with pigtail plaits. Escamillo (Leopold von Ledebur), a friendly man with a grim face, proud, with a beer gut, wins the battle with an invisible Prussian cow. Indifferent, as all the other characters in this film are, he abandons Carmen and Don José to their sad fate. Don Cairo and his dangerous band of border hunters are a wild, messy bunch. At no point do they attain the crystal clear structure of the Bizet-like smuggler quintet, in which Carmen and the bandits are allowed to display their own sensuous identity.” (Werner Schroeter, 1988)"

"After the unexpected success of Madame Dubarry (released as Passion in December 1919), Carmen was re-edited for an American release in 1921, as Gypsy Blood. In the American version the framing story was hand-coloured and Lubitsch’s name was left off the credits. Adolph Zukor brought Pola Negri to Hollywood in the summer of 1922, but was not interested in Lubitsch, who had also hoped to get a contract with Paramount." Stefan Droessler (Translated by Oliver Hanley)

The music

"For several years I’ve been searching for a film that would meld the warmth of the cello and the sparkling rhythms of the piano. Lubitsch’s silent Carmen seems to me like the dream medium for this. This new score (composed in Spring 2016, with no reference to Bizet’s celebrated music) contains a constant ballet that mingles several tangos and jazz-flavoured interludes, creating a bridge between the almost century-old patina of a great silent film and the public of today. I wanted to use the cello to embody the voice and sensuality of Pola Negri, with the piano maintaining the movie’s rhythm and action." Gabriel Thibaudeau

AA: Revisited (my previous viewing: Carmen at Cinema Orion, January 2008) Ernst Lubitsch's European breakthrough film from the post-war years when he also found his true voice as a creator of original fantastic German comedies. Ossi Oswalda and Pola Negri were among his favourite stars, and they inspired each other.

Lubitsch does not yet have a full grip on the tempo and the dynamic current of the narrative. The rough, relaxed and carefree approach of his Carmen is at the same time sympathetic. The mise-en-scène is lively, and there are unforgettable images such as Carmen seducing the jailer.

A wonderful original score by Gabriel Thibaudeau on the piano and Cristina Nadal at the cello. No Bizet.

The print is probably the best there is, with occasional high contrast and obviously duped passages. It was fascinating to watch this within days from another PAGU-Pola Negri vehicle, Der gelbe Schein, also from 1918.