Sunday, October 13, 2002

LE GIORNATE DEL CINEMA MUTO, SACILE, 12-19 OCTOBER, 2002

Le Giornate del Cinema Muto for the 21st time continued its voyage of discovery to the first decades of film history. The Griffith Project proceeded to a “first golden year” and better prints. Swiss Cinema and Italian Avant-Garde retrospectives were instances of inspired programming. Funny Ladies was the most popular and the most contested of the main themes. In terms of overall print quality this year was better than last year with many good and complete prints, making it all easier to digest. But this was not a year of discoveries that change notions of film history, like 2001 was, with its Japanese and African-American series.

For the fourth time Le Giornate del Cinema Muto took place in the town of Sacile, which has not enough hotel space, meaning that most guests are scattered in the neighbourhood, mostly in Pordenone. Shuttle service and programme scheduling have developed favourably, but still only the minority who stay in Sacile or have a car can fully profit from the festival. With a schedule stretching from 9.30 am till 1 am, it would be important to have an opportunity for that 15 minutes nap in the afternoon, but to go back to Pordenone for that would mean even more stress instead of relaxation. A loss of festival energy is the result.

The excellent hospitality and the friendly atmosphere are overwhelming, and the ambience is favourable to good conversation and inspired meetings. Irritation is postponed, but it may, however, lead to post festum fatigue.

From the Finnish viewpoint, this year was the first when a foreign film from a Finnish source was screened: Fauno, restored for Project Lumière by Cinémathèque Royale and Cineteca del Friuli from a print from the Finnish Film Archive, was screened in the Italian Avant-garde cycle. For the first time, the Haghefilm Award was announced for the Finnish Film Archive: thanks to it and the efforts of our foreign film archivist Mr. Juha Kindberg, a Ufa Kulturfilm, Wunder der Schöpfung, can be restored, hopefully to screen next year in Le Giornate.

The CD-ROMS of Le Giornate are important resources for film studies. The complete programme information of the first 20 years was published on CD-ROM, and more than one hundred stills of this year’s films were also made available on CD-ROM.

I saw the films in Teatro Zancanaro, except when stated otherwise.

THE GRIFFITH PROJECT PART 6

The Griffith Project Part 6 proceeded to 1912, an exciting year of growing maturity in the development of D.W. Griffith, his “first golden year” (Paolo Cherchi Usai). Titles famous in film history alternated with run-of-the-mill stuff. During the six years of this first (almost) complete Griffith retrospective of the world, we have so far covered five years of his production, giving us a real-time feel of his evolution.

The mastery of Griffith is already apparent in 1912: the unique mixture of atavistic gravity, wry humour, Homeric grandeur and intimate touch. With Billy Bitzer, he knows how to mix epic “distant views” with intimate close-ups, as in The Massacre, where we see the first battle from the mountain-top and finally a close-up of the slaughtered Indian mother and baby.

The variety of the 63 films Griffith directed in 1912 is amazing. There are films of lyrical simplicity (The Mender of Nets, The Sands of Dee) and of epic grandeur (The Massacre), there is a new refinement of the thriller format (The Girl and Her Trust) and an Ur-film of the gangster genre (The Musketeers of Pig Alley). Griffith makes a prehistorical drama about the invention of the weapon (Man’s Genesis), and an ambitious Pre-Columbian mythical saga (A Pueblo Legend). He evokes the age of autocracy (When Kings Were the Law) and creates further Civil War dramas (The Informer). He displays insight in psychology (The Painted Lady), and in subtle nuances of relationships (Friends), he satirizes prejudice (The New York Hat), and expresses generosity in accepting differences (Oil and Water). DWG approaches with growing subtlety and force familiar themes of alcoholism and domestic violence (Brutality), brutal father’s violence to daughter (The School Teacher and the Waif), and “man’s dominant vagary” in general. An all-important recurrent theme is motherhood. “If motherhood hadn’t existed before 1908, Griffith would have invented it”, says David Mayer. The Female of the Species and The God Within are among DWG’s strongest statements of the theme. “The baby awakens the sleeping God within the woman’s breast”: this intertitle could serve as the motto to this great Griffithian theme.

The vision of society grows more complex. As Eileen Bowser states, the stark juxtaposition of the rich and the poor familiar from Biograph’s moral melodramas reappears in richer and more ironic variations: both poverty and wealth can corrupt (One Is Business; The Other Crime).

Acting in DWG films gets subtler in 1912, but broad gestures still appear. As Joyce Jesionowski states, contexts in these films are better established, characters more motivated, histories more completely unfolded, and convention is being replaced by more individual and particular stories. Although there is usually a moral to the stories, the movement is toward the non-judgmental, as in Oil and Water (DWG 448).

1912 was a year of good acting for DWG. Blanche Sweet was at her best in The Painted Lady. Mary Pickford returned to Griffith for her last and best Biograph performances in roles of great versatility, from sensuous saloon ladies to noble Indian princesses, from fierce Southern belles to oppressed country daughters. Henry Walthall had a wide range of roles, Robert Harron kept building his craft. Lionel Barrymore and Harry Carey had a strong presence in many films. Dorothy Bernard, who excelled in The Girl and Her Trust, made her last film for Biograph (DWG 417). Lillian Gish and Dorothy Gish debuted (DWG 426). Mae Marsh had her first starring roles as a cavewoman and a cowgirl (DWG 419 and 420). There is even a funny glimpse of Max Davidson (DWG 422).

Anita Loos’s first film as a screenwriter was Mary Pickford’s last as a Biograph actress (DWG 441).

It was moving to see Duel in the Sun soon after the retrospective, with Lillian Gish and Lionel Barrymore (as the parents of the unfortunate brothers), and Harry Carey 35 years later.

Griffith shot his films 393-421 in California or in the West, and the films 422-457 in New York and the East Coast.

Many films anticipate future achievements: Greed and The Treasure of Sierra Madre (Man’s Lust for Gold), They Died with Their Boots On, Fort Apache, and The Searchers (The Massacre), Three Ages, Teenage Caveman, and 2001 A Space Odyssey (Man’s Genesis), Tol’able David (The Spirit Awakened), Three Godfathers and Three Women (The Female of the Species), and Heart O’ the Hills (A Feud in the Kentucky Hills).

The quality of prints was better than in the previous installments of the retrospective. There were less unassembled prints, less prints without intertitles, and less films from paper-prints than previously. Even some prints announced as stemming from the paper print collection of the Library of Congress were actually regular 16mm or better. Still the print quality varied from the brilliant to the awful.

Many prints screened were not struck from the best existing material (= original negatives). As a whole, until now we have largely seen ruins of Griffith, though it would not have to be so. I look forward to seeing these seminal and visually striking films in good, assembled, intertitled, and hopefully even tinted and toned 35mm film prints. What Gaumont does with Feuillade and Perret should be done with DWG, too. If the father of the cinema does not deserve it, who does?

Of the 63 DWG films of 1912, 5 are considered lost, 5 were not screened because there is no viewing print, and one title (The Inner Circle, DWG 424) vanished from the programme without explanation.

Two Daughers of Eve (DWG 427) was not available for screening, although negatives exist.

Neither were A Father’s Lesson (DWG 453), Misappropriated Turkey (DWG 454), Drink’s Lure (DWG 456), nor When Love Forgives (DWG 457) directed by Griffith or Anthony O’Sullivan.

Heredity (DWG 435) is considered lost, one of “frontier Biographs that pit savage whites against wronged but violent Native Americans” (Russell Merritt). Also considered lost are My Hero (DWG 442), An Adventure in the Autumn Woods (DWG 449), The Tender-Hearted Boy (DWG 450, which “sounds like a film of exceptional charm”, J.B. Kaufman), and Brothers (DWG 455).

Volume Six of the exemplary The Griffith Project series of books was an indispensable companion to the viewings. First-rate entries were written by Tom Gunning, Russell Merritt, and Joyce Jesionowski, among others.

As versions seen by the contributors were not always the ones screened here, inevitable revisions will be due. More DWG primary sources seem to exist than is acknowledged in the volumes; some not recognized by the volume were screened in Sacile, of further more could be heard from collectors.

* = especially good or important

Print quality affects evaluation. Seeing a bad print is like seeing through dirty glass. If a film is unassembled, evaluation is impossible.

GRIFFITH 1912 - 1 – repeat at Cinema Ruffo where the 16mm projection is better than at Teatro Zancanaro

The Mender of Nets (US 1912) (17’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 393 *

Under Burning Skies (US 1912) (17’, 16mm, did. ing.) DWG 394

A Siren of Impulse (US 1912) (17’, 16mm, assembled workprint without intertitles) DWG 395

Iola’s Promise (US 1912) (23’, 16mm, did. ing.) DWG 396 +

GRIFFITH 1912 - 2

The Goddess of Sagebruch Gulch (US 1912) (16’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 397

The Girl and Her Trust (US 1912) (14’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 398 *

The Punishment (US 1912) (17’, 16mm, did. ing., paper print) DWG 399

Fate’s Interception (US 1912) (18’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 400

GRIFFITH 1912 – 3

The Female of the Species (US 1912) (16’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 401 *

Just Like a Woman (US 1912) (20’, 16mm, did. ing.) DWG 402 +

One Is Business, the Other Crime (US 1912) (18’, 16mm, did. ing.) DWG 403 *

The Lesser Evil (US 1912) 17’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 404

GRIFFITH 1912 - 4

The Old Actor (US 1912) (17’, 16mm, did. ing.) DWG 405

His Lesson (US 1912) (17’, 16mm, did. ing.) DWG 407

When Kings Were the Law (US 1912) (18’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 408

A Beast at Bay (US 1912) (15’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 409

GRIFFITH 1912 - 5

Home Folks (US 1912) (18’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 410

A Temporary Truce (US 1912) (24’, 16mm, did. ing.) DWG 411

Lena and the Geese (US 1912) (16’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 412

The Spirit Awakened (US 1912) (16’, 16mm, did. ing.) DWG 413

GRIFFITH 1912 - 6

The School Teacher and the Waif (US 1912) (17’, 16mm, did. ing.) DWG 414 +

Man’s Lust for Gold (US 1912) (17’, 16mm, did. ing.) DWG 415

An Indian Summer (US 1912) (18’, 16mm, did. ing.) DWG 416 +

Heaven Avenges (US 1912) (16’, 16mm, did. ing.) DWG 417

GRIFFITH 1912 - 7

The Massacre (US 1912) (34’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 418 *

Man’s Genesis (US 1912) (18’, 16mm, did. ing.) DWG 419

The Sands of Dee (US 1912) (17’, 16mm, did. ing.) DWG 420 *

GRIFFITH 1912 - 8

A Pueblo Legend (US 1912) (33’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 421 +

The Narrow Road (US 1912) (15’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 422

A Child’s Remorse (US 1912) (16’, 16mm, did. ing.) DWG 423

GRIFFITH 1912 - 9

A Lodging for the Night (US 1912) DWG 406 – shown in this screening on 35mm, although it had been announced to be screened on video separately

NB. // THE INNER CIRCLE (US 1912) (15’, 16mm, did. ing.) DWG 424 – not shown, though announced for this screening //

A Change of Spirit (US 1912) (17’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 425

An Unseen Enemy (US 1912) (16’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 426 +

Friends (US 1912) (14’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 428 – end missing *

GRIFFITH 1912 - 10

So Near, Yet So Far (US 1912) (16’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 429

A Feud in the Kentucky Hills (US 1912) (17’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 430 *

In the Aisles of the Wild (US 1912) (13’, 35mm, no did.) DWG 431

The One She Loved (US 1912) (24’, 16mm, did. ing.) DWG 432

GRIFFITH 1912 - 11

Friends (US 1912) (14’, 35mm, did. ing.) – repeat – end still missing *

The Painted Lady (US 1912) (18’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 433 *

The Musketeers of Pig Alley (US 1912) (18’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 434 *

Gold and Glitter (US 1912) (15’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 436 +

My Baby (US 1912) (15’, 16mm, did. ing.) DWG 437 +

GRIFFITH 1912 - 12

The Informer. A Story of the Civil War (US 1912) (18’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 438 *

Brutality (US 1912) (12’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 439 – incomplete – end missing *

The Unwelcome Guest (US 1912) (16’, 16mm, did. ing.) DWG 440 *

The New York Hat (US 1912) (18’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 441 *

GRIFFITH 1912 - 13

The Burglar’s Dilemma (US 1912) (16’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 443 *

A Cry for Help (US 1912) (9’, 35mm, unassembled workprint without intertitles) DWG 444

The God Within (US 1912) (12’, 16mm, did. ing., reconstructed intertitles) DWG 445 *

Three Friends (US 1912) (15’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 446 *

GRIFFITH 1912 - 14

The Telephone Girl and the Lady (US 1912) (15’, 35mm, unassembled workprint without intertitles) DWG 447

Oil and Water (US 1912) (22’, 35mm, did. ing., tinted and toned). DWG 448 Exceptionally, a tinted and toned print was seen. This UCLA print was important for the whole DWG retrospective as a reminder how beautiful the films really are. *

A Chance Deception (US 1912) (15’, 35mm, unassembled, without intertitles) DWG 451

Fate (US 1912) (17’, 35mm, did. ing.) DWG 452

FUNNY LADIES

Funny Ladies was the most talked-about retrospective. Many guests had strong opinions on it, and on the basis of the suggestions, sequels could be made. Mabel Normand would deserve a retrospective. Mary Pickford, a funny lady and much more, should be paid full tribute, as too few of her films have been seen in Le Giornate or Bologna (where’s Poor Little Rich Girl?).

Obvious choices had been omitted (Stiller’s heroines such as Karin Molander, Lubitsch ladies save one, Gloria Swanson in DeMille’s satires: where is The Affairs of Anatol?). Many main attractions I’d recently seen (It, Stage Struck, The Patsy) and I probably also missed much funny stuff.

FUNNY LADIES

The Picture Idol, US 1912 James Young (14’, 35mm, did. ol.) – starring Clara Kimball Young as a girl who adores the Vitagraph star Maurice Costello.

Chyt’te ho!, (Catch Him!) (not released in Finland) CZ 1925, Karel Lamac (49’, 35mm, did. ceco) – starring Anny Ondrakova as the rich orphan who becomes the object of a young burglar’s affections.

Amarilly of Clothesline Alley, US 1918, Marshall A. Neilan (55’, 35mm, did. ing.) – SC: Frances Marion – based on a novel by Belle K. Maniates – brilliant social satire stars Mary Pickford as an object of a Pygmalion-like social experiment ****

FUNNY LADIES

De tossede kvindfolk, (Oh, Those Women!) DK 1917, Lau Lauritzen (19’, 35mm, did. dan.) – starring Agner Andersen and Agnes Seeman in a comedy of two marriages, where mixed messages almost cause two divorces

En sølvbryllupsdag, (Silver Wedding) DK 1919, Lau Lauritzen (19’, 35mm, did. dan.) – starring Olga Svendsen, who leaves hubby on the morning of their silver wedding, just as they are about to learn about a huge legacy which depends on their continuing marital happiness

Engelein, DE 1914, Urban Gad (49’, 35mm, did. dan.) – starring Asta Nielsen as the ”Little Angel” who is actually a little devil of a teenager. The plot requires the smoking and libidinous girl to pose as a 12-year-old.

FUNNY LADIES

Tilly the Tomboy Visits the Poor, Hepworth, GB 1910, Lewin Fitzhamon (6’, 35mm, did. ing.) – starring Alma Taylor and Chrissie White as the two little devils who wreak havoc in a bakery, in a laundry van, and at an invalid’s home

Tubby’s Rest Cure, US 1916, Frank Wilson (14’, 35mm, did. ing.) – Violet Hopson as the wife of Tubby, who catches his husband ailing in the countryside with a bunch of country girls

Blood and Bosh, US 1913, Hay Plumb (7’, 35mm, did. ing.) – starring Chrissie White in an absurd parody melodrama, which spoof conventions of thrillers, including furious cross-cutting between scenes in which nothing is happening

Daisy Doodad’s Dial, US 1914, Larry Trimble (10’, 35mm, did. ing.) – starring Florence Turner as Daisy in a story of a face-making competition. Daisy rehearses on the street so successfully, she is arrested for disturbing the peace. She manages to scare even herself as she grimaces in front of the mirror. ***

Rowdy Ann, US 1919, Al Christie (36’, 16mm, did. ing.) – starring Fay Tincher as a cowgirl who can floor any man and who is sent to an Eastern school to be turned into a lady

FUNNY LADIES

Den nærsynede Guvernante, DK ? (4’, 35mm, solo titolo ing.) – starring Petrine Sonne as the short-sighted governess, who is such an avid reader, she keeps reading even as she takes the child to a walk, and returns home with the wrong child

Smith’s Cook, Mack Sennett, US 1927, Alf Goulding (23’, 35mm, did. ol.) – Polly Moran as the cook on the mad car ride to her wedding, wooed by a motorcycle cop, and inspired by tonic drink

Helen’s Babies, (not released in Finland), US 1924, William A. Seiter (59’, 35mm, did. ing.) – Baby Peggy the child star in custody of best-selling author of books on child-care (Edward Everett Horton) who has never had experience of child care before; an early appearance of Clara Bow.

FUNNY LADIES

Dizzy Daddies, Hal Roach, US 1926, Richard Wallace (19’, 16mm, did. ing.) – starring James Finlayson and Gertrude Astor. – JF is the lawyer who has to get rid of his daughter’s fiancé’s ferocious breach-of-promise claimant but gets caught up with the lady himself. (para DR) ****

Footloose Widows, (not released in Finland), Warner Bros., US 1926, Roy Del Ruth (76’, 35mm, did. ing.), SC: Darryl F. Zanuck, starring Louise Fazenda and Jacqueline Logan as two gold-diggers in Palm Beach to chase millionaires. Interesting as an early example of the hard-boiled Warners / Zanuck comedy style. Soulless to the point of boring.

FUNNY LADIES

Miss Minerva Courtney, US 1915, ? (13’, 16mm, did. ing.) – starring Minerva Courtney who proves she can imitate Chaplin in an accurate recreation of The Champion

Reference: The Champion, US 1915, Charlie Chaplin (12’, 16mm, did. ing.) ****

What? No Spinach!, US 1926, Harry Sweet (19’, 16mm, did. ing.) – Gale Henry starring in a story resembling Keaton’s Seven Chances – guy must marry within 48 hours if he wants to inherit a million dollars

The Sting of Stings, Hal Roach, US 1927, James Parrott (22’, 16mm, did. ing.) Charley Chase and Edna Marion feel so privileged, they decide to share their happiness with six underprivileged kids. The series of escalating catastrophes culminates at the carnival. ****

FUNNY LADIES

Ask Father, US 1919, Hal Roach (14’, 35mm, did. ing.), starring Harold Lloyd and Bebe Daniels. Harold must “ask father” permission to marry his daughter, but the father of Harold’s sweetheart is the busiest man in town. Harold invents incredible plots to reach him, including climbing walls and donning an armour. Bebe is the businessman’s tender stenographer who manages to toss the pillow right where Harold falls. (para DR) ****

Orchids and Ermine / Halloo-tyttö, US 1927, Alfred Santell (74’, 35mm, did. ing.) – Colleen Moore as the switchboard operator of a luxury hotel dreams of marrying up. She falls in love with a valet who really is a millionaire in disguise who wants to ward off gold-diggers.

FUNNY LADIES

Exit Smiling (not released in Finland), MGM, US 1926, Sam Taylor (80’, 35mm, did. ing.) – Beatrice Lillie’s performance got the audience roaring with laughter in the closing event – she plays a maid to a touring theatrical company’s inebriated leading lady

FUNNY LADIES

Happiness (not released in Finland), Metro Pictures, US 1924, King Vidor (97’, 35mm, did. ing.) – SC: J. Hartley Manners – starring Laurette Taylor. Fine social comedy already has many elements of Vidor’s The Crowd, and it represents the Vidor credo forcefully. Social conditions are crucial, but not for happiness, which is finally an interior quality. It’s another story of “the poor rich” and “the rich poor”. The best Vidor comedy I’ve seen. ***½

AVANGUARDIA ITALIANA / ITALIAN AVANT-GARDE ****

The Italian Avant-Garde programme was an inspired instance of creative programming by Carlo Montanaro. Many of the Italian avant-garde films proper are lost. Instead we got to see a vision of early Italian film history from the viewpoint of innovation and experiment. The concept of the avant-garde was impossibly stretched, but why worry? The programming was good.

AVANGUARDIA ITALIANA / ITALIAN AVANT-GARDE – 1

PROGRAMMA LEOPOLDO FREGOLI

Partie de cartes, Lumière, FR 1897, Leopoldo Fregoli?

Danse serpentine, FR 1897, Leopoldo Fregoli?

Pere cotte, IT 1898-1899, Leopoldo Fregoli

Dietro le quinte I, IT 1898, Leopoldo Fregoli

Dietro le quinte II, IT 1898?, Leopoldo Fregoli

Maestri di musica, IT 1898, Leopoldo Fregoli

Fregoli donna, IT 1898-1899, Leopoldo Fregoli

Burla al marito, IT 1899, Leopoldo Fregoli

Fregoli barbiere mago, IT 1899, Leopoldo Fregoli

Fregoli barbiere maldestro, IT 1898-1899, Leopoldo Fregoli

Fregoli al restaurant, IT 1898-1899, Leopoldo Fregoli

Fregoli trasformista, IT 1898-1899, Leopoldo Fregoli

Fregoli prestigiatore, IT 1898-1899, Leopoldo Fregoli

(tot. antologia Fregoli 8’, 35mm, no did.) Leopoldo Fregoli, a protean pioneer of Italian cinema, experimented for the first time with many tricks in his films.

FEET AND ORANGES

La storia di Lulù, Ambrosio, IT 1909-1910, Arrigo Frusta (7’, 35mm, did. ing.) – Feet only

Amor pedestre, Ambrosio, IT 1914, Marcel Fabre (4’, 35mm, did. it.) – Feet only

Le mogli e le arance, (Wifes and Oranges) (not released in Finland), Do.Re.Mi., IT 1917, Luigi Serventi (75’, 35mm, did. it.) – sophisticated comedy ends with an interesting montage.

AVANGUARDIA ITALIANA / ITALIAN AVANT-GARDE - 3

Farfalle, Cines, IT 1908, ? (9’, 35mm, no did.) – caleidoscopic figures of a coloured ballet film anticipate the chromatic dynamism of Futurism

Cretinetti che bello, Itala, IT 1909, André Deed (4’, 35mm, did. it.) – disjecta membra – Cretinetti’s pointed shoes anticipate Leningrad Cowboys

Un matrimonio interplanetario, Latium Film, IT 1910, Enrico Novelli, (12’, 35mm, did. ing.) – fanta-futuristic design in a constructivistic precursor of Aelita, story of an interplanetary love affair between Earth and Mars

Kri-Kri Detective, Cines, IT 1912, Raymond Frau (7’, 35mm, did. ing.) – transportable policemen can be inflated like balloons

Kri-kri è miope, Cines, IT 1913, Raymond Frau (4’, 35mm, did. ing.) – a hyperbole of short-sightedness, where everything is transformed

Thaïs, Novissima-Film, IT 1917, Anton Giulio Bragaglia, Riccardo Cassano (35’, 35mm, did. fr.). “La célèbre courtisane” (Thaïs Galitzky) in a story of decadence and glamour, with poems by Baudelaire as intertitles, donning a “costume funambulesque et symbolique”, inhabiting rooms of stark graphic ornaments, experiencing a prolonged death of poisonous vapours. Beautiful incomplete toned print of a visually striking film.

AVANGUARDIA ITALIANA / ITALIAN AVANT-GARDE - 4

Le fiabe della nonna, Cines, IT 1908, ? (7’, 35mm, did. ted.) Fairytale told via mirror effects. Sometimes referred to as the cinema’s first flashback, it is more a case of a framing story.

Nozze d’oro, Ambrosio, IT 1911, Luigi Maggi (19’, 35mm, did. it. e fr.)

Excelsior, IT 1913, Luca Comerio (fragment 14’, 35mm, did. it.). A unique ‘cine-photo-choreographic’ event, ‘The Excelsior Dance, the Titanic Struggle of Progress Against Decline’ was conceived in 1881 to celebrate modernism. Giant stages, high angles, huge production in a “proto-musical” exceptional in the cinema of the age. Very impressive. Special score by Donald Sosin.

Fauno, Ambrosio, IT 1917, Febo Mari (72’, 35mm, did. it.). Ballet-like Symbolistic film in the spirit of Debussy. Powerful atmosphere, beautiful movement, dream-like force, excellent cinematography, exciting colour in a story of a sexually frustrated woman and a statue of a faun brought to life.

CINEMA SVIZZERO / SWISS CINEMA

Inspired programming gave us an interesting introduction to the first decades of Swiss cinema. We witnessed the Nordic influence of landscape in Swiss fiction films such as La Vocation d’André Carel, the Griffith influence in Switzerland’s The Birth of a Nation, Die Entstehung der Eidgenossenschaft, and the excursion of German top talent in Petronella. Print quality was good.

CINEMA SVIZZERO / SWISS CINEMA - 1

[Le ”Ciné-Journal Suisse” par lui-même], CH 192 ?, ? (2’, 35mm, no did.)

Les Vendanges dans le vignoble Vaudois, CH 1923, ? (3’, 35mm, did. fr. e ted.)

Rochers-de-Naye sur Caux le concours de ski au printemps a eu lieu par un temps magnifique, CH 1928, ? (3’, 35mm, did. fr. e ted.)

Genf, die Stadt der Nationen, CH 1920, ? (8’, 35mm, did. ted. e fr.)

[Sur le tournage de “La Vocation d’André Carel"], CH 1924, Charles-Georges Duvanel? (1’, 35mm, did. fr.)

La Vocation d’André Carel / La Puissance du travail (not released in Finland), CH 1925, Jean Choux (85’, 35mm, did. fr.) Landscape inspires drama in a film which includes an early role for Michel Simon. Nordic cinema was a model here, but the landscape is rather a beautiful background, and not an integral element, not a mirror of the soul.

CINEMA SVIZZERO / SWISS CINEMA - 4

Die Entstehung der Eidgenossenschaft (not released in Finland), CH 1924, Emil Harder (74’, 35mm, did. fr. e ted.). The legend of the formation of Switzerland is very interesting and handsome to watch but lacks the cinematic passion of the model, Griffith.

CINEMA SVIZZERO / SWISS CINEMA - 5

Neuenegg (Berne). L’Anniversaire de la bataille de 1798, CH 192?, ? (2’, 35mm, did. fr. e ted.)

Kuh-Ringkämpfe in Sitten. Wallis (Schweiz), CH 1924, Robert Freckmann? (10’, 35mm, did. ted. e fr.)

Petronella (not released in Finland), CH 1927, Hanns Schwarz (107’, 35mm, did. ted.). A discovery of a great period of Hanns Schwarz, director of the great Die wunderbare Lüge der Nina Petrowna. This is a drama from the era of the Napoleonic wars, starring Wilheilm Dieterle, Maly Delschaft, Oscar Homolka, Theodor Loos, and Georg John. Beautiful landscapes.

SAVING THE SILENTS

The Ageless Sex, Vitagraph, US 1914, Harry Lambert (8’, 35mm, did. ing.) A surreal satire: when all artifice is removed, there is nothing left of the woman. ***

[Prizma Color Film: Native Americans], US 1920, ? (4’, 35mm, did. ing.)

The Mollycoddle / Vetelys, US 1920, Victor Fleming (35mm, 85’ did. ing.) Douglas Fairbanks in top form in a beautiful restored print. ****

The Unsullied Shield, US 1913, Charles J. Brabin (15’, 35mm, did. ing.) Eye-poppingly brilliant print of a ridiculous story about “noblesse oblige”.

The Hazards of Helen Episode 108: The Trial Run, US 1916, James Davis (15’, 35mm, did. ing.)

Kindred of the Dust / Tukkikuninkaan poika, US 1922, Raoul Walsh (102’, 35mm, did. ing.) A mediocre melodrama produced and directed by Walsh, starring his then wife Miriam Cooper (who honored Raoul with the memorable line: "he never bored you with the truth"). Of interest to the Finnish viewer is the lumberland milieu. **

FUORI QUADRO / OUT OF FRAME

JERRY THE TYKE cartoons

Jerry the Troublesome Tyke: He Gets Fired, GB 1926

Jerry the Troublesome Tyke: The Joy Provider, GB 1925, Sid Griffiths, Bert Bilby (7’, 35mm, did. ing.)

Jerry the Troublesome Tyke: Golf, GB ca 1926

Jerry the Troublesome Tyke: All Up a Tree, GB 1926, Sid Griffiths, Bert Bilby (10’, 35mm, did. ing.)

Wolves of Kultur Episode 1: The Torture Trap, US 1919, Joseph A. Golden (30’, 35mm, did. fr.)

THE BEST SHOW OF THE FESTIVAL: a brilliant foursome!

Fedora, IT 1916, Giuseppe De Liguoro (13’, 35mm, did. ing.). Francesca Bertini, an elemental force of passion. ****

A Christmas Carol, US 1910, J. Searle Dawley (16’, 35mm, did. ing.). Told with elaborate superimpositions, the film has a charming archaic quality, the stylization fitting the subject well. ***½

Exceeding His Duty, GB 1911 (Hepworth), Lewin Fitzhamon? (6’, 35mm, did. ted.). The story of the brutal father and his little daughter is like a prequel to Broken Blossoms. The father even looks like Donald Crisp. “Exceeding his duty” is the kind policeman who interferes too enthusiastically, therefore losing his job. ***½

Det var engang (not released in Finland), DK 1922, Carl Theodor Dreyer (77’, 35mm, did. dan. e ing.). Det Danske Filminstitut 2K digital restoration 2002. Only incomplete material exists of this film of Dreyer, based on a fairytale famous in Denmark, but the charming film has been made enjoyable thanks to the new restoration. Comments on the digital restoration: mostly it is astonishingly good, including close-ups of faces. But there is an obvious loss of detail in shots of the forest, the trees and of the river, and in depth of field in general. In the scenes of the enchanted forest it would be important to feel “the sublime of the nature” with the power of cinematography to record “more than the eye can see”, in order to convey the sense of infinity and transcendence. I look forward to 4K. ***½

VIDEO SHOWS - Teatro Ruffo

London After Midnight / Laukaus yössä – A Reconstruction of the film by Tod Browning with Lon Chaney (MGM), US 2002, Rick Schmidlin (48’, sonoro, did. ing.). A fascinating attempt to reconstruct a famous horror thriller of which no moving images exist. Based on hundreds of stills and the continuity, the film has been reconstructed complete with the intertitles. I look forward to future projects of Rick Schmidlin along this model.

GOODNIGHT, SILENTS…

Miss Butterfly, FR?, ca.1925, ? (6’, 35mm, did. fr.). Hard core pornography with a full menu of variations possible between consenting adults. The casual bisexuality of silent hard core is striking. The absence of uninspired oohs and aahs and banal muzak is a plus.

Eloquenza di un fiore, IT 1910, Mario Caserini (8’44", 35mm, did. fr. e ol.) Flowers were a favourite motif in silent films, and this charming story shows a child’s ploy to bring man and mama together with flower. ***½

No comments: