Cyrano de Bergerac
R: Clément Maurice. B: Edmond Rostand (play). D: Benoit Constant Coquelin. P: Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre. Fr 1900
Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre sound-on-cylinder sound system. / Soundtrack was presented on Lioretographe sound cylinders. The film was distributed in France after 1907 by Urban Eclipse.
Exhibited as part of a program of synchronized sound films at the Paris Exhibition of 1900. Despite the novelty of sound (and stencil color in some of the films), the program was not financially successful.
“The 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris was movie mad and there were two dueling sound technologies on display. (…) Phonorama used primitive microphone technology and the audience could hear the films thanks to two telephone earpieces in the back of each seat. The rival Phono-Cinema-Theatre stole the Phonorama’s thunder with celebrities, including Coquelin aîné, Sarah Bernhardt (whose film was actually silent) and other luminaries of the French stage. It used the more established phonograph technology. Sound was recorded on wax cylinders which were then played in sync with the film (a similar concept was eventually used by Warner Bros.’s successful Vitaphone technology). The great challenge of sound films in those early days was the recording mechanism. In order to be close enough to capture the voices of the performers, the phonograph would have to be visible in the film itself. Since this would hardly be suitable in Cyrano de Bergerac, the Phono-Cinema-Theatre crew opted instead to pre-record the performers’ voices on wax cylinders through the phonograph horn and then have them lip-sync for the camera.”