Carmen 1915

R: Cecil B. DeMille. B: Prosper Mérimée (novel). K: Alvin Wyckoff / Operator: Charles Rosher. Ba: Wilfred Buckland. M: S.L. Rothafel, based on the Bizet opera. D: Geraldine Farrar, Wallace Reid, Pedro de Cordoba, Horace B. Carpenter, William Elmer. P: Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company. USA 1915

“The first of three 1915 adaptations of Prosper Mérimée’s novella Carmen, this Cecil B. DeMille film features Metropolitan Opera star Geraldine Farrar in her film debut (her second film production chronologically). The second 1915 adaptation, a head-to-head competing version by Fox Film Corporation starring Theda Bara that was released nationally on the same day as the DeMille film, is lost for modern audiences; the third 1915 film is Charles Chaplin’s spoof.
Producer Jesse L. Lasky convinced Farrar to follow so many other stage stars into motion pictures to expand her audience and increase her fame. After completing shooting on Maria Rosa (1916), Farrar was again paired with handsome leading man Wallace Reid and director DeMille to make one of the fiercest cinematic versions of Carmen. Farrar was noted for her fiery Carmen — both snakelike when slowly coiling around Don José, then rapidly lashing like a mountain cat when attacking someone in anger. Carmen was a sensation with critics and audiences, and the film was a success for star, studio and director.”
Carl Bennett
Silent Era

Charlie Chaplin’s Carmen parody (1915):

A Burlesque on Carmen
R: Charles Chaplin. B: Prosper Mérimée (novel). K: Roland Totheroh. D: Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance, John Rand. P: Essanay Film Manufacturing Company. USA 1915

“Charles Chaplin’s two-reel version of this film, his final release for the Essanay Company, premiered in December 1915. After Chaplin left the studio, Essanay expanded the film, adding new scenes with Ben Turpin and Wesley Ruggles as gypsies, reinserting outtakes Chaplin had discarded, and even splicing in multiple takes of scenes already included. Essanay’s four-reel ‘feature’ was released in April 1916. Chaplin was furious and filed a lawsuit against his former employers, but Essanay won the case in court. Prints of Essanay’s version circulated for decades.”

The Essanay 1916 version:

A Burlesque on Carmen
R: Charles Chaplin. B: Prosper Mérimée (novel). K: Harry Ensign. D: Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance, John Rand. P: Essanay Film Manufacturing Company. USA 1915 / 1916

“The altered version of the film sent Chaplin to bed for two days. He later put forward an unprecedented claim of the moral rights of artists, suing Essanay on the grounds that the expanded version would damage his reputation with the public. Although Chaplin lost the court battle, he later wrote that Essanay’s dishonest act ‘rendered a service, for thereafter I had it stipulated in every contract that there should be no mutilating, extending or interfering with my finished work.'”
Charlie Chaplin

>>> De Mille’s First Motion Picture on this website

Colours True to Nature

Hollandse tulpen en klompen
P: Kinematograaf Pathé Frères. NL 1915
Print: EYE collection

Hollandse tulpen en klompen consists of two short fragment made by foreign companies – or there subsidiaries – in the Netherlands. The first fragment Hollandse tulpen shows men and women working on the tulip fields. The film is made for a Dutch audience as the inter titles do indicate and promotes the custom of giving flowers as a present. The production company was probably the Kinematograaf Pathé Frères, the Dutch subsidiary of Pathé. The reason for attributing the film to Pathé is the way the colour has been added to the film. The stencilling technique is typical for Pathé and not used by any other company in the Netherlands. The second fragment shows children’s play at the Island of Marken. The children wear the traditional costumes of their hometown.”

A Pretty Dutch Town
P: Gaumont (?).  NL 1910
Location: Dordrecht, Meuse, The Netherlands
Print: EYE collection

“Abroad, Pathé in particular was working on a colour system – Pathécolor – that made use of stencilling and/or manual colouring. This was a method that was already known in the field of picture postcards and wallpaper, whereby a stunning colour effect could be achieved by using different templates for each colour. An example of this kind of colouring can be seen in the first part of the film Hollandse tulpen en klompen. (…) This method of colouring was unique in the Netherlands, as the Dutch film companies only used the techniques of tinting and toning; the few film recordings made in the Netherlands that used colour stencilling are all of foreign (probably French) manufacture. Examples include the film Dutch Types,  made by French company  Gaumont, and the film Pretty Dutch Town.


>>> Experimental Color Movie on this website

Arrival of a Train, Dutch Version

Aankomst Circus Carré
R / P: F.A. Nöggerath Sen. NL 1904
Print: EYE collection

“Arrival of the management and staff of the Koninklijk Nederlands Circus Oscar Carré at Amsterdam’s Weesperpoort Station. The train arrives on the platform. The ladies and gentlemen of the circus are greeted, and walk along the platform, followed by the circus horses and their attendants.”

>>>  Holland 1900 with more films by F.A. Nöggerath

Subversive Close-ups

Madame a des envies
R: Alice Guy. P: Société L. Gaumont et compagnie. Fr 1906

“The close-ups in Madame a des envies dramatically emphasize the subversive theme of the story. The allusions to fellatio make the film lascivious, but the woman’s subjectivity stands in strong contrast to Georges Mélies or later Victor Jasset’s reliance on the female nude as a source of spectacle. (…)
The close-ups in Envies are not so close that we are allowed to forget the woman’s very pregnant state; her condition and the way she is swathed in nun-like drapery add a layer of satire to what would otherwise be simply voyeuristic, like the vignetted close-up of a woman’s ankle in Edison’s The Gay Shoe Clerk. (…)
Envies max represent the first time narrative had been structured around close-up in films.(…) The close-ups in Envies are an extension of ‘comic gag’ films, single-shot films where an actor is shown in medium or close shot, and the fun of the film consists of the grimaces of the actor. These were comic versions of the melodramatic convict films, the cinematic equivalent to mug shots, in which convicts would grimace in order to make themselves less recognizable in pictures which required long exposures.”
Alison McMahan: Alice Guy Blaché: Lost Visionary of the Cinema. Bloomsbury Publishing 2002, p. 38 f.

>>>  Close-up and Mug Shot on this site