The oldest preserved Norwegian film

Under forvandlingens lov, eller Jo tykkere, jo bedre
(The rule of change, or The thicker, the better)
R: Halfdan Nobel Roede. B: Peter Lykke-Seest. D: Olaf Hanson, Ingeborg Hauge, Birger Widt, Signe Danning, Hans Hedemark, Bertha Ræstad. P: Internationalt Films-Kompani AS. No 1911
Print: Nasjonalbiblioteket / National Library of Norway
Engl. subtitles

“Halfdan Nobel Roede’s Under Forvandlingens Lov, eller, Jo Tykkere, jo Bedre is one of four feature films known to have been produced in Norway in 1911, and considered the oldest preserved Norwegian film extant.  An earlier work, Fiskerlivets Farer, eller, et Drama på Havet (‘The Perils of a Fisherman, or, A Drama at Sea’) was made in 1907, but no copies of it are known to still exist.  Under Forvandlingens Lov is a romantic comedy where Camillo and Fancisca discover that their spouses, Julia and Arthus, are having an affair.  They sedate the two and lock them into cages, until they get sick of each other.  Roede (1877-1963) was a friend of Edvard Munch, who sketched the director’s portrait around 1919-20.”
UND Libraries

446-Roede_by_Munch  Edvard Munch: Halfdan Nobel Roede (UNDL)

“Peter Lykke-Seest (1868 – 1948) was a Norwegian poet, novelist, playwright, non-fiction writer, script writer and film director.  (…) He made his literary debut in 1896 with the poetry collection Hvide nætter, and published the novel Under Paddehatten in 1898. His most popular film was Historien om en gut from 1919. He published a book on the trial against Vidkun Quisling in 1945.

More about Norwegian film history:

Pastrone’s Sherlock Holmes

Più forte che Sherlock Holmes
R: Giovanni Pastrone. K: Segundo de Chomón. Special effects: Segundo de Chomón. D: Emilio Vardannes, Domenico Gambino. P: Itala Film, Torino. It 1913
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema / EYE collection

“The most remarkable thing about this movie is its director, Giovanni Pastrone, who just a year later would produce the seminal epic feature film Cabiria. (…) The editing, in particular shows some sophistication, as do the camera angles. Although some scenes are shot strictly proscenium-style (the closing fight scene, for example), many are more creative. The cut to the over-the-shoulder shot to display the illustrations is much cleverer than simply cutting to a flat image of the paper (which is what Feuillade probably would have resorted to).”
Century Film Project

440-PastroneGiovanni Pastrone



Totò entusiasta della nuova moda
R: Emilio Vardannes. D: Emilio Vardannes. P: Itala Film. It 1911
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema / EYE collection
Dutch titles

Totò senz’acqua
R: Emilio Vardannes. D: Emilio Vardannes. P: Itala Film. It 1911
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema / EYE collection
French titles

“There have been dozens of clowns who have called themselves Toto, the most famous being the Italian droll, Prince Antonio de Bizancio who claimed lineage from Emporer Constantine. Antonio was a revue favorite in the 1930s and made a number of popular films in Italy after the Second World War. Preceding him was Emilio Vardannes, another Italian comedian who came to the USA in the 1910s and made silent pictures under the name Totò.”
Frank Cullen: Vaudeville old & new: an encyclopedia of variety performances in America. Routledge 2006, p. 1119/20

“Emilio Vardannes was born in 1868 in Paris, France. He is an actor and director, known for Bonafacio muratore (1912), Il carretto di Totò (1911) and Totò non ha fortuna (1912).”

“Antonin Bénévent, dit Émile Vardannes (ou Emilio Vardannes en Italie), né à Paris le 13 janvier 1873 et mort à Paris le 13 décembre 1951, est un acteur et réalisateur français. Émile Vardannes a principalement été un acteur comique du cinéma muet italien. Il a commencé sa carrière à l’Itala Film où il s’est fait connaitre sous le pseudonyme de «Toto», puis a pris le pseudonyme de «Boniface» (Bonifacio en Italie), en passant à la Milano Film.”
Wikipedia France

In Cabiria, 1914, Vardannes performs as Hannibal.

>>> Vardannes in Il cavallo del reggimento on this website


Al cinematografo, guardate… e non toccate
D: Ernesto Vaser. P: Itala Film. It 1912
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema / EYE collection
Dutch titles

“Whilst Maciste makes an inter-textual reference to Cabiria, the earlier comedy Una tragedia al cinematografo (1913), produced by Cines, points, even if less explicitly, to another popular epic film: Enrico Guazzoni’s Quo vadis? (1913 > Ivo Blom). At the beginning of the film, a man sees his wife chatting with a friend in front of a movie theatre that is covered with posters of Quo vadis?. (…) Another comedy that focuses on the cinematic public is Al cinematografo, guardate… e non toccate  (1912). (…) The movie theatre that is shown here, the ‘Itala’ theatre in Turin, hosts people of different ages and different marital and social status. The three persons Vaser harasses are also examples of this variety. (…)
Self-referential representations of popularity returned in the series of short films featuring actors identified with particular comic characters. Dramatizing everyday situations which were easily recognizable by the public, these actors/characters often set their actions in the new world of which they were part. As a manifestation of the self-referentiality that is typical of this genre of comedy, the parodic element characterizing these films focused on different aspects of cinema, including its popularity and its status as a mass phenomenon.”
Louis Bayman, Sergio Rigoletto: Popular Italian Cinema. Palgrave Macmillan 2013, p. 155

438-Al cinematografo
…guardate… e non toccate

>>> Una tragedia al cinematografo: Spectators Watching Spectators

Like a Tempting Salome

Come una sorella
R: Vincenzo C. Dénizot. K: Segundo de Chomón. D: Lydia Quaranta, Giovanni Casaleggio, Berta Nelson. P: Itala Film, Torino. It 1912
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema / EYE
Dutch titles

“The short adventure film Come una sorella (…) features the character of Nelly, who sings and dances in an tabarin (cabaret) called Alhambra.  The name alone of this local triggers images of faraway lands and exotic civilizations. Hence, this film stands out as an exception to the important rule that the contemporary drama before 1913 did not include orientalist elements; as a result of its ordinary settings, it was less expensive than the diva film, born the following year. On the other hand, it would also be erroneous to claim that all diva films were lavish orientalist spectacles. (…) Hence, this diva film is an exception to the equally important rule of an alliance among orientalism, aristocracy, and stardom that echoes the diva’s power through the cost of the sets and the variety of her wardrobe.
In Come una sorella, the struggle of values plays itself out within one woman, Nelly, a dancer who performs like a tempting Salome in an orientalist atmosphere. Nelly’s movements arouse the cinematic screen itself to the point that is overwhelmed by vivid red flames. The same kind of tinting – a red that looks like fire mixed with blood – pervades the screen as soon as the airplane of the stunt pilot, Kosalevsky, crashes to the ground, leaving him between death and life. The film’s associations between excitement and destruction, modern technology and female sexuality, are undeniable, but they are resolved when the cabaret singer becomes the adoring nurse who brings her beloved pilot back to health.”
Angela Dalle Vacche: Diva: Defiance and Passion in Early Italian Cinema. University of Texas Press 2008, p. 83, 188

About Lydia Quaranta
“Lydia or Lidia Quaranta was born in Turin, Italy in 1891. She started her career as stage actress at the company of Dante Testa. In 1910 she debuted in film, together with her sister Letizia Quaranta, when the company Itala Film enrolled both. Her true film debut though was in a short called L’ignota/The Unknown Woman (1910), produced by Aquila Films and directed by Edoardo Bencivenga. After a few more Aquila productions, Quaranta played steadily at Itala, as in the airplane drama Come una sorella/Like a Sister (1912, Vincenzo Denizot), the sensational drama Padre/Father (1912, Dante Testa, Gino Zaccaria), starring Ermete Zacconi, Lo scomparso/The Dread of Doom (1913, Dante Testa) with again Zacconi, and the crime story Tigris (1913, Vincenzo Denizot). Together with her sister Letizia, she played in Addio giovinezza!/Goodbye youth! (1913, Nino Oxilia). In 1914 Lydia Quaranta’s cinema career reached its apex when she had the title role in the mega-production Cabiria. ”

Another “tempting Salome”:

L’ultima vittima
R: Roberto Roberti. D: Antonietta Calderari, Giuseppe De Witten, Roberto Roberti, Federico Elvezi. P: Aquila Films, Torino. It 1913
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema/EYE
French titles

“Emma Vallona, an oriental dancer, is suffocated by debts due to her expensive life; so she does not hesitate to induce the Minister d’Angy to endorse a bill in her favour. While the Minister is gradually being overwhelmed by this scandal, which contributes to destroy his political career, she carefree moves to Spain under the false name of Madame d’Ambois. There she meets the Prince of Gébraléon, who asks her to marry him. She agrees but, just before the wedding, the Minister d’Angy reappears. Fearing that he may reveal to her future husband her past, Emma turns to his loyal servant to kill d’Angy. But the servant, in revenge for the woman’s coldness and hardness in rejecting his love, teams up with D’Angy, and together they reveal her mischievous plans to Gébraléon. The revenge of the Prince is terrible.”

>>> Padre on this site: A Sensational Melodrama
>>> also on this site:  Cabiria

437-Lydia Quaranta  Lydia Quaranta

Max, the Immortal Lover

Les surprises de l’amour
D: Max Linder, Jacques Vandenne. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1909

“The story tells of two sons and a father, all of whom are paying separate and clandestine attentions to the same girl. They arrive one after the other, and are secreted in various parts of the room, where they remain until all three suddenly peep out together. The final scene, where the elderly papa is enjoining a discreet silence upon his son, is, perhaps the best thing of the kind Messrs. Pathe have yet done.” (The Bioscope, Oct. 21, 1909)

Le Hasard et l’Amour
R: Max Linder. B: Max Linder. D: Max Linder, Lucy d’Orbel, Georges Gorby. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1915
German subtitles

The user kekseksa wrote on IMDb:

“The absurd current system whereby IMDb seems to privilege titles in English rather than the original titles of the films contributes to much confusion (as well as frequently making films unnecessarily difficult to find). (…) Les Surprises de l’amour (1909) and Le Hasard et l’amour (1915) both tend to get known in English as ‘Love’s Surprises’. Again most of the youtube offerings are of the first not the second film, whatever they may claim, although there is at least one correctly titled version of the later film. (…) Could we not please have a campaign to ensure that the original title of the film is ALWAYS the main one to appear and alternative English titles are relegated to a secondary position?”

Yes, I think, we should. KK

De Chomón’s Easter Eggs

Les oeufs de Pâques
R: Segundo de Chomón. B: Segundo de Chomón. D: Julienne Mathieu. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1907

“De Chomón was born in Spain on October 17, 1871. He married actress Julienne Mathieu, who started working for early film studio Pathé Frères. It’s said that Julienne influenced her husband to join Pathé, where he began working as an agent and then a director. In 1903 he produced Gulliver en el país de los gigantes, the first of what would become his specialty: trick films. He became so good at creating special effects –  in fanciful shorts that he beautifully enhanced with a special stencil-coloring process dubbed Pathéchrome – that Charles Pathé took notice. He recognized that de Chomón’s work could easily compete with that of the famous Georges Méliès, and thus the Spanish director was given the freedom to create the most fantastical visions his mind could devise.
He went above and beyond, utilizing just about every method available back then: puppetry, multiple exposures, hand-drawn animation, matte shots, and more. His work ranges from gorgeous tapestries of féerie romance like Les Tulipes (1907) to something like The Panicky Picnic (1909, which is the dream you’d have if you gorged yourself on lukewarm sushi. Let’s just say that Méliès himself was probably impressed by (or confused by) de Chomón’s fearless surrealism. De Chomón would collaborate with several other early directors, including ‘Father of the Animated Cartoon’ Émile Cohl. He would also run a shop devoted to color stenciling. By 1912 (at a time when Méliès’s work was in the decline) he was invited to make films in Italy. He would gradually move away from directing and concentrate on cinematography, creating special effects for such mighty epics as Cabiria (1914) and Napoléon (1927).
Plans on returning to producing films ended when de Chomón died of a heart attack in 1929. He was 57, and left behind a legacy of well over 200 films.”

Les Tulipes
R: Segundo de Chomón. B: Segundo de Chomón. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1907

>>> more on this site: Segundo de Chomón