Pathé in Sweden

I lifvets vår
R: Paul Garbagni. B: August Blanche (novel), Paul Garbagni (adaptation). K: Julius Jaenzon. D: Victor Sjöström, Mauritz Stiller, Georg af Klercker, Selma Wiklund af Klercker, Anna Norrie, Astrid Engelbrecht, Victor Arfvidson. P: Pathé Frères Filial (Sweden). Sw / Fr 1912
Print: Svenska Filminstitutet
Swedish titles, Engl. subtitles

“Svenska Bio started in 1907 as a small cinema chain in southern Sweden. In 1909 it expanded its ambitions from local views to feature films and hired the dynamic Charles Magnusson as general manager. However, its first films did not circulate much outsite Sweden. (…) Pathé changed Svenska Bio’s fortune. In 1910, Pathé opened a new branch in Stockholm and looked for local talent with whom to collaborate. Around this same time, Svenska Bio moved its base of operations to Stockholm and hired three young theater directors, Victor Sjöström, Mauritz Stiller, and Georg af Klercker, to make its movies. Pathé helped finance a new studio for Svenska Bio in nearby Lidingö and agreed to train its employees. Magnusson and Sjöström visited Pathé’s studios in Paris and Pathé sent one of its directors, Paul Garbagni, to Stockholm to shoot a film with Sjöström, Stiller, and af Klercker. The film, ‘The Springtime of Life’ (I lifvets vår, Paul Garbagni, 1912), was an erotic melodrama typical of French and Danish productions of the period – it has a circuitous plot, a chain of outrageous coincidences, and intertwining unhappy love stories. (…) Pathé evidently taught the Svenska Bio team how to make the kind of film that had made its brand so popular. Pathé also made its own films in Sweden, but agreed to distribute selected Svenska Bio films. Svenska Bio sent the negatives to the Pathé laboratory in Paris and Pathé duplicated and distributed them. (…) Swedish films thus reached global audiences already in 1912, thanks to Pathé.”
Mette Hjort and Ursula Lindqvist: A Companion to Nordic Cinema. John Wiley & Sons 2016

“This fine three-part picture is notable not only for its good story, fine settings and excellent acting, but for the quality of its photography and its light effects. The latter factor is of so pronounced a value that it will be noticed by those who usually give little heed to anything but the story and its working out. The picture also is valuable as furnishing another answer to the question: Why multiple reels? It comes on a day when the regular program of the licensed companies is weak and colorless; it provides real entertainment. No one will deny that in a company producing single and multiple-reel pictures the standard of quality of the latter is higher. In ‘The Springtime of Life’ there is a well-staged theater fire.”
The Moving Picture World, August 16, 1913

Feuillade’s Bébé: Clément Mary

Bébé tire à la cible
R: Louis Feuillade. D: Renée Carl, Clément Mary, Paul Manson, Jeanne Saint-Bonnet. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1912

“Clément Mary (1905-1974) was the most celebrated of the European child stars of the silent period. At the age of five he was employed by the French Gaumont studios to star in a series of comedies under the name of Bébé. Bébé was a cheeky, resourceful character who was invariably far smarter than the adult world around him. Indeed, the common gag in the Bébé films was to place the child in adult situations, evidenced in such titles as Bébé apache (1910), Bébé millionaire (1911) and Bébé candidat au mariage (1911). In the first of those, Bébé’s ability to capture the mannerisms of the Parisian apache, and to play these convincingly and with deft coming timing amid an adult cast is extraordinary. He also played occasional non-Bébé roles. In 1912, Louis Feuillade at Gaumont introduced a new child character into the films, Bout-de-Zan, and won a court case against Mary’s father who had protested at the competition. The father won the right to keep using the Bébé name however, and they moved to Eclectic Films to continue the series until 1916. In adulthood, he changed his name to René Dary and enjoyed a successful career in film and television into the 1970s.”
The Bioscope

“Feuillade, like many of his peers, was sort of a renaissance man filmmaker, experimenting in every genre and setting the medium encompassed at the time. But his crossover from the trick and comedy films of the early 1900s to the complexities of feature length filmmaking in the middle of the 1910s (although his most famous ‘features’ are technically series of shorts) is unique and commendable. Feuillade, in hindsight, was really interested in creating series, and his Bébé shorts probably represent his first. The installments are little comedy sketches about a little boy up to some kind of mischief, and the enterprise was eventually replaced by the Bout de Zan character (essentially the same concept).”
Tristan Ettleman

>>> SERIALS
>>> LOUIS FEUILLADE

Between Naked and Nude

650-Le reveil...Click at the picture to view the film on YouTube

Le réveil de Chrysis
Dir. and actors unknown. P: Pathé frères. Fr 1897/99
From the Pathé series Scènes grivoises d’un caractère piquant (6ème Série)
Print: Filmoteca Zaragoza

“Dans une atmosphère de parfums d’Orient, Chrysis s’éveille. Une négresse lui prodigue respectueusement les soins du lever, pendant que Chry sis soulève langoureusement son corps encore alangui par le sommeil.

Chrysis awakes in an atmosphere of oriental perfumes, and as she rises languidly from her couch, a negress attends respectfully to her wants.”
Filmographie Pathé

“[The] ambivalence between lustful voyeurism and artistic contemplation was later theorized as an opposition between the words naked and nude. While other languages, like French, make no distinction (using the word ‘le nu’ for both translations), English does. Kenneth Clark has theorized this dissimilarity in the following polarization: On the one hand he links ‘nakedness’ with ‘artless’, obscene exhibition and illicit voyeurism. On the other, he identifies ‘nudity’ as an artistic category that deals with ideal beauty and deserves legitimate contemplation. The attraction of living pictures precisely rested on this oscillation between nakedness and nudity, on the one hand de-idealizing the paint that takes shape in the flesh, on the other hand tranfiguring the actors’ bodies into works of art. The fact is too often overlooked, but thanks to this nude alibi, tableaux vivants were the means by which, historically, the naked body got on stage. And the same story occured on screen: the naked came into view under the guise of the nude, shaped by pictorial codes. Motion pictures became the direct heir of living pictures. (…) In the Pathé Catalogue, the film [ref. to La naissance de Vénus, Pathé 1899] appears in a series called ‘scènes grivoises d’un caractère piquant’, literally meaning ‘saucy scenes with a hot quality’. In addition to this title, a warning advises exhibitors to ‘exclude children from the exhibition of these pictures’. The tone is set. (…) The exhibition of flesh is the main selling point. (…)
The catalog summaries make constant reference to art, literature, mythology, and famous iconic nude figures in a lyrical literary style, with sophisticated adjectives, elaborated grammar, and a touch of poetry quelling any suspicion of vulgarity. And several surviving films of this ‘not-for-children’-list prove that the reference was visually significant. La naissance de Vénus (Pathé, ca. 1899) is inspired by William Bouguereau‘s painted Venus, (…) and Le réveil de Chrysis (Pathé, ca. 1899) has much in common with Ferdinand Roybet‘s ‘Odalisque’.”
Valentine Robert: Nudity in Early Cinema; or, the Pictorial Transgression. In: Marina Dahlquist e.a. (ed.): Corporeality in Early Cinema: Viscera, Skin, and Physical Form. Indiana University Press 2018, p. 157-159

BOO183493

Ferdinand Roybet (1840-1920): Odalisque (La Sultane)

Le bain des dames de la cour
Dir. and actors unknown. P: Pathé. Fr 1904
Print: Filmoteca de Zaragoza

>>> Herrenabendfilme

 

Stacia Napierkowska

Le pain des petits oiseaux
R: Albert Capellani. B: Georges Le Faure. D: Stacia Napierkowska, Edmond Duquesne, Lucien Callamand, Paule Andral. P: Pathé Frères (Société cinématographique des auteurs et gens de lettres SCAGL). Fr 1911
Print: Cinémathèque française

Stacia Napierkowska was a French actress and dancer, who worked during the silent film era. She appeared in 86 films between 1908 and 1926. She was born Renée Claire Angèle Élisabeth Napierkowski in Paris to a Polish father, Stanisław Artur Napierkowski, and a French mother. Napierkowska began her career with the Folies-Bergères, where she was noticed by the director of the Opera Comique who engaged her to perform in the Fêtes Romaines organized at the Théâtre d’Orange. She then acted in early silent films, becoming a star while playing opposite the celebrated Max Linder. In January 1913, she embarked for the United States to launch an international career: While sailing on the ocean liner ‘Lorraine’, she encountered the painter, Francis Picabia, who went on to produce a series of paintings inspired by her. In New York City, she was arrested during a dance performance when it was declared indecent. After returning to France, Napierkowska said,’Really, I have not brought away a single pleasant memory from the United States’ and ‘What a narrow-minded people they are – how utterly impervious to any beautiful impression!’ In 1917, Napierkowska directed the short film L’Héritière de la manade. She died in Paris on 11 May 1945.”
Wikipedia

>>> TRAUM UND EXZESS, p. 303-304

>>> Stacia Napierkowska in Feuillade’s Les Vampires on this site