R. W. Paul: Blackfriars Bridge

Blackfriars Bridge
R / K: R.W.Paul. P: Paul’s Animatograph Works. UK 1896

“An actuality record of Blackfriars Bridge, London, taken from the southern end looking northwards over the Thames by R.W. Paul in July 1896. It was screened as part of his Alhambra Theatre programme shortly afterwards, certainly no later than 31 August, as it is included in a printed programme of that date (as ‘Traffic on Blackfriars Bridge’). Two or three of the pedestrians seem aware of the camera’s presence, though not to any particularly noticeable extent.”
Michael Brooke
Screen Online

“Paul’s single shot film, Blackfriars Bridge (1896) is typical of the visuel density and local appeal of the actuality. Paul positions his camera to maximise the illusion of immediacy and experiential authenticity. Pedestrians and horse-drawn carriages and omnibuses move in and out of frame in a single shot sequence filmed from the side of one of London’s most iconic bridges. Like so many early actualities, the viewer’s gaze is returned by some of the pedestrians who either look straight into the lens as they approach, or look back as if to catch the eye of the camera as they pass. (…) These moments of gradual apprehension are as much the subject of the film as the bustling traffic of Blackfriars Bridge. The indiscriminate spectacle of movement captured prevails, as multiple anonymous faces and bodies move with varying gaits and bearing through the same public space.”
Helen Groth: Moving Images: Nineteenth-Century Reading and Screen Practices. Edinburgh University Press 2013, p. 167

“The definition of ‘rush hour’ in London grows woollier as the years pass: at its worst it seems to stretch demonically from 6am to 9pm. Journey back over a century to July 1896 though and this tantalising half-minute of footage reveals our Victorian counterparts making their way to work across the Thames by tram, horse-drawn carriage and, for the health-conscious (or the poor), good old Shanks’ pony. More or less business as usual then, although compared to the daily human onslaught we face in 21st century London, the commuters caught by R.W. Paul’s static camera proceed at an enviably elegant pace.”
Simon McCallum


More about Robert W. Paul on this site:

>>> 1898: A Story to ContinueThe First SightDangerous Cars II

A Real Clown of the Silent Era

Robinet innamorato di una chanteuse
R: Marcel Fabre (i.e. Marcel Perez). D: Marcel Fabre, Gigetta Morano. P: Società Anonima Ambrosio. It 1911
Dutch titles

Robinet chauffeur miope
R: Marcel Fabre. D: Marcel Fabre. P: Società Anonima Ambrosio. It 1914
Dutch titles

“One of the happy discoveries of Steve Massa’s new book ‘Lame Brains and Lunatics’ is Marcel Perez (Manuel Fernandez Perez, 1884-1929). Well enough known in the silent era, Massa postulates that Perez’s present obscurity may stem from the fact that his screen name and identity changed so many times (he also changed nations and studios constantly, but that tended to be less of a problem back in the day, when the movie market was truly international.)
Born in Madrid, Perez moved to Paris in his youth and began performing in music halls, circuses and theatres. Like many clowns of the silent era, he was a small man: five feet tall, 125 lbs. His film career in Paris begins circa 1907 where he appeared in at least a couple of shorts for the Eclipse and Gaumont studios. Thus he was one of the earliest comedy stars. In 1910, he began working for Italy’s Ambrosio Company, writing and performing as Marcel Fabre, playing a character called Robinet in Europe, which was translated into Tweedledum in the United States (you see where it’s already getting confusing). World War I forced him to America in 1915, where he made at least one short for Universal’s Joker series (…). He then became Tweedledum again for Eagle Films in 1916, then was known by the unlovely name of ‘Twede-Dan’ at Jester starting in 1918. In 1921 he went over to Reelcraft where he became known as ‘Tweedy’. In 1922, a horrible accident involving a garden rake (which occurred during the filming of one of his comedies) resulted in the loss of a leg, and from this point, he becomes primarily a director of comedies and westerns, both shorts and features. He died of lung cancer in 1929.”

>>> Slapstick Italiano: Marcel Perez

>>> His great adventure film Saturnino Farandola


Marcel Perez alias Marcel Fabre

Vitagraph’s Shakespeare

Julius Caesar
R: J. Stuart Blackton, William V. Ranous. B: Theodore A. Liebler Jr. (scenario), William Shakespeare (play. D: Charles Kent, William Shea, Maurice Costello, William V. Ranous, Florence Lawrence, Paul Panzer, Earle Williams. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1908
Print: BFI
German intertitles

Shakespeare‘s historical tragedy of the rise and fall of Julius Caesar, told in fifteen scenes. One of plays by William Shakespeare adapted by the Vitagraph Company of America in 1908. The others were A Comedy of Errors, Othello , Macbeth , Romeo and Juliet, Richard III, Antony and Cleopatra and The Merchant of Venice.

“Shakespearean texts and intertexts had far-reaching manifestations, encompassing everything from relatively inexpensive editions of the complete works, to inclusion in school curricula, to ephemera such as advertsing cards. Yet contemporary commentary indicates that knowledge of Shakespeare, for the most part, was limited to the familiarity with famous phrases, speeches and scenes. (…) Even at Shakespearean performances, stated many critics, much of the audiences engaged primarily with theatrical spectacles rather than the ‘beauty’ of Shakespeare’s poetry. Shakespeare’s presence (…) took the form of a widely circulated ‘reductionist’ (in a nonpejorative sense) approach to the complex urtexts.”
Willam Uricchio and Roberta E. Pearson: Dante’s Inferno and Caesar’s Ghost: Intertextuality and Conditions of Reception in Early American Cinema. In: Richard Abel (ed.): Silent Film. A&C Black 1996, p. 226

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
R: Charles Kent / J. Stuart Blackton. B: Eugene Mullin; William Shakespeare (comedy). D: Florence Turner (Titania), Julia Swayne Gordon, Maurice Costello, Gladys Hulette, Clara Kimball Young. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1909
Print: Silent Hall of Fame

Twelfth Night
R: Charles Kent. B: Eugene Mullin (scenario), William Shakespeare (play). D: Julia Swayne Gordon, Charles Kent, Florence Turner. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1910

“A measurement of Turner‘s prominence at Vitagraph can be taken when one considers the nature of her performances in a selection of her extant films. A skilled comedienne, Turner nonetheless excelled in dramatic roles that called upon her growing command of the developing verisimilar style perfected at Vitagraph during this time. In particular, reflexive roles casting Turner as an actress seemed designed to showcase her prodigious talent. In Renunciation (1910), for example, Turner plays a young woman whose fiancé’s father persuades her to discourage his son’s attentions by emulating a state of dissolution. The film’s success hinges on Turner’s ability to portray convincingly an actress giving a performance designed to deceive her diegetic audience, while at the same time prompting the film’s viewers to recognize both the persuasiveness of the performance and the true emotions the character experiences when engaged in the ruse. Possibly Turner’s most demanding role was the rejected lover in Jealousy (1911), a film now lost. Promoted by Vitagraph as ‘A Study in the Art of Dramatic Expression by Florence E. Turner’, the film was a tour de force for the actress, as she was the sole performer on-screen for the entirety of Jealousy‘s running time.”
Charlie Keil
Women Film Pioneers Project

>>> Starring: The Girls on this site

Griffith and Pickford (2)

The School Teacher and the Waif
R: David W. Griffith. K: G.W. Bitzer. D: Edwin August, Mary Pickford, Charles Hill Mailes, Bert Hendler, Claire McDowell, William A. Carroll, Robert Harron, Mae Marsh, Alfred Paget. P: Biograph Company. USA 1912
Print: Mary Pickford Foundation

Pickford made her career portraying young women on the verge of adulthood who were often unruly, willful, even violent. This signature had already surfaced in films such as Tess of the Storm Country (1914/1922), Fanchon the Cricket and Rags (both 1915), as well as Biographs such as Wilful Peggy (1910) and Lena and the Geese (1912). Remarkably, Pickford had even played M’liss before [i.e. before her 1918 film M’liss]. The School Teacher and the Waif (1912), a D. W. Griffith one-reeler, is based, like the 1918 feature, on Bret Harte‘s 1863 novelette ‘M’liss’.
Christel Schmidt: Mary Pickford Films on DVD

“Bret Harte (born Francis Brett Hart; August 25, 1836 – May 5, 1902) was an American short story writer and poet, best remembered for his short fiction featuring miners, gamblers, and other romantic figures of the California Gold Rush. In a career spanning more than four decades, he wrote poetry, plays, lectures, book reviews, editorials, and magazine sketches in addition to fiction. As he moved from California to the eastern U.S. to Europe, he incorporated new subjects and characters into his stories, but his Gold Rush tales have been the works most often reprinted, adapted, and admired.”

Lena and the Geese
R: David W. Griffith. B: Mary Pickford. K: G.W. Bitzer. D: Mary Pickford, J. Jiquel Lanoe, Kate Bruce, Mae Marsh, Edwin August, Claire McDowell, W. Chrystie Miller, Christy Cabanne. P: Biograph Company. USA 1912

My Baby
R: David W. Griffith. B: Anita Loos. K: G.W. Bitzer. D: Mary Pickford, Henry B. Walthall, Eldean Steuart, W. Chrystie Miller, Alfred Paget, Madge Kirby, Lionel Barrymore, Elmer Booth, Kate Bruce, Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, Walter Miller. P: Biograph Company. USA 1912
Print: Mary Pickford Foundation

“Mary soaked it all in. As Griffith would later say, “I found she was thirsty for work and information. She could not be driven from the studio while work was going on.” That drive actually evolved; what was at first just a job soon became a passion and she immersed herself in learning every aspect of filmmaking. Mary’s strong sense of professionalism mandated that whatever she did, she was going to do it as well as or better than anyone else. Yet no one worked harder than Griffith. He often started days before dawn heading to a location, spent his afternoons and early evenings shooting interiors at the studio and stayed as late as midnight watching the previous day’s work. However, Mary put in long hours too. She befriended the cameraman Billy Bitzer and together they tested how various make-ups photographed on her as well as the impact of changing the position of the lights, using rudimentary reflectors such as oil cloth and white gravel. The art of filmmaking was advancing on a daily basis and the fact they were working in relative obscurity encouraged experimentation.”
Mary Pickford Foundation

>>> Griffith and Pickford (1)

Griffith and Pickford (1)

The Mountaineer’s Honor
R: David W. Griffith. B: D.W. Griffith, Frank E. Woods. K: G.W. Bitzer. D: Mary Pickford, Owen Moore, James Kirkwood, Kate Bruce, George Nichols, Arthur V. Johnson, Anthony O’Sullivan. P: Biograph Company. USA 1909
Print: Mary Pickford Foundation

“No major star within the silent era can match the career longevity of Mary Pickford. Starting at Biograph in 1909, she established herself as a leading performer with her first films and went on to become the industry’s biggest female star for the next two decades. Compelling onscreen, Pickford was equally adept at controlling the aspects of stardom that extend beyond the screen. A consummate businesswoman, she capitalized on her popularity from early on, negotiating favorable terms of employment and, eventually, considerable creative control. She achieved a degree of power most stars during the period could not hope to possess. Pickford began acting as a child in Canadian theatrical productions before moving on to the New York stage under the tutelage of the impresario David Belasco in 1907. Switching to films two years later, she made a strong impression at Biograph, particularly as a comedienne. Even though the names of film performers were not made known to the public at that time, fans soon christened Pickford ‘Little Mary’; she parlayed that recognition into a series of increasingly lucrative contracts, moving from one company to another, and commanding a salary of several thousand dollars a week in the process.”

To Save Her Soul
R: David W. Griffith. B: David W. Griffith. K: G.W. Bitzer, Arthur Marvin. D: Arthur V. Johnson, Mary Pickford, Caroline Harris, George Nichols, Kate Bruce, Frank Evans. P: Biograph Company. USA 1909
Print: Mary Pickford Foundation

“To Mary, Griffith appeared to be the ultimate authority figure, yet he had only been directing films for less than a year when she arrived. Born on a Kentucky farm, he had moved to Louisville after his father’s death when Griffith was seven. As a young teenager Griffith worked a variety of jobs to help support his mother and six siblings, including acting on the Louisville stage where he claimed he carried a spear for ‘the divine Sarah Bernhardt.’ He was soon on the road, spending more than a decade traveling through the American hinterlands with different stage companies, acting and trying to be writer. To keep the wolf from the door, as he put it, he joined the Bronx-based Edison Company in 1907 and jumped to Biograph the following year. After several months acting and writing, he was approached to direct and, while he needed to be reassured he could return to acting if it didn’t work out, he quickly found his métier. All those years of learning stagecraft, story arcs and characterizations came together and in part because he was so thoroughly immersed in theatrical conventions, he was free to leave some of them behind as his techniques evolved. New as he was in a chronological sense, Griffith had already directed 100 one-reelers by the time Pickford arrived at his doorstep. He was only in his mid-thirties, but he cultivated the airs of a southern gentleman with Victorian manners. At Biograph, one of the first things the 16-year-old Pickford had to get used to was people calling each other by their first names, although no one called D.W. Griffith anything but Mr. Griffith. He, in turn, called her ‘Pickford’ once he started remembering her name.”
Mary Pickford Foundation

Wilful Peggy
R: David W. Griffith. B: Frank E. Woods. K: G.W. Bitzer. D: Mary Pickford, Clara T. Bracy, Henry B. Walthall, Claire McDowell, Kate Bruce, Francis J. Grandon. P: Biograph Company. USA 1910
Print: Mary Pickford Foundation

“The Griffith method was to gather his company around him while he sat on the stage, explain the action and then rehearse scenes. Once he was sure everyone knew what was expected, the film was shot. ‘To stop the camera in those days,’ Mary said, ‘was unheard of.’ Wasting film was wasting money; it cost two cents a foot. And in part because Griffith was paid a bonus for every foot of film he produced, movies were turned out quickly. Mary was comfortable with rehearsals, but to get used to playing to the camera instead of an audience, she practiced her expressions in front of a mirror over and over again.”
Mary Pickford Foundation

>>> Griffith and Pickford (2)

More Griffith & Pickford on this website:

A Beast at Bay
A Feud in the Kentucky Hills
An Arcadian Maid
As It Is in Life
Pippa Passes
The Country Doctor
The Lonely Villa
The Mender of Nets
The New York Hat
The Sealed Room
The Unchanging Sea
The Usurer
The Violin Maker of Cremona
They Would Elope

The Impetuosity of Youth

They Would Elope
R: David W. Griffith. B: Stanner E.V. Taylor. K: G.W. Bitzer, Percy Higginson. D: Billy Quirk, Mary Pickford, James Kirkwood. Kate Bruce. P: Biograph. USA 1909
Print: Mary Pickford Institute for Film Education / film collection
(Score by Phillip Peterson)

“Love has ever laughed at locksmiths, but on this particular occasion the laugh is on Cupid, for that chubby archer certainly miscalculated in arranging the program of the romance of Harry and Bessie. Still the episode will be looked upon in after days as a decidedly strenuous page in their life’s history, and one need not be possessed of an excessively keen sense of humor to appreciate its comedy value. Harry and Bessie loved each other with all the impetuosity of youth, and during one of the many occasions when they pledge undying affection, are surprised by Papa, who, in spirit of jest, pretends to be highly enraged at their presumption, apparently treating them as mere kids. Papa out of the way, they resent being treated as children and plan to elope.”
Silent Era

“In her first year she (Mary Pickford) started getting notices. In the August 21, 1909, issue of the ‘New York Dramatic Mirror’, she is singled out in the review of the Biograph film They Would Elope: ‘This delicious little comedy introduces again an ingénue whose work in Biograph pictures is attracting attention.’ Her work attracted such attention that she supplanted Florence Lawrence as the public-invented Biograph girl. And in England, lacking an official name, she was given one by the British: Dorothy Nicholson. After Carl Laemmle temporarily lured her away from Biograph and gave pubilicity to the Pickford name, the secret was out (…).”
James Card: The films of Mary Pickford. In: Christel Schmidt: Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies. University Press of Kentucky 2012, p. 216

>>> Griffith 1909

>>> Mary Pickford

Amundsen, conquering the South Pole

Roald Amundsens ekspedisjon til sydpolen 1910-1912
(Roald Amundsen’s expedition to the South Pole 1910-1912)
Documentary footage
K: Kristian Prestrud. P: Norsk Kinematograf Aktieselskab. No 1912
Print: Nasjonalbiblioteket Oslo / National Library of Norway

Documentary heritage submitted by Norway and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2005
Roald Amundsen and his 4-man team reached the South Pole, with the help of polar dogs, on 14 December 1911. The expedition, and particularly the dog-sled journey to the Pole, is described as daring and with an exceptionally good logistic planning and execution. (…)
The film collection is unique, as it documents the important events of this first expedition to reach the South Pole. Though the material is incomplete, it is made up of original sequences, filmed between 1910 and 1912, consisting of negative film and first and second-generation print material.”
Memory of the World

“Since the 1980s a short English version has been available but maybe not very well-known. Now the original material has been restored and reconstructed properly. – Also Shackleton shot South Pole footage before and after Amundsen. Scott filmed South Pole footage simultaneously with Amundsen. Penguins were a favourite motif with all.”
Antti Alanen: Film Diary

“Roald Amundsen was not the first Norwegian to film a polar expedition. In 1898, Carsten Borchgrevink, as leader of an English expedition, brought a film camera to Antarctica, only two or three years after the Lumière brothers had shown their first films in Paris. It was Borchgrevink’s affluent sponsor, the publisher George Newnes, who believed in film as a news medium and sent a camera from England. The scenes from the departure are found in the British Film Institute, but no more film recordings were made. Borchgrevink and his photographer, the scientist Louis Bernacchi, were the first to discover that the film camera was not fit for use in cold regions.(…) After 1898, both the mechanics and the film stock were improved. The American expedition leader Anthony Fiala, who was hired as a photographer on the first Ziegler expedition and who led the second Ziegler expedition headed for the North Pole in 1901–5, wrapped the camera up in warm blankets before filming.

When Amundsen set out on his South Pole expedition, most of the technical problems related to filming in extremely cold temperatures had been solved. From this expedition, Amundsen and his team secured moving images of life onboard the polar vessel Fram, of activities around the base Framheim, of the departure with a dog team headed for the pole and animal life in Antarctica, with penguins as a central motif. (…)  Hugo Hermansen edited a version that could be shown independently in cinemas. Hermansen was the director of the cinema company Aktieselskapet Kino and a well-known figure in the capital, and owned cinemas throughout the country. At that time is was common for cinema owners to procure the films for their theaters, and he had personally equipped Amundsen with both rolls of film and a camera. He also edited the final version of the film.”
Jan Anders Diesen: A Century of Polar Expedition Films: From Roald Amundsen to Børge Ousland. In: Eirik Frisvold Hanssen and Maria Fosheim Lund (ed.): Small Country, Long Journeys. Norwegian Expedition Films. Nasjonalbiblioteket Oslo 2017, p. 94-95

Further Reading: The South Pole Expedition, Fram, 1910-12

The short (14 min.) “German Version” of the same footage:

Roald Amundsen’s expedition to the South Pole 1910-1912
K: Kristian Prestrud. P: Norsk Kinematograf Aktieselskab. No 1912
Print: Nasjonalbiblioteket Oslo / National Library of Norway
German intertitles


Winter Sports in Malmö, 1912

Vintersport i Malmö
P: Frans Lundberg, Malmö. Sw 1912

“The story of Swedish film production begins not in Stockholm but in the southern province of Skåne at the beginning of the century, when the first regular cinema theaters were established. The first public showing of moving pictures took place in Malmö in June 1896. The company Svenska Biografteatern (Svenska Bio for short) was founded in 1907 by some businessmen In Kristianstad, the second-largest city in the province. (…) they soon recognized the importance of producing their own films and hired a cinematographer, Robert Olsson, who traveled around making short documentaries. Later the company managed to hire a second skilled cinematographer from Göteborg, Charles Magnusson, who successfully organized their entire production for the following two decades. In Malmö another cinema owner, Frans Lundberg, began film production activities around 1910.
Svenska Bio’s productions were intended primarily for a Swedish audience and had high cultural aspirations. The company soon engaged people from the established stages, most notably the Royal Dramatic Theater in Stockholm. Frans Lundberg’s aim was more international and sensational, and many of his films were produced in Denmark with Danish actors. When the Swedish Board of Film Censors was established in 1911, many of Lundberg’s films encountered difficulties or were banned outright, which eventually forced him to halt production.”
Per Olov Qvist, Peter von Bagh: Guide to the Cinema of Sweden and Finland. Greenwood Publishing Group 2000, p. 5

More about the beginnings of Swedish film production:

>>> Pathé in Sweden

>>> Georg af Klercker-01

Cecil B. DeMille: Joan the Woman

Joan the Woman
R: Cecil B. DeMille. B: Jeanie Macpherson, William C. de Mille. K: Alvin Wyckoff. D: Geraldine Farrar, Raymond Hatton, Hobart Bosworth, Wallace Reid, Theodore Roberts, Tully Marshall, Walter Long, Cleo Ridgely, Horace B. Carpenter, Ernest Joy, William Elmer. P: Paramount Pictures. USA 1916
Print: George Eastman Museum

Cecil B. DeMille’s first feature-length epic is an exercise in equivocation. Joan the Woman (1916) attempts to tell the story of a woman whose chosen path in life is inherently defiant of the gender norms of both her time and that of the film’s audience, while at the same time using the Maid of Orleans to reinforce the value of feminine-patriotic virtues. Joan the Woman follows the popular story of Joan of Arc, portrayed here by Geraldine Farrar, from her departure from Domremy to her arrival at the court of Charles VII of France, where she convinces the dauphin to put her at the head of an army to oust the English from France. Her subsequent victory at Orleans comprises roughly twenty minutes of the two-and-a-half hour film. After Charles’s coronation at Reims, however, the film departs from the documented history dramatically. Joan is captured at Compiegne only because of the betrayal of her English suitor, Eric Trent. The Maid’s fictional love interest attempts to redeem himself through a daring rescue, but ultimately fails. Joan is led to her inevitable death at the stake in Rouen. Watching her burn, Trent laments, ‘We have killed a saint!’ and the villainous Cauchon is led away in disgust before she is dead.

Framing this version of Joan’s story is a prologue and epilogue that takes place in the trenches of World War I in France. English soldiers keep watch over the parapets for any signs of a German attack, though as the audience is introduced to the story all is fairly quiet. Here, Eric Trent has supposedly been reincarnated as an English officer. In the dugout, he pulls an ancient sword from the wall and wonders ‘what queer old chap’ once carried it into battle. Moments later, the armored apparition of Joan of Arc appears behind him to inform him that the time has come to expiate his sins against her. After Joan’s story is told, Trent goes on a suicide mission to destroy a German trench. His mission is a success, and as he lays dying Joan once more appears and all is seemingly forgiven.

While the film was met with generally positive reviews, it was a box office disappointment. DeMille had a $300,000 budget, partially as a result of the success of D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (1915). Griffith’s film, which was an expensive but epic story, grossed at least $20 million. The Birth of a Nation emboldened fledgling studios to invest great amounts of capital into large film productions; audiences were willing to sit through multi-hour historical epics. Joan, bringing in only $600,000, was an unexpected failure. (…)

The film seemingly appealed to mostly those of the upper or middle classes. It is these people who were likely well-versed in Joan’s history, though perhaps more in folklore than the actual historical record detailing Joan’s deeds. Despite the medieval documentation we have detailing Joan’s post-Domremy life and her death, DeMille and screenwriter Jeannie MacPherson consulted only the Encyclopedia Britannica and biographies of Charles VII and Louis XI, as attested in the screenplay’s margins. The main source that served as inspiration for Joan the Woman was Friedrich Schiller’s 1801 play Maid of Orleans, in which Joan of Arc refrains from killing an English soldier when she falls in love with him. DeMille and MacPherson took Schiller’s soldier as inspiration for their character Eric Trent. (…)  By the time the film was released in the United States, the war had been raging for two years, leaving many millions dead. Releasing a film about the English occupation of France at a time when French and English men were fighting side-by-side was not feasible for the politics of wartime. By inspiring Trent to destroy the German trench, DeMille’s Joan demonstrates that old grievances are dead in the face of a new enemy.”
Patrick Duff
Medieval Hollywood

642-Joan the Woman
Commissioned by the United States Department of the Treasury, Haskell Coffin created this poster in 1918. Feeding off the popularization of Joan of Arc in American culture, Haskell uses the imagine of Joan of Arc to encourage women to buy War Savings Stamps in order to save their country, much as Joan of Arc saved France. (Nicole Powell: Joan of Arc Saved France, 2014)


Timeline of Historical Film Colors: Joan the Woman
Developed and curated by Prof. Barbara Flueckiger

Further reading:
Anthony L’Abbate (George Eastman Museum): Joan the Woman (1916), Restored


>>>  Georges Méliès: Jeanne d’Arc on this site

The ‘Clochards’ of Paris

Comment les pauvres mangent à Paris
R: Unknown. D: Unknown. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1910
Print: British Film Institute
German titles
Piano: Günter A. Buchwald

“Charitable organisations and dedicated journalists decried the misery of the slums in industrial cities. ‘Slumming’ was the term used to describe tourist outings or philanthropic day-trips to witness the poverty. Those who eschewed direct confrontation could visit magic lantern shows or the cinema: the photographic and film industries provided a constant supply of new material covering diverse issues of the ‘Social Question’. (…) Comment les pauvres mangent à Paris / How the Poor Dine in Paris (FR 1910) (…) is the first film reportage about the ‘clochards’ of Paris: it is difficult to distinguish the extras acting in the film from the real homeless people.”
Martin Loiperdinger / Ludwig Vogl-Bienek
The Bioscope

“These kinds of films were predecessors of documentary films proper and were, at that time, labelled as ‘actuality films’ (or, as the Lumière Brothers called them, les actualités). However, the argument that can be made for pre-cinematic magic lantern slum shows, can also be made for such early cinematic slum actualités because, as Gunning has emphasised, in this early period ‘actuality films constituted the main product of the cinema rather than fiction filmmaking, and the motion picture camera itself remained the focus of attention.'”
Igor Krstic: Slums on Screen: World Cinema and the Planet of Slums. Edinburgh University Press 2016, p. 62



Giant Trees of California, 22mm

Giant Trees of California
R: unknown. P: Thomas A. Edison Inc. USA 1912
Original Print: 22mm for Edison Home Kinetoscope projector

“In December of 2014, The MediaPreserve was tasked with the digital preservation of an unusual film. The California Audiovisual Preservation Project, a coordinated program which aims to preserve the rich heritage of that state through archival digitization of film, video and audio materials, sent us a film in the rare 22mm Edison Home Kinetoscope format. The film, titled Giant Trees of California, comes from the collection of the San Francisco History Center at the San Francisco Public Library.

The Edison Home Kinetoscope (EHK) was a film projector introduced by Thomas A. Edison, Inc. in 1912 to the home and educational markets. The 35mm film used in commercial movie theaters in the first half of the twentieth century was made of highly-f lammable cellulose nitrate but like other home cinema systems of the time, EHK films were produced on a non-f lammable acetate base. Unlike competing systems (…), EHK films consisted of three rows of images on a single strip of film. This configuration was an attempt to squeeze more images onto the film which functionally maximized running time while economizing on film stock and space. Indeed, the shipping canister for Giant Trees of California is a miniscule 1.5 inches high with a diameter of 2.75 inches. The 22mm name by which this format is known describes the entire width of the film and all of its three rows of images. Each frame is less than 4mm by 6mm making it the smallest film gauge to ever find mainstream use.  (…)”
Diana Little: Digitizing Giant Trees of California, a  22mm Edison Home Kinetoscope Film
LBS/Archival Products


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