John Ford’s Bucking Broadway (1917), from Europa Film Treasures
It’s here at last folks, Europa Film Treasures, the long-awaited online archive of assorted gems and oddities from film archives across Europe, created by the continually wonderful Lobster Films of Paris.
It’s a collection of truly disparate material, fiction and non-fiction, live action and animation, short and feature-length, ranging from 1898 to 1999. There are films from Austria, Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, the Netherlands, the USA and more. Participating archives include the Deutsche Kinemathek, Det Danske Filminstitut, GosFilmoFond, Filmarchiv Austria, the Scottish Screen Archive, the Imperial War Museum Film and Video Archive, Lobster Films itself, and many more, though several archives only contribute the one title (and some, such as the BFI, which had previously announced that they would be contributing, have not done so – yet).
And what will you find there? Well, there are early actualities by Danish cinematographer Peter Elfelt, pornography from Austria, Biblical lands film from 1906 (these are some of the films shown at Pordenone in 2007 when they were thought to be of an earlier date – see this post – clearly more identification work has been done since then), dance films, a Russian fish processing factory documentary, comedies (including Max Linder), trick films, science fiction (Walter Booth’s The Airship Destroyer from 1909, an important film listed here under a German title, Der Luftkrieg der Zukunft), Spanish newsfilm, Russian Yiddish drama, one of John Ford’s first Westerns Bucking Broadway (1917) – the only non-European title on view, the extraordinary Der Magische Gürtel (1917) – tracking the trail of destruction wreaked by a German U-Boat, French public health films, abstract animation from Viking Eggling, Soviet puppet animation, and more, much more.
This is a wonderful treasure trove, certainly highly eclectic. Some may be disappointed not to find a greater range or more familiar material, but they should be encouraged to explore. They will be amazed and delighted, I hope. Each film comes with credits, background description (in somewhat quaint English, clearly translated none too comfortably from French), and the films are all shown in Flash. A library of documentation and teaching resources are promised soon. There are a number of search options, allowing you to search by archive (the search option says Films), time period, country, genre etc, but finding an individual title (especially as few are in English) is a little laborious. And it’s available in English, French, Spanish, German and Italian.
There’s background information on the European-funded project in an earlier post. Up to 500 titles are promised eventually (there’s around fifty up so far), so clearly it’s a site to visit again and again. There were reports that the funding would only support the site for a year – and then what? I’ll try to find out. Meanwhile, go explore.