Ghosts

Clockwise from top left: Copenhagen Cinema, Variety Picture Palace, Hornsey Palace, Electric Vaudeville, from http://www.islingtonslostcinemas.com

There are those who revere old cinemas and what remains of them. Particularly they like those cinemas from the earliest years who have an unbroken history of film exhibition, especially when they retain some of the original decor – cinemas such as the Notting Hill Gate or The Phoenix in East Finchley. Or much if the building is lost or its purpose changed, they still point to that piece of plasterwork or signage that shows that a little of the cinema still remains.

But I like cinemas that are cinemas no more. Time moves on, the purposes of buildings change, and just as many of the first cinemas in the UK were converted from shops, halls or roller skating rinks, so as their lives as cinemas came to end they took on new lives as other shops, apartment blocks, restaurants, flats, or just became empty spaces where a building once stood. Cinemas that are no longer cinemas – that’s where the real poetry lies.

It is this rich association between past and present purpose that informs a new project, website and exhibition by London artist Sam Nightingale entitled Islington’s Lost Cinemas. Nightingale’s project aims to

unearth, collect, and illuminate the multiple histories and present-day realities of Islington’s cinematic past by developing and presenting an online archive: ‘The Islington’s Lost Cinemas Website’, which includes:

  • photographic documentation of the historic sites of cinema in Islington: both past and present;
  • historical research that combines moving image history with the specifics of cinema development in Islington;
  • the reminiscences of Islington’s own community: through the invitation for those who remember the cinemas to contribute their memories and photographs of the cinemas.

The website has begun with eight ‘lost’ cinemas, hauntingly photographed in black-and-white on the project website, with background histories for each building, and an invitation to Islington residents to participate by contributing memories or images to the site. They include the Cosy Corner Picture Playhouse (opened 1911, now an office block), the People’s Picture Playhouse (opened 1913, now local authority housing) and the Electric Vaudeville (opened 1909, now a sauna and restaurant). More are promised on the site in the future. An exhibition of the photographs, Spectres of Film: Islington’s Lost Cinemas and other Spectral Spaces, is currently taking place at A. Brooks Art in Hoxton Street. It runs until 30 June.

I had happy time a few years ago working on a research project in London’s cinemas (and other kinds of film venue) before 1914. I found arund 1,000 which had existed in London between 1906 and 1914, some of them purpose-built cinemas but most of them buildings adapted for the purose (often shops) or spaces which had other purposes besides showing films (halls, public baths, boxing arenas, arcades etc.). They are all listed on the London Project database and if we had had the time, money and indeed imagination those bare records should have been photographed much as Nightingale has done – and geo-located, and linked to film programme records, and to other London history resources, and so much more. Ah well.

When undertaking the London Project (with co-researcher Simon Brown, who worked on film businesses, while I focussed on cinemas and audiences), I got a sixth sense for detecting buildings that once were cinemas and are no more. There was something about them, some nameless isolation, that made you think – a cinema stood here once. All that activity, light, laughter, music, part of a great change in the leisure lives of Londoners, and here it is now, a block of flats or a fast food restaurant. It’s a particular psychogeographical pleasure, wandering through London spotting where so many cinemas once stood (there were 2.8 cinemas per square mile in London in 1911), inhabiting a London present with a London past and knowing that in time all these buildings will change purpose once again.

The former Biograph Theatre, Kilburn (operated 1910-1917), from Picture Palaces

If you are interested to go in pursuit of London’s lost cinemas, the first place to start is the London Project database, which lists most of the film venues of London 1906-1914, each identifiable according to London borough, and in some cases with information on the status of the building today. Picture Palaces is an evocative site by Terence Nunn documenting twenty London cinemas, some still active, others changed, each photographed and with a short history. The huge Cinema Treasures site is the best guide to cinemas worldwide (including cinemas that are no longer cinemas), with some London and UK buildings, though the emphasis is on the USA.

As for reading, the essential accompaniment to Islington’s Lost Cinemas is Chris Draper’s very fine (but also very rare) Islington’s Cinemas & Studios (Islington Libraries, c.1988). Other books on the cinemas of the various London areas include:

  • Mark Aston, The Cinemas of Camden (Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre, 1997)
  • Jeremy Buck, Cinemas of Haringey (Hornsey Historial Society, 2010)
  • Allen Eyles and Keith Skone, London’s West End Cinemas (Keytone Publications, 1991)
  • Ken George, ‘Two Sixpennies Please’: Lewisham’s Early Cinemas (Lewisham Local History Society, 1987)
  • Cliff Wadsworth, Cinemas and Theatres of Willesden ( CAW Books, 2000)

Finally, there are various Flickr groups that collect photographs of cinemas, in London and worldwide. Former Theaters, however, mostly gets the idea of documenting that which is now lost, though it still likes its building to have some hint of their entertainment past. But no one, so far as I have been able discover, is interested in cinemas transformed completely into something else, so that only the ghost of that cinema remains, in the way that Islington’s Lost Cinemas shows.

Perhaps others may be inspired to take the story further. There is more to old cinemas than architecture and nostalgia.

Good health

Part one of Some Activities of the Bermondsey Borough Council. Part two is here and part three is here

Film archivists know the real treasures in their collections, and while they continue to cater those who wish to see the better known and more obvious classics, it is often the less familiar titles that nevertheless demonstrate the special power of the medium that find favour within the archives. So it was that during my time at the BFI, one of the films that we frequently held us as being the greatest in our collection was Some Activities of the Bermondsey Borough Council (1931).

Never did a great film have so unprepossessing a title, but in the 1920s and ’30s Bermondsey council in London was at the forefront of public health propaganda (in the best sense of the word) and the use of film. At a time before the National Health Service, when many in London’s poorer district suffered from preventable illnesses caused by poor living conditions, the council’s Public Health Department undertook a bold programme to improve public health and to make the people of Bermondsey and Southwark aware of the need for and the opportunities for following a healthy lifestyle. Driven by husband and wife team Alfred and Ada Salter (he became Bermondsey’s MP, she its Mayor, the first female mayor in London), and with films mostly made by H.W. Bush, the Department made or sponsored some 33 films over the two decades, screenings these for free in any space where people might gather, including street screenings, employing cinemotor vans which came with portable projection equipment.

The films include such titles as Where There’s Life There’s Soap (1933), Health and Clothing (1928), The Empty Bed (1937) and Maternity and Child Welfare (1930). All were made silent, for economic reasons and ease of exhibition as much as anything else. All are imbued with a palpable sense of purpose and dedication to a good cause. You derive a real sense of the goodness of people, as well as a sense of shame at the conditions in which people were living well into the twentieth century (though the emphasis is on good work done rather than bad things that needed to be eradicated). Some Activities of the Bermondsey Borough Council Itself is so compelling to watch, not merely for its account of the public health programme, but for its unadorned images of ordinary life in the city (just the views of streets with which the film opens have a special thrill, simply because such views on film are so rare for this period).

Cinemotor, designed for exhibiting films or lantern slides, from the Wellcome Library

The films that survive are preserved by the BFI, with copies held at the medical charity the Wellcome Trust, and it is the Wellcome which has put some of the film on its YouTube channel and on its own site to accompany an exhibition entitled Here Comes Good Health, on the wotk of the Bermondsey Public Health Department. The exhibition runs at the Wellcome (on Euston Road, London) 22 February-3 June 2012, and you can read about the Council’s work, see films and photographs on the exhibition website.

If you are interested to find out more, there is a particularly handsome new publication by Elizabeth Lebas, who has been researching British ‘municipal’ films for some years now, Forgotten Futures: British Municipal Cinema 1920-1980. There is more information on the exhibition, the Public Health Department and its films, with plenty of links to other resources, on the Wellcome Library’s blog.

I also recommend an engrossing account by composer Felicity Ford (on her blog The Domestic Soundscape) who is writing a soundtrack for a related municipal film, Bathing and Dressing (1935), made by the National Council for Maternity and Child Welfare and Carnegie Welfare Centre, Shoreditch. She describes her research process, including locating contemporary sounds and oral history interviews from the British Library, that bring the people and the times back to life as much as do the films.

The age of colours

Kinemacolor projector (left) and Kinemacolor camera, on display at the Capturing Colour exhibition at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery. The projector is from the Sarosh Collection at the National Media Museum; the camera is from Hove Museum

This is the age of colours, it is colour everywhere.

So wrote Charles T. Kock, in a 1909 essay surveying the history and philosophy of colour printing in Penrose’s Pictorial Annual. Kock was marvelling at number of forms of colour reproduction – in printing, clothing manufacture, building, household goods, photography and cinematography. The interesting inference to be made is that it would have been within the experience of his readers to remember a time when the world was not filled with colours; a monochrome Victorian age from which the Edwardian era had gratefully escaped.

Of course there had always been colour, but it was the reproducibility of man-made colour that was brightening Kock’s world. The roots of this can be traced back to the 1850s. It was in 1856 that William Henry Perkin, at the tender age of eighteen synthesized an artifical dye, mauveine, which could be applied to clothes to give an intense purplish hue (mauve). Previously clothes had been coloured used natural dyes, which often lacked stability. Now lasting colours through aniline dyes could be created, and the process industrialised. The year before, in 1855, physicist James Clerk Maxwell demonstrated the principle of three-colour photography, showing how bringing together three separate versions of the same image photographed through red, green and blue filters, could, when aligned together, create a colour record (Maxwell was expounding the theory; he did not present a practical demonstration until 1861).

American chromolithograph showing a roadside inn c.1872, from Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, via Wikimedia Commons

The creation of man-made colours acrosss different media and forms continued throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century. Other aniline dyes were created. Colour printing was given a huge boost by the commercial development of chromolithography (lithorgraphy was first invented in 1796 but didn’t properly include colour until 1839), bringing colour reproductions of paintings into millions of homes. Louis Ducos du Hauron, Charles Cros, E. Sanger-Shepherd and Frederic Ives experimented with forms of colour photography, culminating in the hauntingly beautiful Autochrome process in 1907, invented by the Lumière brothers (founding fathers of cinematography, of course).

Colour came to cinematography as well, in the form of artificial colours applied by hand or in mechanised fashion by use of stencils, until the invention of the first natural colour motion picture colour system, Kinemacolor, patented in 1906 and first commercialised in 1908. Kinemacolor, as with the man-made colours to be found enlivening clothes, illustrations, advertisements, popular prints, posters, magic lantern slides, wallpaper designs, photographs and so much more, had a particular dual appeal at this period when colour was a saleable attraction in itself. I note this in my thesis, which I will take the liberty of quoting here:

There are, however, two kinds of colour reproductions to be considered here. There is the colour picture in the purely naturalistic sense, which offers an approximately faithful record of nature (or, as was more accurately the case with chromolithographs, a faithful record of a work of art that reproduced nature), and there is the colour picture where colour itself, to whatever form or degree, is the attraction in itself. These two forms were not mutually exclusive.The attraction, the desirable commodity, was colour. It was seen as something additional to that which had gone before, an enhancement which could denote beauty, superiority, social status or commercial value, according to usage. Colour was truer, better, brighter; colour drew attention to itself. This twin appeal of colour as natural and colour as the subject in itself was central to the exploitation of Kinemacolor. Tom Gunning sets out colour’s ‘contradictory role’ in cinema by stating that on one hand ‘there is the claim, made most explicitly by Bazin’s essay “The Myth of Total Cinema”, that color plays an essential part in the fulfilling of the ideal of cinema’s first inventors, “the reconstruction of a perfect illusion of the outside world in sound, color and relief”’, while on the other, ‘color can also appear in cinema with little reference to reality, as a purely sensuous presence, an element which can even indicate a divergence from reality’. The evidence of chromolithography, Kinemacolor, and other media from this period, however, indicates a more complex situation, a desire for reality and super-reality at the same time, which was to a significant extent created by the very limitations of the technical processes that enabled such colours to be reproduced.

Colour that draws attention to itself while at the same time trying to denote reality (and so by implication striving not to be noticeable at all) is the subject of Capturing Colour: Film, Invention and Wonder, an exhibition at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery. The exhibition positions itself within the history of capturing colour across different forms, but concentrates on film’s part in this history, with a particular emphasis on early film. Brighton is the right location for such an exhibition, because it was here that George Albert Smith discovered that by employing red and green filters only (leaving out blue) he could achieve a satisfactorily realistic colour motion picture effect, which would be named Kinemacolor (patented in 1906, but a letter on display makes it clear that Smith had made his breakthrough in 1904). As well as Smith, the inventor William Norman Lascelles Davidson, Benjamin Jumeaux, Otto Pfenninger and William Friese-Greene were all working on colour photography and cinematography at the same time, each of the Brighton and Hove residents.

Kromskop viewer (left) and projecting Kromskop, on display at the Capturing Colour exhibition

The exhibition takes us from innovations in colour reproduction in the nineteenth century, to the arrival of film and the extensive use of applied colour (hand[ainted, stencil, tinted), the work of Brighton photographers and filmmakers, the three-colour principle established by Maxwell and its exposition by Frederic Ives with his Kromskop camera (which produced fine colour images but which did not solve the problem of how to fix these in a form you could hang on the wall), the first motion picture colour system of 1899 (which failed to work) of Frederick Marshall Lee and Edward Turner, the successes of Kinemacolor and its rival Biocolour (invented by Friese-Greene), later colour processes such as Technicolor, Dufaycolor, Kodachrome and Eastmancolour, colour television, and finally digital colour today – with a fascnating comparison of different digital images of Brighton beach, showing how various and relative our ostensibly ‘perfect’ means of reproducing colour remain. Colour, ultimately, is all in the mind.

I warmly recommend the exhibition, which not only tells of a time when colour could not been taken for granted, but reminds us never to take colour for granted. It includes such treats as stereoscopes, a Kinemacolor camera and projector, a Lee-and-Turner three-colour projector, an Ives Kromskop and projecting Kromskop, a Technicolor camera, and impressive use of film clips throughout which serve as a model of how to integrate moving images with more traditional museum objects. There are also things for children to do in every room.

The Brighton Museum & Art Gallery has produced an online version of the exhibition, which duplicates each of the sections with some lovely colour images (no film clips though, alas).

The Tom Gunning essay referred to above, ‘Colorful Metaphors: the Attraction of Color in Early Silent Cinema‘, is an excellent (and freely-available) guide to the meanings of colour in early cinema, placing films within the wider context of contemporary colour reproduction (particularly book illustrations).

The history of mauve is told by Simon Garfield in Mauve: How One Man Invented a Colour That Changed the World – a first-rate read.

The great book on chromolithography is Peter C. Marzio’s The democratic art: Pictures for a 19th-century America: chromolithography, 1840-1900. It’s well worth hunting down a copy.

You can find links to all of the Bioscope’s posts on colour film in the Colourful Stories series (from Maxwell to Chronochrome) here.

The Capturing Colour exhibition, which has free admission, remains open until 20 March 2011.

Capturing colour

Kinemacolor test film (‘Two Clowns’), filmed c.1906 by G.A. Smith and featuring his wife Laura Bayley

Capturing Colour: Film, Invention and Wonder is an exhibition on the early history of motion picture colour and related media. The exhibition opened on 4 December at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery and runs until 20 March 2011. The exhibition encompasses magic lanterns, early colour photography, chromatropes, kromskops and applied colour films, through to Kinemacolor, Kodachrome and Technicolor, and explores dramas and actualities, Hollywood productions and home movies.

There’s not much to look at on the Museum website, but I can vouch for the presence at the exhibition of some precious examples of very early motion picture colour technology, including a Lee and Turner triple-lens colour projector c.1901 and a Kinemacolor projector from the collection of the National Media Museum, which I saw being packed up for the exhibition a few weeks ago.

There will be a detailed report once I have visited the exhibition (late January, I think). Meanwhile, if you are interested in the history of colour cinematography, the Bioscope produced a series, Colourful Stories, on the first film colour systems, a couple of years ago:

  • Part 1: James Clerk Maxwell and the first colour photograph
  • Part 2: The Kromskop
  • Part 3: The first patent for colour cinematography, in 1897
  • Part 4: The Lee and Turner three-colour system, patented in 1899
  • Part 5: The Brighton School
  • Part 6: Inventing Kinemacolor
  • Part 7: Reviving Kinemacolor
  • Part 8: Hand-painted colour
  • Part 9: The Pathé stencil colour system
  • Part 10: First public exhibition of natural colour motion pictures
  • Part 11: Kinemacolor in America
  • Part 12: Tinting and toning
  • Part 13: The end of Kinemacolor
  • Part 14: Gaumont Chronochrome

I’m well aware that the series is not done yet (Prizmacolor, Kodachrome, Technicolor and more if we’re to complete the story for the silent era). I’ll get round to finishing it one day, I promise…

Looking back on 2010

Lillian Gish knows just what it’s like in north Kent, from Way Down East

The snows of winter are piling up in fantastic drifts about the portals of Bioscope Towers. Icy blasts find their way through every crack and cranny. Outside, civilization grinds to a glacial halt, and the end of the year now beckons. In the relative warmth of the Bioscope scriptorium, I’ve been thinking it would be a good idea to look back on what happened in the world of silent film over 2010. So here’s a recap of highlights from the past twelve months, as reported on the Bioscope (and in a few other places) – silent memories to warm us all.

There were three really big stories in 2010. For many of us, the most welcome news story of this or any other year was the honorary Oscar that went to Kevin Brownlow for a lifetime dedicated to the cause of silent films. The restored Metropolis had its premiere in a wintry Berlin in February. It has now been screened acround the world and issued on DVD and Blu-Ray. And there was the sensational discovery by Paul E. Gierucki of A Thief Catcher, a previously unknown appearance by Chaplin in a 1914 Keystone film, which was premiered at Slapsticon in June.

It was an important year for digitised documents in our field. David Pierce’s innovative Media History Digital Library project promises to digitise many key journals, having made a good start with some issues of Photoplay. The Bioscope marked this firstly by a post rounding up silent film journals online and then by creating a new section which documents all silent film journals now available in this way. A large number of film and equipment catalogues were made available on the Cinémathèque française’s Bibliothèque numérique du cinéma. Among the books which became newly-available for free online we had Kristin Thompson’s Exporting Entertainment, and the invaluable Kinematograph Year Book for 1914.

Among the year’s restorations, particularly notable were Bolivia’s only surviving silent drama, Wara Wara, in September, while in October the UK’s major silent restoration was The Great White Silence, documenting the doomed Scott Antarctic expedition.

We said goodbye to a number of silent film enthusiasts and performers. Particularly mourned in Britain was Dave Berry, the great historian of Welsh cinema and a friend to many. Those who also left us included Dorothy Janis (who starred in The Pagan opposite Ramon Novarro); film restorer and silent film technology expert Karl Malkames; the uncategorisable F. Gwynplaine Macintyre; and film archivist Sam Kula. One whose passing the Bioscope neglected to note was child star Baby Marie Osborne, who made her film debut aged three, saw her starring career end at the age of eight, then had a further ninety-one years to look back on it all.

Arctic conditions in Rochester uncannily replicated in Georges Méliès’ A la Conquête du Pôle (1912)

On the DVD and Blu-Ray front, Flicker Alley followed up its 2008 5-disc DVD set of Georges Méliès with a sixth disc, Georges Méliès Encore, which added 26 titles not on the main set (plus two by Segundo de Chomón in the Méliès style). It then gave us the 4-DVD set Chaplin at Keystone. Criterion excelled itself by issuing a three-film set of Von Sternberg films: Underworld (1927), The Last Command (1928) and The Docks of New York (1928). Other notable releases (aside from Metropolis, already mentioned) were Flicker Alley’s Chicago (1927) and An Italian Straw Hat (1927), Kino’s Talmadge sisters set (Constance and Norma), the Norwegian Film Institute’s Roald Amundsen’s South Pole Expedition (1910-1912) and Il Cinema Ritrovato’s Cento anni fa: Attrici comiche e suffragette 1910-1914 / Comic Actresses and Suffragettes 1910-1914, while the Bioscope’s pick of the growing number of Blu-Ray releases is F.W. Murnau’s City Girl (1930), released by Eureka. But possibly the disc release of the year was the BFI’s Secrets of Nature, revealing the hypnotic marvels of natural history filmmaking in the 1920s and 30s – a bold and eye-opening release.

New websites turned up in 2010 that have enriched our understanding of the field. The Danish Film Institute at long last published its Carl Th. Dreyer site, which turned out to be well worth the wait. Pianist and film historian Neil Brand published archival materials relating to silent film music on his site The Originals; the Pordenone silent film festival produced a database of films shown in past festivals; the daughters of Naldi gave us the fine Nita Naldi, Silent Vamp site; while Kevin Brownlow’s Photoplay Productions finally took the plunge and published its first ever website.

The crew for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Mountain Eagle, ready for anything the elements can throw at them

Among film discoveries, in March we learned of the discovery of Australia’s earliest surviving film, the Lumière film Patineur Grotesque (possibly October 1896); in June we heard about a major collection of American silents discovered in New Zealand; and digital copies of ten American silents held in the Russian film archive were donated to the Library of Congress in October. That same month the Pordenone silent film festival unveiled the tantalising surviving frgament of F.W. Murnau’s Marizza, Genannt die Schmuggler-Madonna (1921-22). There was also time for films not yet discovered, as the BFI issued its Most Wanted list of lost films, most of them silents, while it also launched an appeal to ‘save the Hitchcock 9” (i.e. his nine surviving silents).

The online silent video hit of the year was quite unexpected: Cecil Hepworth’s Alice in Wonderland (1903) went viral after the release of the Tim Burton film of Lewis Carroll’s story. It has had nearly a million views since February and generated a fascinating discussion on this site. Notable online video publications included UCLA’s Silent Animation site; three Mexican feature films: Tepeyac (1917), El tren fantasma (1927) and El puño de hierro (1927); and the eye-opening Colonial Films, with dramas made in Africa, contentious documentaries and precious news footage.

2010 was undoubtedly the year of Eadweard Muybridge. There was a major exhibition of the photographer’s work at Tate Britain and another at Kingston Museum (both still running), publications including a new biography by Marta Braun, while Kingston produced a website dedicated to him. He also featured in the British Library’s Points of View photography exhibition. There was also controversy about the authorship of some of Muybridge’s earliest photographs, and a somewhat disappointing BBC documentary. In 2010 there was no avoiding Eadweard Muybridge. Now will the proposed feature film of his life get made?

Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance trapped in the Medway ice, from South (1919)

It was an interesting year for novel musical accompaniment to silents: we had silent film with guitars at the New York Guitar Festival; and with accordions at Vienna’s Akkordeon festival. But musical event of the year had to be Neil Brand’s symphonic score for Alfred Hitchcock’s Blackmail (1929), given its UK premiere in November.

Noteworthy festivals (beyond the hardy annuals of Pordenone, Bologna, Cinecon etc) included the huge programme of early ‘short’ films at the International Short Film Festival at Oberhausen in April/May; and an equally epic survey of Suffragette films in Berlin in September; while the British Silent Film Festival soldierly on bravely despite the unexpected intervention of an Icelandic volcano.

On the conference side of things, major events were the Domitor conference, Beyond the Screen: Institutions, Networks and Publics of Early Cinema, held in Toronto in June; the Sixth International Women and Film History Conference, held in Bologna also in June; and Charlie in the Heartland: An International Charlie Chaplin Conference, held in Zanesville, Ohio in October.

It wasn’t a great year for silent films on British TV (when is it ever?), but the eccentric Paul Merton’s Weird and Wonderful World of Early Cinema at least generated a lot of debate, while in the US sound pioneer Eugene Lauste was the subject of PBS’s History Detectives. Paul Merton was also involved in an unfortunate spat with the Slapstick festival in Bristol in January over who did or did not invite Merton to headline the festival.

The art of the silent film carried on into today with the feature film Louis (about Louis Armstrong’s childhood), and the silent documentary feature How I Filmed the War. Of the various online modern silent shorts featured over the year, the Bioscope’s favourite was Aardman Animation’s microscopic stop-frame animation film Dot.

Charlie Chaplin contemplates the sad collapse of Southeastern railways, after just a few flakes of snow, from The Gold Rush

What else happened? Oscar Micheaux made it onto a stamp. We marked the centenary of the British newsreel in June. In October Louise Brooks’ journals were opened by George Eastman House, after twenty-five years under lock and key. Lobster Films discovered that it is possible to view some Georges Méliès films in 3D.

And, finally, there have been a few favourite Bioscope posts (i.e. favourites of mine) that I’ll give you the opportunity to visit again: a survey of lost films; an exhaustively researched three-part post on Alfred Dreyfus and film; the history of the first Japanese dramatic film told through a postcard; and Derek Mahon’s poetic tribute to Robert Flaherty.

It’s been quite a year, but what I haven’t covered here is books, largely because the Bioscope has been a bit neglectful when it comes to noting new publications. So that can be the subject of another post, timed for when you’ll be looking for just the right thing on which to spend those Christmas book tokens. Just as soon as we can clear the snow from our front doors.

And one more snowy silent – Abel Gance’s Napoléon recreates the current scene outside Rochester castle, from http://annhardingstreasures.blogspot.com

The running man

It is perhaps the most iconic of all photographic images. Eadweard Muybridge‘s running man (he made several photographic sequences of a man running, but I’m thinking of the one illustrated here) conjures up the very idea of photography. It has captured the instant, has brought a moment out of its specific time into all time. We can hear the click of the shutter. It is one of a sequence of twelve, any one of which can seen as representative, as all document the same action, but the point where both legs leave the air is the most quintessentially photographic. It is the image for which photography was made.

It is the point where the nineteenth century turns into the modern age. It doesn’t just offer a view of the past – it makes the past coterminous with us. He started running in 1887 and he is running still in 2010. The plain background accentuates the timelessness, leaving us nothing to contemplate save bare, unaccommodated man. It sums up who we are: hurtling forward from who knows where to who knows where, yet never really going anywhere. It simultaneously celebrates and laughs at progress.

The image has classical resonances. There is an echo of Ancient Greek statuary and the Olympic ideal, but the stronger echo is with Leonardo dan Vinci’s ‘Vitruvian Man‘ or the ‘Proportions of Man’, the idealised, perfectly proportioned figure inscribed within a circle and a square. Muybridge’s man, similarly ideally proportioned, is inscribed within a square. And Da Vinci’s image has an intimation of motion about it – the figure’s body is static but there are two sets of arms and two sets of legs, indicating that idealised man can only be revealed in movement. I run therefore I am.

The image is about time itself. Just as in times past a skull might be used as a memento mori, a means for the observer to contemplate the death that must come to us all, the running man obliges us to contemplate the ceaseless flow of time. The image seeks to defeat time by capturing the moment – the science of sequence photography that Muybridge inspired was called chronophotography, which means ‘picturing time’. A photograph does not capture time in any actual sense; it is a chemical (or now digital) illusion. But it does capture the idea of time, a thing for contemplation.

The image also represents the historical moment between the still image and the motion picture. Muybridge was interested in dissecting motion by capturing that which could not be detected by the naked eye, namely the individual elements of motion. He was not trying to create motion pictures (though he did experiment with these as a sideline). Motion pictures do not reveal the invisible as such; they replicate visible reality. But Muybridge’s vision and technical accomplishment led the way to motion pictures as others built on the logic of what he had established. It is right that he is the usual starting point for histories of film.

The running man is also telling us a story. One of the most engrossing elements of the Muybridge exhibition currently on show at Tate Britain is how it leads us to imagine Muybridge playing out the psychodrama in his head following his acquittal for the murder of his wife’s lover (and she died soon after). Much has been made of the women in his sequence photographs, shown as they are in submissive, playful, dancing, teasing, eroticised or domestic roles. The men, however, are all going somewhere, doing physical, masculine things – lifting, wrestling, throwing, marching, chopping, running. Muybridge himself appears (naked) in some sequences, and just as we can see all of the women in the photographs as Flora Muybridge, so all the men are Eadweard Muybridge, emblematised as the man running for the sake of running, wanting to be doing something that it is good for man to be seen doing, without really knowing why.

Then there is athletics itself. This is not just an image of a man out of time. It is a photograph, or a set of photographs, of an athlete. Competitive sports became hugely important in the late nineteenth century, and in 1878 Muybridge photographed members of the San Francisco Olympic Club. In 1884 he started work at the University of Pennsylvania, producing hundreds of photographic sequences, many of them showing athletes from the university. American universities were hotbeds of the new enthusiasm for sports, and sport was becoming an important expression of what it meant to be a (male) American. The running man is someone who ran with a purpose, who knew what it meant to run.

The sequence photographs of the running man did not come out of nowhere. Produced as part of Muybridge’s Animal Locomotion series (1887), they came as the culmination of an exceptional career in photography. As the exhibition makes clear, Muybridge was a photographer of considerable accomplishments long before he started photographing galloping horses and running men. His work ranged from stereoscopes (3D images) to extraordinary panoramas. He was a photographer of landscapes and cityscapes, always able to capture something beyond the mere replication of a reality. Even before he began his motion studies in the late 1870s he was revealing something of the mystery of time and motion in his work. The necessarily long exposures that came with wet plate photography meant that the apparent instant is really a record of the passage of seconds. The passing of time is reflected in the stillness.

The running man as an instantly recognisable symbol of what it is to be human is a part of modern culture. The man running ever forwards yet getting nowhere has been used in pop videos such as Talking Heads’ Road to Nowhere and U2’s Lemon. Videos inspired by Muybridge’s work, often inspired by the figure running endlessly against a black background with white lines, can be found all over such sites as YouTube and Vimeo, as modern artists demonstrate a compulsion to revisit his vision. Muybridge sequences have been used on posters, book covers, murals, television trailers and T-shirts. The running man even runs endlessly across twelve frames on the lenticular ruler I bought at the exhibition.

And then there is the science. For all that we can philosophise about time, or see the image(s) as depicting a crisis in the idea of masculinity, or see them for the inspiration they gave to artists such as Duchamp, Bacon and Twombly (and Muybridge wanted to inspire artists), the running man and all the other Animal Locomotion sequences were commissioned by a body of scientists. The University of Pennsylvania paid him $40,000 to undertake work of a scientific character, and the committee than oversaw his work included an anatomist, a neurologist and a physiologist. The running man was there to be studied. He was demonstrating the processes of human motion, revealing action and musculature as it had not been possible to show before. The white grid on the black background is there for scientific reasons: to gain the measure of a man.

The running man is not a complete work in itself. It/he is part of Plate 62 of Animal Locomotion; one of twelve images taken in succession (plus another twelve images giving a side-on view of the same action). It is one twelfth of a work that one cannot ever pin down. Looking at the twelve images in sequence does not really tell us what the work signifies; looking at one of the images does not give us the full work; looking at the sequence animated falsifies what Muybridge tried to achieve. And the man did not run forever, as the animations suggest. He ran from one end of the track to another. Then he stopped. Muybridge’s work is endlessly mysterious to contemplate.

The Muybridge exhibition at the Tate is a marvellous experience, and you should go if you can. It covers every aspect of his remarkable career, clearly explained and illuminatingly displayed. There are his haunting images of the Yosemite, the breathtaking panoramas of San Francisco, hypnotically beautiful cyanotypes (the blue-toned contact proofs from which published collotypes were made), and a Zoopraxiscope projector with which he exhibited proto-animation ‘films’ on disc based on his photographic sequences. A little more context, in the form of the works of his peers and those he has influenced, would have been welcome, but of his work there can be no complaint. OK, perhaps just one. In the exhibition there is no Plate 62. There is Plate 63, in which the same athlete runs a little faster, and not quite as iconically (he leans forward too much). The quintessential Muybridgean image isn’t there.

The Muybridge controversy

Eadweard Muybridge, The Human and Animal Locomotion Photographs, published by Taschen

The long-awaited Eadweard Muybridge exhibition opens at Tate Britain on 8 September, running until 16 January 2011. The exhibition has been developed by the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC, where it ran April-July under the title Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change. The Tate exhibition is entitled ‘Eadweard Muybridge: The Photographer who Proved Horses Could Fly’, which has to win some sort of an award for direst exhibition subtitle of the decade, but the change from the Washington show is significant. Because since the Muybridge show opened in America controversy has arisen over the authenticity of some of Muybridge’s works, and in particular the name ‘Helios’.

‘Helios’ was a name adopted by Eadweard Muybridge when marketing his photographs in the United States in the 1860s, in the period before he took up sequence photography. Muybridge had emigrated from the UK to the USA in 1851, when his surname was still that which his parents would have recognised, Muggeridge, and initially was involved in book selling. He moved to California and changed his name to Muygridge. After a traumatic stagecoach crash he returned to Britain in 1860. The biography is a bit vague for the next few years, but somewhere along the line he pick up considerable skills in the wet collodion photographic process. He returned to the United States in 1867, traded as Helios, and revealed himself to be a photographic genius (now named Muybridge), with stereoscopic and panoramic views of landscapes and cityscapes which reached the pinnacle of the art-form. Then in 1872 he was approached by railroad baron Leland Stanford to help settle a debate about whether a horses hooves left the ground when galloping, using rapid photography, and the rest was proto-motion picture history.

‘Helios’ photograph of Yosemite Falls, credited to Eadweard Muybridge, from Yosemite: Its Wonders and Its Beauties (1868) by John S. Hittell, c/o http://www.yosemite.ca.us. Note the ‘Helios’ credit in the bottom right-hand corner

The controversy lies in the ‘Helios’ period. Just as the Washington exhibition opened, a photography historian Weston Naef was interviewed for a fairly explosive three-part piece about Muybridge for Artinfo which claimed that much of Muybridge’s work at this time was the work of another photographer, Carleton Watkins, who photographed the Yosemite region at around the ame time as Muybridge. Here are the three parts:

You’ll have to read Naef’s interview to get the full conspiracy theory, but essentially he argues that Muybridge bought negatives from other photographers, particularly Watkins, marketing them under the ‘Helios’ name, then goes on to claim that Watkins taught Muybridge all he knew, sometimes standing over him to coach him (there is no evidence for either of those last two assertions). There are two aspects to this: the arguments and the conclusion. The arguments range from the intriguing to the silly. The silliest is where Naef says that no one could become a photographic genius with the speed that Muybridge showed, giving this reasoning:

It seems very likely that when Muybridge returned to San Francisco in 1867 that he would have acquired — in the same way he acquired patents and the rights to publish books — he would have used the same kind of method to establish himself in a new business in San Francisco, and that new business would have been as a publisher of photographs rather than as a maker of them. There is no evidence for how in 1868 he could have gained the mastery required to make many of the exceptional small works that are on view in the first several galleries. The mystery remains: When did Muybridge perform the 10,000 hours of practice in photography that people who are involved in studying the psychology of learning believe is required to become a world-class master in any subject?

What tosh. There are very few people who put in 10,000 hours of practice at anything and come out geniuses. They come out as averagely proficient. Geniuses tend to leap-frog the stages that we ordinary mortals have to follow, and to do so damn quickly. Muybridge was a photographic genius because he was gifted.

But if some of the reasoning is faulty (and I should add that Naef has many more arguments in favour of the photographer he admires, namely Watkins), the conclusion has an element of probability about it. Why might not have Muybridge marketed the work of others under the Helios trademark? He was a businessman before he became an artist (or scientist, depending on your point of view). It may have taken a while before he saw photographs as something he wanted to create rather than objects he wanted to sell. It’s a speculative area that merits further investigation, but with the realisation that this is but one small aspect of the career of a major creative artist. One of the exciting things about Muybridge is that we are still discovering so much about him, and that so many intriguing mysteries remain about him.

Naef’s allegations have led to all sorts of online speculation. The best responses have been Muybridge authority Stephen Herbert’s Muy Blog, which looks at Muybridge’s ‘lost’ years of the 1860s while artfully debunking Naef, and Rebecca Solnit, author of the excellent Muybridge biography Motion Studies (aka River of Shadows) whose piece in The Guardian ably defends Muybridge against the campaign of innuendo.

Part of Muybridge’s 1878 photographic panorama of San Francisco, from America Hurrah!

Meanwhile, there’s a major exhibition to enjoy, which promises to bring together “the full range of his art for the first time”, exploring the ways win which Muybridge created and honed such remarkable images, works which influenced artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Francis Bacon and Philip Glass’s music, and which continue to resonate powerfully with artists today. Highlights include a seventeen foot panorama of San Francisco and recreations of the Zoopraxiscope (pre-film motion pictures on a disc) in action.

Needless to say, plenty of associated publications and events will be around to coincide with the exhibition. Most exciting among the former is probably going to be Taschen’s monumental Eadweard Muybridge, The Human and Animal Locomotion Photographs (published 25 September), put together by Hans Christian Adam. This reproduces all 781 plates from Muybridge’s Animal Locomotion (1887), the entirety of The Attitudes of Animals in Motion (1881), and an authoritative chronology by Stephen Herbert. At long last it looks like we have a replacement for the venerable volumes produced by Dover Publications. No less essential will be Marta Braun’s new biography, Eadweard Muybridge, published on 24 September, by Reaktion. Plus there’s the exhibition book, Eadweard Muybridge, edited by Philip Brookman, and from the Tate shop an irresistible selection of Muybridgean goodies, including posters, bags, calendars, prints, postcards, notebooks, T-shirts, rulers, and the inevitable fridge magnets.

Muybridge photographic sequences, from http://www.taschen.com

On the events side, Muy Blog provides this list (with the promise of adding more as they emerge):

Eadweard Muybridge at Tate Britain
8 Sept – 16 Jan
Tate Britain, Millbank
First major UK retrospective of Muybridge’s entire career.
Tickets £10/£8.50 from htpp://www.tate.org.uk/britain

Muybridge in Kingston Launch Day
Sat 18 Sept 12.30-7pm
Kingston Museum & Stanley Picker Gallery
Public launch of the Muybridge in Kingston exhibitions with special events for all the family, including a magic lantern show from Professor Heard, shadow puppetry from Zannie Fraser and an evening launch lecture on Muybridge’s links to the history of the moving and projected image by Muybridge expert Stephen Herbert.
All welcome – no booking required.

Park Nights at Serpentine Gallery Pavilion
Becky Beasley & Chris Sharp
Fri 24 Sept 8pm
Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens
13 pieces, 17 feet is a monologue in thirteen parts that finds its point of departure in Muybridge’s extraordinary 1878 San Francisco panorama.
Tickets £5/£4 from http://www.serpentinegallery.org/park_nights/

Late at Tate: Eadweard Muybridge
Fri 1 Oct 6pm-10pm
Tate Britain, Millbank
An evening of Muybridge-inspired events.
Visit htpp://www.tate.org.uk/britain for further details.

In Conversation: Trevor Appleson
Wed 6 October 7pm
Stanley Picker Gallery
Exploring Muybridge’s influence on contemporary arts practitioners.
Limited seating – to reserve a FREE place please call 020 8417 4074

Muybridge & Moving Image History
Thurs 14 Oct, 28 Oct & 11 Nov 7pm
Kingston Museum
Evening lecture series offering unique insights into the relationship between Muybridge’s work and the history of visuality, film and animation.
Limited seating – to reserve a FREE place please call 020 8547 6460

See also the events programme given on the Muybridge at Kingston site (Kingston-on-Thames being the birth and deathplace of Muybridge and home of a huge collection of his works at its museum).

Once again, the Tate Britain exhibition runs from 8 September 2010 to 16 January 2011.

Well, all I can say is, beat that, Carleton Watkins.

Defining Muybridge

http://www.eadweardmuybridge.co.uk

As was pointed out here recently, this is turning out to be the year of Eadweard Muybridge. The sequence photographer whose work laid paths both technological and intellectual towards motion pictures isn’t enjoying a centenary of any sort, but nevertheless we have a major exhibition now running Washington until July, moving to Tate Britain in London in September, and San Francisco in February 2011; a new critical biography by Marta Braun to be published in September; other events, exhibitions and symposia (there was a one-day event at the BFI South Bankon May 21st); and now a new website: Eadweard Muybridge: Defining Modernities.

The website has been produced in collaboration by Kingston University and Kingston Museum in the UK, Kingston being Muybridge’s home town. It sets out “to provide a definitive research resource surrounding the work of 19th Century photographer Eadweard Muybridge”, and it has gone about its task in a particularly handsome way. The site is divided into four main sections: Collection Map & Database; Muybridge: Image & Context; Comparative Timelines; and Bibliography.

The Collections Map & Database lists “all known physical collections of Muybridge’s work housed in cultural organisations around the world; as well as selected collections of rare books published by Muybridge during his lifetime”. The search form on the front page suggests that the research will be able to locate individual items in these collections through a single database, but in fact you are pointed to a more basic collection guide with indication of number of Muybridge-related items held. You can refine your research by country and category, and see the collections arranged on a world map.

‘Boy. Child without legs. Getting off chair’, from http://www.eadweardmuybridge.co.uk

Muybridge: Image & Context is a set of useful short essays on key aspects of Muybridge’s work, beautifully illustrated with slide shows (Muybridge remains an absolute gift to any designer). Themes include The Modern City, Landscape, Foreign Bodies, and The Human Figure in Motion.

Comparative Timelines is a browsable timeline of the Muybridge era, 1800-1907 (he lived 1830-1904). It allows you to trace events in his personal life, film history, invention, photography, US history and world history side-by-side. Finally there is a bibliography, with a surprisingly brief supplementary list of web links.

Eadweard Muybridge: Defining Modernities is a pleasure to look at and easy to navigate. It has ambitions to become the definitive resource for Muybridge online, and hopefully it will indeed build on these good foundations, though it has a little way to go before it can match Stephen Herbert’s solo production The Compleat Muybridge (oddly not included among the site’s links) for its range and comprehensiveness.

And there’s more. Also just launched is Muybridge in Kingston, a site which usefully brings together Muybridge collections, events and projects located in Kingston, which certainly is doing its native son proud. Next, the always excellent Luminous Lint photography website has an online exhibition entitled Scientific Movement. Created by Alan Griffiths, the exhibition traces the history of the efforts by scientists to capture movement through photography, covering Muybridge, his great French contemporary E.J. Marey, and others whose less familiar work continued well into the twentieth-century: Ottomar Anschütz (1846-1907), Arthur Clive Banfield (1875-1965), Prof. A.M. Worthington, Ernst Mach, the Bragaglia brothers in Italy, Frank B. and Lillian Gilbreth and Harold E. Edgerton (1903-1990).

Finally, as a taster for what we in the UK can expect in September, here’s short promo for the Washington exhibition, Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change:

The year of Eadweard

This is the year of Eadweard Muybridge. No particular reasons why, given that the centenary of his death fell six years ago, but just the sheer excellence of his photographic work and the continued research and discovery that it encourages have led to three exhibitions of his work being planned for 2010 – a major one at the Corcoran Gallery, Washington DC, which then moves to Tate Britain in London and San Francisco in 2011, and two on a smaller scale at his home town of Kingston.

The Washington exhibition runs 10 April-18 July and is entitled Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change (‘Helios’ was the name Muybridge adopted for a time when working as a professional photographer). The exhibition is being organised by Corcoran chief curator and head of research Philip Brookman. Here’s the blurb, which indicates the great breadth of Muybridge’s work and its lasting influence:

Best known for his groundbreaking studies of animal and human locomotion, 19th-century photographer Eadweard Muybridge was also an innovative landscape artist and pioneer of documentary subjects. Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change, the first retrospective exhibition to examine all aspects of Muybridge’s art, will be on view at the Corcoran Gallery of Art from April 10 through July 18, 2010.

Born in England in 1830, Muybridge spent much of his career in San Francisco and Philadelphia during a time of rapid industrial and technological growth. In the 1870s, he developed new ways to stop motion with his camera. Muybridge’s legendary sequential photographs of running horses helped spark a technological revolution that changed the way people saw the world. His projected animations inspired the early development of cinema and the enormous impact of his photographs can be measured throughout the course of modern art, from paintings and sculptures by Thomas Eakins, Edgar Degas, Marcel Duchamp, and Francis Bacon, to the 1999 blockbuster film The Matrix and the music video for U2’s hit song Lemon.

Structured in a series of thematic sections, Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change includes numerous vintage photographs, albums, stereographs, lantern slides, glass negatives and positives, camera equipment, patent models, Zoopraxiscope discs, proof prints, notes, books, and other ephemera. Over 300 objects created between 1858 and 1893 are brought together for the first time from numerous international collections. Muybridge’s only surviving Zoopraxiscope—an apparatus he designed in 1879 to project motion pictures—will also be on view.

A catalogue of the exhibition will have with new essays by Brookman, Marta Braun, Andy Grundberg, Corey Keller, and Rebecca Solnit.

Then the exhibition moves to Tate Britain, where it will run 8 September 2010 to 16 January 2011, and thereafter it goes to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art 26 February to 7 June 2011.

Kingston Museum’s Zoopraxiscope projector, from http://www.victorian-cinema.net

Meanwhile, in Muybridge’s home town of Kingston (where he was born and where he died, thoughthe majority of his working life was spent in the United States) the museum will be hosting its own exhibition, Muybridge Revolutions. Kingston Museum is home to Muybridge’s personal collection, comprising nearly 3,000 objects which makes the museum home to one of the world’s most important historic collections of ‘pre-cinema’ artefacts. The exhibition will open around the time of the Tate Britain show in September 2010.

Kingston has played a major part in equipping the Washington/Tate/San Francisco exhibition, in particular by supplying it with its Zoopraxiscope, arguably the world’s first motion picture projector, along with some of its collection of 67 of Muybridge’s Zoopraxiscope discs (only another three exist elsewhere in the world) through which he showed audiences from 1880 onwards animated sequences using silhouettes taken from his photographic sequences.

And there’s more, because Kingston University’s Stanley Picker Gallery is hosting a complemetary show which will include work produced by contemporary artists who have been given special access to the Muybridge collection.

Your first port of call for information on Eadweard Muybridge has to be The Compleat Muybridge site, while its offshot blog, Muy Blog (both are managed by Stephen Herbert) is the place to subscribe to for all the latest news on the year of Eadweard.

The great Londoner

Yesterday an exhibition opened at the London Film Museum, Charlie Chaplin – The Great Londoner. The exhibition promises “insights into the life and career of Charles Chaplin, the boy from the London slums who won universal fame with his screen character of the Tramp, and went on to become a Knight of the British Empire”. Produced by Jonathan Sands and devised by Leslie Hardcastle in collaboration with David Robinson, Chaplin’s biographer, the exhibition is in six sections, described thus:

A London Boyhood
Charles Chaplin was born in 1889 in East Street, Lambeth, and his early years were spent, often in acute poverty, in this square mile to the South and East of the present London Film Museum. This section evokes the life of the poor in late Victorian Lambeth, and the escape provided by the light, colour and fun of the music halls, in which his parents were performers.

A Child of the Theatre
At the age of 10 the young Chaplin found work in a juvenile music hall troupe, and his future was decided. As a boy actor he made his mark as the comic page-boy in Sherlock Holmes, and even played the role in the West End. But his greatest success came in the music hall, and at 20 he was already a star of the Karno comedy companies. This section sets out to recall the atmosphere and the stars of the music halls, with memorabilia relating to Chaplin’s own stage career.

America and the movies
Between 1910 and 1913 Chaplin twice toured the American vaudeville circuits as a star of the Karno company, and was greatly excited by his encounter with the New World. At the end of 1913 he yielded to an offer from the Keystone Comedy Company, ruled by Mack Sennett and arrived in Hollywood. At first disoriented by the new medium, he learned rapidly, and within weeks was directing his own films. The exhibition evokes the buccaneering atmosphere of early Hollywood, its primitive studios, and its rapid evolution towards an international industry.

The Tramp
Searching for a character for his second film, Chaplin put together a costume from elements found in the Keystone wardrobe shed. The result – the Tramp – achieved instant popularity and within a year or two was known and loved across the world. Chaplin’s creation remains to this day the screen’s iconic and most universally recognised character.

Citizen of the World
When Chaplin finally took a rest and visited Europe in 1921, he was astonished to find himself a world celebrity, mobbed by crowds everywhere he went, and sought out by the great men of the day. Increasingly he used his comedy to comment on the fundamental problems of humanity. Modern Times is a broad-ranging social critique; and in The Great Dictator, having finally abandoned his character of the Tramp, he pillories Adolf Hitler, fascinated by the physical resemblance between the best-loved man in the world and the most hated.

The Happy Exile
In the paranoia of the Cold War years, Chaplin became an object of suspicion to the Communist-obsessed American political right. His anti-war statements in Monsieur Verdoux and his friendships with liberal intellectuals led to increasingly virulent attacks and accusations of Communist sympathies. In 1952 he came to England for the premiere of his last American film, Limelight (a recollection of the London music halls of his youth) never permanently to return to the United States. His final years were spent contentedly in Switzerland, surrounded by his growing family and still planning films, two of which, A King In New York and A Countess from Hong Kong, were made in Britain.

This is good news, and the exhibition will also become part of the permanent museum display. But what’s the London Film Museum, eh? Last time I looked there wasn’t one. The Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI) sadly closed in 1999, and in 2008 an odd and seemingly short-term attraction with the ungainly title of The Movieum appeared on the South Bank as part of the popular attractions based in the former County Hall complex. It didn’t look like it would last long or offer much.

Bu the Movieum has turned out to have more staying power and ambition towards being a genuine commemoration and repository for moving image heritage than one might have supposed. It has been rebranded as the London Film Museum (strictly speaking, the London Film Museum now incorporates the Movieum), at the same location, and the first expression of its new status is the Chaplin exhibition. And, as some will know, Leslie Hardcastle was one of the presiding geniuses behind MOMI, so to have his approval of the new venture is significant indeed. We shall watch these developments with interest.

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