Flicking through the magazines

A new publication, Emily Crosby and Linda Kaye’s Projecting Britain: The Guide to British Cinemagzines, opens up a hidden corner of film history, a corner in which the silent cinema played its part. The book’s subject is the cinemagazines, or screen magazines, or just plain magazine films, those unconsidered programme fillers that were a mainstay of cinema shows for decades and out of which sprang the television magazine format. Overlooked by practically all film histories, the cinemagazine has a rich tale to tell, not simply for its form and content, but for the diverse audiences that it reached and the various bodies – entertainment, governmental, industrial – that used the magazine film format to hook audiences to their purposes.

The richest history of the cinemagazine, as indicated by that title Projecting Britain, comes from the sound era, when the British government in particular latched onto the form in the post-World War II era as means to further its strategic aim of ‘national projection’ (i.e. we may have lost an empire and it may be a post-war world, but we still have our part to play in it). But the cinemagazine was an invention of the silent cinema, and it was not the sole preserve of Britain.

The first person to come up with a magazine film series (as opposed to the newsreel – a related form, but tied much more to topicality) was Charles Urban (have I mentioned him before?). Late in 1913 Urban devised the Kinemacolor Fashion Gazette, directed by Abby Meehan, a magazine series highlighting women’s fashions, filmed naturally in colour using the Kinemacolor process. It probably did not extend far beyond Kinemacolor’s London theatre, the Scala, and only lasted a couple of months, but a new film form was born. The next pioneer was the naturalist and filmmaker Cherry Kearton, who devised The Whirlpool of War, a behind-the-scenes war magazine presenting footage from Belgium and France in the first few months of the First World War.

Title design from Around the Town no. 105, 1921 (BUFVC)

But the cinemagazine as a regular entertainment in the cinemas really began in 1918 with Pathe Pictorial. This offshoot of the Pathe newseel in Britain amazingly ran uninterruptedly until 1969, bringing together light stories of fashion, personalities, travel, customs, sport, hobbies, innovations, animals, quirky events – anything that didn’t quite define itself as news. The idea swiftly caught on. In Britain, though the 1920s, there was Around the Town (1919-1923), created by Aron Hambuger, distributed by Gaumont, concentrating on London goings-on, especially theatrical; Eve’s Film Review (1921-1933), Pathe’s iconic magazine series for women; Vanity Fair (1922), produced by Walturdaw; Gaumont Mirror (1927-1932), sister series to the newsreel Gaumont Graphic; and British Screen Tatler (1928-1931), sister series to the newsreel British Screen News. Ideal Cinemagazine (1926-1932), produced for Ideal by Andrew Buchanan, gave the form its name, and introduced a (limited) educational element that was to characterise later developments of the cinemagazine.

Also throughout the 1920s the cinemagazine was becoming a staple of American screens, with Charles Urban once again the pioneer. When Urban established an American film business after government service during the First World War, he based much of his hopes on two cinemagazine series, Movie Chats (1919-1923) and Kineto Review (1921-1923). A typical Movie Chats issue (no. 4) contained the stories ‘View of the River Thames at Henley on Regatta Day’, ‘Experiments in Static Electricity’, ‘Visting the Sacred Monkey Temple at Benares India’, ‘Camel Fight in Desert of Turkey’, and ‘Three Views of the River Seine with Cloud Effects’. Ever the one to make good use of library material, much of Urban’s cinemagazine content came from films his companies shot in Britain before the First World War (and in turn Movie Chats footage was sold to Britain and used by Andrew Buchanan in his Ideal Cinemagazine).

Other American cinemagazines of the 1920s were Screen Snapshots (1920-1958), which focussed on Hollywood stars; Grantland Rice’s Sportlights (from 1924 at least), a mainstay of American cinemas for decades; and several series from James A. Fitzpatrick, an Urban protégé, whose Fitzpatrick Traveltalks (begin 1931) were an equally enduring feature of American screens (with the legendary closing lines “… and so we say farewell to …”). Undoubtedly the form spread to other countries, though information on these seemingly inconsequential components of the cinema programme is particularly difficult to find.

Light the cinemagazine may have been, but inconsequential it was not. An enduringly popular form, it spoke to audiences in an engaging, comforting manner, sometimes quaintly, sometimes with a degree of sly subversiveness. The use of the cinemagazine form in the 1920s to attract women audiences, through a mixture of knowingness and unknowingness, is covered by Emily Crosby in Projecting Britain and by Jenny Hammerton in one of the few other publication to consider the genre, For Ladies Only? Eve’s Film Review: Pathe Cinemagazine 1921-33. There’s also a German thesis available commercially, Nicola Gölzhäuser-Newman’s Eve’s Film Review: Genre und Gender im britischen screen magazine der 1920er Jahre. Some information on the American cinemagazine at this time (though the term is not used) can be found in Leonard Maltin’s The Great Movie Shorts. The use of the cinemagazine in the 1920s to tackle educational subjects remains under-researched, and I know of no publication that I can point you to (though I have some unpublished writing myself…).

You can find plenty of examples of Pathe Pictorial and Eve’s Film Review on the British Pathe site (same content also available through ITN Source). Examples from issues of Around the Town are available on the British Universities Film & Video Council’s Video Showcase (look out in particular for H. Grindell Matthews demonstrating his sound-on-film invention in 1921). It was the BUFVC which hosted the ‘Cinemagazines and the Projection of Britain‘ project which resulted in this book, a project in which I played a small part (mostly obstructive). The BUFVC’s newsreel database now included records of some 19,000 British cinemagazines.

There’s still so much to be discovered in film history, particularly early film history, if we will only start looking in the right places. Projecting Britain (a collection of essays, original documents and reference guide) opens another door.

Filmarchiv Leuzinger

Ben Hur exhibited at Meisterschwanden, Switzerland, May 1930, from http://www.filmarchiv-leuzinger.ch

I was introduced to this website a while ago (by its author), and thought you ought to know about it. The subject of Filmarchiv Leuzinger is a small town family cinema business from Rapperswil, Switzerland. It was founded by restaurant owner Willy Leuzinger, who began organising film screenings in his restaurant in 1909, going on to open two cinemas in the Lake Zurich district. In 1919 he began a touring cinema business, the Wanderkino Leuzinger, which dominated film exhibition in north-eastern Switzerland from the mid-1920s to 1943. Leuzinger was also a filmmaker, shooting many local topicals (local newsfilms) throughout the 1920s, around eighty of which survive. After Willy Leuzinger’s death in 1935, his eldest daughter took over, and today his granddaughter Marianne Hegi still runs three cinemas, in Rapperswil and Altdorf.

The Wanderkino Leuzinger in 1923

All of this is a charming story, but in the hands of Mariann Lewinsky Sträuli it has been turned into an eye-catching and evocative website. Filmarchiv Leuzinger (click on the Übersicht link to find the main ‘archive’ page) arranges an archive of family memorabilia – biographies, photographs, documents, music, background information and film clips in thematic columns to create an innovative and enticingly explorable site that opens up the Leuzinger’s world. The film clips (in QuickTime format, with MPEG-4, DVD-quality downloadable versions also available) show local festivals, parades, fairs, gynmatic events, and so on, each meticulously described. Every clip, image, audio file or other link leads to a page of information (with larger versions of the images), progressively building up a resonant picture of time, place and occupation.

It is a delightful site, quite an inspiration in conception and design. Unfortunately for the linguistically-challenged English speaker, it is in German. But don’t let that deter – it’s clear enough just from looking that it is a fine piece of social and cinema history (the numerous photographs of cinemas in the 1920s and 30s will delight many), put together with a loving archivst’s care. Mariann Lewinsky Sträuli prrogrammes section of Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna, teaches film history at the University of Zurich and directs restoration projects at Memoriav, the Swiss audiovisual heritage organisation.

Go explore.

Silent Films Days in Tromsø 2008

The Phantom Carriage (Körkarlen), from http://www.tiff.no

An offshoot of the Tromsø International Film Festival (which takes place in January), Silent Film Days in Tromsø (now in its third year) takes place 3-7 September at the Norwegian town. This year there’s a programme of international classics with musical accompaniment from Neil Brand, Ben Model, the Matti Bye ensemble, and HYSJ: Ola Rokkones and Herborg Rundberg ensemble. Here’s the programme (in Norwegian, but you’ll work it out):

Onsdag 3. september

Store og små øyeblikk fra stumfilmhistorien presentert ved musiker Neil Brand.

Torsdag 4. september

19.00 Åpningsforestilling
Den nest største kassasuksessen i stumfilmens historie.

Fredag 5. september

Hitchcocks første thriller gjorde han til stjerneregissør.

Banebrytende svensk spøkelseshistorie

Lørdag 6. september

Klassiske stumfilmkomedier til glede for store og små.

“De første opptakene fra områder som tidligere hadde vært hvite flekker på kartet”

Første filmatisering av Hamsuns hyllest til naturen.

Søndag 7. september

Fluktscenene filmverden aldri vil glemme.’
Forfilm: A Reckless Romeo

Både kjeltringer og kaktuser møter sin overkvinne i den nådeløse mexicanske ørkenen.
Forfilm: Sheriff Nell’s Tussle

More details from the festival website (which has text in English).

Mashing up some more

Well, it was fun picking out those YouTube clips where silents had been creatively mashed up with modern music tracks, so here are three more examples. These aren’t the same as silents to which modern composers (or would-be composers) have added new tracks – that’s an interesting subject for another time. Instead these are examples of re-edits or montages to modern music tracks which illuminate or heighten the films in interesting ways. To impose some sort of thematic reasoning to all this, the three videos below all derive from classic German 1920s silents.

Louise Brooks is one of the most popular search terms used on this blog, but such researchers have been going away disappointed. Well, no more, because here’s a dynamic and assured mix of scenes from Pandora’s Box (1929), skilfully edited by Adam Armand to the tune of The Killers’ ‘Mr Brightside’. It doesn’t tell us anything more about the film or the image of Brooks than we already know, but what else might the film have to say? The video expresses the quintessence of the iconography of Pabst’s film with a song that resonates with sexual torment and urgency. It may vulgarise Pabst’s artistry by reducing it to MTV-style editing, but it also expresses Brooks’ modernity and lasting appeal.

Paul Wegener’s Der Golem (1920), the classic proto-horror film telling of the creation of a clay creature, the Golem, brought to life to protect the Jews of 16th-century Prague, is accompanied by the death metal music of Fantomas, a band who sound like they know a silent film or two. In this case the band wrote a song inspired either by the legend or the film itself, and a fan (‘Monster Island Media‘) decided to do the decent think and match song to clips – which is why lyrics and imagery go together so well. Not exactly most people’s musical cup of tea, but it undoubtedly places the film within a modern, if crude, sensibility. What pop video director could ever have conjured up so convincing a vision of medieval magic?

Others have had the same idea: see here for a more frantically-edited homage.

After all that sex and musical violence, here’s some a little more surprising, and graceful. Scenes from The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920) are accompanied by Françoise Hardy singing ‘La Terre’, seemingly for no other reason than the chanson is a pretty one and it brings out the mystery of Robert Weine’s film. Note how well it fits in with Conrad Veidt’s Cesare slowly opening his eyes, and how delicately it accompanies the way the characters move.

The clip’s creator, Clay, has treated other silents to new scores, including Christus (1914), The Abyss (1910), Alice in Wonderland (1915) and Evgenii Bauer’s After Death (1915).

More examples to follow, as the mood takes me.

Caught on film

Just a quick note to let folks know that tomorrow (Tuesday 26 August) at 11.30am there’s a programme on BBC Radio 4 on film archives and silent film, produced at last month’s Bologna film festival. Entitled Caught on Film, the BBC blurb describes it thus:

Our cinematic heritage is literally rotting away. Critic Matthew Sweet visits the Festival Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna to explore the vulnerability of film and discovers why both cinematic gems and historically unique documentary films are rapidly disintegrating.

The half-hour programme will be available through the Listen Again service for a week after the broadcast.

Mashing things up

I’m completely against ripping silent films from DVDs and posting them for free online – it’s not just illegal but mean and thoughtless. But taking silent content and doing something with it to create a new work is more of a borderline case. It may all depend what legal system you exist under, but creativity is more of a justification for appropriation.

YouTube and its ilk are full of silent film clips, montages or sequences of stills where fans have added favourite music tracks over the top. The results are usually indifferent, if not glutinous, but just occasionally you get examples done with great skill. Such creative works don’t just make great juxtapositions of film and music, but can illuminate the films in refreshing ways. There are numerous examples, but here are three personal favourites to demonstrate what I mean.

Here were have scenes of black and ‘black’ characters from D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation set to Public Enemy’s ‘Burn, Hollywood, Burn’. No ambiguity here, or excuses from the defence about the film’s importance to the history of film form. The film is exposed for all its grotesque racism, all the more loathsome for the way the film still has its place in the pantheon. The music and rap lyrics hammer it. The film becomes the perfect vehicle for rage. It’s sharply edited, and the opening and closing titles are a nice touch. Its creator goes under the YouTube name of jewofmalta.

It takes a certain amount of creative inspiration to think of bringing together Buster Keaton and The Pixies. Here the creator (weepingprophet) complained of only ever coming across Keaton clips “set to contemporary music” and wanted to see a tribute to his favourite comedian set to music that made more sense to him. Choosing The Pixies’ ‘Down to the Well’ is a surprise, but how well it works. The montage itself, skilfully put together, is a collection of all the most familiar Keaton gags. With the music you get two different kinds of Americana brought together in strange harmony.

This is inspired. Charlie Chaplin (a favourite subject for the masher-uppers) does his dance of the bread rolls from The Gold Rush to the theme tune from the Spiderman TV series. It starts off feeling silly, then becomes just right. Chaplin as superhero. It comes over as cunningly synchronised, though the brain does a lot to help matters, as placing any film to a piece of music makes us instinctively look out for points of contact between the two. The video was created by Bob Loblaw.

I’ll publish more such examples from time to time, and do let me know if you have any favourites.

Crazy once more

Crazy Cinématographe has returned, and has a fabulous poster to prove it:

Last year saw the launch of Crazy Cinématographe, a project with multiple outlets based on the programmes of films shows presented in the touring fairground booths of Europe in the early years of the twentieth century. In 2007 it gave us a touring show (mostly in Luxembourg, but it also visited Germany, France and Belgium), a conference (in Luxembourg) and finally a DVD, published by the highly commendable Editions Filmmuseum.

The Crazy Cinématographe tent in 2007

Except that it wasn’t ‘finally’, because Crazy Cinématographe edition 2 has been announced. Taking place 22 August-10 September in Schueberfouer, Luxembourg, the new show opens the tent flaps once more to present a highly variegated programme of bizarre and surprising early cinema subjects taken from fifteen film archives around Europe. There is now a Crazy Cinématographe site, with details of the programme, in German. Among the promised delights are acrobatic sisters, a ‘Cabinet of Crazy Animals’ (including Percy Smith‘s acrobatic fly, Max Skladanowsky‘s boxing kangaroo, monkeys dining in a restaurant, and – according to my translation software – rabbits eating giant snakes, though possibly it may be the other way around), an evening of early erotic films, a ‘Live-Mix Crazystyle’ by DJ Kuston Beater, and a ‘best of 2007’ programme. I’m promised more information in English, and will pass this on in due course.

Behind all the showmanship, Crazy Cinématographe is a bold and interesting attempt to combine scholarship with entertainment, or rather making an entertainment out of a scholarly enthusiasm, both for the archival films themselves and for the renowed ‘cinema of attractions’ concept (a cinema of spectacle that preceded the cinema of narrative), which has proved so fruitful in early cinema studies.

To give you a flavour of the entertainment, here’s the promo video (look out for the acrobatic fly at the end).

There’s also a video report on last year’s show (on YouTube, in French), which gives a good idea of the presentation style.

Colourful stories no. 13 – Kinemacolor, its rise and fall

Coloured illustration from the 1912 Kinemacolor catalogue attempting to give an impression of the colour effect of With Our King and Queen Through India (1912)

After something of a gap, we return to our on-going history of colour and the silent cinema by marking the end of Kinemacolor. The attention given to Kinemacolor so far in this series might give the impression that it was widely experienced by audiences. This was not the case. Ordinary cinema audiences were far more likely to experience colour in the form of tinting or toning, or stencil coloured prints. Kinemacolor films were restricted to theatres equipped with specialist projection equipment, often charging higher prices. Kinemacolor was a select entertainment. The impression it made was therefore on the wealthier sort (relatively), and there is plenty of evidence for people deciding to attend a Kinemacolor show would have never deigned to attend a film show previously. The film industry recognised how Kinemacolor was attracting new audiences, raising the possibility of a different, classier kind of film show in the future. Although the trade respected Kinemacolor for its technical achievement, its real significance was social.

Kinemacolor had started off in Britain in 1908. It received its commercial debut in February 1909, when it was first named Kinemacolor, and the Natural Color Kinematograph Company was formed to produce Kinemacolor films, both dramas and actualities – the latter always being the company’s stronger suit. Kinemacolor’s producer, Charles Urban, set about making a hoped-for fortune by licensing Kinemacolor across the world. The policy enjoyed mixed fortunes.

In establishing a system of international licences, Urban sometimes managed to sell Kinemacolor three times over: the national patent rights, the exhibition rights (for restricted periods, then to be re-negotiated) and naturally the exclusive Kinemacolor apparatus and films necessary to put on such programmes. The sale of patent rights was the most lucrative business, though they were negotiated for eight territories only. £2,500 was paid for Switzerland, £4,000 for Brazil, £6,000 for Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg, £8,000 for Italy, £10,000 for France, £10,000 for Japan, £10,265 for Canada, and £40,000 for the United States of America. Few made much money for the investors, a general get-rich-quick mentality having taken over. Kinemacolor was a hard sell, and few outside Britain really understood how to market something so out of the ordinary. The demise of the Kinemacolor Company of America, after high hopes, has already been covered, but the stories of France and Japan are of interest.

Kinemacolor opened in France with a special exhibition in Paris on 8 July 1908. A three month engagement began at the Folies Bergère from September 1909. The French patent rights were sold in 1912 to the Raleigh et Robert firm, which created a prestige centre for Kinemacolor exhibition in Paris at the Biograph Theatre, Rue de Peletier. In July 1912, an attempt to float an independent company, Kinemacolor de France to supersede Raleigh et Robert’s business failed when insufficient working capital was raised by subscription. The Natural Color Kinematograph Company bought back the French patents for £5,000 more than they had sold them for, and this led Urban to attempt to repeat the formula through purchasing the lease on premises in the Rue Edouard VII, Boulevard des Capucines, Paris. Here he undertook to build his very own theatre, the Théâtre Edouard VII in 1913. This extravagant move proved catastrophic, with the theatre taking too long to build, being too small in size (it seated 800), obscurely located, and tickets priced too highly. Urban lost tens of thousands, and Kinemacolor in France came to an ignominious end.

Japan was a comparative success story. The patent rights for Japan and East Asian were acquired in 1912 by the Fukuhodo company, which paid 40,000 yen (£10,000). The rights then passed on to Toyo Shokai. A three-hour Kinemacolor programme was given before the Emperor of Japan in August 1913, and in October the first commercial Kinemacolor programme opened at the Kirin-kan in Asakusa, Tokyo. Toyo Shokai reformed itself on 17 March 1914 as Tennenshoku Katsudoshashin Kabushiki Kaisha (Natural Color Kinematograph Company), abbreviated to Tenkatsu. Kinemacolor exhibition in Japan was well-managed and profitable, and local film production followed, predominantly fiction films, which were adaptations from kabuki plays. However, the onset of the war led to a sharp rise in the cost of film stock, and as Kinemacolor used double the amount of film to monochrome production, its use became restricted to special scenes in selected productions. After a gap of two years the last Japanese film to use Kinemacolor (and quite probably the last Kinemacolor film produced anywhere), Saiyûki Zokuhen, was released in July 1917, but the novelty had passed.

Charles Urban (centre) with camera team in Delhi for the filming of the Durbar, December 1912

The Delhi Durbar
In Britain Kinemacolor enjoyed four or five years of spectacular success, driven by its films of travel and actuality, in particular scenes of royal spectacle. Urban was fortunate that the rise of Kinemacolor coincided with a series of royal events whose ceremonial pageantry naturally suited the colur system, and which proved excellent subjects for export. The funeral of King Edward VII (1910), the coronation of King George V (1911), the investiture of the Prince of Wales (1911), and above all the Delhi Durbar, a huge extravaganza held in India to mark the coronation of the new King-Emperor (1911), all made Kinemacolor a must-see attraction for many. The Delhi Durbar films, entitled With Our King and Queen Through India (first exhibited 1912), lasted for over two hours and was more of a flexible multimedia show than a film as such, as its many component parts could be shifted about according to taste, and its showings were accompanied by orchestral music that copied that which was played at the event itself, a lecturer, and in its prestige screenings at the Kinemacolor London showcase theatre, the Scala, a stage that was made up to look like the Taj Mahal. This lyrical passage – a favourite of mine – from the British film trade paper The Bioscope sums up the awe-struck reaction many had to seeing the Delhi Durbar films, and Kinemacolor in general:

Last Friday evening, at the Scala Theatre, was an occasion in many respects as significant and memorable as it was wonderful. It may be left for future generations to realise the full extent of its importance – men and women yet unborn who, by the magic of a little box and a roll of film, will be enabled to witness the marvels of a hundred years before their age, in all the colour and movement of life. Perverse old grandfathers will no longer be able to indulge disdainfully in reminiscences of the superiority of the times ‘when they were boys’; the past will be an open book for all to read in, and, if the grandfathers exaggerate, they may be convicted by the camera’s living record. Man has conquered most things; now he has vanquished Time. With the cinematograph and the gramophone he can ‘pot’ the centuries as they roll past him, letting them loose at will, as he would a tame animal, to exhibit themselves for his edification and delight. The cinematograph, in short, is the modern Elixir of Life – at any rate, that part of life which is visible to the eye. It will preserve our bodies against the ravages of age, and the beauty, which was once for but a day, will now be for all time.

The end
Kinemacolor was not to be for all time. Its demise came not from the failings of the international licensees but destruction at the centre. In 1913 a court case was launched against the Natural Color Kinematography Company by Bioschemes, a company marketing a rival motion picture colour system, Biocolour, invented by William Friese-Greene. Biocolour was an additive system which employed film frames alternatively stained red and green, close therefore in principle to Kinemacolor. Bioschemes had struggled to get off the ground because its every move seemed to infringe the Kinemacolor patent. With backing from motor racing driver S.F. Edge, Bioschemes challenged the Kinemacolor patent’s validity in the courts. The Friese-Greene case was lost, but on appeal in March 1914 the decision was reversed. The appeal judge declared that the patent claimed to produced natural colours, but also stated that it did not reproduce a true blue, since it used only red and green filters. The judge declared that it could not therefore support its claim to be natural. So the patent was invalid.

The decision was catastrophic for Kinemacolor, because it destroyed the foundations on which the whole licensing scheme was based. However, it did not of itself mean that Kinemacolor was necessarily over. The system was there for anyone to use – it was just that Urban no longer could market it exclusively. But tied to specialised projection, and being more expensive to produce (as said, Kinemacolor films were double the length of conventional films), no one (outside of Japan) was prepared to make a go of it.

‘Firing Four 12-in Gun Salvoes’, a Photochrom postcard recreating a colour scene from Britain Prepared (1915)

Urban did make a few more Kinemacolor films himself. With the outset of the First World War, he created another multimedia show, With Our Fighting Forces in Europe, which mixed library footage of troops and nations with some actuality film taken in Belgium in late 1914 – the only colour film taken of the war on land (none of this footage is known to survive today). Then for the British propaganda outfit Wellington House he made a documentary feature, Britain Prepared (1915), which included colour sequences of the British navy at sea off Scotland in October 1914. Some of these scenes were discovered recently in an American commercial archive, and are – I believe – now on their way to the Library of Congress. I’ll be able to say more on this later. (A monochrome-only Britain Prepared is held by the Imperial War Museum)

More later in this series also on Kinekrom, a would-be successor to Kinemacolor that Urban attempted to develop in the 1920s. But next up will be Gaumont’s Chromochrome, perhaps aesthetically the most sucessful of the pre-war colour processes, and then the winner of the colour wars – Technicolor.

Recommended reading:

Barbican jazz

15 November is a date to look out for at the Barbican in London. There are two concerts combining jazz with film. At 16:00, and billed as ‘the perfect Jazz festival event for families’, the Millennial Territory Orchestra, led by Steve Bernstein, play new scores to three Laurel and Hardy silents: Sugar Daddies, Double Whoopee and Wrong Again.

Then at 20:00 American jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, with Tony Scherr (bass) and Kenny Wollesen (drums) play Frisell’s scores to Buster Keaton’s High Sign and One Week, as well accompanying animations by ‘maverick cartoonist’ Jim Woodring and The Mesmerist by avant garde artist Bill Morrison (best known for the found silent footage film Decasia). The Bioscope admits to being a huge Bill Frisell fan, but has always had a problem with his Keaton scores, which seem uncomfortably disconnected to the action of the films – scores which pick up a wistful Americana which is a Frisell hallmark, but which are expressions of an idea of the film rather than credible accompaniments to the films themselves. But we’ve not had a chance actually to see the films matched to the scores, so there may be hope for revelation in live performance. More details on both concerts from the Barbican Jazz site.

Frisell has produced two CDs of his Keaton scores: Go West, and The High Sign/One Week.