Cento annia fa / One hundred years ago


As regulars to the annual Cinema Ritrovato film festival in Bologna will know, a standard feature of each festival (since 2003) has become the surveys of the films of 100 years ago, curated by Mariann Lewinsky. This year, you will not be startled to learn, the series reached 1909, and this year it was complemented by the release of a DVD of 1909 films from nine archives around Europe.

The DVD, Cento annia fa: Il cinema europeo del 1909, contains twenty-two films, and comes with a bi-lingual (Italian and English) booklet. It’s Region 2, PAL, and in total runs for two hours and twenty minutes. The films are accompanied by piano music by André Desponds, and included are a number of coloured films – and one film with sound. This is the line-up of titles, which are curated in four sections:

  • The Past is a Foreign Country: The World of 1909
  • KOBENHAVN I SNE (Copenhagn in Winter) (Denmark 1909 p.c. Nordisk)
  • UN VOYAGE A TOUTE VAPEUR (A Trip on an Ocean Steamer) (France 1909 p.c. Eclair)
  • CULTURE ET INDUSTRIE DU TABAC EN MALAISIA (Tobacco Cultivation and Industry in Malaysia) (France 1909 p.c. Pathé)
  • NORTH SEA FISHERIES AND RESCUE (GB 1909 p.c. Rosie Film Company)
  • L’INDUSTRIA DELLA CARTA A ISOLA DEL LIRI (The Paper Industry at Isola del Liri) (Italy 1909 p.c. Cines)
  • MARIAGE EN AUVERGNE (Wedding in the Auvergne) (France 1909 p.c. Pathé)
  • Newsreel 1909: Aviation! Futurism! Ballet Russes!
  • DANSE DU FLAMBEAU (Fire Dance) (France 1909 p.c. Les Films du Lion)
  • BLÉRIOT TRAVERSE LA MANCHE EN 31 MINUTES (Blériot Crosses the Channel in 31 Minutes) (France 1909 p.c. Pathé)
  • IL PRIMO GIRO D’ITALIA (The First Giro d’Italia) (Italy 1909 p.c. SAFFI-Comerio)
  • ANIMATED COTTON (GB 1909 p.c. Charles Urban Trading Company)
  • Debut of the Movie Star – Comedian and Diva
  • CRETINETTI PAGA I DEBITI (How Foolshead Pays his Debts) (Italy 1909 p.c. Itala)
  • AMOREUX DE LA FEMME A BARBE (In Love with the Bearded Woman) (France 1909 p.c. Pathé)
  • LA FEMME DOIT SUIVRE SON MARI (The Woman Should Follow her Husband) (France 1909 p.c. Gaumont)
  • LA FABLE DE PSYCHÉ (The Fable of Psyche) (France 1909 p.c. Pathé) [this has now been identified as LE MARIAGE D’AMOUR (Pathé 1913)
  • Coming Attraction: Feature Length
  • LE ROMAN D’UNE BOTTINE ET D’UN ESCARPIN (Romance of a Boot and a Dancing Slipper) (France 1909 p.c. Pathé)
  • IULIUS CAESAR (Italy 1909 p.c. Itala)
  • LE MOULIN MAUDIT (The Mill) (France 1909 p.c. Pathé)
  • LE CHIEN JALOUX (The Jealous Dog) (France 1909 p.c. Gaumont)
  • Farewell, Early Cinema
  • TWO NAUGHTY BOYS (GB 1909 p.c. Clarendon Film Company)
  • LES TRIBULATIONS D’UN CHARCUTIER (A Butcher’s Tribulation) (France 1909 p.c. Lux)
  • DER GRAF VON LUXEMBURG: MÄDEL KLEIN MÄDEL FEIN (The Count of Luxembourg: Duet Juliette-Brissard) (Germany 1909) [sound-on-disc]
  • VOYAGE SUR JUPITER / UNE EXCURSION SUR JUPITER (A Trip to Jupiter) (France 1909 p.c. Pathé)


Le Moulin Maudit

This is an excellent primer on early cinema, quite apart from serving as a record of where cinema had got to by 1909 – and indeed as a moving picture portrait of the world in 1909. There are a number of classic titles which should be sought out by anyone with an interest in early film – André Deed as the irrepressible Cretinetti in Cretinetti paga di debiti, with its impresive use of special effects (including stop-motion photography used on humans); Alfred Machin’s deliriously doom-laden melodrama set among the Dutch windmills – as the DVD booklet temptingly puts it, “a story of greed, adultery, madness, murder and suicide, and a sinister windmill” – Le Moulin Maudit; Joseph Rosenthal’s proto-Drifters documentary North Sea Fisheries; probably unique film of the Ballet Russes, featuring Tamara Karsavina; and a welcome addition to the few Segundo de Chomón films available on DVD, Voyage sur Jupiter. A fabulous selection, warmly recommended to all.

3 responses

  1. Pingback: 100 years ago.... - Britmovie - British Film Forum

  2. To identify a film is one of the great pleasures and satisfactions. This must be my consolation for having put 21 films from 1909 and 1 fragment from 1913 on the DVD 1909. The ravishingly beautiful stencil-coloured fragment with Stacia Napierkowska in the Chapter DEBUT OF THE MOVIE STAR is not from LA FABLE DE PSYCHE (1909) but – as I have found out now after much research, irritated that film action, even if very fragmentary, and the unually reliable synopsis in the Pathé catalogue didn’t fit convincingly – from LE MARIAGE D’AMOUR (1913).
    Same people (Venus, Cupidon, Psyche), different plot. – That the Diva and the carreer of Napierkowska took shape in 1909 (Ca 10 titles, among them Dans l’Hellade) fortunately holds still true after this re-identification… Mariann Lewinsky

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