Last week saw the For the Love of Film: The Film Preservation Blogathon, in which bloggers around the world took on the themes of Hitchcock or silent film or film preservation, or combinations thereof. Organised by organisers the blogs Self-Styled Siren, Ferdy on Films and This Island Rod, the inspiration was the recent discovery of part of The White Shadow (1923), the film on which Hitchcock served as art director and assistant director (the director was Graham Cutts), the goal being to raise funds through donations to enable the National Film Preservation Fund to put the film online with music score, for us all to enjoy.
The sum required is $15,000, and sadly as of today the campaign has raised $2,140 [Update: as of 21 May it is $6,490]. This is disappointing, especially as previous such preservation blogathons have achieved their targets. Maybe it’s the global economy; maybe people out there like reading about Hitch but don’t feel too passionately about watching Cutts; or maybe there’s simply been so much to read that they haven’t had time to donate as yet.
Well, there is still time, and with a 100 or so bloggers who signed up to the blogathon, each of which should easily be getting 150 viewers per post (and in some cases a great deal more), it only requires each reader to donate one dollar to hit the target. Do the math, then hit the Hitch to your left.
As encouragement, here’s a listing of the For the Love of Film posts which have related to silent Hitchcock or silent films in general. If I’ve missed out any relating to silent films, do let me know, and I’ll add them to the list.
- Instant 3: Silent Era Cinema – Jason Hedrick picks three very different silent films each available on Netflix: Hitchcock’s The Manxman, Sherlock Jr. and Un Chien Andalou.
- Tod Browning and Lon Chaney – Partners in Madness and Obsession – Sean Axmaker consider the preservation and restoration of films from the silent era.
- Notes on Abel Gance’s ‘Napoleon’ – Axmaker also gives his views on Abel Gance’s epic Napoleon following its screenings in the USA in March
- On Hitchcock’s Home Movies – A different sort of silent Hitchcock film is consider by Dwight Samson on the Home & Amateur site – his home movies.
- The White Shadow – Jandy Hardesty tackles the particular matter in hand – the discovery, preservation and screening of The White Shadow.
- Hitchcock’s earliest blonde – Didion at Feminéma considers the star of Hitchcock’s The Manxman and Blackmail, the Czech actress Anny Ondra.
- The Mountain Eagle – At Strictly Vintage Hollywood, Donna L. Hill looks at Hitchcock’s lost feature film, The Mountain Eagle (1926).
- Passionate Adventure – from the same blog, courtesy of Mary Mallory, the production history of The Passionate Adventure (1924), another film directed by Graham Cutts with Hitchcock’s production assistance.
- The Pleasure Garden – again from Strictly Vintage Hollywood, here Joan Myers looks thoughtfully at Hitcock’s first feature film, the programmer The Pleasure Garden (1925).
- An introduction to silent Hitchcock – The Pleasure Garden – Silent London also looks at The Pleasure Garden, as part one of a series on silent Hitchcock.
- The White Shadow and Streaming Restored Films Online – a particularly interesting post from Daniel Eagan on the challenges (and limitations) of presenting restored films online.
- On The Lodger – The End of Cinema looks at The Lodger from the point of view of Hitchcock’s later films.
- On Champagne – The End of Cinema also reviews Hitchcock’s minor work Champagne (1928).
- Buster Keaton’s Love Affair (with trains) – ignoring all this Hitchcock stuff, the Spoilers blog looks at Buster Keaton’s debt to the steam locomotive.
- No good deed goes unpunished – the prize for best blogathon post title goes to Christianne Benedict at Krell Laboratories for her study of The Pleasure Garden.
- Alfred’s Centennial – also at Krell Laboratories, guest blogger Lokke Heiss reviews the Hitchcock silents on show at the 1999 Pordenone Silent Film Festival retrospective.
- The Ring (1927) – Icebox Movies has mixed feelings about Hitch’s boxing move.
- Cannes Classics 2012: The Ring (1927) – whereas We Talk About Movies is more positive about its use of visual imagery.
- For The Love of (Women-Directed) Film – The Movie Review Warehouse calls for more women directors to be included in lists of notable films from the silent era.
- The Farmer’s Wife (1928) – The Garbo Laughs blog has a thoughtful take on one of Hitchcock’s least known films, the rural comedy The Farmer’s Wife.
- Hitchcock — Club: Royal Auto – Joe Thompson delves for mentions of the not-yet-that-famous Alfred Hitchcock in the film trade year books of the period.
- Easy Virtue (1928) – Chris Edwards at Silent Volume reviews Hitchcock’s neglected stab at filming Noel Coward.
- My Top 13 Films That Need Preservation – Dr Film’s Blog calls for the preservation of some obscure but fascinating titles, mostly silents.
So no one took up the challenge of Downhill or even Always Tell Your Wife, eh? Nor the silent Blackmail, which is the greater surprise.
You can find all of these posts listed and illustrated on The Bioscope’s sister news site courtesy of Scoop It.
Update: Here are other silent-related posts from the bloagthon that I missed:
- Restoring the Lost ‘Metropolis’ – Sean Axmaker documents the history of the ‘lost’ Metropolis and its restoration
- Seeing Double: Twins in the Silent Era – the Tumblr Brookie’s Silent Film Collection takes The White Shadow as the starting for a knowledgeable consideration of twins in silent films.
Thanks for the shoutout!
Perhaps some out there are a bit leery about giving that much money to thr NFPF so they can put out a way-too-slowly-transferred copy of a film on the internet (as they have recently done with several other films) for a price that would actually preserve a number of films in need of preserving.I know I wouldn’t contribute a penny to this project.
RICHARD M ROBERTS
You might also like to add to your list my post at Brooksie’s Collection, which uses ‘The White Shadow’ as a jumping off point for discussion of the prevalence of twins and double characters in silent film. It’s at http://brooksiescollection.tumblr.com/day/2012/05/15.
I certainly will, plus I must add this from The Parallax View: http://parallax-view.org/2012/05/15/restoring-the-lost-metropolis/. Thanks for letting me know.
The sum raised is now reported to be $6,490, which is more than last year’s blogathon achieved. Not the whole thing, but a real help to the NFPF which will strive to raise the rest, as Self-Styled Siren reports: http://selfstyledsiren.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/for-love-of-film-iii-bring-up-house.html.
I doubt that the relatively low donations had anything to do with the NFPF’s choice of film speed, or indeed the relative costs of preservation over preservation and presentation. Maybe it was a fair sum given the circumstances. I just found it striking how much promotional effort yielded relatively modest results. Interestingly, the recent Domitor call for donations to help the Media History Digital Library digitise early film journals has so far raised $6065. Perhaps $6K or thereabouts is the figure you are going to get for this sort of activity. We’re all small commuinity that they’re appealing to, after all.
Well, I think it is a fair question to ask why it costs $15,000 to put up online an already preserved incomplete print of a film that due to Hitchcock’s peripheral involvement will most likely become an extra on a DVD release of some sort. It cannot possibly cost that much just to upload it to a website, and major digital restoration is somewhat pointless for those who are going to be watching it on a computer screen. So just where is the money going? How much is Mr. Mortilla charging for his score? $15,000 goes a ways in actual film preservation, this just does not seem an effective usage of the cash to me.
RICHARD M ROBERTS
It would be interesting to know the economics of it. According to a message on the blogathon’s Facebook page, $5,410 would pay for the online streaming (for four months).
24 July 2012
I’ve just looked at the interview with ‘musician’ Nitin Sawhney on Bioscoop. Is there any way we can ban these kind of patronising, ignorant people from the silent film world? I have been coming across people like this since the 1980s (the first time I noticed it was at the Avignon festival where so-called musicians tried to ‘out-do’ the silent film they were accompanying). They think they understand silent films so well, even though they’ve just seen their first silent film about 2 months earlier.
Why do people like this think they can patronise geniuses like Hitchcock with their snide ‘I could have done it so much better’ attitudes? Why do they think their music is so much more significant than the film? Sawhney composes 3 songs: songs being an obvious ploy to draw attention to ‘his’ music above and beyond the film.
So here’s my advice to Mr Nitin Sawhney, advice which serious silent film musicians such as the Pordenone crowd have realised for years. You are just the musician, get it? You are the servant of the film. Get it? I’ll repeat that a few times. Servant. Servant. Servant. The film comes first. Do you understand? I would strongly recommend that you have a chat with people such as Phil Sweeney, Neil Brand and Phil Carly. Or you could even try to learn something about your subject by reading some of the many books on this subject or the online trade journals such as the numerous music-advice columns in the Moving Picture World and elsewhere. Until then why don’t you work on other areas of music.
My God: why do we still have to put up with these people after so many years?
Alfred Hitchcock where are you now, to tell them to go take a running jump?
I suspect that the news that beatboxer Shlomo has been announced as providing a score to Hitchcock’s Downhill is not going to please you too greatly either. But I think if we want to ‘ban’ such people from ‘our’ world then we have been wasting our time in elitist nostalgia. Maybe Nitin Sawhney has got it ‘wrong’ (though he is a highly respected composer, and not new to silents either – see https://thebioscope.net/2007/10/31/a-throw-of-dice-on-dvd/), but equally perhaps it is those of us who have been closest to silents who have had our ears closed. I do believe that the music should be subservient to the film – but I would never ban anyone who might apparently think otherwise. All power to him, and the audiences he will draw.