Méliès at the crossroads


As noted in our interview with Matthew Solomon, later this month there is to be a conference on Georges Méliès, news of which I hadn’t picked up on before now. It is to take place 25 July-August 2011 at Cerisy-la-Salle in France. Méliès, carrefour des attractions has been organised by André Gaudreault and Laurent le Forestier, with the support of the Méliès family. It seeks to re-examine Georges Méliès’ position in early cinema history, whether as a precursor of subsequent developments in narrative cinema, spectacle, science fiction etc, or whether he is better understood as a product of the social, economic and legal practices of his time.

The conference will comprise a mixture of academic papers and screenings. The only information available on its contents is in French, which will be the dominant language at the conference, but here is the line-up of speakers and papers:

Lundi 25 juillet

Présentation du Centre, du colloque et des participants

Mardi 26 juillet
André GAUDREAULT: La cinématographie-attraction chez Méliès: une conception durable
Laurent LE FORESTIER: Le point de vue du monsieur de L’Orchestre: la place des “films” de Méliès dans les programmes de spectacles

Patrick DÉSILE: Trucs de théâtre et trucs de cinéma. Essai d’inventaire et d’interprétation
Réjane HAMUS-VALLÉE: La sauce et le poisson: pour une esthétique de l’effet mélièsien

Lectures de lettres, par Elisabeth SERMAN et Sylvain SOLUSTRI, présentées par Jacques MALTHÊTE

Projection de films

Mercredi 27 juillet
Jacques MALTHÊTE: L’appentis sorcier de Montreuil-sous-Bois
Jean-Pierre SIROIS-TRAHAN: La scène réfractée au travers de la lentille de Georges Méliès

Jean-Pierre BERTHOMÉ: Les décors de Méliès
Martin BARNIER: Le son féerique de Méliès

Présentation des publications récentes

Projection de films

Jeudi 28 juillet
Matthew SOLOMON: Méliès, Incohérent
Frédéric TABET: Méliès, le magicien et les magiciens


Vendredi 29 juillet
Laurent GUIDO: Entre performance scénique et ciné-chorégraphie, les avatars de la danse chez Méliès
Priska MORRISSEY: Femmes-papillons et diables en collants: les costumes des vues de Georges Méliès

Giusy PISANO & Caroline RENOUARD: Méliès et la lanterne magique
Rae Beth GORDON: Voir double: le fondu enchaîné et le regard sidéré du spectateur

Lectures de lettres, par Elisabeth SERMAN et Sylvain SOLUSTRI, présentées par Jacques MALTHÊTE
Spectacle de magie, par Frédéric TABET

Samedi 30 juillet
Frank KESSLER & Sabine LENK: Méliès et la série culturelle de la féerie
Stéphane TRALONGO: Georges Méliès et les faiseurs de féeries. Pour une histoire des échanges entre théâtre et cinématographe

Caroline CHIK: Arrêt de caméra et photographie animée
Pierre CHEMARTIN & Dominique NOUJEIM: Méliès et Cohl: transformations, métamorphoses et disparitions

Spectacle de magie, par Sylvain SOLUSTRI

Dimanche 31 juillet
Elena DAGRADA: Entre astronomie et astrologie, ou de l’anthropomorphisation des astres
Nicolas DULAC: Méliès et les fictions de la science

Viva PACI: Les visions d’un scientifique récalcitrant
Wanda STRAUVEN: Une lecture média-archéologique de l’œuvre de Georges Méliès (ou: Méliès, un praticien SM?)

Projection de films

Lundi 1er août
Philippe GAUTHIER & Santiago HIDALGO: Georges Méliès dans l’historiographie des premiers temps
François ALBERA: Synthèse du colloque


The conference site has abstracts for each of the papers (in French).

There is further information, also in French, at something else that is new to me – what is billing itself as the official Georges Méliès site (www.melies.eu). On quick inspection it contains a biography, a rudimentary filmography (without catalogue numbers), a family tree (handy), links and entertaining associated information (including a listing of the remarkable number of French streets named after Méliès – can any other filmmaker have been so recognised?), bibliography, news and images.

The site has been put together by Pauline Duclaud-Lacoste Méliès, who (the family tree tells us) is Méliès’ great-great-granddaughter. It isn’t anywhere near the great, comprehensive and useful website that an artist of Méliès’ standing ought to have by now, but it’s maybe a little better than what has gone before. If only there was as much attention paid to Méliès by our website builders as there has been by France’s road builders.

The Bioscope interviews … Matthew Solomon

Matthew Solomon

We’re going introduce a new feature here at the Bioscope. It’s our first interview, and it’s intended to be the start of series of interviews with people involved in one way or another with silent film and related areas.

Our debut interviewee is Matthew Solomon. Solomon is Associate Professor in the Department of Screen Arts and Cultures at the University of Michigan. He is the author of the award-winning Disappearing Tricks: Silent Film, Houdini, and the New Magic of the Twentieth Century (University of Illinois Press, 2010) and the editor of the recent Fantastic Voyages of the Cinematic Imagination: Georges Méliès’s Trip to the Moon (SUNY Press, 2011), which focusses on that single film from 1903. The interview covers Fantastic Voyages, Le voyage dans la lune/A Trip to the Moon itself, magic in cinema, and man of the moment Georges Méliès.

TB: How did the book Fantastic Voyages come about?

MS: About the time I was finishing the first draft of the manuscript of Disappearing Tricks, I realized there was a lot to say about Méliès that had nothing to do with magic. Editing an anthology seemed like a good way to explore that further while also keeping busy during the long stretches of time when the process of publishing Disappearing Tricks was out of my hands. I also wanted to see if a single early film could be a viable subject for a book-length treatment. I like reading and teaching books that look closely at one specific film, but I had never seen such a book written about a film made before 1914. I knew I’d need a lot of help and luckily a number of people whose work I admire were willing to be part of the book and make it what it is.

TB: Please describe the book for the readers of the Bioscope.

MS: The contributors to Fantastic Voyages closely analyze A Trip to the Moon from a number of different perspectives while exploring its connections to countless other works in many different media. While the book relates the film to Méliès’s oeuvre and firmly anchors it within the historical contexts of the turn-of-the-twentieth-century, it also tries to open it up to other kinds of relationships and contexts that might suggest why A Trip to the Moon has had such a long and varied ‘afterlife’, one that continues right up to the present day. It is a highly international volume, with contributors from some eight different countries. The appendix includes a dossier of primary-source documents, including two previously un-translated essays by Méliès, and the book is published with a critical edition DVD.

TB: How did the DVD extra come about?

MS: Two of the big issues that emerged for me in researching the book were the ways that truncated prints and projection speed have shaped our understanding of A Trip to the Moon. What I found was that the film has been seen throughout much of its history in versions that were missing part or all of the last two scenes. And even though Méliès’s catalogs specify a running time of sixteen minutes, which comes out to about 14 frames per second, all available versions of the film had been transferred at a much higher frame rate, which speeds the action up by close to 100% in some cases and results in a frenetic pace that was likely never intended. I wanted to make a complete version of A Trip to the Moon available at the specified speed and I got that opportunity when the book was being prepared to go to press. Charlie Johnston, a film editor with Lost Planet New York, got interested in the project and made creation of the DVD possible. We began by scanning a reconstructed 35mm print generously loaned from the collections of Film Preservation Associates by David Shepard. Simultaneously, Nico de Klerk discovered a previously unknown color-tinted and German-titled version of A Trip to the Moon in Amsterdam. The Eye Film Institute scanned the print and consented to have it included. Musical accompaniment was by Martin Marks, who recorded a 1903 score he had discovered in London, and Donald Sosin, whose original music for the tinted version ended up being one of the highlights of the disc.

TB: There are many different interpretations of A Trip to the Moon in Fantastic Voyages. Which one surprised you most?

MS: I was surprised by at least one thing in each of the essays — an overlooked detail, a new understanding, a previously unmentioned connection, or a relevant contemporary work. Those surprises were one of the pleasures of working with such a knowledgeable and smart group of collaborators, whose contributions demonstrate that maybe we didn’t know A Trip to the Moon as well as we thought we did.

The iconic moment when the lunar capsule lands in the Moon’s eye, from A Trip to the Moon/Le voyage dans la lune

TB: Why was A Trip to the Moon so popular in 1903?

MS: One defining feature of A Trip to the Moon which made it so popular was the way it drew upon so many things circulating in the culture around 1902-1903 that would have been familiar to audiences: the Jules Verne book, of course, the Offenbach operetta, a ride that was the hit of the 1901 Buffalo World’s Fair, as well as countless other works discussed in the book. It was also a compelling storyline and a virtuoso display of the most current visual effects by the undisputed master of the trick film. Méliès was a gifted synthesizer and this film is evidence of his ability to combine diverse elements into a coherent and engaging spectacle.

TB: Why is A Trip to the Moon so important today? Why has it lasted?

MS: On one hand, A Trip to the Moon is important today because it is part of the canon — a film that gets viewed and taught as a historically important work. This is itself the result of a process that began with its rediscovery at the end of the 1920s, one which I explore in my introduction to the book. On the other hand, A Trip to the Moon continues to be an important film because it resists singular interpretation and instead lends itself to constant reinvention. When it was first rediscovered, it retroactively became a surrealist film, just as it retroactively became an early work of science fiction when that genre proliferated a few decades later. More recently, as Viva Paci points out in the last chapter of the book, Méliès’s aesthetic has been readily appropriated in music videos that give new life to A Trip to the Moon. It is a film that seems to have aged well, becoming fresh and relevant in different ways over the years.

TB: Why was there such a strong relationship between magic and illusion and early cinema?

MS: Magicians were one of the first professional groups to really recognize the potential of the cinematograph and to begin to exploit some of its possibilities. Méliès was among these turn-of-the-century magicians, of course, and he remained committed to the core principles of magic, as I discuss in Disappearing Tricks. Viewers as well as filmmakers understood film as an illusion partly since moving pictures were often screened as part of magic shows. This is just how A Trip to the Moon was first presented to viewers in Paris in September 1902 at Méliès’s magic theatre. A major draw of the film would have been its trick shots—the moon’s approach, the dream sequence, the exploding Selenites, the underwater shots—all of which were cutting-edge visual effects at the time.

TB: Are the films of Georges Méliès still ‘magical’ today?

MS: I contend they are. Méliès’s films still have the capacity to deceive us: we know that what we’re seeing is an illusion, that we’re being tricked, but we may not know just how it was done — which is not all that different from how the films were received in 1902. For many years, one of Méliès’s primary tricks went by the name of the ‘stop-camera effect’, even though Jacques Malthête pointed out thirty years ago that all these tricks involved editing as well as simply stopping and restarting of the camera. Méliès actually cut, or edited, his films to create the appearances, disappearances, and immediate transformations we see. Yet, this crucial part of the operation, the ‘substitution splice’ as it is sometimes called, often seems to have gone undetected. Likewise, by looking closely at A Trip to the Moon, one discovers that several scenes that appear to be simple straightforward long takes are actually made up of separate shots that were very carefully choreographed and seamlessly matched together. The magician of Montreuil can still trick us, more than a hundred years later.

A captive Selenite on earth, from the final scene of A Trip to the Moon

TB: Is A Trip to the Moon really a satire on imperialism, as is argued in the book? Aren’t we a little guilty of imposing our idea of how films work onto a film which audiences would have read very differently in 1903?

MS: A Trip to the Moon is a lot of things, and a satire is one of them. The last two scenes, which are missing from so many prints (including most now circulating on the Internet) really make this clear. The medal ceremony with all of the posturing by the explorers, who have been so inept and violent; the captured Selenite on a leash that is beaten with a stick until it dances for the cheering crowd; and the statue of the conqueror Barbenfouillis with his foot firmly planted on the head of an unhappy vanquished moon: all that points to a highly ironic take on exploration and, with it, imperialism. We have to remember that Méliès was a political cartoonist as well as an illusionist before he started making films. The ‘magician of Montreuil’ was not nearly as innocuous as he has been made out to be in retrospect. I certainly wouldn’t claim that movies are viewed in the same way today as they were in 1902 or 1903, but contemporary audiences may in fact be less attentive to detail than the viewers of Méliès’s time, who were in the habit of reading and interpreting images dense with meaning like political caricatures much more carefully than most of us do today. During the 1890s, for example, commentators on Lumière films drew attention to leaves fluttering in the wind in the background, but this detail passes unnoticed today. If you slow down A Trip to the Moon to 14 frames per second, as we did on the DVD, and really look carefully at what is happening onscreen, you notice there’s a whole lot more to it than a compelling story and a clever series of visual effects.

TB: 2011 is turning out to be a remarkable year for Georges Méliès, with the colour restoration, the Hugo Cabret film to come – and of course your book. And we have had exhibitions and the Flicker Alley DVD releases. Why is there so much interest in Méliès just now?

MS: Yes, Méliès is getting a lot of attention right now — just in time for the 150th anniversary of his birth. The cluster of Méliès events in 2011 may be partly coincidence. I know that restoration of the hand-colored print of A Trip to the Moon discovered in Spain has been in the works for more than a decade and might well have appeared sooner, just as the film adaptation of Brian Selznick’s wonderful book perhaps could have been produced earlier. In addition to Fantastic Voyages, you might also note the Méliès conference taking place later this month in Cerisy-la-Salle. But most importantly, the level of interest in Méliès would not be what it is now if not for the long-awaited entry of his work into the public domain a year-and-a-half ago, which more or less coincided with the release of the Flicker Alley DVDs. The timing has worked in favor of Méliès’s legacy: given his preference for the short form and his skill in staging virtual onscreen environments, Méliès’s work seems more prescient than ever right now.

TB: Fantastic Voyages seems to suggest that film studies is no longer enough if we are to appreciate such a film as A Trip to the Moon? Is film studies changing, or does it need to change?

MS: I hope the book demonstrates the value of treating cinema as a part of a much broader set of cultural practices while remaining attentive to the specifics of individual films. This is something that historians of early cinema have become accustomed to doing because so much contextual and intertextual knowledge is sometimes needed simply to make sense of the films. Film studies has become more inclusive and interdisciplinary, I think, and we can see some of the ways the field has changed by comparing the essays in Fantastic Voyages to accounts of A Trip to the Moon in earlier books, where it was often mentioned only as a forerunner of narrative cinema. Although I certainly wouldn’t deny this, such a narrow view centered on storytelling seems rather impoverished when one considers the true richness of the film and the diverse contexts that helped to generate it.

TB: What is your next project going to be?

MS: I’m working on a study of Méliès that examines his work as it cut across the various media in which he worked during his career, including (but not limited to) caricature, cinema and theater. While Méliès was undoubtedly a multi-media auteur, I’m ultimately less interested in his singular genius and vision than in using archival research and close examinations of his work to explore the ways that images and performances were staged, politicized, manipulated, commodified, circulated and exchanged in particularly modern ways during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.

TB: Thank you.

Bioscope Newsreel no. 16


Raymond Griffith: A Physiognomic Appreciation
David Cairns has been writing about comedian Raymond Griffith, “the most shamefully neglected performer in Hollywood history”, both on his Shadowplay blog and and his regular ‘The Forgotten’ column for the online cinematheque site MUBI. Read more (and more here).

Master of mise-en-scène
The Wall Street Journal writes in praise of Joseph Von Sternberg and the recent Criterion three-DVD set of his silent films Underworld, The Last Command and The Docks of New York. “With pristine prints and the welcome addition of Robert Israel’s newly composed but historically informed scores, film lovers can savor the work of a great director unhindered by expressive constraints”. Read more.

San Francisco 1906 in colour
Not colour film, unfortunately, but colour images taken by inventor Frederic Ives in 1906 of the city after the earthquake have been discovered by the Smithsonian Institution (actually a year ago, but the Internet is such a slow communicator of information at times). The Bioscope has previously written about the Kromskop, which helped inspire British inventors Edward Turner and G.A. Smith working on the first colour cinematography systems. Read more.

Dovzhenko on DVD
David Parkinson at the Oxford Times enthuses eloquently over the DVD releases of Alexander Dovzhenko’s Zvenigora (1928) and Arsenal (1929). “Anyone who considers modern sound cinema to be more sophisticated than the wordless pictures made between 1895-1930 should take a look at Alexander Dovzhenko’s Zvenigora … a dazzling array of artistic theories and screen techniques to explore such diverse topics as Ukrainian mythology, Soviet industrialisation, pacifism, the beauty of the landscape and the arrogance of the European bourgeoisie”. Read more.

Chaplin trouble
The long-promised Charlie Chaplin museum, converted out of the comedian’s home in Vevey, Switzerland, is in trouble. Art Info reports of Chaplin’s World: The Modern Times Museum that “financial difficulties have led to the purchase of the house and its surrounding land by two investors with shady connections, and supporters now wonder whether or not the museum — in planning for ten years — will ever see the light of day”. Read more.

The end of times
Happier Chaplin news from Leonard Maltin, who reports on the dedicated efforts by a group of film buffs and local history enthusiasts at William S. Hart Park in Newhall, California to mark the 75th anniversary of Modern Times, the film that called an end to the American silent film era. Read more.

‘Til next time!

Bioscope Newsreel no. 12

People on Sunday (Menschen am Sonntag)

Killruddery Film Festival
Ireland’s Killruddery Film Festival, with its strong emphasis on silent film, returns 10-13 March 2011 and the programme has just been announced. Highlights include The O’Kalems in Ireland, La Roue, White Shadows in the South Seas, 7th Heaven, Early Masterpieces of the Avant Garde, The Garden of Eden, Regeneration, People on Sunday and Ireland’s Other Silent Film Heritage (the Irish in Early Hollywood), an illustrated lecture by Kevin Brownlow. Read more.

Kansas Silent Film Festival
The annual Kansas Silent Film Festival takes place 25-27 February 2011. Highlights include David Shepard speaking on Chaplin at Keystone, Speedy, Chang, The Circus, The Last Command, A Thief Catcher, 7th Heaven and Wings. Special guest will be Harold lloyd expert Annette D’Agonstino Llloyd. Read more.

Q&A with film scholar Frank Kessler
On Cinespect, there’s a thoughtful interview with Frank Kessler, early film historian, sometime Bioscope contributor, and all round good chap, discussing issues in media historiography and the trick film by way of Christian Metz and Georges Méliès. Read more.

How to be a motion picture director
Dan North’s rather fine Spectacular Attractions blog offers unusual advice from Marshall Neilan in 1925 on how to be a motion picture director. “How should a director act in public?” “Like a nut or like an owl. Both methods have proved successful. By no means act normal”. Read more.

BBC permanent
It hasn’t much to do with silent films, but the BBC’s quiet announcement of a change in the Service Licence for its TV channel BBC4 and radio channels Radio 3 and Radio 4 is highly significant for access to audio-visual archives online. All three will now all have the the ability to offer programming on-demand for an unlimited period after broadcast, instead of the limited period at present. This is the start of something big – the permanent online archive for broadcast content. Keep watching. Read more.

‘Til next time.

The genius of Segundo de Chomón

Une Excursion Incohérente (1909)

For some while we have been bemoaning the lack of a DVD of the work of Segundo de Chomón, the brilliant Spanish trick filmmaker from the 1900s period, whose work is frequently compared to that of Georges Méliès. Examples of his work ripped from a VHS of unclear history can be found online in assorted places, but at last we can report the publication of an official DVD, Segundo de Chomón, el cine de la fantasía.

Produced by the FilmoTeca de Catalunya, and with films taken from the collections of the BFI, CNC Archives du Film, Eye, La Cineteca del Friuli and others, the multi-region DVD contains 31 titles (144 minutes of film), with an original music score by Joan Pineda. There is a booklet, Segundo de Chomón: Más allá del cine de las atracciones 1902-1912, written by Joan M. Minguet, author of the main work on de Chomón, Segundo Chomón. El cinema de la fascinació (2009). There are subtitles available in Catalan, Spanish and English.

The films are:

Los Héroes del Sitio de Zaragoza (1905)
L’Hereu de Can Pruna (1904)
Barcelone, Parc au Crépuscle (1904)
Le Roi de Dollars (1905)
Plongeur Fantastique (1905)
Ah! La Barbe (1905)
Les Cent Trucs (1906)
Le Courant Électrique (1906)
L’Antre de la Sorcière (1906)
Le Spectre Rouge (1907)
La Boîte à Cigars (1907)
Les Oeufs de Pâques (1907)
Sculpteur Express (1907)
Les Tulipes (1907)
En Avant la Musique (1907)
Kiriki, Acrobates Japonais (1907)
La Maison Ensorcelée (1907)
Les Lunatiques (1908)
Les Papillons Japonais (1908)
L’Insaisissable Pickpocket (1908)
Création de la Serpentine (1908)
Electric Hôtel (1908)
Le Petit Poucet (1909)
Le Voleur Invisible (1909)
Voyage sur Jupiter (1909)
Le Théatre Electrique de Bob (1909)
Une Excursion Incohérente (1910)
Gérone, la Venise Espagnole (1912)
Superstition Andalouse (1912)
Métamorphoses (1912)
Barcelone, Principale Ville de la Catalogne (1912)

Segundo de Chomón (1871-1929) became involved in film through his wife, who was an actress in Pathé films. In 1902 he became a concessionary for Pathé in Barcelona, distributing its product in Spanish-speaking countries, and managing a factory for the colouring of Pathé films. He began shooting actuality films of Spanish locations for the company, then 1905 moved to Paris where he became a trick film specialist. The body of work he created over five years was outstanding. Films such as Le Spectre Rouge, Kiriki – Acrobates Japonais, Le Voleur Invisible and Une Excursion Incohérente are among the most imaginative and technically accomplished of their age. De Chomón created fantastical narratives embellished with ingenious effects, gorgeous colour, innovative hand-drawn and puppet animation, tricks of the eye that surprise and delight, and startling turns of surreal imagination (see, for example, the worms that crawl out of a chocolate cake in Une Excursion Incohérente, one of a number of films where visitors or tourists are beset by nightmarish haunted buildings, a favourite de Chomón theme).

It is curious why he is not generally known as one of the early cinema masters, except among the cognoscenti in the field. Perhaps it is because there is a smaller body of work than that created by Georges Méliès (his works can perhaps be described as a cross between that of Méliès and another who combined trickery with animation, Emile Cohl); perhaps it is because he was a Spaniard working in France for the key part of his film career that has meant that neither side has championed him as much as they might have done. De Chomón carried on as a filmmaker, specialising in trick effects, working for Pathé, Itala and others, and contributing effect work to two of the most notable films of the silent era, Pastrone’s Cabiria (1914) and Abel Gance’s Napoléon (1927). Perhaps the publication of Segundo de Chomón, el cine de la fantasía will bring hilm back into the spotlight that his genius undoubtedly merits.

Le Théatre Electrique de Bob (Bob’s Electric Theatre), from UCLA’s YouTube channel, where it is dated 1906 though this is apparently the 1909 version of the film also on the DVD (see UCLA’s Silent Animation site)

Another example of Segundo de Chomón’s work to be found legitimately online is on the Europa Film Treasures site, the ingenious Les Kiriki – Acrobates japonais (1907).

(A question to those who might know – the DVD seems to be derived from the earlier VHS set, maybe from the 1980s, examples of which you can find draped all over YouTube. Can anyone confirm this?)

The Dreyer standard

Dreyer puts his hand up to block the camera, from a documentary ‘Carl Th. Dreyer’ available on http://english.carlthdreyer.dk

After a long period of waiting, it is good to be able to announce the official launch of the Danish Film Institute’s much-anticipated Carl Th. Dreyer website.

It has been worth the wait. The website (available in Danish and English versions) contains extensive and handsomely presented information on Denmark’s greatest filmmaker. There is a biography (creatively illustrated by photographs of Dreyer running down the right-hand column); thoughtful essays and articles on Dreyer’s visual style, his working method, and workplaces with which he was associated; explorations of key themes in his work; and biographical pieces on his various collaborators.

And then there is the gallery. Here is where things get really good. On one side there is a great selection of photographs and posters, the former including both personal photos as well as production stills. On the other side, there are the film and sound clips. There are extracts from some of the feature films (including Leaves from Satan’s Book among the silents), shorts, videos and sound interviews with Dreyer (some in Danish, some in English or with English titles), and films about Dreyer.

Then there is Dreyer’s Archive. This is a database of original scripts, work papers, photos, research material, newspaper clippings, book collection and more than 4,000 letters, mostly deriving from Dreyer’s estate. It is well put together, with exemplary indexing and hyperlinked cross-linking, though it is all in Danish and contains description of the archive contents, not digitised copies (the introduction to the database says that “all relevant material has been digitised, e.g. artifacts, photos and manuscripts” but this seems to relate to onsite access at the DFI).

Carl Th. Dreyer’s Die Gezeichneten (Love One Another) 1922, from http://english.carlthdreyer.dk

There is also an excellent filmography, providing a complete overview of every film with which Dreyer was involved, as screenwriter, director, editor and actor. Each record contains a short introduction, complete credits, stills, posters, technical data, scripts, plot summaries, DVD availability, selected reviews from Danish papers, and background information on the films’ production, reception and sources.

Here’s a list of all of Dreyer’s silent films (with director’s name in parenthesis and Dreyer’s credit on the second line):

The Leap to Death (Rasmus Ottesen, DK, 1912)
Scriptwriter Actor

Dagmar (Rasmus Ottesen, DK, 1912)

The Hidden Message (Kay van der Aa Kühle, DK, 1913)

War Correspondents (Vilhelm Glückstadt, DK, 1913)

Won by Waiting (Sofus Wolder, DK, 1913)

The Secret of the Bureau (Hjalmar Davidsen, DK, 1913)

Lay Down Your Arms! (Holger-Madsen, DK, 1915)

The Skeleton Hand (Alexander Christian, DK, 1915)

Money (Karl Mantzius, DK, 1916)

The Devil’s Protegé (Holger-Madsen, DK, 1916)

Evelyn the Beautiful (A.W. Sandberg, DK, 1916)

The Spider’s Prey (August Blom, DK, 1916)

A Criminal’s Diary (Alexander Christian, DK, 1916)

The Temptation of Mrs. Chestney (Holger-Madsen, DK, 1916)

The Mystery of the Crown Jewels (Karl Mantzius, DK, 1916)

The Mysterious Companion (August Blom, DK, 1917)

Which is Which? (Holger-Madsen, DK, 1917)

Convict No. 113 (Holger-Madsen, DK, 1917)

The Hands (Alexander Christian, DK, 1917)

Hotel “Paradise” (Robert Dinesen, DK, 1917)

The Music-hall Star (Holger-Madsen, DK, 1918)

Misjudgement (Alexander Christian, DK, 1917)

Gillekop (August Blom, DK, 1919)

Lace (August Blom, DK, 1919)

The President (Carl Th. Dreyer, DK, 1919)
Director Scriptwriter

Leaves from Satan’s Book (Carl Th. Dreyer, DK, 1921)
Director Scriptwriter

The Parson’s Widow (Carl Th. Dreyer, SE, 1921)
Director Scriptwriter

Love One Another (Carl Th. Dreyer, DE, 1922)
Director Scriptwriter

Once upon a Time (Carl Th. Dreyer, DK, 1922)
Director Scriptwriter

Michael (Carl Th. Dreyer, DE, 1924)
Director Scriptwriter

Master of the House (Carl Th. Dreyer, DK, 1925)
Director Scriptwriter Production design

The Bride of Glomdal (Carl Th. Dreyer, NO, 1926)
Director Scriptwriter

The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Th. Dreyer, FR, 1928)
Director Scriptwriter Editor

The whole site is a model of how to present any creative person’s legacy, let alone a leading filmmaker. It is easy to navigate, well-designed, amply visual, and has extensive cross-linking to encourage one to explore further and see how the site is structured. And new material is promised, so it is only going to get better and better. If only some other of the great names in silent film history could have similar definitive treatment (D.W. Griffith? Georges Méliès? Louis Lumière? Sergei Eisenstein? Where are the sites that these people deserve?). It’s about time – and the standard has been set.

They thought it was a marvel

Amsterdam University Press has published “They Thought it was a Marvel”: Arthur Melbourne-Cooper (1874-1961), Pioneer of Puppet Animation, by Tjitte de Vries and Ati Mul. Melbourne-Cooper is an interesting minor figure in early British film history, an assistant to Birt Acres (the first person to take a 35mm film in Britain) in the 1890s, then a pioneer of the animation film – some delightful examples survive, such as Dreams of Toyland (1908) and Noah’s Ark (1909) – as well as a being a producer of some rough-and-ready comedy films, typical of some of the low-grade British production of the time. He opened a cinema in his home town of St Albans in 1908 (an intriguingly rare example of an early filmmaker turning to film exhibition), made some industrial films, and generally had a diverting if small-scale career in the first years of British film.

What has made Melbourne-Cooper an unusual case has been the way that his cause has been advocated by a handful of dedicated souls. His daughter Audrey Wadowska was indomitable in championing her father’s cause as a film pioneer. She was a regular visitor to the National Film Archive, tirelessly holding the BFI to account for not sufficiently appreciating her father’s achievement. She collected a vast archive of documentation in support of her cause, and the Dutch researcher Tjitte de Vries took up that cause and has dedicated much of a lifetime to uncovering Arthur Melbourne-Cooper’s history.

This has led to some extraordinary battles. One has raged over a film held in the BFI National Archive (as it is now called) with the supplied titles of Matches Appeal, which features animated matches used in as a military recruiting aid while advertising Bryant & May matches. The claim is that the film relates to the Anglo-Boer war and therefore dates from 1899, making it years ahead of its time as a piece of animation. Others have denied that this could be possibly so and that the film could date as late as the First World War, but the 35mm original is lost, so the contention remains.

Arthur Melbourne-Cooper’s Dreams of Toyland (1908), from the BFI’s YouTube channel

A second battle has raged over the authorship of the films of Brighton filmmaker G.A. Smith, some of which Melbourne-Cooper’s advocates have claimed were made by him. I am not going into the minutiae of this particular argument. If you are at all interested, the arguments for and against are aired in the following:

  • Tjitte de Vries, ‘Arthur Melbourne-Cooper, Film Pioneer Wronged by Film History’, KINtop-4, 1994
  • Frank Gray, ‘Smith versus Melbourne-Cooper: History and Counter-History, Film History, vol. 11, 1999
  • Tjitte de Vries, ‘Letter to the editor: The case for Melbourne-Cooper’, Film History, vol. 12, 2002
  • Stephen Bottomore, ‘Smith Versus Melbourne-Cooper: An End to the Dispute’, Film History, Vol. 14, No. 1, 2002

All of which shows how important the little films at the dawn of filmmaking are to some, and the huge attraction that there is for the idea of authorship and the artistry of the individual. Some would argue that we should have no more biographies of filmmakers if we are to have a proper early film history, but it would be a cold history without character. The Melbourne-Cooper saga pits two different kinds of history against one another – one based on family history, reminiscence, and single-minded advocacy; the other based on primary evidence and comparative analysis. It raises interesting issues about authorship – ‘father’s’ films might have been his not because he filmed them but because he owned and exhibited them. It also shows the glamour of early film technique, with films such as G.A. Smith’s Grandma’s Reading Glass (1900), with its pioneering use of close-ups and point-of-view shots, a glamour that Melbourne-Cooper’s advocates yearn to see assigned to him (read the decidely partial Wikipedia entry on AMC and judge for yourselves).

Anyway, They Thought it was A Marvel argues its case over 576 pages, and comes with a DVD with six of Melbourne-Cooper’s animation films. Melbourne-Cooper deserves his small place in film history, not for the dubious claim to another man’s films and creativity, but as a genuine pioneer of the animation film, perhaps the first person to make such films with a child audience in mind. The book is priced €39,50, it is written in English, and it is available from the Amsterdam University Press website, while it is listed on Amazon as being available in the UK from Pallas Publications in December 2010.

(Arthur Melbourne-Cooper has a MySpace page, by the way. He currently has 74 friends. Including the BFI.)

Alice’s wonderlands

Alice Guy’s celebrated La Fée aux choux (1900), from http://www.thenation.com

There’s a fine long article on Alice Guy and women filmmakers in the early cinema period in The Nation, written by Jana Prikryl. Entitled ‘Alice’s Wonderlands: On Alice Guy Blaché‘, the article investigates the film career and its social significance of Alice Guy, the French filmmaker whose prodigious output, independence of spirit and creative invention attract ever more interest. It places Guy within the early cinema period overall, a time when opportunities for women as filmmakers and contributors to the filmmaking process were comparatively greater than they would be for decades afterwards. Alice Guy was at the start of this mini-phenomenon – and she was there, working in America, when she witnessed it all fade.

Here’s the opening two paragraphs, to whet your appetite:

“Records show that about three-fourths of matinee audiences are woman,” wrote the Hollywood mogul Irving Thalberg in 1924, his use of an abstract noun underscoring his philosophy. “That is why I say that pictures should be made primarily for the feminine mind.” Barely 25, Thalberg had recently come to MGM from Universal, where in the space of five years he had managed a revolution–including streamlining production and yoking each director to a producer elevated to oversee every aspect of the creative process–that had spread in Hollywood after World War I. In this matter of the feminine mind, the wisdom he offered was not original: it had long been a truism that women went to the movies in large numbers and that a sagacious businessman would indulge their tastes. What many people had forgotten by 1924, or would forget soon after–and would never know to forget today–is that the “audiences are woman” hypothesis had been taken to mean something very different just a few years earlier. It had been one of many overlapping, contradictory explanations, often rehashed in the press, for the surprising power of women in filmmaking. If female viewers decided the fate of movies, who better to make movies than females?

At one point in the 1910s, Universal had as many as nine women under contract as directors. (After Thalberg became manager in 1919, only one woman was hired to direct.) It wasn’t just that an astonishing number of women occupied key creative positions–half of silent-era screenwriters were women, for example. Even women still working their way up could appreciate the egalitarian climate of the industry. Not yet standardized, it was struggling to meet a booming demand for fresh product. For a brief period its male entrepreneurs and innovators required all talent on deck; gender norms were a luxury they preferred to forgo. Social currents also fostered this openness: at the turn of the century women were finding their voices in public life, working outside the home in growing numbers and organizing and agitating for temperance, suffrage and birth control. “Never before in civilization,” wrote Jane Addams in 1909, “have such numbers of young girls been suddenly released from the protection of the home and permitted to walk unattended upon city streets and to work under alien roofs; for the first time they are being prized more for their labor power than for their innocence, their tender beauty, their ephemeral gaiety.” As movies grew in popularity alongside these public revisions of feminine virtue, the notion of women making movies became less of a leap. The cultural moment lasted just under twenty years, collapsing under the combined weight of censorship and redoubled sexism around the time, ironically, that American women got the vote. Their power in Hollywood never recovered. In 1920 Houghton Mifflin, unwittingly heralding the end of an era, published a guide called Careers for Women, where among entries on architecture, business and medicine was a chapter on film directing. When the guide was reissued in 1934, the section on directing was simply dropped.

The article goes to to cover Guy’s career and films, particularly “the first decade of filmmaking, roughly 1896-1907” which she states “belonged to one female director alone” (not strictly true, but close enough). This was the period in which she became head of production at Gaumont, making short films in every genres and specialising in synchronised sound films, or Phonoscènes. She moved to America, where she made films for her own company, Solax, with studios in New Jersey. Interesting as some of these later films are, it is her French work that stands out and which Prikryl covers in most detail.

Just recently we have had a retrospective of her films at the Whitney Museum, the Gaumont DVD boxed set Le cinema premier, vol. 1 – Alice Guy, the Kino DVD boxed set Gaumont Treasures: 1897-1913 (with discs on the films of Guy, Louis Feuillade and Léonce Perret), the Kino DVD release of one of her three surviving features, The Ocean Waif (1916), and a biography by the leading Guy scholar Alison MacMahan, Alice Guy Blaché: Lost Visionary of the Cinema.

It still seems extraordinary that a woman should have been given the opportunity to set up and to head Gaumont’s fiction film production. What is also notable about Guy’s career was its longevity. Very few of the pioneering filmmakers of the 1890s managed to sustain careers in creative filmmaking beyond the 1900s. Georges Méliès, Edwin S. Porter, Robert Paul, G.A. Smith, the Lumière brothers – they all faded away soon into the new century. But Alice Guy made a successful transition to feature films and made her last film as late as 1920. Only Cecil Hepworth and J. Stuart Blackton among her pioneering contemporaries achieved the same, that I can think of. It shows a remarkable degree of imagination and adaptability to change in an emerging, uncertain business. She more than merits the increased critical attention that she is receiving, an attention that looks beyond the simplistic (and evidentially dubious) arguments made on her behalf in the past as being the ‘first’ this, that or the other, to a deeper understanding of a key creative filmmaker at a time of revolutionary social and industrial change.

Méliès encore!

Undoubtedly one of most significant DVD releases in recent years in the early and silent cinema field was Flicker Alley’s Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema (1896-1913). Issued in 2008, this 5-DVD set features 173 titles made by the premier filmmaking genius of the early cinema period. It brought together material from collections around the world in as near comprehensive a form as possible, turning what had previously would have taken half a lifetime for just a handful of dedicated researchers to see into something available to all. The set contained revelations for everyone, whether early cinema expert or those stumbling upon these visionary films of magic for the first. The Bioscope produced a review with full listing of all of the titles, including Star-Film catalogue number (the name of Méliès’ film company), the original French title and English title on the discs.

The set was extensive, but it was not complete. More Méliès films were known to be out there, and now Flicker Alley has just announced Georges Méliès Encore, a single disc follow-up which adds a further 26 titles produced by the Frenchman between 1896-1911, plus two titles by his Spanish contemporary Segundo de Chomón done in the Méliès style which have long been is taken for his work. That latter offering sounds a bit odd (let’s instead see a comprehensive DVD dedicated to the supremely artistic work of de Chomón alone one day, please), but the chance to take things that much closer to the complete extant archive is a cause for rejoicing.

The production description available on Amazon.com gives these English titles:

The Haunted Castle from 1896 relies on shot-substitution, the filmmaker’s first trick discovery; it is a work in 21 shots at a time when everyone else in the world was making only single-shot films! An Hallucinated Alchemist is a beautifully-colored trick film from 1897, which survives in perfect condition. Among other surprises, the set includes military re-enactments (The Last Cartridges, Sea Fighting in Greece), dream films (The Inventor Crazybrains and His Wonderful Airship, Under the Seas), dramatic narratives (The Wandering Jew and The Christmas Angel, both with original narrations), slapstick comedies (How Bridget’s Lover Escaped, The King and the Jester, The Cook’s Secret), and, of course, a substantial group of the lovely trick films on which rest Méliès modern reputation.

Flicker Alley has now (updated information, 27 January) provided a full title listing on its website, from which the Bioscope has produced this listing (which corrects some slips):

15 – Défense d’afficher / Post no Bills
78-80 – Le manoir du diable / The Haunted Castle

95 – L’hallucination de l’alchimiste / An Hallucinated Alchemist [Note: this is a misidentification – see comments]
100 – Sur les Toits / On the Roofs
105 – Les Dernières cartouches [Flicker Alley call this Bombardement d’une maison] / The Last Cartridges
110 – Combat naval en Grèce / Sea Fighting in Greece

359 – L’omnibus des toqués ou Blancs et Noirs / Off to Bloomingdale Asylum

392-393 – l’oeuf du sorcier / The Prolific Egg
397 – Éruption volcanique à la Martinique / Eruption of Mount Pele
430-443 – Les aventures de Robinson Crusoé (fragment) / Robinson Crusoe

472 – La flamme merveilleuse / Mystical Flame, The
545 – Un peu de feu s.v.p. (fragment) / Every Man His Own Cigar Lighter

662-664 – Le juif errant / The Wandering Jew
669-677 – Détresse et charité / The Christmas Angel

550-551 – Les apparitions fugitives / Fugitive Apparitions
662-664 – Le juif errant / Wandering Jew, The
669-677 – Détresse et charité / Christmas Angel, The
693-695 – Le baquet de Mesmer / A Mesmerian Experiment
750-752 – L’île de Calypso / The Mysterious Island
786-788 – Le dirigeable fantastique ou le cauchemar d’un inventeur / The Inventor Crazybrains and His Wonderful Airship

888-905 – Robert Macaire et Bertrand, les rois des cambrioleurs / Robert Macaire and Bertrand

912-924 – Deux cent milles sous les mers ou le cauchemar du pêcheur / Under the seas
929-933 – Le mariage de Victorine / How Bridget’s Lover Escaped
1010-1013 – Satan en prison /
1040-1043 – François 1er et Triboulet / The King and the Jester

1476-1485 – Hydrothérapie fantastique / The Doctor’s Secret
1530-1533 – Le papillon fantastique (fragment) / The spider and the butterfly

The three Pathé titles are
Le vitrail diabolique / The Diabolical Church Window (1911)
Les roses magiques / Magic Roses (1906)
Excursion dans la lune / Excursion to the Moon (1908)

So, where (and what is) The Cook’s Secret?

Georges Méliès Encore is released on 16 February 2010, price $19.95.

Alice Guy-Blaché: cinema pioneer

Madame a des envies (1906), directed by Alice Guy

I’m a little late in taking note of an exhibition with associated screenings and events which is running at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Alice Guy Blaché: Cinema Pioneer runs 6 November 2009-24 January 2010, and is dedicated to one of the most interesting of cinema pioneers. Usually described as the first women film director (hmm, maybe), Alice Guy (later Alice Guy-Blaché) (1873–1968) played a significant role in both French and American cinema, writing, directing and producing early silent and sound-on-disc films, running her own studio (Solax) and establishing an individual vision as a filmmaker which makes her of that much more interest that just an historical ‘first’, however enterprising.

The blurb on the exhibition site describes things thus:

This is the first comprehensive retrospective of the films of Alice Guy Blaché (1873–1968), a key but unsung figure of the early years of cinema, the first woman director, and the first woman to establish and preside over her own film studio. Between 1896 and 1920, first in France and then in the United States, she wrote, directed, supervised, and/or produced more than 1,000 films. These ranged from short films of less than a minute’s duration to full-length multi-reel features and include some hand-tinted in color, and more than one hundred films with synchronized sound made between 1902 and 1906, some twenty years before sound revolutionized motion pictures as we now know them.

A screenwriter as well as director, she worked in a remarkable variety of genres including comedies, westerns, dramas, detective stories, and a biblical epic, as well as making films based on literary classics and theatrical productions. Alice Guy (as she was known at Gaumont Film Company), made her first story film at a time when the earliest motion pictures were used in the service of science and selling cameras—a time when the notion of motion pictures as a form of popular entertainment was not yet on the horizon. Radically shifting the parameters of cinematic imagination, production, and distribution, Blaché participated in every aspect of the evolving motion picture business, and her careers in the two countries where cinema was born testify to her extraordinary accomplishments.

The exhibition is organized by Whitney curator-at-large Joan Simon. It is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue, published by Yale University Press in association with the Whitney, with contributions by noted film scholars Jane Gaines, Alison McMahan, Charles Musser, Alan Williams, film historian and preservationist Kim Tomadjoglou, and the show’s organizer, Joan Simon.

As well as the exhibition, there was a symposium (now past) and a series of screenings, which began yesterday and continues until December 4. For the record (since this is the most comprehensive Guy retrospective mounted, and because usefully the print sources are given), these are films being shown:

PROGRAM 1: Myth & Magic
Chirurgie fin de siècle [Turn-of-the-century Surgery], 1900 (Gaumont). Lobster Films, Paris
La Petite magicienne [The Little Magician], 1900 (Gaumont).
Lobster Films, Paris
Intervention malencontreuse [Untimely Intervention], 1902 (Gaumont). Lobster Films, Paris
Chiens savants [Performing Dogs], 1902 (Gaumont). Featuring Miss Dundee and her trained dogs. Lobster Films, Paris
Faust et Méphistophélès [Faust and Mephistopheles], 1903 (Gaumont). Lobster Films, Paris
Une Histoire roulante [A Rolling Story], 1906 (Gaumont). Lobster Films, Paris
Ballon dirigeable—Lebaudy N3 [The Dirigible—Lebaudy No. 3], 1906 (Gaumont). Lobster Films, Paris
Greater Love Hath No Man 1911 (Solax). Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Algie the Miner 1912 (Solax). Directed by Edward Warren and Harry Shenck. Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Alice Guy tourne une phonoscène [Alice Guy directs a phonoscène], 1905 (Gaumont). Gaumont Pathé Archives, Paris
L’Anatomie du conscrip [Anatomy of a Recruit], 1905 (Gaumont, 1905; phonoscène) Performed by Polin. Gaumont. Pathé Archives, Paris. Sound
Questions indiscrètes [Indiscreet Questions], 1905 (Gaumont; phonoscène) Performed by Félix Mayol. Gaumont Pathé Archives, Paris. Sound

PROGRAM 2: Scoring Guy Blaché: Selections from the Alice Guy Blaché Film Score Project

Roads Lead Home, 1913 (Solax). Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Sound: Alice Guy Blaché Film Score Project: A Whitney Live Commission. Musical score composed by Tamar Muskal and performed for the recording by Erin Keefe (violin), Pedja Muzijevic (piano), and Wilhelmina Smith (cello), 2009
Falling Leaves 1912 (Solax). Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Sound: Alice Guy Blaché Film Score Project: A Whitney Live Commission. Musical score composed by Tamar Muskal and performed for the recording by Erin Keefe (violin), Pedja Muzijevic (piano), and Wilhelmina Smith (cello), 2009

PROGRAM 3: Saving Guy Blaché: Newly Restored Films

Mixed Pets 1911 (Solax) Library of Congress, Washington, DC
A House Divided 1913 (Solax) Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Sound: musical score by Barbara Harbach

PROGRAM 4: Detective Story

Burstop Holmes’ Murder Case 1913 (Solax) Em Gee Film Library, Reseda, CA

PROGRAM 5: Sound Meets Silents: Featuring 35mm Films and Live Musical Accompaniment by Donald Sosin

Baignade dans le torrent [Swimming in the Stream], 1897 (Gaumont). Lobster Films, Paris
Le Pêcheur dans le torrent [The Fisherman in the Stream], 1897 (Gaumont). Lobster Films, Paris
Ballet libella 1897 (Gaumont). Lobster Films, Paris
Danse du papillon [Butterfly Dance], 1897 (Gaumont). Lobster Films, Paris
Danse serpentine [Serpentine Dance], 1897 (Gaumont). Performances by Mme Bob Walter. Lobster Films, Paris
Les Malabares [The Malabares], 1902 (Gaumont). Lobster Films, Paris
Chapellerie et charcuterie mécaniques [Mechanical Hat-and-sausage-maker], 1900 (Gaumont). Lobster Films, Paris
Chirurgie fin de siècle [Turn-of-the-century Surgery], 1900 (Gaumont). Lobster Films, Paris
La Petite magicienne [The Little Magician], 1900 (Gaumont). Lobster Films, Paris
Intervention malencontreuse [Untimely Intervention], 1902 (Gaumont). Lobster Films, Paris
Faust et Méphistophélès [Faust and Mephistopheles], 1903 (Gaumont). Lobster Films, Paris
Chiens savants [Performing Dogs], 1902 (Gaumont). Featuring Miss Dundee and her trained dogs. Lobster Films, Paris
Une Histoire roulante [A Rolling Story], 1906 (Gaumont). Lobster Films, Paris
Ballon dirigeable—Lebaudy N3 [The Dirigible—Lebaudy No. 3], 1906 (Gaumont). Lobster Films, Paris
The Ocean Waif 1916 (Golden Eagle Features/International Film Service) Library of Congress, Washington, DC

PROGRAM 6: Players & the Played/Alice Guy in Spain

Au cabaret [At the Club], 1899 (Gaumont). Archival Film Collections of the Swedish Film Institute, Stockholm
Avenue de l’Opéra 1900 (Gaumont). Archival Film Collections of the Swedish Film Institute, Stockholm
La Bonne absinthe [The Good Absinthe], 1899 (Gaumont). Archival Film Collections of the Swedish Film Institute, Stockholm
L’Aveugle fin de siècle [The Turn-of-the-century Blind Man], 1898 (Gaumont). Archival Film Collections of the Swedish Film Institute, Stockholm
A Fool and His Money 1912 (Solax). Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Sound: Alice Guy Blaché Film Score Project: A Whitney Live Commission. Musical score composed by Missy Mazzoli and performed for the recording by the ensemble Victoire: Olivia De Prato (violin), Lorna Krier (keyboards), Eileen Mack (clarinet), Missy Mazzoli (keyboards), and Eleonore Oppenheim (double bass), 2009
Roads Lead Home 1913 (Solax). Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Sound: Alice Guy Blaché Film Score Project: A Whitney Live Commission. Musical score composed by Tamar Muskal and performed for the recording by Erin Keefe (violin), Pedja Muzijevic (piano), and Wilhelmina Smith (cello), 2009
Alice Guy in Spain 1905 (Gaumont). Gaumont Pathé Archives, Paris
Tango 1905 (Gaumont). Gaumont Pathé Archives, Paris
Le Bolero [The Bolero], 1905 (Gaumont). Performed by Miss Saharet. Gaumont Pathé Archives, Paris

PROGRAM 7: Scoring Guy Blaché: Selections from the Alice Guy Blaché Film Score Project

A Fool and His Money 1912 (Solax). Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Sound: Alice Guy Blaché Film Score Project: A Whitney Live Commission. Musical score composed by Missy Mazzoli and performed for the recording by the ensemble Victoire: Olivia De Prato (violin), Lorna Krier (keyboards), Eileen Mack (clarinet), Missy Mazzoli (keyboards), and Eleonore Oppenheim (double bass), 2009
When Marian Was Little 1911 (Solax). Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Sound: Alice Guy Blaché Film Score Project: A Whitney Live Commission. Musical score composed by Missy Mazzoli and performed for the recording by the ensemble Victoire: Olivia De Prato (violin), Lorna Krier (keyboards), Eileen Mack (clarinet), Missy Mazzoli (keyboards), and Eleonore Oppenheim (double bass), 2009

PROGRAM 8: Saving Guy Blaché: Newly Restored Films

The Sewer 1912 (Solax). Directed by Edward Warren; set design and script by Henri Menessier. Library of Congress, Washington, DC

PROGRAM 9: Seeing Sound

Canned Harmony 1912 (Solax). Em Gee Film Library, Reseda, CA

PROGRAM 10: Sound Meets Silents: Featuring 35mm Films and Live Musical Accompaniment by Donald Sosin

Alice Guy tourne une phonoscène [Alice Guy films a phonoscène], 1905 (Gaumont). Gaumont Pathé Archives, Paris
Lilas-Blanc [White Lilacs], 1905 (Gaumont; phonoscène). Performed by Félix Mayol. Gaumont Pathé Archives, Paris. Sound
Five O’Clock Tea 1905 (Gaumont; phonoscène). Performances by Dranem. Gaumont Pathé Archives, Paris. Sound
Les Maçons [The Builders], 1905 (Gaumont). Performed by the O’Mers. La Cinémathèque royale de Belgique, Brussels
La Course à la saucisse [The Race after the Sausage], 1906 (Gaumont). La Cinémathèque royale de Belgique, Brussels
Le Matelas alcoolique or Le Matelas épileptique [The Alcoholic Mattress or The Epileptic Mattress], 1906 (Gaumont). Library of Congress, Washington, DC
La Glu [The Glue], 1906 (Gaumont). Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Une Course d’obstacles [An Obstacle-course Race], 1906 (Gaumont). Restored by Archives Françaises du Film du CNC, Bois d’Arcy, France
Two Little Rangers 1912 (Solax). Filmmuseum, Amsterdam
Algie the Miner 1912 (Solax). Directed by Edward Warren and Harry Shenck. Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Greater Love Hath No Man 1911 (Solax). Library of Congress, Washington, DC

PUBLIC PROGRAM: Film Evening Honoring the Women’s Film Preservation Fund of New York Women in Film and Television with live musical accompaniment by Ben Model

Mixed Pets 1911 (Solax). Library of Congress, Washington, DC
A Fool and His Money 1912 (Solax). Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

The Ocean Waif (1916)

The Whitney website also includes an image gallery, with striking images such as this gem from her 1916 production, The Ocean Waif. And there is now a whole YouTube channel devoted to Alice Guy, courtesy of the Whitney Museum, with 16 titles so far (though I’d challenge the claim that Little Tich and his Big Boots is a Gaumont phonoscène – it was made by Clément-Maurice for the Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre at the Paris Exposition of 1900).

Finally, some Alice Guy links for you: