Étienne-Jules Marey

Motion-Analyses by Étienne-Jules Marey

Born in March of 1830 in Beaune, Étienne-Jules Marey was a French scientist, physiologist, and chronophotographer. The results of his work were significant for the development of aviation, cardiology, laboratory photography, cinematography, and instruments for precise measurement.

Étienne-Jules Marey traveled to Paris in 1849 and enrolled at the Faculty of Medicine to study surgery and physiology. After qualifying as a doctor in 1859, he established a small Parisian laboratory in 1864 where he studied the circulation of blood in the human body. From these studies, Marey published the 1868 “Le Mouvement dans les Fonctions de la Vie”. This book discussed the importance of recording devices in biology, Marey’s graphic method, the origin of movement, muscle contractility and elasticity, artificial stimulations of movement, and descriptions of many medical recording devices.

Beginning in 1862, Marey perfected the first elements of his graph methodology, which studied movement using recording instruments and graphs. He succeeded in analyzing through diagrams the walk of man and a horse, and the flight of birds and insects. The published results of this work, the 1873 “La Machine Animals”, led Eadweard Muybridge and Leland Stanford to pursue their own photographic researches into animal movement. 

Although Étienne-Jules Marey admired the results of Muybridge’s work done at the Palo Alto studio, he was dissatisfied with the lack of precision in Muybridge’s bird movement images. Inspired by previous photographic work done by astronomer Jules Janssen, Marey, in 1882, perfected the ‘photographic gun’ with a revolving cylinder containing photographic plates that was capable of taking twelve exposures in one second. Using this instrument, he was able to shoot multiple images of a subject quickly from different angles. Later in the same year, Muray invented the chronophotographic fixed-plate camera which was equipped with a timed shutter. 

Unlike the motion studies of Eadweard Muybridge, who depicted movement as a series of discrete moments on separate, sequential negatives, Marey’s analyses of motion, captured by his chronophotographic camera, are characterized by multiple exposures on a single photographic glass plate. He made improvements to his invention in 1888 by replacing the glass plate with a long strip of sensitized paper. Marey’s first multiple-exposure “film” on paper, produced by moving the strip intermittently in the camera by an electromagnet at the speed of twenty images a second, was presented at the Academy des Science on October 29th in 1888. 

Two years later, Étienne-Jules Marey replaced the paper strip with a transparent celluloid film ninety millimeters wide with a length of one meter or more. A pressure-plate immobilized the film; a spring restarted the film when the pressure was released. All following cameras produced were based on the principles first applied by Marey: the intermittent movement of a sensitive film behind an objective lens  and the film’s static moments corresponding with the opening of the shutter. 

Between 1890 and 1900, assisted by inventor and photographer  Georges Demenÿ, and later by photographers Lucien Bull and Pierre Nogues, Marey made a large number of motion analysis filmstrips of high aesthetic and technical quality. These filmstrips were subsequently  processed and archived by the Cinématheque Francaise, the French non-profit film organization founded in 1936, and totaled over four- hundred original negatives, a collection which included the recording of a moving hand, self-portraits of Demenÿ and Marey, and the now-famous falling cat filmstrip, taken in 1894. 

In 1894, Étienne-Jules Marey published his collective research work under the title “Le Mouvement”. Towards the end of his life, he returned to studying the movement of more abstract forms. Marey’s  last great work was the observation and photography of smoke trails, partially funded by American astronomer and inventor Samuel Pierpont Langley under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institute. In 1901 Marey built a smoke machine with fifty-eight smoke trails; this machine became one of the first aerodynamic wind tunnels. 

The founding father of technical cinematic photography, Étienne-Jules Marey died on May 15th of 1904 in Paris. His research was continued by his assistants Lucien Bull and Pierre Nogues at the Marey Institute, built at the request of the International Society of Physiology by Marey to house a commission for the control of graphic instruments dedicated to physiology.  At this institute, Bull and Nogues made microscopic, X-Ray and high-speed analysis films.

British Pathé, RMS Titanic

 

Artist Unknown, Titanic Moored at Dock, Gifs, British Pathé, 1912

These three colorized gifs were taken from the beginning of a film, jointly owned by British Pathé and Gaumont Newsreels, containing known footage of the RMSTitanic. Slightly different versions of this film are held by British Movietone and the National Film and Television Archive.

The three gifs depict the Titanic moored, probably on April 2nd of 1912, at the Thompson Graving Dock on Queen’s Island in Belfast, where the RMS Titanic was fitted out. In these shots, men can be seen walking beside the ship and smoke is seen issuing from the third funnel of the Titanic.

The British Pathé’s newsreel, just over six minutes in length,  covers several episodes in the story of the RMS Titanic’s final days. The captain of the RMS Titanic, Edward J. Smith, who perished when the ship sank, is shown on board the RMS Olympic, before assuming duty on the Titanic. Newsreel footage of icebergs and ice floes are shown to portray the scene of the disaster. Scenes of the rescue ship, Carpathia, nearing New York City with survivors, and scenes of the departing search and rescue vessel, Mackay Bennet, also are included in this Pathé footage.

At the forefront of cinematic journalism, British Pathé was a producer of newsreels and documentaries from 1910 to 1970 in England. The company blended information with entertainment for movie theater attendees who came to watch the news. Over the course of its sixty years, it documented everything from major armed conflicts and international political crises to the curious hobbies and eccentric lives of ordinary people.

British Pathé’s roots lie in 1896 Paris, France, when Société Pathé Frères  was founded by Charles Pathé and his brothers, who pioneered the development of the moving image. In 1908, the company invented the cinema newsreel with its introduction of the Pathé-Journal and opened a newsreel office on Wardour Street, London, in 1910. These early silent  newsreels, issued every two weeks and running about four minutes in length, were shown in local theaters; sound was introduced beginning in 1928. The Pathé newsreels captured events such as suffragette Emily Danison’s fatal injury by a racehorse at the 1913 Epsom Derby and Franz Reichelt’s fatal descent by parachute from the Eiffel Tower in February of 1912.

Considered now to be the finest newsreel archive in the world, British Pathé is a treasure trove of eighty-five thousand films unmatched in their historical and cultural significance. The company also represents the Reuters historical collection, which includes more than one hundred thirty-six thousand items from the following news agencies: Gaumont Graphic, active from 1910 to 1932; Empire News Bulletin, a film library from 1926 to 1930;  British Paramount,  a collection spanning from 1931 to 1957; and Gaumont British’s collection  from 1934 to 1959. Included in Pathés vast library of film is the collected content from the Visnews service active from 1957 until the end of 1984.

The full footage of British Pathé’s Titanic black and white newsreel can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05o7sOAjtXE

All footage can be viewed on the British Pathé website. https://www.britishpathe.com/

Ernesto Garcia Cabral

The Illustrative Work of Ernesto Garcia Cabral

Ernesto Garcia Cabral, know as El Chango, was the most prolific illustrator, caricaturist, and cartoonist in the history of Mexican journalism. Despite a successful sixty-year career and the production of over twenty-five thousand illustrations, he was never widely known outside of Mexico, with the exception of France, where his work appeared in several publications. 

Ernesto Cabral was born in Huatusco, Veracruz, Mexico in December of 1890 to Vincent and Aurelia Garcia Cabral. As a boy, he displayed artistic ability with drawings of his classmates and landscapes; his first known illustrative work appeared in a Veracruz newspaper in 1900. Cabral received a scholarship in 1907 to study at the San Carlos Art Academy in Mexico City, where he studied under painter Germán Gedovius, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Munich and a master of the chiaroscuro technique. 

Cabral’s professional career, as an illustrator and caricaturist, began in 1909 with his employment at “The Tarantula,” a weekly paper of humor and politics published in Mexico City. While at the paper, he illustrated political activist Aquiles Serdán’s telegraphed eyewitness reports of the Mexican Revolution; these ten illustrations by Cabral are the first known images of the Revolution. In 1911, Cabral was invited by editor Mario Vitoria to co-found “Multicolor”, one of Mexico’s first political satire magazines which took an anti-revolutionary stance and was fueled by criticism of President Francisco Madero”s administration.

With somewhat suspicious timing, Ernesto Cabral was offered a government-sponsored scholarship to leave Mexico and study art in Paris in February of 1912, just when “Multicolor” fell into trouble with President Madero and the Mexican government’s administration. While studying there, Cafral worked as an illustrator for the several French publications: the humor magazines “Le Rire” and “La Baïonnette”, and the mildly risqué erotic magazine “La Vie Parisienne”. He also became associated with important artists such as Diego Rivera, sculptor and painter Fidas Flizondo, and painter Angel Zarraga. 

At the beginning of World War I, Cabral was given another government stipend which took him to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he remained until 1917 or 1918. While living there, he illustrated for Argentina’s newspapers “La Nación” and “Caras y Caretas”, among others, and for the Chilean publications “Revista Popular” and “Los Diez de Chile”. 

On his return to Mexico in 1918, Cabral began to illustrate primarily in color and produced many illustrations, including art deco images, and caricatures for publications, such as “Revista de Revistas”, “El Semanario Nacional” and “Compañia Editorial Excélsior”. Established as a prominent caricaturist, Ernesto Cabral produced a prolific amount of editorial work throughout the 1920s and 1930s, during which time he also served as president of the National Union of Cartoonists. 

Ernesto Cabral is mostly remembered today for the posters and lobby cards he executed during The Mexican Golden Age of Cinema, which roughly spanned the years from 1936 to 1956. His style was solidified in the mid-1950s, beginning with his design for the 1956 Mexican comedy film  “El Rey de Mexico”. Cabral’s specialty was illustrations for comedy films. Although he did advertising work for several different studios, his most frequent assignments were for films produced by Mier y Brooks, a prominent studio during Mexico’s Golden Age. Cabral’s dynamic compositions, with their bold colors and cartoonish caricatures, were innovative in the field of film advertising and helped establish the careers of Mexican actors and comedians like Germán Valdés, aka Tin Tan, and Mario Moreno, also known as Cantiflas. 

Cabral continued, during the 1960s, producing work for publications like “Hoy”, “Jueves de Excélsior:, and the newspaper “Novedades”, in which he provided illustrations on the Cold War, the Vietnam conflict, and social upheaval in the world. The winner of the 1961 Mergenthaler Prize by the Inter-American Press Association, Ernesto Garcia Cabral passed away on August 8, 1968 in Mexico City at the age of seventy-seven.

A collection of Ernesto Cabral’s movie posters with descriptions can be located at: http://www.santostreet.com/subpages/ArtistCabral.htm

The Tesla World Light

Matthew Rankin, “The Tesla World Light”, 2017

“The Tesla World Light” is a eight-minute 2017 black and white avant-garde film by Montreal director Matthew Rankin which imagines the latter days of inventor Nikola Tesla in New York City in 1905. It is a fanciful mixture of elements from Tesla’s life including his pleas to J. P. Morgan for funding and his love for a “electric” pigeon. The film sources interviews with Tesla and letters by Tesla found in the Library of Congress. 

In the film, Matthew Rankin combined pixilation with a technique called light-animation, which involves moving a light source in the frame to produce light rays. He estimated he used as many as fifteen thousand sparklers to produce the effects, along with flashlights, LEDs, and fluorescent lamps.

Matthew Rankin adopted a visual-music approach to the film. He worked with sound artist Sasha Ratcliffe, who recreated Tesla’s device, the Tesla Spirit Radio, which received and transmitted the sound of light waves with the intensity varying according to its vibrations. Much of the background sound in the film was produced by this machine.

Produced by Julie Roy, an executive producer at the Canadian National Film Board, “The Tesla World Light” stars Robert Vilar as Tesla, with cinematography by Julian Fontaine and music by Christophe Lamarche. The film had its world premiere in official competition in May at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and was selected for the Annecy International Animated Film Festival.

“The Tesla World Light” received an honorable mention in the Best Canadian Short Film category at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and received a listing on Canada’s Top Ten list of short films. It also won the 2018 Canadian Screen Award for Best Animated Short Films.

Gus Green Van Sant, Jr: “My Own Private Idaho”

Bruce Weber, Promotional Photo Shoot for “My Own Private Idaho”

These two images, showing River Phoenix with Michael Parker and with Rodney Harvey, were taken by Bruce Weber during a promotional photo shoot in 1991 for director Gus Van Sant’s early 1991 masterpiece “My Own Private Idaho”.

Born in July of 1952, Gus Green Van Sant, Jr. is an American screenwriter, film director, photographer, painter and author who has produced acclaimed independent and mainstream films. His films typically contain themes of marginalized subcultures, particularly homosexuality. Van Sant is one of the prominent film artists of the New Queer Cinema movement. 

Van Sant made his feature-length directorial debut with his 1985 film “Mala Noche (Bad Night)”, a drama film based on poet Walt Curtis’s autobiographical novel of the same name.  His second feature, released in 1989, was the highly acclaimed “Drugstore Cowboy”, which earned him Best Director from the National Society of Film Critics. Van Sant followed this success with the a series of similarly praised films: the 1991 “My Private Idaho” and the black comedy “To Die For” in 1995. His next two films,  the 1997 drama “Good Will Hunting”, and the biographical film “Milk” in 2008, were nominated by the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director. 

Note: You will find more information on Van Sant’s film “Malo Noche” at: https://ultrawolvesunderthefullmoon.blog/2015/07/09/mala-noche-directed-by-gus-van-sant-mala-noche/

Magnus Hirschfeld

Magnus Hirschfeld, “Different from the Others”, 1919,  Directed by Richard Oswald, Cinematography by Max Fassbender, Richard Oswald Film, Berlin

Video Soundtrack: “Meditation de Thais” by Joshua Bell

Born in May of 1868 in Kolberg, Prussia, Magnus Hirschfeld was a German physician and sexologist educated primarily in Germany, earning his doctoral degree in 1892. Observing the suicide rate of his gay patients, he became an outspoken advocate for sexual minorities. In May of 1897 Hirschfeld founded the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, a campaign for social recognition of gay, bisexual, and transgender men and women, and against their legal persecution.

Under Herschfeld’s leadership, the Committee gathered over five thousand signatures on a petition to overturn Paragraph 175, the section of the German penal code that criminalized homosexuality. It received little support in the Reichstag in 1898, made some progress later, until its demise with the Nazi Party took power. 

With the rise of the national socialist party in Germany, Magnus Hirschfeld was badly beaten by a group of võlkisch activists who attacked him on the streeet. In 1933, his Institute for the Research of Sexuality was sacked, the staff beaten, and its contents of books and documents burned on the street.  At the time of the book burning, Hirschfeld was on a world speaking tour. He never returned to Germany, eventually near the end of his life, settling in Nice, France. Magnus Hirschfeld died in Nice on May 14, 1935 and is buried in the Caucade Cemetery.  

Enacted in 1871, the German penal code’s Paragraph 175 sentenced thousands of accused German homosexual men to jail terms for “unnatural vice between men.” In 1919, director Richard Oswald and psychologist Dr.Magnus Hirschfeld created a film intended to expose the unjust Paragraph 175 and help liberate the “third sex” from legal persecution and public scorn. It was the first movie to portray homosexual characters beyond the usual innuendo and ridicule.

“Different from the Others” casts Conrad Veidt as Paul Korner, a gay concert pianist blackmailed by a closeted crook named Bollek. When Korner’s budding romance with Kurt Sivers, a handsome young music student, played by Fritz Schulz,  runs afoul of Bollek’s extortion, Korner goes to the German courts for protection. But the draconian Paragraph 175 makes criminals out of both accuser and accused, ultimately costing Korner his career, his freedom, and his life.

One of the first gay-themed films in the history of cinema, “Different from the Others” was banned at the time of its release, later burned by the Nazis and was believed lost for more than forty years. Using recently discovered film segments, still photos and censorship documents from different archives, Filmmuseum Muenchen has resurrected this truly groundbreaking silent film for DVD.

Image Insert: Magnus Hirschfeld, on the right, with his partner Tao Li, at the fourth conference of the World League for Sexual Reform in 1932. Tao Li’s father, Li Kam-tong, a wealthy Hong Kong business man, approved of his son’s relationship with Hirschfeld.

Film video reblogged with thanks to:  https://www.kinolorber.com/film/view/id/732

Sean Lìonadh

Sean Lìonadh, “Homophobia in 2018: Time for Love”, 2018

“Time for Love” is a short film written, directed and performed by Sean Lìonadh, It is taken from his written poem that explores homophobia in modern society, and also the concept of normality. It questions whether the pressures of convention turn us against one another, at the cost of love. This visually poem won a Royal Television Society Award in 2019, has acieved extensive viewing online, and has been translated into five languages.

Sean Lìonadh is a poet, writer, filmmaker and musician from Glasgow, Scotland. He worked with the Royal Opera House as the libretist on the modern opera”Honest Skin”. His band ‘Lìonadh’ creates dark pop music which explores the themes in his film. Sean Lìonadh is currently working with producers Alfredo Covelli and Ross McKenzie to develop his first feature film “Nostophobia”, exploring the adolescent intimacy and trauma through a gay relationship. His first book, a poetry collection entitled “Not Normal Anymore”, was published in 2019 by Speculative Books.

Sean Lìonadh has written and produced several films dealing with struggles and strengths in one’s life, including the 2017  short film for the BBC The Social series “Social Circles, “The handover” in 2018 dealing with the distance between parents, the 2018 “The Oppression of the Left”, dealing with the stigma of left-handedness, “Us and Them-Rhys’ Story” in 2019, and the 2019 “I Wonder if She Smiles”, the winner in 2020 of a John Byrne Award, Scotland’s online exhibition and competition.

Many thanks to http://irreverentpsychologist.blogspot.com

Sergei Eisenstein

Drawings and Sketches by Sergei Eisenstein

People who are passionate about cinema are familiar with Sergei Eisenstein’s films and cinema theory; fewer people know of his enthusiasm for drawing. Ever since his childhood in the Latvian city of Riga, Eisenstein has been drawing, eventually producing five thousand works over the course of his lifetime, with only a short break in the 1920s when he made his first films. The drawings were playful, funny, provocative, and inventive. 

Drawing for Eisenstein was a means to develop a visually effective language, which he applied in his work as film director. He drew circus scenes, story boards for his films, sketches to map out his filming process, as well as erotic, sacrilegious, and sexual scenes. The drawings were private affairs to Eisenstein, sources for his amusement and also a form of freedom, emotionally and artistically, from the pressures, often political, he experienced in his work. Some of the drawings were in-jokes meant to be shared with close friends; and some drawings were given away as gifts.

In 1931, Sergei Eisenstein worked in various locations of Mexico on the film project “¡Que viva México!”, produced by Upton Sinclair and a small group of investors. During this time, which included an intimate affair with his Guanajuato guide Jorge Palomino y Cañedo, the production of Eisenstein’s drawings resulted in a dramatic increase. His interest in line and the interplay of figures showed his connection to the work of Mexican muralists including Diego Rivera, whom Eisenstein first met in 1927, and whose work he greatly admired. At the end of his Mexican adventure, he told his friend Anita Brenner, that drawings were just as important to him  as film writing and film production.

“it was in Mexico that my drawing underwent an internal catharsis, striving for mathematical abstraction and purity of line. The effect was considerably enhanced when this abstract, ‘intellectualized’ line was used for drawing especially sensual relationships between human figures.” —Sergei Eisenstein, 1947

Drawings done after Eisenstein’s return to the Soviet Union are no less provocative than the Mexican ones, but they are more sparsely articulated. In these later works, Eisenstein used line only, minimizing the shading and shaping of figures. Included in these, we find two sketches for an unrealized film on Alexander Pushkin; several drawings done during the filming of his “Ivan the Terrible”; and а series that appears to have been inspired by George Grosz’s images of maimed war veterans.

After Eisenstein’s death, his widow, Pera Atasheva, gave most of his drawings to the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art. She did not release a relatively small cache of about 500 drawings that had sexual subject matter, because Atasheva feared that they might be considered harmful to the Eisenstein’s legacy. Later, she passed them for safekeeping to Andrei Moskvin, a friend and the cameraman who had worked with Eisenstein on the filming of “Ivan the Terrible”. After perestroika, Moskvin’s descendants sold the drawings to a private collector in the west. 

Eisenstein’s drawings kept at the Russian State Archive were first shown in 2000 at the Drawing Center, a not-for-profit art institution, in Soho. New York, A first-show  exhibition of the drawings, once held safely by Andrei Moskvin, were shown at the contemporary art gallery Alexander Gray Associates in New York in early 2017.

Olivia de Havilland

Scotty Welbourne, “Olivia de Havilland”, 1935, Publicity Shoot, Silver Gelatin Print

Born in July of 1906 in Tokyo, Japan, Olivia de Havilland was an American motion-picture star remembered both for the lovely, gentle roles of her early career and the later, more substantial roles she secured. With a cinematic career spanning from 1935 to 1988, she appeared in forty-nine feature films, becoming one of the leading actresses of her time.

Olivia de Havilland moved, along with her mother and younger sister Joan Fontaine, to California in 1919, settling in the village of Saratoga. After graduating from high school in 1934, she attended Mills College in Oakland, hoping to pursue a career as a teacher. De Havilland was chosen from the cast of a community theater production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by director Max Reinhardt to be first the understudy, and then the star of his theater production of the play. 

Impressed by her performance, Reinhardt offered Olivia de Havilland the same role of Hermia in his upcoming Warner Brothers film version of the stage production. She signed a five-year contract with Warner Brothers in November of 1934, beginning her  professional acting career. De Havilland appeared in many costume adventure movies with then little-known actor Errol Flynn in the 1930s and 1940s. Their first film together was the 1935 “Captain Blood”, the success of which resulted in four Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture. 

De Havilland appeared in Mervyn LeRoy’s 1938 historical drama “Anthony Adverse” playing the role of peasant girl Angela opposite actor Fredric March. The film earned six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, giving de Havilland good exposure and a chance to renegotiate her contract with Warner Brothers for a seven year term with higher salary.

De Havilland worked again with Errol Flynn in the 1938 “The Adventures of Robin Hood” and the 1939 Technicolor western, her first, entitled “Dodge City”. In early 1939, De Havilland exerted her influence to get the role of Melanie Wilkes/Hamilton in the upcoming  David O’Selznick film “Gone with the Wind”, giving her the opportunity to play a substantial role she understood, and resulting in her first nomination for Best Supporting Actress. 

Winning a precedent-setting case in 1945 against Warner Brothers Studios, Olivia de Havillland was released for a six-month penalty obligation added onto her contract. The result of extending greater creative freedom to performers enabled her to take more challenging roles. She gave an Academy Award-winning performance as an unwed mother in the 1946 “To Each His Own”, played twin sisters in the 1946 psychological thriller “The Dark Mirror”, and won an Academy Award nomination for her role as a psychiatric ward patient in the 1948 “The Snake Pit”. 

Olivia de Havilland was the recipient of numerous honors: the American National Medal of Arts in 2008, an appointment as a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 2010 in France, and was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2017, shorty before her 101st birthday. Olivia de Havilland passed away peacefully of natural causes on July 26, 2020, at her residence in Paris, France.

Sergei Eisenstein

Sergei Eisenstein, “The General Line (The Old and the New)”, 1929, The “Cream Separator” Sequence, Co-directed by Grigori Aleksandrov, Cinematography by Eduard Tisse

Born in January of 1898 in Riga, Latvia, Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein was a film director, scriptwriter, film theorist, and a pioneer in the theory and development of montage. Using his technique of montage film editing, he portrayed the rapid developments of events on the screen, separating each scene into fragments and rearranging them into his preferred order.

Eisenstein studied engineering at the Petrograd Institute of Civil Engineering, leaving in 1918 to join the Red Army in the revolution. Still a member of the Red Army after the Bolshevik seizure of power, he took part in many theater productions and was eventually assigned to organizing productions and ensembles. In 1920 Eisenstein returned to Moscow and worked with the Proletkult Theater, becoming co-director and later the most noteworthy theater director in the USSR.

While still a theater director, Eisenstein wrote a manifesto, “Montage of Attractions,” for the literary journal “Lef”, rejecting the idea that dialogue is the dominant element in theater and claiming that all the elements function on equal terms, forming a fusion or montage that made the entire work. Montage in film, as Eisenstein understood it, means that a film should be constructed not in narrative fashion but from brief segments that serve to reinforce and counterpoint one another. The meaning of the film arises from the interplay of these elements, leading the audience into new recognitions.

In the spring of 1924, Eisenstein proposed that Proletkult undertake a series of films portraying the Russian revolutionary movements before 1917. Working with cameraman Eduard Tisse, a Latvian newsreel photographer who would go on to be the cameraman on all his films, he took on the making of “Strike”, the fifth film in the series. In 1925, Eisenstein made his second and probably his greatest film “Battleship Potemkin”, examining the  mutiny carried out by sailors of the Russian warship, Prince Potemkin, stationed in the Black Sea fleet near Odessa. 

Sergei Eisenstein’s film “The General Line”was an experiment in presenting the feeling of ecstasy in film. Directed by both Eisenstein and Grigori Aleksandrov, the film, centering on a rural heroine instead of a group of characters, was a celebration of the collectivization of agriculture, a policy championed by Bolshevik Leon Trotsky.  Eisenstein used his montage method with great success in the filming of the milk coop, its sequence conceived as a enthralling spectacle of raptured faces and the triumphant introduction of new farm machinery. After Trotsky’s fall from grace, the film was quickly re-edited and released in 1929 as “The Old and the New”.

Eisenstein’s vision of Communism brought him into conflict with officials in the ruling regime of Stalin. Frequent attacks on Eisenstein and then subsequent rehabilitation would be a repeated pattern throughout his life. His popularity and influence in his own land thus waxed and waned with the success of his films and the passage of time. In 1930, Eisenstein was approached with offers from Paramount Studios for several films; however, because of his artistic approach and disagreements with scripts, the contract was declared void by mutual agreement. 

Eisenstein came back into prominence with the 1938 “Alexander Nevsky”, in which Eisenstein exchanged his montage style for one that focused and developed the individual characters to a greater extent. This was due to the rise of Socialist Realism in the arts which was becoming the cultural and artistic policy of the state. Well received, the film won Eisenstein the Order of Lenin and the Stalin Prize.  

Eisenstein’s 1944 “Ivan the Terrible, Part One”, a film presenting Ivan IV as a national hero, also won the approval of Stalin and a Stalin Prize. However, the sequel “Ivan the Terrible, Part Two, although finished in 1945, was criticized by the government and not released until 1958. All footage from the unfinished Part Three was confiscated by the state and mostly destroyed, with only a few scenes still existing.

Sergei Eisenstein suffered a heart attack in February of 1946, recovered, but died from a second heart attack in February of 1948, at the age of fifty. His body laid in state in the Hall of the Cinema Workers, was cremated two days later, and his ashes buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.

Ramón Novarro: 1925 Ben-Hur

Photographers Unknown, “Ramón Novarro”,  Vintage Photographic Cards, 1925 “Ben-Hur”, Ross Verlag Company

Ramón Novarro was Ben-Hur to moviegoers long before Charlton Heston appeared in the role. The 1925 film of author Lew Wallace’s epic novel made Novarro one of Hollywood’s most beloved silent film idols. His impressive and varied career spanned silent films, the ‘talkies’, the concert stage, theater, and television.. 

Ross Verlag was first known as the ‘Ross Bromsilber Vertriebs’ company , a seller and distributor of photographic postcards located in Berlin. The company later became the publisher as well. The familiar ‘Ross Verlag’ logo first appeared in the early 1920s. On the front of the cards were the words ‘Verlag “Ross” Berlin SW 68’. (Verlag: publishing company; “Ross”: company name; Berlin SW 68: southwest Berlin with the area code). 

Usually a set of cards of one or more actors would be from the same film or photographer. Some of the film-scene sets would contain twenty cards; but generally most series would have fewer. In 1941 there was a name change by the company to “Film-Foto-Verlag”, which remained until the cessation of its card publishing in 1944.

Sergei Parajanov

Sergei Parajanov, “The Color of Pomegranates”, 1969, Computer Graphics, Film Gifs

The 1969 Soviet art film “The Color of Pomegranates”, written and directed by Sergei Parajanov, is a visual, poetic treatment of the life of the eighteenth-century Armenian musician and poet Sayat-Nova. The film is presented in a series of chapters depicting the poet’s life in active tableaux, presented with little dialogue. Each chapter, framed through Sayat-Nova’s poems, is indicated by a title card: Childhood, Youth, Prince’s Court, The Monastery, The Dream, Old Age, The Angel of Death, and Death. Narration on the film was done by Armenian-born renowned actor Armen Dzhigarkhanyan, known for his role in the 1979 “The Meeting Place Can Not Be Changed”. 

Four actors took the role of Sayat-Nova at different stages in his life, with Soviet Georgian actress Sofiko Chiaureli, notably playing six roles in the film, both female and male. The film was shot at numerous historical sites in northern Armenia, many being medieval churches in the Lori Provence, including the Sarahin Monastery and the St. John church at Ardvi. Filming was also done at the Old City of Baku, Azerbaijani, and in the countryside near the David Gareja Monastary in Eastern Georgia. 

Objections were made by the Communist Party and the Soviet censors  to Parajanov’s poetic, stylized treatment of the poet’s life, citing that it failed to educate the public. As a result, the original title “Sayat-Nova” was changed to “The Color of Pomegranates” and any references to Sayat-Nova’s name was removed from the credits. The Soviet officials also objected to the amount of religious imagery in the film and removed a substantial portion of it. Although the State Committee for Cinematography initially refused to allow the film to be shown outside Armenia, it did allow the film, now with a seventy-seven minute running time, to premiere inside Armenia in October of 1969.

Filmmaker Sergei Yutkevich,  the 1962 People’s Artist of the USSR and a script-reader on the State Committee, recut the film by a few minutes to appease the authorities and created Russian-language chapter titles for easier understanding by the public at large. He also changed the order of some of the sequences in the film. This seventy-three minute version ultimately received only limited distribution in the rest of the Soviet Union. 

The digital restoration of “The Color of Pomegranates” was completed in 2014 by Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation with the help of Cineteca di Bologna. It was re-edited as close as possible to the Sergei Parajanov’s original version, with its premier held at the 67th Cannes Film Festival. Parajanov’s film premiered in the US at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in September of 2014 and the 52nd New York Film Festival in October of 2014.

Marlene Dietrich, “Lili Marleen”

Marlene Dietrich, “Lili Marleen”, 1945, Decca Records

Marlene Dietrich was born on December 27th of 1901 in Berlin, Germany, with the given name Maria Magdalene Dietrich. Growing up, she studied French, English, and the violin at a private school, with the aspiration of becoming a professional violinist. Later in her teen years, Dietrich decided to explore acting, enrolling in Austrian-born theater director Max Reinhardt’s drama school, eventually acting in small parts on stage and in films. Because of her family’s disapproval of theater as a profession, she changed her name to Marlene Dietrich.

Dietrich married Rudolf Sieber in 1923 and, with his help, was able to get the small role of ‘Lucy’ in director Joe May’s 1923 “Tragedy of Love”. After the birth of their only child Maria in 1924, the marriage began to fail, leading to a separation but not a divorce. During this time, Paramount Studios signed to a contract director and filmmaker Josef von Sternberg, who already had produced a number of notable films. In 1929, Sternberg was sent to UFA, Paramount’s studio in Berlin, to direct the sound production of “The Blue Angel” based on Heinrich Mann’s book “Professor Unrat”.

Sternberg cast the little-known Marlene Dietrich in the female lead role of Lola Lola, the cabaret singer and dancer whose allure would attract and lead to the decline of Professor Unrat. With her sophisticated manner and sultry looks, Dietrich naturally fit into the role and became a star. The 1930 “Der Blaue Engel (The Blue Angel)”, the first talking picture in Germany, became a big hit, eventually making Dietrich an international star with its English language version in the United States.

In April of 1930, Marlene Dietrich moved to America. Working once again with Sternberg, she starred in the 1930 romantic-drama “Morocco” with actor Gary Cooper. The film received four Academy Award nominations; Dietrich was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role, her one and only Academy Award nomination.She continued in her next films to play the femme-fatale roles, creating new more-masculine fashion trends for women and challenging accepted views of the female image.

Dietrich made several more films working with director Sternberg: the 1931 successful spy film “Dishonored”, “Shanghai Express” in 1932, “The Scarlet Empress” in 1934, and her personal favorite film “The Devil is a Woman”, a 1935 romance film set in Spain in which she played a cold-hearted temptress. A strong opponent of the Nazi government in Germany, she disassociated herself from the German film companies and became a US citizen in 1939, resulting in the banning of her films in Germany. During the war, Dietrich traveled extensively, entertaining the troops, selling war bonds, and recording anti-Nazi messages to broadcast in Germany. 

Following the war, Marlene Dietrich worked with director Billy Wilder on his 1948 film “A Foreign Affair” and the 1957 film “Witness for the Prosecution” with actor Tyrone Power, based on the book by Agatha Christie. She also played strong supporting roles in director Orson Welles’ famous 1958 film-noir “Touch of Evil” and in Stanley Kramer’s 1941 courtroom drama “Judgement at Nuremberg”. As her acting career faded, Dietrich began a successful singing career in the mid-1950s performing from Las Vegas to Paris, and finally singing in Germany in 1960, her first visit since the war.

Marlene Dietrich gave up performing in the middle of the 1970s, moving to Paris and living in near-seclusion. She did agree to provide some audio commentary for the documentary “Marlene”, filmed by Maximillian Schell in 1984; however, she would not appear on camera for the film. Marlene Dietrich, one of the most glamorous leading ladies of the 1930s and 1940s, died in her Paris home on May 6th of 1992 and was buried next to her mother in Berlin.

The song “LiLi Marleen” is a German love song that became popular during WWII throughout Europe and the Mediterranean among both Axis and Allied troops. Written in 1915 as a poem of three verses by Hans Leip, a school theacher, it was set to music by Norbert Schultze in 1938 and recorded for the first time by Lale Andersen in 1939.  In 1944 the Morale Operations Branch of the US Office of Strategic Services initiated the Muzak Project. Marlene Dietrich recorded a number of songs in German for the project, including “Lili Marleen”, which became a massive success. This version of the song with Dietrich singing eventually became recorded as a single by Decca Records in 1944 and released in 1945.

Busby Berkeley, “By a Waterfall”

Artist Unknown, Busby Berkeley,’s “By A Waterfall” Scene, Computer Graphics, “Footlight Parade” Film Gifs

Lyricist Irving Kahal and composer Sammy Fair had a sixteen year collaboration which started in 1926 and lasted until Kahal’s death in 1942. Among their many notable songs was the 1933 “By a Waterfall”, written for Warner Brothers Picture’s “Footlight Parade”, the third film in the 1933 Gold Diggers Trilogy. The vocal performances were done by actor-singer Dick Powell and actress-singer Ruby Keeler. 

Directed by Lloyd Bacon and presenting great cinematography by George Barnes, “Footlight Parade” contained opulent musical numbers created and directed by Busby Berkeley whose routines contributed to the film’s success. Berkeley’s extravagant arrangement features his trademark human waterfall with its synchroniised water ballet of diving and swimming chorus girls, who produce elaborate, geometric patterns in the water.

One entire sound stage was filled with a twelve by twenty-four meter swimming pool with walls and floor made of glass. Two weeks were required for the one hundred chorus girls to practice their routines in it before shooting began. The six days of actual filming required that twenty thousand gallons of water per minute be pumped across the set to produce the required effects.

Besides the placement and movement of the dancers, the cameras also had to be positioned to film the entire scope of the choreography. Berkeley set his cameras in motion on monorails and custom-built booms to get the correct angle of shot. Since Berkeley was not hampered by the need to shoot multiple images at once for continuity, he was able to expand his creative potential by fluid camera motion and the use of intricate editing, creating fantasy out of the movement.. 

Pierre Emō

Pierre Emō: Scenes from Vann Gonzales’s “Un Couteau dans ke Coeur (Knife + Heart)”

French model and actor Pierre Emō first came to the attention of audiences in Germany and France with his appearances in the 2013 film “Only the Fire” by  director and cinematographer Christophe Pellet and the 2014 film “While the Unicorn is Watching Me”, by director Shanti Masud, known for her 2013 “Pour la France”. Emō’s first appearance in a film by director Noel Alejandro was the short award-winning LBGT film “Call Me a Ghost” shown at the 2017 Chéries-Chéris film festival in Paris.

At the age of twenty-four in early 2017, Pierre Emō had already  appeared in five movies, He next co-starred with French actress and singer  Venessa Paradis and actor Félix Maritaud in director Vann Gonzales’s 2018 LBGT murder mystery thriller “Un Couteau dans le Coeur (Knife + Heart)”, which premiered at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. 

In 2018, Emō appeared in several films including “Lemon Taste” by Nicky Miller and “Les Fantômes”, a horror thriller directed by Alexandre Vallès. Director Noel Alejandro again cast Emō in two more of his films, the 2018 “The Seed”, a short erotic art film, and the short 2018 drama film “The End”. Emō appeared in a small role for Latvian director Rosa von Praunheim’s 2019 crime thriller “Darkroom”, which was based on a true story and filmed in Germany. 

Pierre Emō lives and works in both Paris and Berlin. On stage, he has played small parts with the prestigious Berliner Ensemble, a German theater company established in 1949 by actress Helene Weigel and playwright Bertoit Brecht.

The photo Images and gifs are from “Un Couteau dans le Coeur” by director Vann Gonzales. The film was shot on 35mm under the direction of cinematographer Simon Beaufils, who oversaturated some scenes in shades of blue and red. The soundtrack features the Gallic band M83.

The images and gifs were reblogged with many thanks to: https://doctordee.tumblr.com

The Lumière Brothers

Artist Unknown, (Paris Scenes), Computer Graphics, Film Gifs from “A Trip Through Paris, France, 1896-1900”

The Belle Époque was a period in the history of Paris between 1871 to 1914, from the beginning of the Third French Republic until the first World War. The nostalgic term came into use, after the despair and deaths of World War One, for what seemed a simpler time of elegance, optimism and progress. This “Beautiful Age’ brought dramatic advancements in art, culture, and technology. 

In the field of architecture, Paris saw the construction of the Paris Metro, the completion of the Paris Opera House, the building of the Eiffel Tower, and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on Montmartre. During the three Universal Expositions of 1879, 1889, and 1900, millions of visitors came to Paris to see the latest marvels in commerce, the arts, and science. Paris was also the birthplace of the Ballets Russes, the most influential ballet company of the twentieth century, and the new art movements of Impressionism and the experimental Modern Art.

One particularly important technological invention that emerged at this time was the projected motion picture, patented in 1895 by Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas and Louis Jean Lumière. With this new technology, the Lumière brothers captured contemporary life in 19th-century Paris, culminating in the priceless black and white footage we can still see today.

Shot between 1896 and 1900, the compilation  “A Trip Through Paris, France, 1896-1900” takes viewers on a journey back in time to Paris. In six minutes, it showcases several sites around the French capital, including still-standing landmarks like Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Champs-Élysées, and the ten-year-old Eiffel Tower. In addition to featuring specific locations, it also offers a glimpse of daily life, from a scene showing firefighters on horseback to footage of children playing with little boats in the Tuileries Garden.

In order to set a lifelike scene, film restorer Guy Jones slowed the footage to a natural speed and added ambient noise. When coupled with the video’s strikingly high quality, these alterations make it possible for people today to wander through the Golden Age of Paris.

The complete film “A Trip Through Paris, France, 1896-1900” by the Lumière brothers with restoration and soundtrack can be found, along with other restored works, at Guy Jones’s Youtube site:

https://www.youtube.com/user/bebopsam1975/videos

Greeks Come True

 

Konstantinos Rigas by Vangelis Kyris, “Greeks Come True”, 2019

“Greeks Come True” is a movie filmed by Vangelis Kyris in conjunction with a photo shooting for the Greeks Come True annual print calendar which is available every December. Filmed entirely on a Greek mountain farm, the eighty minute film follows the fifteen men and athletes involved in the calendar shoot. The film’s multi-genre sooundtrack features some of Greece’s promising musical artists.

Gloria Grahame

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Gloria Grahame in Fritz Lang’s 1954 “Human Desire”

Gloria Grahame Hallward, born November 28, 1923, was an American film star, singer, and stage and television actor. After appearing on Broadway for several years, she was signed to a contact with MGM Studios in 1944 . Two years after her film debut in “Blonde Fever”, she was given the role of flirty Violet Bick, saved from disgrace by Stewart’s George Bailey,  in the 1946 “It’s A Wonderful Life”. Her contract was then sold to RKO Studios in 1947 which featured her in several film noir pictures, portraying beautiful, flawed but seductive, women.

Gloria Grahame received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role portraying Ginny Tremaine in the 1947 “Crossfire”, a film noir drama based on the theme of anti-Semitism. In 1950 she appeared with Humphrey Bogart in Columbia Pictures’ film “In a Lonely Place”, garnering praise from critics. Her very short role of nine minutes playing southern belle Rosemary Bartlow in the 1952 “The Bad and the Beautiful” won her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Grahame appeared in two films directed by Fritz Lang: the 1953 film noir “The Big Heat”, a crime drama co-starring Lee Marvin and Glenn Ford; and the 1954 film noir “Human Desire”, playing the femme fatale Vicki Buckley opposite her jealous film husband played by Broderick Crawford. As her film career began to wane, Grahame returned to the stage and made several guest appearances on television, including “The Twilight Zone” and “The Fugitive”.

After an initial bout with breast cancer in 1974, which had gone into remission, Gloria Grahame was again diagnosed with its return in 1980. Despite her failing health, she continued to work on stage in England and the United States. At the age of fifty-seven in 1981, Gloria Grahame was admitted to Saint Vincent’s Hospital in New York City, where she passed a few hours after admittance. She is buried at the Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. For her work in the film industry, Gloria Grahame has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. An account of Grahame’s final years of life, based on recollections of actor Peter Turner, was presented in the 2017 film “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool”.

Image reblogged with thanks to http://doctordee.tumblr.com

Calendar

A Year: Day to Day Men: 2nd of December,  Solar Year 2018

The Craving of Human Touch in Form

December 2, 1933 was the release date of Fred Astaire’s first film, “Dancing Lady”.

“Dancing lady” is a 1933 pre-Code musical film directed by Robert Z. Leonard and produced by David O Selznick and John W Considine, Jr. It starred Joan Crawford and Clark Gable, and featured Franchot Tone, Fred Astaire, Robert Benchley, and Ted Healy and His Stooges, who later became the Three Stooges. It was also one of Eve Arden’s first uncredited appearances on film.

The film featured the film debut of extraordinary dancer Fred Astaire, who appears as himself, as well as the first credited appearance of actor and singer Nelson Eddy, a classically trained baritone who became the highest paid singer at that time in the world. The film was a box office hit upon its release, receiving many positive reviews from critics.

After appearing in “Dancing Lady” for MGM Studios, Fred Astaire returned to RKO Radio Pictures and received fifth billing In the 1933 Dolores del Rio film “Flying Down to Rio”. It was in this film that Astaire first danced with Ginger Rogers.Astaire was reluctant to become part of a dance team; however, the obvious public appeal of the pairing persuaded him. The Astaire-Rogers partnership, and the choreography of Astaire and collaborator Hermes Pan, helped make dancing an important element of the Hollywood film musical.

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made nine films together at RKO, including the 1934 “Gay Divorcee”, “Top hat” in 1935, the 1936 “ Swing Time, and “Carefree” released in 1938. Six films of the nine became the biggest moneymakers for the RKO studio, bringing the studio the prestige and artistry it coveted. The Astaire-Rogers partnership elevated them both to stardom.

Fed Astaire was given complete autonomy over the dance production. He is credited with two important innovations in early film musicals: Astaire insisted that a closely tracking dolly camera film a dance routine in as few shots as possible, typically with just four to eight cuts,  while holding the dancers in full view at all times. This gave the illusion of an almost stationary camera filming an entire dance in a single shot.

Astaire’s second innovation involved the context of the dance. Astaire was adamant that all song and dance routines be seamlessly integrated into the plot lines of the film. Instead of using the dance as a spectacle such as a Busby Berkeley routine, the dance was used to move the plot along. A typical Astaire film would include three dance routines in the plot: a solo by Astaire, a partnered comedy dance, and a partnered romantic dance routine.

Calendar

A Year: Day to Day Men: 30th of November,  Solar Year 2018

The Sextant-Carrier

November 30 1937 was the birthdate of British film director and producer Ridley Scott.

Ridley Scott grew up in West Hartlepool, England, and attended the West Hartlepool College of Art and the Royal College of Art in London. He worked as a set designer and a director in British television. In 1967, Scott began to direct commercials, known for their visual stylization and their distinctive atmospheric lighting effects.

Scott brought these effects into his feature films which he began directing in 1977. His directorial debut was the 1977 film “The Duelists”, a period film set in Napoleonic France base on a short story by Joseph Conrad. This film won the best first-feature award at the Cannas Film Festival. Scott followed the success with three more films, now widely regarded as classics:

The first, the science fiction horror story “Alien” was released in 1979. It was met with critical acclaim and box office success. It won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, three Saturn Awards for Best Science Fiction Film, Best Direction for Scott and Best Supporting Actress for Veronica Cartwright. The second was the 1985 “Legend”, an allegorical fairy tale, was fleshed out with the help of American author William Hjortsberg, with the final screenplay going through fifteen revisions. The makeup effects were designed by special effects artist Rob Bottin, who had worked on “The Howling” and Carpenter’s “The Thing”.  The third, a dystopian fable of a dark, grim and polluted future, “Blade Runner” was released in 1982 and was based on a Philip K Dick novel. This contemporary film noir heavily employed Scott’s use of set design to enhance the mood of the film. It later became an acclaimed cult classic, hailed for its retrofitted future.

Ridley Scott’s 1991 “Thelma and Louise was acclaimed for its visual style as well as the lead characters and the feminist theme. Scott received an Academy Award nomination for his work on the film. After a series of commercial failures, Scott directed the 2000 “The Gladiator”, starring Russell Crowe in the title role. the action drama set in ancient Rome was a critical and commercial success, winning the Academy Award for Best Picture. It also earned Scott his second nomination for best director.

Scott revisited the eerie world of “Alien” in the sci-fi Thriller “Prometheus” in 2012. He brought his spectacular sensibilities to bear on the biblical story of Moses in “Exodus:Gods and Kings” in 2014, following that with the taut space drama “The Martian”, released in 2015 and starring Matt Damon as the astronaut who must survive on Mars. Ridley Scott also served as producer for a number of films and television programs, including the series “Numb3rs” from 2005-2010 and “The Good Wife” form 2009 to 2016.