Author Topic: ProperCharlie does Brackets: 1910  (Read 1014 times)

pixote

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Re: ProperCharlie does Brackets: 1910
« Reply #30 on: November 14, 2017, 01:01:51 PM »
The sounds like maybe the most interesting batch of film to date. A shame that the original Den hvide slavehandel isn't available.

pixote
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

ProperCharlie

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Re: ProperCharlie does Brackets: 1910
« Reply #31 on: November 15, 2017, 04:51:13 AM »
Княжна Тараканова (Princess Tarakanova) dir. Kai Hanson and Maurice Maître
Pathé Frères
Russia




Bracket Record:
  • Round 1 bt. Antwerpen in de jaren 10
Winner's Bracket:
  • Round 2 lost to Le petit Chantecler
Loser's Bracket:
  • Round 3 bt. An Unselfish Love
  • Round 4 bt. Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Pawnee Bill's Far East
  • Round 5 bt. The Usurer
  • Round 6 bt. The Girl Spy Before Vicksburg
  • Round 7 bt. Salomé
  • Round 8 bt. Comment les pauvres mangent a Paris
  • Round 9 bt. Les beaux-arts mysterieux
  • Round 10 lost to In the Border States
Links to film:
A correspondance course in Russian history.  With one alternate ending!



Princess Takaranova (eng. Princess Cockroach) was a genuine pretender to the throne of Catherine the Great.  Russian history has not treated her well.  There isn't much to her real-life story other than her artistically-embelished demise in flood at the Fortress of Peter and Paul in St. Petersburg, and the conspiracy theory that her death was faked living out the rest of her life as a mystery nun.  Every convent should have one.  She didn't raise an army, have much money, no one really knows who she actually was.  Catherine just had her arrested and thrown in a prison until she died of consumption.  Not a very good pretender to the throne.  The most salacious thing about her, apart from this painting of the more romantic tale of her demise, was that Catherine loyalist Count Orloff seduced her before trapping her and arresting her in an old-fashioned sweeheart sting on board a frigate. 





In the words of contemporary critics of Italian film, the cosutmes are good.  Nice wigs.  Ummmmmm.  Yes.  There are way too many title cards and above and beyond that all the action is written.  Literally.  This film consists of Catherine writing letters to command her subjects (expository letter appears on screen), then her subjects write back to confirm they have taken that action (expository letter appears on screen).   Yes, I've heard of epistolary novels, but films?  It's a first. I'll call it the epistolary expositary genre.



So apart from the costumes and the fact that this film has an alternate ending, even though science has not yet invented DVD extras, there isn't much to enjoy.  I learned a bit of Russian history and not to mess with Catherine the Great.

Notes on the Vanquished:
  • Antwerpen in de jaren 10, another Belgian travelogue?  I'm not falling for that twice.
  • Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Pawnee Bill's Far East is highlights from the two shows.  It seems the 'Two Bills' show got foreclosed on in 1908, so just in case you missed it then...
  • The Usurer a loan-shark gets his commupance with a whiff of anti-semitism.  Starring Mack Sennett.  This is not the only trapped in a vault film released by D.W. Griffiths this year.
  • The Girl Spy Before Vicksburg is a US Civil War tale of a girl spying for the Confederacy.  Presumably this is based on the life of Nancy Hart Douglas.  Sidney Alcott for Kalem.
Hopefully I'll get to the others.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2017, 03:22:23 AM by ProperCharlie »

ProperCharlie

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Re: ProperCharlie does Brackets: 1910
« Reply #32 on: November 17, 2017, 02:49:05 AM »
Rien n'est impossible a l'homme (Nothing is Impossible for Man) dir. Émile Cohl
Gaumont
France




Bracket Record:
  • Round 1 bt. Jean the Match-Maker
Winner's Bracket:
  • Round 2 bt. Robert Svendsens Flyvning
  • Round 3 bt. The Usurer
  • Round 4 bt. A Flash of Light
  • Round 5 lost to The Unchanging Sea
Loser's Bracket:
  • Round 9 bt. Les Ficelles de Leontine
  • Round 10 lost to The Sanitarium
An animated cameraman finds much of interest to film in the real world. 




This survives and has been released as part of The Gaumont Collection on DVD.  However, I currently don't have the means to access that, so for now it will have to remained un-reviewed.  This is a place-holder until such time I find it.  From what I have found out out about it online, the best summary pseudo-review I can think of is Émile Cohl showing off.

Notes on the Vanquished:
  • Jean the Match-Maker is the first appearance in this marathaon of Jean the Vitagraph Dog.  The earliest named canine star of cinema, she appears in several one-reelers starting in 1910.  Nearly always credited as 'Jean - a Dog', just in case you thought the miracles of cinema had extended to cross-species acting.  In this one, she kindles young love.  Awww.
  • Robert Svendsen Flyvning has barely any detail and doesn't appear to be on IMDb, so I had to do some digging on who Robert Svendsen was on Swedish Wikipedia.  He was the first licenced Scandinavian pilot, a licence he gained in 1910.  During this year, there a large prize on offer to become the first pilot to cross the Oresund between Denmark and Sweden.  On his second attempt, Robert Svendsen managed this feet touching down near Malmo on 17th July 1910.  His touchdown was witnessed by the 21 year-old Belingske newspaper employee Carl Theodor Dreyer.  I have no idea if had a movie camera with him and if this is his early work.
  • A Flash of Light is a D.W.Griffith melodrama in which a chemist blind's himself while experimenting and his fickle wife.  Like Griffith's use of the trapped-in-a-valut motif, the scientist-blinded-by-his-work is a plot wrinkle Griffith reused.  Well he was making nearly 100 films a year at this point, so maybe we can forgive him reusing some material.

ProperCharlie

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Re: ProperCharlie does Brackets: 1910
« Reply #33 on: November 20, 2017, 02:29:58 AM »
Spirochoeta pallida (de la syphilis) dir. Jean Comandon
Pathé Frères
France



Bracket Record:
  • Round 1 bt. Didone abbandonata
Winner's Bracket:
  • Round 2 bt. [The] Idiot
  • Round 3 bt. The Modern Prodigal
  • Round 4 bt. The Song That Reached His Heart
  • Round 5 lost to Frankenstein
Loser's Bracket:
  • Round 9 bt. Max Takes a Bath
  • Round 10 lost to Rose o' Salem Town
Link to film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09i1zdv3KVM#no - has modern soundtrack relating something of the history of the footage and of Comandon.

Time-lapse microscopy of syphilis spirochaeta.




Take that Brits.  You think you're clever just doing time-lapse filming of flowers opening?  The French are going to stick a camera on a microscope and do some time-lapse photography of everyone's nightmare: syphilis (do not vist the Wikipedia page while at work).  This 1 minute long short consists of what must have been revolutionary footage of a bacterium on film for the first time.  I can't help thinking it didn't have a wide release in cinemas, despite having Pathé money behind it.  In terms of history, the baceria on display here, Treponema pallidum to give the full-name listed on its business card, had only been discovered five-years previously and a test to identify its presence the year after that.  At this point in time there was no cure for syphilis although its symptoms and its method of spreading itself were well-knonwn.  It would have been the AIDS of its day, so here it is waggling its spiral-shaped tails at you on a screen.  Get to know your potential killers, oh sinful viewer.  It is oddly beguiling footage.  It's akin to the weird spots and bleeding colours projected at Happenings in the psychadelic era of the late 1960s.  Except in black and white.
 



The technical achievement behind this must have been something.  The instrument being used was possibly the world's most powerful microscope of the time.  Called an ultramicroscope, it was the only microscope capable of resolving syphalis bacteria.  This would have been a delicate and senstive optical instrument.  Comandon, a microbiologist and not a film-maker, found a way of bolting a Pathé camera to it and filming the results.  Those results are now viewable on YouTube and indexed on both Letterboxd and IMDb, and so far better cinematically than anything I've seen from several other directors of the time.

Notes on the Vanquished:
  • Didone abbandonata, is an Italian production of the opera.  Silent opera.  It's by no means the only one of these realeaed in 1910.
  • More moral instruction from D.W. Griffith in The Modern Prodigal.  Here he makes two storylines converge in a situation in which an escaped convict does the right thing.
  • The plot descriptions of Edison-produced The Song That Reached His Heart make it sound like the Lumberjack sketch from Monty Python.  A Canadian lumber-man listens to a phonograph (Edison product placement!) which reminds him of his lost love, who by the power of movie earworm magic, then shows up at his hotel.

ProperCharlie

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Re: ProperCharlie does Brackets: 1910
« Reply #34 on: November 22, 2017, 02:47:06 AM »
Le tout petit Faust (The Beautiful Margaret) dir. Émile Cohl
Gaumont
France




Bracket Record:
  • Round 1 bt. The Butterfly
Winner's Bracket:
  • Round 2 lost to Cagliostro, aventurier, chimiste et magicien
Losers' Bracket:
  • Round 3 bt. His New Lid
  • Round 4 bt. A Short-Sighted Duellist
  • Round 5 bt. White Fawn's Devotion: A Play Acted by a Tribe of Red Indians in America
  • Round 6 bt. L'enfance de l'art
  • Round 7 bt. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • Round 8 bt. e voudrais un enfant
  • Round 9 bt. A Day in the Life of a Coal Miner
  • Round 10 lost to The White Slave Trade
Link to film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAVMrO5RqVQ#no - terrible accompaniment


Stop-motion puppet Faust




Before Jan Svankmaer.  Before The Magic Roundabout and The Pinchcliffe Grand Prix.  Before Fantastic Mr. Fox.  Émile Cohl's endless exploration of the possibilities of stop-motion animation alight on puppets/dolls and the story of Faust.  Using a well known story for this particular film is important as the limitations of puppet acting are all too apparent.  Understanding the story is reliant on title cards, thus having characters whose names, characters and plots would have been familiar to the audience is a must.  This is a rapid run-through of the Faust - under six minutes.  A little too rapid in fact. 




This is not the best Cohl film from the year, although it does extend his repertoire of animation still further.  It would need the advent of sound and narration to this style of animation and plot together in a way that makes sense to the viewer.  The animation itself is fine.  It looks exactly like more modern examples.  The sets are all lovingly designed and painted with even a few special effects thrown in such as foil to represent flames.  Yet it is not as playful or light as most of Cohl's other creations.  It has a degree of weight, perhaps borrowed from the story, that only serves to bog it down rather than generate gravitas and empathy. 

Notes on the Vanquished:
  • The Butterfly is Robert W. Paul's final film.  He made his first in 1895.  I can find very little reliable information about it; I don't even know if it's narrative or documentary.  He did film a lot of documentary subjects, including nature films.  Though his later output is more narrative.  Paul's main trade was as a scientific instrument maker and this year was spent showing his renowned galvanometer at the Brussels International Exhibition where he won a gold medal for his work.  Later he would move into the world of military telegraphy.  Paul was the maker of Georges Méliès first cameras.  His obituary at the British Film Institute notes that he left the film business 'at exactly the right time.'
  • His New Lid apart from being a wonderful title, is a comedy of hats from a time when hats were Important.
  • In A Short-Sighted Duellist, Max Linder is very much in need of an optician.  The humour of myopia and failing to recognise which woman is your wife and which isn't...
  • White Fawn's Devotion: A Play Acted by a Tribe of Red Indians in America is directed by James Young Deer, a native American director and has a plot that stands well among the melodramas made by D.W. Griffith at Biograph.  Cross-cultural relations, wrongly accusations, families in despair, murder and suicide, and all in 11 minutes.
  • L'enfance de l'art is more Émile Cohl, who must have been running Griffith close in terms of productivity.  This one is paper-cut-out stop-motion, similar to Monsieur du Crac and concerns an artists exploits.
  • Lastly Je voudrais un enfant is more Max Linder and in this one the miracle of medicine has solved the problem of infertility and developed a way of producting offspring without all that tedious sexual business, only they haven't quite mastered controlling the numbers quite yet.  An interesting subject for Max Linder's comedy.

ProperCharlie

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Re: ProperCharlie does Brackets: 1910
« Reply #35 on: November 25, 2017, 03:30:10 AM »
A Trip to Mars dir. Ashley Miller
Edison Manufacturing Company
USA





Bracket Record:
  • Round 1 bt. The Double
Winner's Bracket:
  • Round 2 bt. Im Wannseebad
  • Round 3 bt. The Two Roses
  • Round 4 bt. Twelfth Night
  • Round 5 lost to The History of a Butterfly: A Romance of Insect Life
Loser's Bracket:
  • Round 9 lost to The White Slave Trade
Link to film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=np7VImsSMQM#no - there are several copies on YouTube, unfortunately the film has not survived that well.

A mad scientist who wears a dinner jacket in the laboratory rather than the customary lab coat, discovers the secret of anti-gravity by mixing the powedered contents of several bottles.  This enables him to anti-gravitate his way to Mars where he has several hallucinatory, and just plain weird experiences.  The ending is revolutionary.  I expect those bottles contained crystallised-absinthe cut with cocaine. 




This is predominately a special effects film that follows the template of Georges Méliès famous 1903 'A Trip to the Moon', only with none of the style and panache of the earlier film.  The one area that this film succeeds is the sheer creepiness of the Martian inhabitants.  Giants with motives that are opaque to us watching, although it's clear were meant to see them as malevolant.  The snowball-smoke-blowing giant with large ears and an egg for head is demonic, but it's the trees with a canopy formed from bark-encrusted overweight men that pressed my nightmare-buzzer first.  Truly macabre.




Most of the sequences in this involve one special effect or another, and the effects themselves are well-done for the most part.  Some of them we just don't see now as we take the effect for granted, but it must have been a relatively impressive thing to do to make the image spin through 360°, speeding up as it did so.  The problem with all these effects is why?  Why are they there?  The results we see on screen are just not impressive or interesting, except for the Martians.  The plot itself is simple.  It's not so much a case of the effects supporting a story so much as cobbling together a story to show of the special effects.  Some would say little has changed in the previous 107 years.  This is first US-produced sci-fi film.  It's an indication as to the priorities of productions to come for this genre.  If this was the first sci-fi story seen on film, I might have been somewhat more forgiving however, Méliès was way ahead of this eight years previously. 

Notes on the Vanquished:
  • The Double.  You can tell a plot if over-complicated when it takes longer to read the Moving Picture World synopsis than it does to watch the film.  A complex tale of war with Spain, doppelgangers, drinking, driving, romantic hangovers and romance during hangovers all done in 11 minutes.  No director noted, but this is the first Independent Moving Pictures Company of America film to pop up.
  • Im Wannseebad is the first German film, which is simply about life on a German beach with real people who play up for the camera.
  • The Two Roses is refined melodrama from the Thanhouser Film Corporation featuring tragedy and mistaken identity.  Again a lot of plot for 10 minutes running time.
  • Lastly Twelfth Night is another Shakespeare, this one by Eugene Mullin and Charles Kent and Vitagraph.  Theatrical staging and something of an ego-trip for Charles Kent, playing Malvolio though they do shoe-horn in much of the plot.

ProperCharlie

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Re: ProperCharlie does Brackets: 1910
« Reply #36 on: November 28, 2017, 02:57:38 AM »
Cadres fleuris (Floral Studies) dir. Émile Cohl
Gaumont
France




Bracket Record:
  • Round 1 bt. L'ave Maria di Gounod
Winner's Bracket:
  • Round 2 bt. Tilly the Tomboy Visits the Poor
  • Round 3 bt. The Escape from the Tuileries
  • Round 4 bt. Police in the Year 2000
  • Round 5 lost to Birth of a Flower
Loser's Bracket:
  • Round 9 lost to The Sanitarium
Link to film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1IdpbzJ-_8#no

Various frames of a floral design are create in sequence using stop-motion techniques to 'grow' them.  In the central area, of each frame, the subject of study appears.  This can be a young woman, the crowned heads of Europe, impressively moustachioed men, a landscape, or kinematic patterns created using mirrors like a black and white Mesmeric kaleidoscope.




OK.  So I went a bit overboard in chosing the Émile Cohl films.  Possibly because I was trying to avoid too much Griffith but also because most Cohl films have positive write-ups and sound intriguing.  This is abstract from Émile Cohl, more an exercise in technique than anything.  The most interesting 'scene' is of the kaleidoscopic kinematic patterns, probably shot in live-action so it looks far smoother than the stop-motion animated frame.  None of this is new for Cohl, in fact I'd say it's probably just a doodle he came up with on a dull weekend in February, when it was too wet out to shoot what he planned.  I'm not convinced he had a crowd of hallucinating acid casulaties in mind when creating this, but if he did bravo.  Keep taking the mushrooms.

Notes on the Vanquished:
  • L'ave Maria di Gounod.  More Italian attempts at silent musical as a violinist touches a woman's heart with a song.
  • The Escape from the Tuileries features a loyal yet unsuccessful royalist facing the French Revolution head on.
  • Police in the Year 2000 is wondefully accurate futurology from Gaumont featuring police in a Zepplin with telescopes nabbing criminals (and dogs) in the act with telescopic claws like the ones you get in the machines full of spherical soft toys.  This is a fun bit of sci-fi.

pixote

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Re: ProperCharlie does Brackets: 1910
« Reply #37 on: November 28, 2017, 04:44:42 PM »
A question for people following this thread: Is Émile Cohl a name you already knew?

If I even did, I'd forgotten it.

pixote
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

Dave the Necrobumper

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Re: ProperCharlie does Brackets: 1910
« Reply #38 on: November 28, 2017, 06:58:21 PM »
No it was not a name I already knew. I am amazed he is not mentioned along side Meliés. I watched Le tout petit Faust a couple of days ago and the animation is very good.

ProperCharlie

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Re: ProperCharlie does Brackets: 1910
« Reply #39 on: November 29, 2017, 03:17:02 AM »
He's not a name I'd come across either, but clearly he's definitely a big part of the post-Méliès story in French cinema.  I hadn't heard of Louis Feuillade either (my bad) or Alice Guy.  He's not the only name I'd not come across either.  Max Linder I may have heard of in passing but only in the 'he was Chaplain before Chaplain' context.  Doing this I think there were several Chaplains before Chaplain, but he was clearly the stand-out.  The Danes and Norweigans has surprised me as well. 

Cohl is not the only one doing the animation thing.  People are taking his methods and doing interesting, comedic things with it...