Samstag, Mai 26, 2012

"Agrippina" (1910) By Enrico Guazzoni

Herr Enrico Guazzoni was the master of the early Italian historical epics which had developed from detailed but short vignettes of Roman imperial ancient time to big budget kolossal films that inspired directors around the world.

Herr Enrico Guazzoni had a background in painting and decorating and had been trained at the Institute of Fine Arts in Rome before becoming a film director. This stood him in good stead as he designed the sets and costumes in some of his films as well as writing the scripts. The elaborate reconstruction of ancient Rome and the authentic details (whether or not the stories are actually true) provided lavish spectacles that excited early audiences and are a true feast for the senses even today.

In “Agrippina” (1910), Herr Guazzoni recreates the particular and troublesome relationship between Frau Agrippina, the second wife of the Emperor Claudius, and her son Nero. Such family troubles of course were not confined to Imperial Rome since family feuds were customary in German aristocratic circles as well. However even though mother figures in
Germany are strong it is true that aristocratic mammas preferred going to the opera rather than fretting over little troubles with their sons (That’s what nannies are for).

“Agrippina” is an early historic drama in wherein Herr Guazzoni’s artistic characteristics and talents are on full display. However, due to its early date, the picture is just a series of dramatized vignettes acted out in a theatrical way. Frau Adele Bianchi Azzarilli brings great authority to her role.

In spite of the primitive film grammar of the time, “Agrippina” does include some camera movement, medium shots, and smooth continuity. The outdoor scenes mesh well with the indoor lavish sets and the film is really remarkable for its day due mostly to the great personal style of Herr Guazzoni who will certainly improve his technique during the coming years.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must play the lyre with Herr Nero.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien


Herr Enrico Guazzoni fue el gran maestro del cine histórico y épico del silente italiano, ése género cinematográfico que se originó y que evolucionó de forma prodigiosa durante los albores del cinematógrafo en dicho país europeo, pasando de ser cuidadas estampas de la antigua Roma Imperial a grandes y fastuosas superproducciones, filmes épicos e históricos que inspiraron a numerosos directores silentes del mundo entero.

Herr Enrico Guazzoni antes de comenzar a dirigir películas, ya poseía gran experiencia en el mundo de las artes como decorador y pintor formado precisamente en el Instituto de las Bellas Artes de Roma, una formación artística ésta que ciertamente resultó ser esencial y es más que evidente en todos los filmes dirigidos por el susodicho, obras en donde además escribir él mismo los guiones de las mismas, también diseñaba el vestuario y sus decorados.

El gusto por el detalle, además de una cuidadísima reconstrucción de los diferentes sucesos históricos, reales o de ficción, en los cuales se basaban sus filmes, especialmente inspirados durante la época de la Roma Imperial, son evidentes en todos sus filmes, destacando poderosamente sus lujosos decorados y vestuario, además de tener Herr Guazzoni una especial habilidad a la hora de mostrar en la pantalla silente grandes espectáculos que entusiasmaban al primigenio público de entonces, filmes que son todo un placer para los sentidos incluso hoy en día.

En “Agrippina” (1910), Herr Guazzoni recrea la particular y problemática relación entre Frau Agrippina, la segunda esposa del emperador Claudio y su hijo Nerón, problemas familiares que no son específicos de la Roma Imperial, pues esos conflictos familiares también eran habituales en las familias aristocráticas germánicas, aunque, es sí, la poderosa figura materna de la “mamma” es ciertamente muy específica de esos lares pues las madres germánicas prefieren asistir a la Ópera en vez de tener que lidiar con los problemillas de sus hijos, además…, para eso se inventaron las niñeras, ¿no?...

“Agrippina” es un drama histórico en donde se puede apreciar todas las características y cualidades artísticas de la obra de Herr Guazzoni; debido a su primigenia condición, la película es una muestra consecutiva de estampas dramatizadas en donde los hechos se exhiben teatralmente, interpretando con gran autoridad el papel de Agrippina, Frau Adele Bianchi Azzarilli.

A pesar de las limitaciones narrativas que tenían numerosos primerizos filmes silentes, en “Agrippina” se puede apreciar leves movimientos de cámara, planos medios y además una apreciable continuidad cinematográfica, a lo cual hay que añadir sus cuidadas escenas de exteriores y lujosos interiores, consiguiendo finalmente Herr Guazzoni que el filme sea una más que destacable obra para la época, repleta del excelente y personal estilo del director italiano, méritos artísticos que irían gradualmente mejorando en los posteriores y numerosos filmes épicos que dirigirá en los años venideros.

Y ahora si me lo permiten, les tengo que dejar momentáneamente, pues este conde germánico tiene que tocar la lira al alimón con Herr Nerón.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien

Freitag, Mai 25, 2012

Silent Films Illustrated With Commentaries By:

About Georges Méliès’ “Le Voyage Dans La Lune” (1902)

Silent Guest Stars: Herr Micromegas, Herr Eric Stott und Herr Rodney Sauer

Herr Micromegas wrote: “That raises an interesting point...
If indeed, the film draws upon H.G. Wells' First Men in the Moon (seems obvious to me that it does although Melies only really ever acknowledged Jules Verne), then in turn the dreamlike nature could be indirectly due to......Johannes Kepler and his' Somnium (which chronicles an it's-all-a-dream journey to the moon). Wells - say some scholars - paid tribute to Kepler in his novel by having the FMinM characters - on more than one occasion - note the dreamlike nature of their trip. Personally, I think it's possible (dunno how probable ) that Melies picked up on this especially in view of the fact that the travelers take a quick snooze in one of the tableaux.

The influences on this little film are staggering. I would recommend Matthew Solomon's book on A Trip to the Moon for those interested in learning more”.

Und Herr Eric Stott replied: “Woah! This is an important film but claiming that it's influenced by Verne, Welles AND Kepler is probably giving it more weight than it can carry. I imagine Melies responding with "Verne, Yes. Wells- do you think I've got time to read novels? I've got movies to make and a theater to run. Kepler- who in heavens is he?".

Then Herr Micromegas said: “Well, it's all speculation. Did he consciously say to himself that he was going to put a dash of Kepler into his film? Probably not. ...Could he have picked it up in a scoop of Wells? More likely.
After all, there are other Wellsian items in the film: snow scenes, the Earth view, man-size mushrooms, giant swift growing plants and others besides the dream sequence.All in First Men in the Moon. Not much of a connection, you say? OK then how are the Selenites explained? Nobody even lands on the moon in the Verne novels. They are never even mentioned by Verne other than in a quick one or two sentence speculation that they exist. Yet, the Melies characters are captured by them (ala Wells' Cavor & Bedford) and meet the leader (the Grand Lunar in FMitM), Melies' Selenites look like Wells' book illustrations, Melies' Selenites are fragile as in Wells and so on...
That's pretty strong evidence that Wells influenced the Frenchman...and the conclusion that he did is shared by others.
We could go into it more, but the filmmaker - to many minds - also took his cue from fairgrounds exhibits, Magic Lantern/Glass Slide shows, plays, and everywhere he could. Any and all of these could have impacted the film. There were “A Trip to the Moon” examples of each back then.
Now, to pick up on the Kepler association was probably too isolated an example on my part. But to counter your statement that Melies might say “Wells- do you think I've got time to read novels? I've got movies to make and a theater to run. Kepler- who in heavens is he?”. Gosh just look at his film catalog…he “adapts” (for entertainment, granted) tons of things. Not aware of the writings of Kepler from way back when? Maybe. Maybe not. No time to read? Well, he must have read something to have given the astronauts such names as Nostradamus (who arguably prophesized moon travel in a rare passage), Alcolfribas (undoubtedly after the author Alcofribas Nasier a.k.a. Francois Rabelais with fictional characters that …traveled to the moon back in the 1500s even before Kepler’s writing) and Micromegas (a character in a Voltaire story who space travels), Who in heavens are all of them?”.

At this point Herr Eric Stott added: “OK, I was being flippant, but I still think that this film is getting so much critical analysis that it takes the fun out of it.

I should also admit that I'm a bit "off" Melies at the moment- I made the mistake of watching too many in succession on the Flicker Alley set. His best films are marvelous, but seeing too many of his second-best is like eating a whole bag of marshmallows at one sitting”.

Und Herr Micromegas replied: “More than anything it'll always be fun to watch Melies. And I agree with you. Watching too many of his films - much like viewing too many chapters of a serial - in one sitting is tedious”.

Suddenly Herr Rodney Sauer appeared and said: “A good analysis. And if there were a magic lantern show adapted from Welles' story, it would have given Melies the set pieces he needed for a rousing yarn. Part of the difference is the technology -- Jules Verne's idea of shooting the astronauts in a shell gave them no way to get home if they landed on the moon, so he chickened out and had the shot miss. (Melies answer, of just tipping the shell off the edge of the moon, was too much in violation of gravitational law for Verne's attempts to be accurate with his science.)

Welles' very clever but very impossible method -- the invention of a substance impervious to gravity, so that you could cover your ship in shutters made of that substance and it would fly off the earth as the earth spins under it, then you can open shutters towards the object you want the ship attracted to -- is far less cinematic; but it DOES allow you to get back from the moon using the same method you took to get there.

Besides, what good Frenchman would credit an English author, when there's a perfectly good French author to be proud of?”.

Writing about this Herr Micromegas: “Thanks! Now, the only part that I haven't doped out yet is how the astronaut and esteemed space man Fernandigalus fits into things!!!”.

Und finally Herr Von Galitzien said: “Usually lenghty articles often go unread by German counts not to mention longhaired discussions about ancient books on science issues ( at most, text captions ), for this reason Günthell did a summary written in a manner that is understandable to German counts and in this way finally this Herr Von could enjoy and learn a lot about such peculiar book scientific discussion on sci-fi French and English literatura”.

Published in alt.movies.silent.

Samstag, Mai 19, 2012

"Le Voyage Dans La Lune" (1902) By Georges Méliès

“Apollo XI” wasn’t the first manned mission to land on the moon… 67 years before a French expedition landed on the Earth satellite using a powerful and new invention of the time:  the cinematographer!.

If there is a milestone, a fundamental masterpiece in the history of silent cinema, that’s undoubtedly “Le Voyage Dans La Lune” ( A Trip To The Moon ) (1902), a wonderful piece of early silent film art full of image icons easily recognizable throughout the whole world, especially the sequence wherein the lunar capsule lands in the eye of the moon.
The responsibility for such a spectacular silent task fell to Herr Georges Méliès, father of the cinema, magician and poet of early silent imagery.

“Le Voyage Dans La Lune” continues to fascinate new audiences after so many years because the essence of dreams is in every frame of this wonderful picture; man’s curiosity about exploring new and unknown worlds is showcased in the most astonishing and beautiful form, a modern trip to the moon full of wonderful and inventive décors, outstanding camera tricks and now…, in colour!!.

In 1993 a colour copy was found in the “Filmoteca De Catalunya” in Barcelona, an amazing silent discovery that gave the opportunity for new modern audiences to watch the first masterpiece of silent film history  in a fully hand coloured edition ( that beautiful colour process created by your great-great grandfathers ) .

It was a very complicated process due to the deteriorated state of such old nitrate, but after 12 years and thanks to skilful hands and the new longhaired technologies, “Le Voyage Dans La Lune” was finally reconstructed and prémiered again in selected theatres around the world.

In some of these selected theatres, as certainly in the Schloss theatre, ja wohl!!... a French documentary entitled “Le Voyage Extraordinaire” by Herr Serge Bromberg is screened before the main silent attraction; it’s a very interesting documentary about the complicated and the time-consuming task that it was to restore over 14.000 individual frames of the film.  It also talks about the life and times of its creator, Herr Georges Méliès,

Isn’t wonderful and amazing that after 110 years we continue to be fascinated by “Le Voyage Dans La Lune”??... Few films in silent history enjoy such a privilege.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must flee from the dangerous Selenites.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien


La expedición lunar tripulada del “Apollo XI” no fue la primera con la cual el hombre puso por vez primera su pie en la luna… 67 años antes una expedición afrancesada aterrizaba en el satélite de la tierra usando una poderosa y novísima invención de la época: ¡el cinematógrafo!.

Si hay un filme fundamental, una indiscutible obra maestra dentro de la historia del cinema silente, esa es sin duda “Le Voyage Dans La Lune” (1902), una maravillosa obra de arte silente repleta de imágenes que ya son iconos reconocibles en cualquier parte del mundo, destacando especialmente la secuencia en la cual la cápsula lunar aterriza en el ojo de la luna.
El responsable de tan espectacular obra silente fue Herr Georges Méliès, padre del cine, mago y poeta de las primeras imágenes silentes.

“Le Voyage Dans La Lune” sigue fascinando al público actual después de haber transcurrido tantos años pues el espíritu del cual se nutren los sueños está presente en cada fotograma de tan maravilloso filme; la curiosidad humana por explorar nuevos y desconocidos mundos se muestra de una forma sorprendente y al mismo tiempo bellísima, un viaje modernista a la luna repleto de geniales e imaginativos decorados, sorprendentes trucos de cámara y además ahora… ¡en color!.

En el año de 1993 una copia en color de dicho filme fue encontrada en la “Filmoteca De Catalunya” en Barcelona, un sorprendente descubrimiento silente que daba la oportunidad al público actual de contemplar en todo su esplendoroso coloreado a mano ( esa técnica de coloreado tan especial ideado por sus tatarabuelos ), la primera obra maestra de la historia del cine.

Fue un proceso ciertamente muy complicado debido al gran deterioro que mostraba tan viejo nitrato, pero después de 12 años de arduo trabajo y gracias a las hábiles manos de expertos melenudos y sus nuevas tecnologías, “Le Voyage Dans La Lune” pudo finalmente ser restaurada y ser de nuevo estrenada en selectos cinemas del mundo entero.

En algunos de esos selectos cinemas, como es el teatro del Schloss, ja wohl!..., un documental galo titulado “Le Voyage Extraordinaire” de Herr  Serge Bromberg, es exhibido antes de la gran atracción silente, un documental muy interesante en donde se muestra el complicado y laborioso proceso de restauración al cual fue sometido el viejo nitrato encontrado en Barcelona, un proceso en el cual hubo que restaurar prácticamente cada uno de sus más de 14.000 fotogramas, ilustrando además al público asistente acerca de la vida y milagros silentes de su creador, Herr Georges Méliès.

¿No les parece ciertamente increíble que aún después de 110 años “Le Voyage Dans La Lune” continúe fascinando a las nuevas generaciones??... pocos filmes en la historia del cinema tienen tal privilegio, solamente las auténticas obras de arte consiguen dicha hazaña, tal y como acontece con ésta extraordinaria expedición lunar repleta de poesía e inolvidables imágenes.

Y ahora si me lo permiten, les tengo que dejar momentáneamente, pues este conde germánico tiene que huir de algunos peligrosos Selenitas.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien

Samstag, Mai 12, 2012

"La Commune" (1914) By Armand Guerra

There are some silent film directors who use the film medium primarily as an expression of their social and political beliefs.  Such is the case for Herr Armand Guerra, a Spanish director who did most of his work in France and Germany.  
He was a political activist from his youth and had a particular interest in anarchist groups.  Such a background of course would make him an undesirable at the Schloss (and elsewhere).  For Herr Guerra the end justified the means and artistic concerns were secondary at best.

His film “La Commune” ( The Commune ) (1914) is a good example of Herr Guerra’s peculiarities.  It was produced by “Cinéma Du Peuple” ( People’s Cinema ), a film cooperative supported by workers, and depicts the beginnings of the Commune of Paris, that working class uprising that briefly ruled and caused a mess during two months in the city of
Paris in the year of 1871.  

Obviously, such a subject was ideal for his political ideology.  But in spite of such interesting historical film material, Herr Guerra’s direction in “La Commune” seems too simplistic and even amateurish and results in a film that is excessively schematic.

However, in fairness it should be mentioned that “La Commune” was meant to be the first half of a two part film.  Herr Guerra was preparing the second half when World War I began, causing him to abandon the project.  Possibly the result would have been more effective had he been able to realize his original vision.
The film was a considerable success in France but viewed today seems little more than propaganda intent on spreading anarchist political and social ideals among the workers (Obviously this is not a film meant to appeal to decadent aristocrats).

The most outstanding part of the picture is a sequence at the end wherein the Fraternal Association of the Commune War Veterans gather in front of the Louvre. It had been over forty years since their struggle and this footage represents an important bit of history.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must investigate some servants for their past activities as a communards.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien


Para algunos directores silentes,  tanto sus vidas como sus carreras cinematográficas van indisolublemente unidas, dependiendo poderosamente sus propuestas artísticas de sus preocupaciones sociales o ideas políticas.

Éste es precisamente el caso de Herr Armand Guerra, un director hispánico cuyo trabajo se desarrolló sobretodo en otros países europeos como Francia y Alemania.

Herr Guerra fue un gran activista político desde su juventud, colaborando activamente con grupos anarquistas; con éste bagaje político, además de conseguir ser declarado persona non grata en el Schloss, su trayectoria cinematográfica estuvo muy influenciada por dichas convicciones políticas, filmes silentes en donde sobretodo prima más el mensaje que ciertas preocupaciones estilísticas, pues lógicamente para Herr Guerra el fin justificaba los medios.

El filme “La Commune” (1914) es un buen ejemplo de las peculiaridades de su cine; producida por “Cinéma Du Peuple”, una cooperativa cinematográfica sustentada por las cuotas de los trabajadores que pertenecían a ella, narra los inicios de la Comuna de París, ese levantamiento obrero que gobernó y puso patas arriba la capital gala durante dos meses del año 1871.

Teniendo en cuenta el intenso activismo político de Herr Guerra en relación con los movimientos sociales anarquistas y comunistas de la época, tan destacados hechos históricos resultaban ser muy idóneos para sus peculiares propuestas cinematográficas, ilustrando en consonancia tales acontecimientos, siendo reconocido Herr Guerra por dicho motivo como uno de los pioneros en el género considerado como cinema militante.

Pero a pesar de tan interesante material histórico, la dirección de Herr Guerra en “La Commune” resulta ser demasiado simplista, incluso amateur, una obra en demasía esquemática.
Probablemente ello se debe a que, tal y como éste Herr Graf ha mencionado anteriormente, “La Commune” solamente se centra en los inicios de dicho levantamiento anarquista, pues justo cuando Herr Guerra estaba preparando una segunda parte del filme, el comienzo de la I guerra mundial hizo que el proyecto fuese abandonado.

Quizás si “La Commune” finalmente estuviese compuesto por las dos partes tal y como Herr Guerra había inicialmente concebido, el filme en su totalidad resultase ser una obra mucho más lograda, un mosaico mucho más completo de esos hechos históricos, pero al ver solamente la primera parte del filme ( hay que mencionar que de ésta forma el filme tuvo un considerable éxito en Francia ), la película resulta ser demasiado ingenua dentro de sus términos más artísticos, aunque en cuestiones propagandísticas, un hecho éste que ciertamente era el que más interesaba a Herr Guerra, esto es, el difundir y concienciar entre el populacho obrero ciertas preocupaciones sociales y políticas, el filme resulta ser moderadamente efectivo para esas clases obreras oprimidas, no para decadentes aristócratas, ciertamente…

Al final del filme, como un relevante documento histórico, se incluye una escena en donde la Hermandad de Veteranos de Guerra de La Commune, transcurridos cuarenta años de dicho levantamiento, se reúnen y posan para la cámara en frente del museo del Louvre, un importante pedazo de historia en movimiento y que resulta ser la parte más relevante de dicho filme.

Y ahora si me lo permiten, les tengo que dejar momentáneamente, pues este conde germánico tiene que investigar el probable pasado comunero de algunos sirvientes del Schloss.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien