The Birth of Cinema

J. Searle Dawley – Frankenstein (1910)

Frankenstein, a young medical student, trying to create the perfect human being, instead creates a misshapen monster. Made ill by what he has done, Frankenstein is comforted by his fiancée but on his wedding night he is visited by the monster. A fight ensues but the monster, seeing himself in a mirror, is horrified and runs away. He later returns, entering the new bride’s room, and finds her alone. Read More »

    Jean Painlevé – Science is Fiction: 23 Films by Jean Painlevé (2009) (DVD)

    The mesmerizing, utterly unclassifiable science films of Jean Painlevé (1902-89) must be seen to be believed: delightful, surrealist-influenced dream works that are also serious science. The French filmmaker-scientist-inventor had a decades-spanning career in which he created hundreds of short films on subjects ranging from astronomy to pigeons to, most famously, such marine-life marvels as the sea horse and the sea urchin. This definitive three-disc Criterion collection brings together the best of these, and includes more than two hours of interviews with the filmmaker, drawn from the eight-part French television series Jean Painlevé Through His Films, directed by Denis Derrien and Hélène Hazera. Also included is The Sounds of Science, an original score by Yo La Tengo to Jean Painlevé’s films, plus an interview with the band. Read More »

      Maurice Tourneur – The Wishing Ring: An Idyll of Old England (1914)

      AMG wrote:
      According to film historian William K. Everson, to offer a fully detailed synopsis of Maurice Tourneur’s delightful period piece The Wishing Ring “would do a disservice to its charm.” Suffice to say that the film’s wide-eyed heroine Vivian Martin comes into possession of a ring which she believes to have magical powers. Armed with this belief alone, the girl is able to change the course of her entire life. Read More »

        Nino Oxilia – Rapsodia satanica aka Satan’s Rhapsody (1915)

        Quote:
        Rapsodia Satanica (1915) was the last film directed by Nino Oxilia and is undoubtedly one of the finest achievements of the early Italian cinema. In it, Oxilia spins a variation on the Faust myth, embodied here by the diva Lyda Borelli. Typical of extravagant D’Annunzian aestheticism at its height, Rapsodia Satanica was one of the summits of what was later called the “tail coat film.” Diametrically opposed to the “cinema of reality” practiced by Serena, Martoglio and others, “tail coat films” set their melodramatic stories in the salons and villas of the upper middle class and the aristocracy, deploying narrative structures contrived to showcase their actors and especially its actresses. This had the effect of accentuating their physical presence and turning them into stars – probably the first stars in movie history. The success of the “dive” contributed to the development of motion picture grammar in its special use of the close-up.
        Written by Anthony Kobal Read More »

          Yevgeni Bauer – Sumerki zhenskoi dushi AKA Twilight of a Woman’s Soul (1913)

          Despite living in luxury, Vera is lonely and discontented. When she accompanies her mother, the Countess, on a charity visit to the poor, she is troubled by what she sees, and she resolves to do whatever she can to help them. But one man takes advantage of her innocence, and he lures her into a trap so that he can assault her. The dreadful results of this attack will affect Vera’s life long afterward. –imdb Read More »

            Virgilio Tosi – The Origins of Scientific Cinematography (1990)

            Quote:
            THE ORIGINS OF SCIENTIFIC CINEMATOGRAPHY is a documentary film series directed by Virgilio Tosi. The films complement Tosi’s book Cinema Before Cinema, using archive film and original equipment to show how cinematography had its origins not in the music hall or the fairground, but in the laboratory, as scientists of the 19th and early 20th centuries attempted to find new ways of seeing and measuring the natural world. Read More »

              J. Searle Dawley – A Christmas Carol (1910)

              Quote:
              Based on the story by Charles Dickens: The day before the Christmas holiday, Ebenezer Scrooge refuses to contribute to the Charity Relief Committee, and then rudely rejects his nephew when he visits Scrooge in his office. When Scrooge returns home, he sees the ghost of his former business partner Marley, who warns him of the punishment he will suffer in the next life if he does not change his ways. That night, Scrooge is visited by three more spirits, who show him his past, the present, and the future that awaits him. (imdb) Read More »