T.ted.: Josephines Geburtstag; Prod.: Pathé 35mm.L.:91m.D.:4’a18f/s.Bn
The “Gold-Dust Find”
In 1985 a treasure trove of original prints dating from the early days of cinema surfaced in a small provincial town in Austria. As the collection had been stored in a factory producing gold-coated sheets of paper used to create the lettering for messages about the dearly departed on the ribbons for memorial wreaths for funerals, the cans emerged from beneath a glittering layer of golden dust. We therefore christened the collection the Goldstaub-Fund (“Gold-Dust Find”). The name turned out to be an apt one, as the films came from a traveling showman, Karl Juhasz, who toured with programmes devoted mainly to Pathé films, which included a considerable number of early “golden” gems.
Audiences of the time enjoyed a rich variety of moving-picture amusements in a single programme: comedies, fairy tales, travelogues, criminal stories, actualities, etc. Travelogues like Les Rapides de la Rivière Ozu stimulated their longing for exotic, faraway countries, which they probably would never visit in their lifetime. Erotic images would be shown at special screenings, the so-called Herrnsabend (“Gentlemen’s Evening”), which excluded women and children. Films like Lèvres collées, where young Max Linder appears in a bit part, or La Course à la perruque, may have been considered tasteless at the time, but nowadays they definitely express the freshness and purity of early cinema, which wasn’t bound to bourgeois expectations of cultural practices.
The year 1906 also marked an important transition in colouring techniques. In two typical Pathé fairy tales, La Fée printemps and La Fée aux pigeons, one can clearly see hand-painting being gradually mechanized via the wide use of stencils, while dyes were applied by hand with brushes in the early stages. Un attentat sur la voie ferrée, which demonstrates an amazing perfection in telling a criminal story, is an early example of the conscious use of tinting, where each colour contributes to the dramatic substance.
Nikolaus Wostry, Filmarchiv Austria