Teatro Comunale di Bologna > 11:00

De Biskra à Touggourt / L’HIRONDELLE ET LA MÉSANGE

Harp accompaniment by Eduardo Raon

Preceding: De Biskra à Touggourt

Following: meeting with Manon Billaut (Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé)


Monday 31/08/2020


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

The story of L’Hirondelle et la mésange is the stuff of legend: it was never screened in a cinema, and only the rushes survive. Judged too much like a documentary by Pathé Consortium, who feared a financial failure, the film was only shown to a few insiders at an event held in November 1920 at the Théâtre de la Gaîté and then to members of the Club francais du cinema, on 5 June 1924. Antoine’s edit of the film has never been seen again. It was only in the spring of 1982 that 23 boxes, each containing 300 m of negative rushes, were discovered in the vaults of Cinémathèque française, which had been deposited by Andre Laporte, a former employee of Pathe Cinema, in 1942. The Cinémathèque embarked upon the film’s reconstruction, handing the editing of the rushes over to Henri Colpi – editor for Resnais and Varda and winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for his directorial debut Une aussi longue absence – , 60 years after they had been shot. With the help of Antoine’s original screenplay and list of intertitles, which had been preserved in the performance arts department of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Colpi took on this extremely unusual case in the history of restoration. The version of the film that we have today can only be assessed in light of his work in 1983 but it is not just the montage that feels modern. You can’t help but admire Antoine’s framing; his careful treatment of location; the acting; the documentary sections interspersed through the narrative. Looking back at the rushes that Colpi didn’t use can also help us to understand Antoine’s experimental approach. Shots of him with his actors, the location manager or the camera operator offer insight into how he directed his teams; shots from different angles, repeated takes for one shot and tests for studio lighting, into his directorial decisions. In 2012 the Cinémathèque française made a 2K restoration of the film from the positive print materials. The colours that Colpi had introduced using the Desmet method were digitally reworked by Digimage.

Manon Billaut 

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Gustave Grillet. F.: Rene Guychard. M.: Henri Colpi (1983). Int.: Louis Ravet (Pierre Van Groot), Pierre Alcover (Michel), Jane Maylianes (Griet Van Groot), Maguy Delyac (Marthe), Georges Denola (trafficante di diamanti). Prod.: S.C.A.G.L. DCP. D.: 78’ a 18 f/s. Bn.


Year: 1920
Country: Francia
Running time: 9'
Film Version

French intertitles


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