The fourteen films presented in these two programs of early films from the Archival Film Collections of the Svenska Filminstitutet do not form part of a single special collection, but they have been acquired over the years in different deposits. In fact, little is documented and known about how, when and from whom the original nitrate prints entered into the collections, and they have formed part of an accumulated holding of unidentified material.
Thanks to a special project carried out in 2014 and 2015, more than three hundred nitrate reels of early international films in the collections could be identified and catalogued, and the 14 films presented here are some of the films which are thought to be unique and non-existent in other archives. These films also provide us with valuable information on distribution in Sweden in the early years. Even though the films were released before the creation of Statens biografbyrå (the Swedish censorship authority) in September 1911, some of the nitrate prints in the collections were nevertheless eventually submitted for censorship, indicating that films were kept in circulation for a long period of time, several years, and the original nitrate prints also tell us that films were not always distributed with Swedish intertitles, but sometimes with intertitles in other Scandinavian languages or in the original language.
Since the films constitute an important part of Swedish film heritage, they were subject to preservation efforts in the form of photochemical duplication. No additional restoration has been carried out in the form of recreating lost intertitles, or by the insertion of explanatory titles when footage is missing. The preservation of all fims in the programme has been carried out at the Svenska Filminstitutet’s photochemical laboratory facilities in Rotebro. All films have been identified by Camille Blot-Wellens, except La Prêtresse de Carthage, which was identified by Magnus Rosborn.
The 14 films chosen for the festival provide rich examples of various colouring techniques such as tinting, toning, stencil and handcolouring, as well as black-and-white, and some films even display a combination of different colouring methods. The films have been curated into two programs, with a mixture of comedy, drama and non-fiction which was common practice in the early years of distribution, and each of the programs shows the richness, diversity and lovely playfulness of early cinema.
Camille Blot-Wellens and Jon Wengström
The first programme brings us colourful images from wondrous natural sights at the border of nowadays Germany and Czech Republic (known at the beginning of last century as Suisse Saxonne), as well as on-location footage from the Riviera in the delightful Bosetti comedy Calino veut se suicider. Examples of beautiful Pathécolor can be found in the biblical drama Ruth et Boaz, and even more colourful is the visual reworks provided by film magician Segundo de Chomón in Les Flammes diaboliques (which also exists in the collections of Library of Congress in a slightly shorter version). Another highlight of this programme is the Robert W. Paul production of The Fatal Hand, which opens with a visually striking shot of the shadow of the escaped murderer’s disfigured hand outside a blinded window; a shot which Lang or Hitchcock would have been proud of.
COMMENT ON FRAUDE À LA FRONTIÈRE
RUTH ET BOAZ
THE FATAL HAND
EXCURSION DANS LA RAVINE D'EDMUNDS KLAMM EN SUISSE SAXONNE
CALINO VEUT SE SUICIDER
LA MAISON SANS ENFANTS
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