Greta Garbo

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Swedish Silent Film Stars on the Theater Stage

Actress Harriet Bosse was married to both playwright August Strindberg and Swedish film director and actor Edvin Adolphson (Long ago, I found a copy of her correspondence to Strindberg at UniLu, Harvard University while I was talking to Bishop Stendhal about his almost having married Ingmar Bergman's sister). Harriet Bosse appeared in the film "Sons of Ingmar" directed by Victor Sjostrom. Victor Sjostrom not incidentally, had returned to the stage in 1914 and 1915 under the direction of Gustaf Collijn for August Strindberg's play "To Damascus".
Silent Film

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Scott Lord Silent Film: A Narrow Escape (Pathe, 1908)

"A Narrow Escape" is evidently the only film in which both the doubling narrative, or bifidation narrative, used in crosscutting and the last minute rescue were present before their use in the films of D.W. Griffith. Scholar Phillipe Gauthier has noted that crosscutting had been present in the film "The One Hundred to One Shot" made by Vitagraph in 1906. D. W. Griffith used crosscutting frequently to depict the last minute rescue frequently during the beginning of 1909, particulalrly in the film "The Lonely Villa". The director at Biograph had been Wallace McCutcheon (Personal,1904) and it is him to whom, rightly or not, crosscutting has been attributed (Her First Adventure,1906;The Elopement,1907); on occaision directors were beginning to hint at cutting on action by 1907 and were also beginning to link scenes together, as when the same character appears in two scenes that are adjacent.

If within a cinema of attractions narrative exposition had previously used a discontinuous style, one of filming a single action within what was then an autonomous shot, it would acquire as form a continuous style; where there were to be juxtapositions within narrative from shot to shot, there would be decisions of editing used for the advancement of plot. Technique would become the ordering of images within an arrangement of shots that would bring seperate compositions into a relation with narrative-the film technique that would be later described by Christian Metz as consisting of syntagmatic categories, technique that would avail questioning whether a segment would be autonomous, chrological, linear, narrative or descriptive, chronological, linear, narrative or descriptive, continuous or whether it would be organized, was beginning to be decided. Metz in fact had viewed the narrative function in cinema as being what had brought about its development, it being more possible that the techniques developed by Ince and Griffith. Narrative would no longer need to be only liner in regard to its structure and the syntax of the film could include transitions between scenes: technique, in part could become the attraction. In fact, Roger Manvell quotes an author who credits Griffith with developing the "cinematic or conjunctive" method of narrative, where the tempo of "continuity movement" was accelerated.

During 1908, The Pathe studio, Societe Pathe Freres, founded by Charles Pathe in 1896, performed a magic trick exactly opposite of the break from non-narrative by the cinema of attractions and the temporalities being adapted by narrative form; while George Melies continued toward his 1912 Conquest of the Pole", Pathe invented the newsreel that was to be shown with cartoons and short subjects. Newsreels went to London during 1910 under the name Pathe's Animated Gazette. The temporality created by Segundo de Chemon in the Pathe film "The House of Ghosts" would become friendly competition for the immediacy of royal coronations being filmed as they happened, a diegesis of reality. Screen time transpired just outside the theater, based on an event, if not reverting to an earlier form of attraction. Perhaps at the core of the cinema of attractions are the actuality films of American Mutoscope and Biograph, despite Edison's choosing subjects which could be filmed theatrically indoors, including his film of Annie Oakley shooting. Crosscutting and D.W. Griffith Silent Film

Scott Lord Silent Film: Corner in Wheat (D.W. Griffith, Biograph, 1909)

"The Miller's Daughter", "The Song of the Shirt"(1908) and "A Corner of Wheat", directed by D.W. Griffith for the Biograph Film Company are early films that depicted the individual within a social context. Kay Sloan, in her copyrighted paper "Silent Cinema as Social Criticism, Front Page Movies", writes, "The comedies, melodramas and occaisional westerns about labor conflict, tenement poverty or political corruption reveal through fantasy an America torn with ideological conflict." Pointing out that film companies looked to the contemporay "muckrackers" for story lines, she includes the films "The Suffragete's Revenge" and "The Reform Candidate" as being timely depictions of audience involved in reception, extending that audience to the readers of Upton Sinclair, but later attributes the decline of social drama to the development of the feature film after World War I. She adds to these the film "The Govenor's Boss" which took its storyline from Tammany Hall while modernizing its theme and message, a technique often attempted by D.W. Griffith. Studio advertisements for "A Corner in Wheat" hailed "The Story of Wheat in Symbolism", writing, "This is possibly the most stirring and artistic subject ever produced by Biograph. It starts with an animated portrayal of Millet's masterpiece 'The Sowers'." "A Corner of Wheat" had been adapted by D.W. Griffith and Frank Woods from the novel "The Pit" and the short story "A Deal in Wheat", both written in 1903 by the sometimes controversial author Frank Norris.

The steady, weekly competition from other studios during 1909 was typical for the release of the Biograph film "In a Corner of Wheat"; from Selig there was "Pine Ridge Fued", from Lubin there was "Romance of the Rocky Coast", from Essany there was "The Heart of a Cowboy", from Vitagraph there was "Two Christmas-Tides" and from Edison Films there was "Fishing Industry in Gloucester, Mass.". The following week Biograph released "A Trap for Santa Claus" while Vitagraph vied for its audience with "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and Selig with "A Modern Dr. Jeckyll". As the competition was weekly, the month before Kalem had released "Dora", a dramatization of the poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Vitagraph had offered "Lancelot and Elaine". Silent Film D.W. Griffith Biograph Film Company