laughingrat: Keaton in front of a movie camera, giving us the high sign (High Sign/Movies)
[personal profile] laughingrat

If the first of the five films is any indication, Kino's complete set of the recently restored Fantomas films is a masterpiece of restoration. A previous experience with Image's edition of Les Vampires, from roughly the same time period, suffered from poor visual quality, making it difficult to watch. The same restoration crew that worked on Fantomas also worked on Kino's new edition of Les Vampires, and I'm eagerly awaiting my own copy to see just how improved their version will be.

As far as the films themselves go, Fantomas in the Shadow of the Guillotine (the only one I've seen yet) bears the usual marks of its time--stationary cameras, no close-ups, straightforward storytelling--but is nevertheless lively. It roughly adapts the first Fantomas novel, although it leaves out a great deal in the interest of time and pacing. For contemporary audiences, who would have been as familiar with Fantomas as modern audiences are with the Joker, there would have been little need to build up the character as a sinister, brilliant, omnipresent figure of menace. The film could skip that buildup and pare the original novel's sprawling plot into a series of brief episodes leading to the surprise finish.

Viewers unfamiliar with films of this period may be surprised, and hopefully delighted, by the range of features and body types present in the cast. None of the actors is particularly handsome or beautiful, and the actresses are all considerably larger and more solid-bodied than those we see in television and film today. Their features are expressive and distinctive, but not pretty, not even in the case of Lady Beltham (Renee Carl), mistress of Fantomas and "the most beautiful woman in Paris." In more ways than one, these films are a window onto a different world.
glinda: I want everything I've ever seen in the movies (movies)
[personal profile] glinda
Hello! I'm [personal profile] glinda and I'll be your host this week. I'm planning on posting about silent cinema tomorrow so I thought I'd garner your thoughts on the subject.

How do you feel about cinemas doing live musical accompaniments to silent film showings? An essential part of the proceedings? Take it or leave it? Utterly pretentious and off-putting?

Also restoration of silent films, which films are you longing to see restored to their former glory and which should have been left to moulder? Should they try to restore the original colour choices (tinting and toning etc) or is early colour experimentation best forgotten in favour for a crisp black and white?

laughingrat: An animated gif of a gray and white kitten making flaily gestures. (SURPRISE)
[personal profile] laughingrat
For real this time.

Lost Charlie Chaplin film discovered in Michigan antique sale:
The 16mm print was found by historian and collector Paul Gierucki at an antiques show in Michigan. Thinking it was just another old Keystone comedy, he didn't look at it for a while. He finally got around to it in early March and quickly realized what he had.

"Is this who I think it is?" he asked fellow collector Richard Roberts, sending along a frame grab. "Probably," said Roberts, "but we need to see him move."

Once you've seen him move, there's no question who the actor is.

Mabel's Strange Predicament, the first film in which Chaplin appeared in his famous makeup, started shooting January 6th, 1914 - a day after production began on A Thief Catcher.

"It's either his second moustache picture or his first," says Richard Roberts. "It cements the concept that he had the character before he came to Keystone and didn't slap it together on the way to the shooting stage one day. Even when he's doing a minor part he's doing that character. It's a new brick in the Chaplin biography. And this opens up the door to other unknown Chaplin appearances at Keystone."
I'd always heard that one called Kid Auto Races at Venice was the absolute first Tramp movie, but apparently it's maybe #3, from what we now have still extant. The time difference between when these all started filming is literally a matter of a few days, though. They filmed quick back then.

Anyway, amazing news!


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