Posts Tagged ‘film’
In the silent film era, these colorized lantern slides were the equivalent of previews or trailers, alerting the audience to the theater’s upcoming schedule. Blank spaces in the slide’s design allowed for a small degree of customization by hand.
Films tended to be short by modern standards, so audiences would watch them in batches, rather than seeing one at a time as we do today. Film scholar Lisa Kernan writes that these magic lantern slides were “projected between features, much like today’s slides of local restaurant advertising and movie trivia quizzes.”
Even at the time the slides were in common use, Kernan writes, some theaters experimented with showing short bits of film to advertise coming attractions. By the 1920s, a company called National Screen Service was making trailers for major studio films using moving footage; by the 1930s, studios began to make their own, much more sophisticated preview trailers.
These lantern images were collected by W. Ward Marsh, a movie critic for theCleveland Plain Dealer from 1919 until his death in 1971. The Cleveland Public Library holds Marsh’s movie memorabilia and has digitized almost 700 examples of these slides…
Read and see more at “The Lantern Slides That Advertised Coming Attractions in the Silent Film Era.”
* ubiquitous line in movie trailers
As we take our seats and silence our phones, we might recall that it was on this date in 1967 that “La Bateau,” a 1953 paper cut by Henri Matisse was hung in New York’s Museum of Modern Art… upside down. It remained on inverted display for 47 days. Genevieve Habert, a stockbroker, noticed the mistake (by comparing the hanging to the photo in the catalogue). As it was a Sunday night and there were no curatorial officials on duty, Habert informed the New York Times, which in turn notified Monroe Wheeler, the Museum’s art director… who had the piece rehung correctly on Monday.
Matisse’s cut-outs are back at MoMA… right-side up, one trusts.
Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986) firmly positioned himself as the finest Soviet director of the post-War period. But his influence extended well beyond the Soviet Union. The Cahiers du cinéma consistently ranked his films on their top ten annual lists. Ingmar Bergman went so far as to say, “Tarkovsky for me is the greatest [director], the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream.” And Akira Kurosawa acknowledged his influence too, adding, “I love all of Tarkovsky’s films. I love his personality and all his works. Every cut from his films is a marvelous image in itself”…
Now one can watch Tarkovsky’s features (and a trio of shorts) online– and for free. Find the links in this chronological listing or among Open Culture’s collection, 700 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc.
* Ingmar Bergman on Andrei Tarkovsky, in Laterna Magica (The Magic Lantern : An Autobiography).
As we slip into the dream state, we might send mysterious birthday greetings to Robert Bruce Montgomery; he was born on this date in 1921. A respected composer of “serious” of vocal and choral music and of film scores under his own name, he is perhaps better remembered by his pen name, Edmund Crispin. As Crispin (a name he took from Michael Innes’ Hamlet, Revenge), he wrote nine marvelous mystery novels and two collections of short stories, all featuring amateur detective Gervaise Fen, an eccentric Oxford don. Your correspondent’s favorite is The Moving Toyshop– but they’re all a treat: a mixture of Innes**, John Dickson Carr, and the Marx Brothers. After retiring from whodunits, Crispin edited several mystery collections and science-fiction anthologies– with no apologies or excuses for presenting SciFi as a legitimate form of writing– an iconoclastic attitude in the 1950s.
** “Michael Innes” was itself a pseudonym, the pen name of Oxford literary critic and scholar J. I. M. Stewart
Welcome to Star Wars as you’ve never seen it before. Arst Arsw takes every English word from George Lucas’ classic movie and rearranges them alphabetically. If you can make it past the 201 “a”s that start the video, you’re in for a treat, as long sequences of words are punctuated up by oddly therapeutic and memorable words from the movie. The eighth “battlestation” is especially rewarding.
The video’s maker, Tom 7, provided some interesting facts garnered while cutting Arst Arsw manually. A total of 1695 individual English words are uttered in Star Wars, the most common of which is “the,” with 368 mentions. The word “Lightsaber” is only said aloud once (at 19:20 in Arst Arsw).
Click here for background (and larger version of chart): “Graphing the distribution of English letters towards the beginning, middle or end of words”:
*William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, Act V, Scene 3
As we hope that the Force is with us, we might recall that it was on this date in 1914 that Wyndham Lewis published the first issue of Blast, a literary magazine championing Vorticism, a movement related to Futurism and Cubism in painting and to Imagism in literature, chiefly concerned to extoll the virtues of mechanization and the machine. The inaugural number was edited and largely written by Lewis with contributions from Ezra Pound, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Jacob Epstein, Spencer Gore, Edward Wadsworth, and Rebecca West, and included an extract from Ford Madox Hueffer’s novel The Saddest Story– better known by its later title The Good Soldier (published under his subsequent pseudonym, Ford Madox Ford). The second issue, which was publish a month later, had more work from Pound and two poems by T.S. Eliot. But at about the same time that issue came out, Britain entered World War I. Several of the Vorticists were called up; and machines– deployed all too lethally in the conflict– lost some of their romance. The Vorticist movement did not survive the war.; still, it is remembered as a seminal step in the evolution of 20th century Modernism.
Readers will know that (R)D delights in the works of Banksy. So it will come as no surprise that your correspondent has a warm spot in his heart for Jeff Friesen. An award-winning photographer, Friesen is also a dedicated dad who makes LEGO dioramas with his daughter June. Their latest project: a series of meticulously-constructed homages to the great street artists himself… a series that Friesen and June call “Bricksy.”
See them all at “Bricksy: LEGO Banksy.”
[TotH to My Modern Met]
As we resolve, with Banksy, to “speak softly, but carry a big can of paint,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1892 that Australia’s first real film production house, The Limelight Department, was set up by the Salvation Army in Melbourne. In its 19 years of operation, the Limelight Department produced both evangelistic material (from the simplest lantern slides to Christian epics of redemption) and secular documentaries commissioned by private and government contract. In all, the operation created about 300 films of various lengths (making it one of largest film producers of its time) until it was summarily closed by a new Commander, a puritanical Scot who “protected” Salvationists from films for many decades. Sadly, the Limelight films were destroyed in the 1950s.
Looking back on the evolution of the movie trailer we must consider the evolution of how we watch movies. Unlike the multiplexes we’re accustomed to today, the first movie theaters in the 1910s had only one screen. You would pay the admission, say five cents, and you could sit in the theater for as long as you wanted. Show times weren’t precise – a feature length movie along with a short films and a cartoon would play in a continuous loop and you could watch it as many times as you wanted.
1913 would be what many historians consider year zero for the movie trailer. In New York City, Nils Granlund, advertising manager of Marcus Loew theaters, made a short little promotional film for the Broadway play “Pleasure Seekers” showcasing actual rehearsal footage. The idea of showing ads between films was a hit – at least to the movie theater owners – The practice of creating and splicing in promotional pieces into the screening rotation was quickly implemented by the Loew theater chain as well as others.
Around the same time in Chicago, Col. William Selig, one of film’s earliest pioneers, would engineer another way to get audiences to the movies. Selig noticed the popularity of print serials in newspapers so he approached the Chicago Tribune, a newspaper embattled in a circulation war for who could be the most sensationalist, to adapt a film version of a print serial. The result was a 13 episode serial entitled “The Adventures of Kathlyn”.
This wasn’t the first film serial, it was actually the second; but it introduced a new device to film marketing. You see, each week a new installment would debut along with an article in the Chicago Tribune that continuing the story. What made “The Adventures of Kathlyn” different was at the end of each installment something would happen to put the characters in some sort of peril – a cliffhanger often with a title card inviting patrons to come back the following week to see what happens.
So Thus the idea of the trailer was born – and so too the term – as these promotions for upcoming attractions would play at the end of the film – hence trailer.
Most of these promotions were produced by the theaters themselves but by 1916, the movie studios themselves began officially releasing for upcoming movies. These first film trailers were pretty basic – they generally consist of snippets of film with some text overlay such as the cast of stars…
Learn how gentle enticements like these grew to become the better-and-louder-than-the-actual-film extravaganzas of today in the video at the top of this post and at “The History of the Movie Trailer.”
As we contemplate coming attractions, we might recall that it was on this date in 1927 that the first organizational meeting of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was convened by Louis B. Mayer, the head of MGM. The 230 charter members elected Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. the group’s first president. Mayer’s original intent was to provide a forum for labor mediation and to improve the industry’s image; the first of those goals never got traction, so the second– the burnishing of Hollywood’s star– became the group’s primary focus. By 1929, the AMPAS had established the Academy Awards, and had joined with the University of Southern California to create the first film school.
“It’s funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you watch them on a screen”*…
[TotH to Super Punch]
* Anthony Burgess
As we fiddle with our framing, we might send colorful birthday greetings to Keith Haring; he was born on this date in 1958. Haring dropped out of commercial art school in Pennsylvania, moved to New York City, and became involved in the street art scene in the late 70s. He quickly developed a signature style, and began to get recognition for a series of painting in New York’s subway system that were documented by the photographer Tseng Kwong Chi. By 1982, Haring’s fame had grown, and he’d begun to organize installations at Club 57. Openly gay and an engaged social activist, Haring filled his work with social, political, and gender comment, though largely in a textured, “buried” way. His most overt political statement was his 1989 painting “Silence = Death,” a riff on the 1986 poster that became the unofficial logo of ACT UP. Haring died of AIDS-related complications in 1990.