Archive for Wunder der Schopfung

The Sunday Intertitle: Silent Worlds

Posted in FILM, MUSIC, Science with tags , , , , on April 3, 2016 by dcairns

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An unexpected highlight of this year’s Bo’ness Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema was WUNDER DER SCHOPFUNG, a sort of science fiction documentary made in Germany in 1925. Using extensive reconstructions of historical advances in astronomy to chart mankind’s developing understanding of the universe, and to depict a hypothetical voyage to the limits of the galaxy, it stands comparison with Benjamin Christensen’s HAXAN, which likewise is an entirely staged but essentially truthful documentary. Where HAXAN is a horror movie documentary, WDS is a sci-fi one.

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It uses what was a science fiction premise — manned space flight — to illustrate mostly factual science, as it was understood at the time. Director Hanns Walter Kornblum’s only other movie is DER GRUNDLAGEN DER EINSTEINSCHEN RELATIVITATS-THEORIE (1922). At last, the film of the theory!

The screening was spookily accompanied by electronic duo Herschel 36, and introduced by the astronomer royal, John C, Brown, who happens be the dad of one half of Herschel 36. He was able to give us chapter and verse on the science in the film, some of which is accurate, some of which was accurate in 1925, and a little of which gives way altogether to whimsy, as an excuse for some surreal visuals. I enjoyed the intro and programme notes enormously but think perhaps the prof was too stern — though the film contains some strange howlers, such as asserting that gravity stays switched on until we leave the solar system — 1925 audiences as well as 2015 audiences can tell when their collective leg is being pulled, and would largely be able to disregard the bursts of absurdism in the film, enjoying them for what they transparently are: Germans mucking about with special effects. We’ve all seen INDEPENDENCE DAY, after all.

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The Sunday Intertitle: Yeast

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2016 by dcairns

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A full day in Bo’ness at last, soaking up the Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema. Four shows on Saturday —

Buster Keaton & Eddie Cline’s MY WIFE’S RELATIONS — world premiere of newly discovered ending!

Doubled with Garvin and Marion Byron in A PAIR OF TIGHTS, a Hal Roach farce from the mind of Leo McCarey!

VARIETE by EA Dupont in a fresh restoration of glistening quality!

DAYBREAK, a fascinating Chinese rarity from the thirties in a hideous DVD, cropped and lacking contrast!

WUNDER DER SCHOPFUNG — German space documentary — a film that is to sci-fi what HAXAN is to horror, using a factual basis as pretext for as many startling images as possible.

I also saw Jessie, a volunteer who mentioned that she never makes it into the videos about Bo’ness, so I thought I’d give her some publicity here.

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Just time maybe to comment on the new ending of MY WIFE’S RELATIONS. The original cut fizzled out with Buster battling his in-laws in their newly acquired mansion, then swiftly cut to him on the back of a sleeper car — a favourite escape ending. This time the train is the Reno Express, so a quickie divorce is intimated. As a final shot it’s perfect, but the film doesn’t seem to get as there. A colossal ellipse gapes, not entirely complete-able by the imagination.

This new ending gets Buster out the house at least, but then the film simply stops, sans resolution. It’s absolutely clear to me that the two endings must be combined — Buster escapes the house AND boards the train. Then you got an ending. I’m even wondering, based on another error in the restoration involving the Polish intertitles (don’t ask), whether a combined ending was intended and then overlooked. Such blunders do happen — I saw several in Bologna involving restored Chaplin shorts which were still works-in-progress.

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More on the rest of these soon. I’m in the edit today! If I’m VERY lucky and efficient I might make it to STELLA DALLAS (1925) this evening.