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|Silent Greta Garbo:Victor Sjostrom as Victor Seastrom |
Swedish Silent Film
SILENT FILM SILENT FILM Filmic address could more often be comprised of objects put into the scene, placing the view of the spectator within it, not only to bring a greater involvement with character, but to allow the spectator to identify more often with the relation between character and enviornment, technique providing the relation between film and viewer. Specific to the relationship between character and enviornment is the relation between the character and the object towards which he or she is looking. The aesthetics of pictorial composition could utilize placing the figure in either the foreground or background of the shot, depth of plane,depth of framing, narrative and pictorial continuity being developed together. Compositions would become related to each other in the editing of successive images and adjacent shots, the structure of the scene; Griffith had already begun to cut mid-scene, his cutting to another scene before the action of the previous scene was completed, and had certainly already begun to cut between two seperate spatial locations within the scene.
Author Kenneth Macgowan praises the silent film The Avenging Conscience as a photoplay, his view being that Giriffith's film uses a narrative method of storystructure, action being secondary to character development, if not often interpolated in between scenes, his noting that it was seldom that Griffith used intertitles with lines of dialougue during a scene. Among the narrative films of Griffith filmed in 1909 was the silent film The Sealed Room.
The camera could also portray the character more fully by adding the movement of the camera to character movement, as in The Golden Louis (1909), mobilizing the gaze of the character within the organization of the look. In For Love of Gold, one of the fourty four biograph films made in 1908, D.W. Griffith and Bitzer had shifted the placement of the camera during the scene, the close up used in conjuction with the long shot and full shot. Not only could the editing together of different spatial relationships with each shot provide contrast between shots that were in a series, but the duration of each shot could be varying as well. With the use of varying camera postitions, particularly during the 1908 film After Many Years, Griffith would establish the use of the narrative close up, and by the interpolating of an individual shot between shots similar in composition as a cut in shot, editing would be used to connect seperate shots to advance plotline. With Griffith, film would create a proscenium arc of its own, that of the lens, a lens that would with the Vitagraph nine foot line bring the frame into the grammar of film, shifting from a viewpoint of playing in front of the audience to one more aligned with it, the authorial camera entering into a new relationship with the spectator- included in the films made by D. W Griffith in 1908 is a stage to screen adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew, with Florence Lawrence.
Not incidentally, Eisenstien in a discussion of Griffith's editing goes so far as to describe "the principle function of the close shot" which is "not so much to present, as to signify, to designate, to give meaning." Belazs adds, "Only in editing is the shot given its particular meaning." Cavell writes, "If either the frame or subject budges, the composition alters." If filmic address during a cinema of attractions had begun with the act of display, it had begun to incorporate the actor as seen in close shot, which could be edited into a grammar of film - the shot had become "the unit of editing" and the "basis for the construction of the scene" (Jacobs), whereas before it had been the scene that would allow the placement of shots, it now being that there could be an assemblage of shots. Terry Ramsaye writes," Griffith began to work at a syntax for the screen narration...While Griffith may not have originated the closeup and like elements of technique, he did establish for them their function."; which silent film author Nicholas A. Vardac reiterates by writing that it was from the films of Edwin S. Porter that D.W. Griffith acquired the technique of viewing the shot within its context as "a syntax for the melodrama".
Belazs mentions that the mood of a scene can be established by the particular set ups that are used, his almost attributing the ability to participate in the action to the surroundings and background in which the film takes place, as does Spottiswoode, who mentions that by filming from any number of postitions and angles, the director can decide which elements of the scene can be included in creating its mood, particularly which components of the director's subject.
Nevertheless in his best dramas of pastoral life, Sjöström to integrate the rugged Swedish landscape into the texture of his films with an almost mystical force- a feature noted and much admired in other countries." ------------ Of interest is that the establishing shot that begins the Greta Garbo film Love, directed in the Untied States by Edmund Goulding is an exterior that begins the plotline with Garbo in a snowstorm being brought homeward in a sleigh; it is a series of exterior shots that depict nature as the background for character delineation very much like in the films of Scandinavian director Victor Sjöström, so much so thaI'm pt it is revealed in the first interior shots that both the love interest in the film, portrayed by John Gilbert, and the audience, were nearly unaware of who the character portayed by Garbo really was and hadn't fully realized it untill being given later look at the beauty of the passenger, as though they were being reintroduced to someone they had been with during the journey through the snow.
And yet, if the present author has anything to add to what has been written in appreciation of Scandinavian film and its use of landscape to add depth to the development of character by creating relationships between the background and the protagonist of any given film's plotline, within that is that within classical cinema and its chronological ordering of events, it is still often spatio-temporal relationships that are developed. The viewer often acknowledging the effect that an object within the film might have upon the character, an object that is either stationary or in movement, poeticly in movement as a waterfall would be, the structuring of space within the film not only clarifies plot action, but, within the framed image, included in the spatial continuity within the visual structure of the film, establishes a relation of objects that appear onscreen to the space that is offscreen. Spatial relations became narrative. Character movement, camera movement and shot structure create a scenographic spPace which within the gaze of the actress is observed through an ideal of femininity, a unity of space constructed that links shots, often by forming spaces that are contiguous within the scene and creating images that are poeticly presented as being contiguous; subjectivity is structured within the discourse of the film and these subjectivities are presented to the viewer as being within a larger context within early Silent Scandinavian films.
Swedish film director Gustav Molander had in fact been at the Intima Teatern from 1911 to 1913. Thanhouser was also producing adaptations of literature for the screen and in 1911 filmed three plays by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen: Pillars of Society (Samfundets stotter), Lady from the Sea (Fruen fra havet, Theodore Marston) and A Doll's House (Et dukkehjem). Lubin that year filmed a version of Ibsen's Sins of the Father (Gengangere).
Although a theory of a cinema of attractions depends less upon the use of the proscenium arch written about by Nicholas A. Vardac or the camera's photographic reproduction of drama that had previously been enacted upon the stage and more upon the act of display having preceded the use of cinematic and editorial devices to propel narrative, the grammar of film would be used both to transpose the theatricality of the stage play and to adapt novels to the screen in ways which they could not be performed in front of a theater audience not only in regard to the modes of address which would position the spectator but also in regard to the public sphere of reception. Within the reception of each film there soon was a heterogeneity of filmgoers and that films were visual soon transversed language barriers between audiences that would otherwise have been seperate. Characteristic of early films that were adaptions of novels was the use of a linear narrative similar to that of the "well made novel" novel of the nineteenth century, the camera following the character into each subsequent scene. There soon would be films in which there would be a contemporaneity of narrative and attraction. Raymond Spottiswoode distinguishes between the photoplay, the adaptation of the stage play to the screen with little or no editing, and the screenplay, where camera movement and technique is used to convey narrative- the photoplay can be likened to a cinema of attractions where the scene is filmed from a fixed camera position, whereas the screenplay includes the cut from a medium shot to a close shot in order to build the scene.
In regard to the camera being authorial, Raymond Spottiswoode writes, "The spatial closeup is the usual means of revealing significant detail and motion. Small movements whicmh must necessarily have escaped the audiences of a play sitting removed some distance from its actors can thus be selected from their surroundings and magnified to any extent." While writing that how the camera is authorial includes its having only one position, that of the viewer, which, differing from that of the theater audience can vary with each shot change, depending upon the action within the scene, Spottiswoode cautions that the well written stage play is not suited for the camera's mobility. He also indirectly addresses the use of nature as a way to connect characters to their enviornment while they are being developed that is quite often significant in Scandinavian films when writing about the possibility there being a "difference film", by that his referring to a film which uses relational cutting. "To constitute such a 'difference film' is not sufficiently merely to photograph mountains and streams which are inaccessible to theater producers; the film must also choose a method of carrying on its purposive themes or meaning from moment to moment." He continues, "the public can be trained to appreciate that the differences between nature seen and nature filmed constitute the chief value of the cinema."
In the United States, with Edison (The Road of Anthracite, Race for Millions and The Society Raffles) and Vitagraph (Raffles, the Amatuer Cracksman, The Burgler on the Roof), the attraction had literally become filmed theater, scenes based on those of the stage solely for dramatic value, photographed in one reel as though in one act, from which came the knee shot, or medium full shot; the use of the proscenium arch is more pronounced before the Vitagraph nine foot line, the camera distance of the knee shot, in that there would be space left as visible in between the actor's feet and the bottom frameline, space articulated in tableau that would be more like that of when the spectator is in the audience at a theater. The legnth of one reel would be between eight hundred and one thousand feet. At first the films of Melies were shot in a single scene, as though filmed theater; in order to film narrative he then put seperate shots in order to become connected scenes, or "artificially arranged scenes". It would later become "a constant shifting of scenes" (Lewis Jacobs). Although the article discusses the lack of narrative closure and unicity of frame in early cinema, the subject of a recent e-mailed book review was the writing of one author that has offered the idea that there is less of a demarcation between early cinema and the films that provide transition to the two-reel film -writing about the editing of Melies, Ezra gives an account of his films being comprised of combinations of photographic reproduction, spectacle and narrative. Quite certainly, the images of film are moving images and can advance the narrative and more of the film that was to come later would be dramatic narrative. The cinema of Melies has been likened to a cinema of attractions in its repetitive use of suprise and sudden appearance; the temporality of attraction one of appearance-nonappearance rather than that of development.
One particular silent film, Sherlock Holmes Baffled (1900), considerably under one minute in legnth, had starred William Gillete, ushering in the new century with the first screen appearance of the consulting detective. On vieweing the single shot film, the audience is as baffled as Holmes by the abrupt vanishings of a burgler that disappears and reappears throughout the room through the use of stop-motion trick photography, the film a superb example of early cinema and possibly any narrative of attractions (action within the frame) there may have been.
The Great Train Robbery, produced by Edwin S. Porter, was made by the Edison Manufacturing Co. and is included in the 275 silent films of the Paper Print Collection. Also included in the collection is the early silent film The Little Train Robbery filmed by the Edison Manufacturing Co. in 1905. The Library of Congress also holds a collection of early animation, in which two films produced by silent film pioneer Thomas A. Edison are included, as well as Dinosaur and the missing link, produced by Edison in 1917. Charles Musser writes that more than four fifths of the films made by Edison between 1904 and 1907 were narrative or stage fiction; among these was the 1906 film Kathleen Mavourneen.
William Rothman writes that only one sixth of the film before 1907 had storyline. While Kenneth MacGowan also mentions filmmakers that had used trick photography other than Melies, among them G. A Smith of England, he adds that not untill Cecil Hepworth, with the silent film Alice in Wonderland, (1903) were there films that included seperate scenes to articulate fantasy or narrative. A later screen version of the silent film Alice and Wonderland was filmed by W. W. Young in 1915. Edison had filmed a version of Jack and the Beanstalk as early as 1902. Silent film director Cecil Hepworth would shortly thereafter bring the element of editing narrative into his films with Rescued by Rover. (1905)
Heath sees early cinema as space articulated in tableau, filmed frontally, storyline achieved by the linking of scenes, as when they are linked by characters and their having entered the frame, to the viewer, spectacle being horizontal, scenographic space. Mary Ann Doanne equates the cinema of attractions with "an early form of cinema organized around single events" looking to the one-shot films as their often being "the spectacular deployment of the female body", as in the Biograph film, Pull Down the Curtains, Suzie (1904). Within a study of trade press and preformance style, "intertextuality and contextuality", which in this instance include a volume on stage acting written bmy actress Mae Marsh, Roberta Pearson looks at Biograph and demarcates a shift from codes within cinematic acting style that had occurred while narrative films was replacing the cinema of attractions. Pearson sees a "desirability of versimiltude" clamored for by movie reviews between 1908-1913 to replace acting that may have been "false, theatrical, and stagy, or, other words, histrionic." Whether or not action can be histrioniclly coded or have versimilar code automaticlly, or incontrovertibly, brings the spatial relationships of the figure on screen into play, and as the expression of narrative, the camera as position or having position brings a difference between stage acting and film acting that can inevitably be availed by the close-up- the artist's model has been posed tightly within content and form. As a film historian, in Eloquent Guestures, Pearson goes further with the delineation of the cinema of attractions by further outlining the development and influence of the Vitagraph nine-foot line by addrssing, "Staigers chronology, set forth in Classical Hollywood cinema". "Prior to 1907," Pearson writes, "according to Staiger, one person, the cameraman, had control of all aspects of film production, from the selection of the subject to the final editing". Why the present author would look on this as pertinent is that in light of the early film of Charles Magnusson that may have been newsreel in character and lacking narrative, as may have been the first Danish short films, Pearson may have found a corrollary between studios in the United States and those in Scandinavia. She continues, "By 1909, the film studios began to institute the "director-unit" system to meet the need for twenty to thirty new reels a week." This positions the director as a script-supervisor where the cameraman is left to control the lighting of the shot.
That intertitles were at first often explanatory shows the beginnings of a narrative within cinema. During an early scene of the silent Frankenstien (J. Searle Dawley, Edison, 1910), there is, in between scenes, an expository intertitle that uses of a close shot of a letter to develop character within the narrative, epistolary form used on the screen. A similar insert shot is used in the film Dash Through the Clouds (1912). In regard to film preservation and the intertitle, The Danish Film Institute used the screenplay to Dreyer's film Der var Engang to provide descriptive intertitles to the film that explain its plot, including explanatory description that now appears in the same intertitle as the dialouge to the silent photoplay. Carl Dreyer had adapted the screenplay from the stage and seperated the two different types of intertitle while writing. D.W. Griffithuses offscreen space in his structuring of shots during the 1910 film What Daisy Said, directed for Biograph. Most of the shots to the film are exterior longshots with two or more characters with a static camera. Starring with Gertrude Robinson, Mary Pickford enters the frame from the far left of the screen and exits near to the end of the shot from that same side. In a subsequent shot she enters from the right side of the frame, quickly climbs a set of outdoor stairs, exits from the left and then reenters the frame from the left to begin the next shot, her dancing from one side of the screen to the other and the camera cutting almost on her action of entering and exiting to begin each shot. She runs in fron of the camera from the offscreen space that frames the exterior and then runs back to the same side of the screen to exit the frame in a brief shot. She later slowly descends the outdoor stairs during the film to depict despair. Her movement as a unifying image, the moving subject, serves to link the adjacent shots, her movement within the frame carried into each subsequent shot so that the spatial relationships with the frame of each individual shot are seen with the shot to shot relationships of camera position and reposition, character movement linking the image to create narrative continuity as the viewer is brought to the edges of the rectangular frame. The significant action of the scene bringing an involvement with with the protagonist, the causality in the storyline of the film is constructed without the frequent use of explanatory intertitles.
It is not suprising that Kenneth Macgowan writing as early as 1965 in Behind the Screen divides early silent film into three periods: 1896-1905; 1906-1915; 1916-1925. Form and content in film technique seem to have developed together.
In regard to film preservation and the search for silent film, in April 2005, United Press International reported that films dating back as far as 1910, including one film entitled "Little Snow White", were found by the Huntley Archive., the unknown of collection totalling more than six hundread cans of film kept hidden in an airplane hanger in the south of England. To add to this, during June of 2006, the only copy of the first British narrative film, a film depicting a pickpocket directed by Birt Acres in 1895, as well as as many as six films that were included in the body of work filmed by Thomas Edison, was found in an attic in West Midlands, England. ------------- On the film Predators of the Sea, Forslund writes, "Sjöström recounts his story simply and straitforwardly in remarkably well thought-out images of the kind we already know from Ingeborg Holm.
: Urban Gad directed Asta Nielsen in her first film, The Abyss (Afgrunden, 1910) in Denmark, a film often written about due to her popularity and to a scene contained in it in which she dances eroticly; both directors went to Germany
It was also that year that Urban Gad and Asta Nielsen would travel to Germany to film for Deutsche Bioscop. Asta Nielsen appeared on screen under Urban Gad's direction with the cinematographer Karl Freund behind the camera that year in the films The Moth (Nachtfalter) and The Strange Bird (Der fremde Vogel).
Aside from this was the consideration that once films had been begun to have been made that were two reels or more, dialouge,through the use of intertitles, and expository descriptions could be added to the way the causality of plotline was developed during a film and how character was delineated, intertitles that would not only lend continuity to the linear progression of storyline but also bring unity to it. Victor Sjostrom later would in fact use intertitles to act as retrospective first person, voice over narrative.
That Sjöström the actor would later be shown in both long shot and close shot in the same sequence shows the relation between the character on the screen and the space within the frame; in that the camera had been becoming increasingly authorial, it often seemed to provide an embodied viewpoint from which an idealized spectator could view onscreen space, and by its being authorial, could seem to reposition the spectator during the film through the use of a second central character. While discussing film technique as something that is a reproduction of the images before the spectator, Raymond Spottiswoode claims that "it can never attain to art", and yethe adds that there must be a freedom available to the director "if he is to infuse his purpose and character into the beings of nature, to change them that their life becomes more living, their meaning more significant, their vlaue more sure and true." He continues that while it can be put forth that there is only one camera angle that any scene can be photographed from, one relation to the camera that any object can be aquire within the varying spatial relations that it takes while arranged with the other objects in front of the camera, "there is no reason to suppose that the choice of a camera angle is not perfectly free." The attention of the spectator could be directed spatially. It is by being authorial that the camera can impart meaning, technique not only to have brought an objectification of what was in front of the camera but also of the camera itself as it observed the actors within the scene, as it photographed the object, the structure of the image deigned by the placement of the camera, the pleasure of the spectator derived in part from the parallel between the spectator and the camera. In regard to the camera being authorial, a group member of an e-mailed silent film mailing list recently in a post quoted a postulate of the theory of there being a cinema of attractions, "The narrator in the early films is sporadic; an occaisional specter rather than a unified presence."
------------ revise below by finding copy of IMP pickford------ In the United States, Mary Pickford had a year earlier left Biograph where she had filmed under the direction of D. W. Griffith and Frank Powell to film with Thomas Ince at IMP studios during the first two months of the beginning of 1911. Among the films she made there were Their First Misunderstanding, The Dream, Maid or Man, At Duke's Command, The Mirror, While the Cats Away, Her Darkest Hour and Artful Kate. Before returning to Biograph, she spent the last two months of 1911 at The Majestic Company, filming under the direction of George Loane Tucker and Owen Moore.
i --------------- During the Biograph silent film short The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912) Griffith frames Lillian Gish at a table, only half of her visible in the frameline untill she leaves the table, and then cuts on the action of her leaving the frame as she crosses the screen from one interior into the adjacent one, her crossing the screen from left to right in both the shots Griffith had edited together, toward the far left side of the screen in the first, toward the middle of the screen in the next. Vertical space allows a disclosure in the film, one allowed by the moving figure as Gish skirts from one room to the next, her moving into the unexpected space the audience may or may not have already seen where there is action that has been simultaneously transpiring within the temporality of the film. In a film from the same year in which Gish only briefly appears, A Burgler's Dilema, Griffith again cuts on action often, particularly during entrances, but interpolates very brief exterior shots in between scenes, increasing their frequency and interspersing within the scene as the film continues and the pace of the action hastens, or complicates, with the plotline.
If it is that spatial compostition can be included as a part of the grammar, or syntax, of film, within that is pictorial continuity and the use of visual tropes. A spatial relation is established through screen direction as figure movment becomes motion within the frame and action that the camera can cut on before continuing it in the subsequent frame, the camera cutting within the scene for effect. The spatial movement of the character is continued from shot to shot, linking each of them through a directional continuity, and yet, within the scene, the contour of objects, their proximity to the camera and their arrangement in front of the camera as its various positions cause it to become more authorial, is varied with each contrast between the adjacent shots within the temporality of the scene. As an inscription of its own being authorial, the camera could participate in narrative drama as an unseen presence, particularly through its own repostioning, unobtrusive if omnipresent in its guiding the spectator toward the action of the scene. Establishing the relation between spectator and content, the actress as an element of the film's pictorial compostion, in turn, could, as an aesthetic object, often substitute for the gaze of the female spectator, particularly as a motif for femininity, quite possibly more noticebly during cut in close ups where, while photographed with the space between her and the camera only represented by her near filling the area of the frame, spectator interest would recess into brief plateau before the narrative would climb into an increase of identification untill the quiet, slow stillness of the close up that would come next.
The following year Mary Pickford would go from Biograph to Famous Player to make Bishop Carriage (four reels), Hearts Adrift (four-five reels) and A Good Little Devil (five reels) with the director Edwin S. Porter. Of the film, Pickford wrote, "we were made to read our entire speeches before the camera. The result was a silent reproduction of the play, instead of what should have been, a restatement of the play in terms of action and pantomine." For the most part, when filming her, Porter used medium and long shots; Kirkland would later use the close up. Writing about 1912 in her autobiography Sunshine and Shadow, silent film actress Mary Pickford remembers her first close up, "Billy took the shot, which was a semi-close up, cutting me at the waist...It was a new image of my face that I was waiting to see. What a frightening experience when my grotesquely magnified face finally flashed on the screen...But I was critical enough to notice the make up...'I think there's too much eyebrow pencil and shadowing around my eyes,' I said. Later,on a seperate occaision, she had realized there was low light reflected back towards her while she was readying her make up for a scene and had asked her director to use artificial light from below while filming her. The autobiography of silent film star Douglas Fairbanks, was titled Laugh and Live
------------ Having directed The Indian Massacre and Across the Plains the year before, Thomas Ince directed the silent films The Invaders (three reels), starring its co-director, Francis Ford,and Ethel Grandin, Shadows of the Past and Custer's Last Fight in 1912. Ince, and the directors that photographed with him, have been attributed with having been among the early directors to have varied camera postitions with the use of more than one shot during a scene, particularly the use of the reverse angle to cut around a scene and its use to develop the action of the scene during its climax. Author Kenneth MacGowan notes that Ince "strove for a theatric effect", but only with scripts that were "direct and tight" and used intertitles to advance character action, dramatically relating events as a technique of exposition.
If this was later remarked upon as being part of a comparision and contrast, Mary Pickford was to write, "As I recall, D. W. Griffith never adhered to a script. Improvisation was frequently the order of the day. Sometimes the camera registered an impromputu piece of off-story action and that too stayed in the film." Lillian Gish in no way contradicts her by writing about how Griffith used the editing room to develop storyline, particularly by adding close ups and shots of objects, "Later, he would make sense of the assorted shots in the cutting room, giving them drama and continuity." These cut-in shots were inserted into the scene to add "depth and dimension to the moment".
During 1912 the first film that would star Mary Miles Minter would appear on the marquee, the one reel The Nurse and Anna Q. Nilsson would make her first film, the one reel Molly Pitcher. Oddly enough, Nilsson's studio, Kalem, had given the title role of The Vampire to Alice Hollister, the two later united on the screen in A Sister's Burden (1915). In addition to the films of Louise Glaum,whom Fred Niblo directed in Sex (1920, seven reels), and Valeska Suratt, another film of that title had starred Olga Petrova, it seeming that quickly " 'vamp' became an all too common noun and in less than a year it was a highly active verb, transitive and intransitive" (Ramsaye). Anna Q. Nilsson would appear in War's Havoc, Under a Flag of Truce and The Soldier Brothers of Suzanna in 1912. Lillian Gish would later play a vamp in Diane of the Follies (1916). Birgitta Steene writes that in the films of Ingmar Bergman, "the vamp is portrayed as the social victim rather than the embodiment of sin."
Danish silent film director August Blom in 1912 filmed with the photographer Johanne Ankerstjerne for Nordisk Film, notably with the actress Clara Weith Pontoppidan, whom he directed in the film Faithful Unto Death (Et Hjerte af Guld) and had directed a year earlier in the film In the Prime of Life (Ekspedtricen), photographed by Axel Sorensen. Blom that year also for Nordisk Film directed Robert Dinesen in the films Stolen Treaty (Secret Treaty/ Den Magt Trede and The Black Chancellor (Den Sorte Kansler) with Valdemar Psilander, Ebba Thomsen and Jenny Roelsgaard, The Black Chancellor having been a film in which Danish silent film scriptwriter Christian Schroder appeared on screen as an actor. That year August Blom also directed A High Stake (Hjaerternes Kamp).
Danish film director Benjamin Christensen followed with Blind Justice (Haevnansnat, 1915), both films having starred the actress Karen Caspersen. The two films by Christensen were of the only three produced by the Dansk Biograf Compagni. Benjamin Christensen had starred as an actor with actress Karen Caspersen and Ellen Malmberg during 1913 in Skaebnebaeltet, directed by Danish silent film director Sven Rindom, his also that year having starred in the films Children of the Stage (Scenens Born, Bjorn Bjornson), starring Bodil Ipsen and Aud Egede-Nissen and Lille Klaus Og Store Klaus (Elith Reumert). Children of the Stage was produced by Dania Biofilm Kompagni.
--------- For Ingmar Bergman,the first notable Silent FILM is Ingeborg Holm from 1913. In an interview with Jonas Sima, he describes the directing of Victor Sjöström, "It is one of the most remarkable films ever made...Often he works on two planes, something being played out in the foreground,but then,through a doorway for instance,one sees sI'm omething quite different is going on in the background.". Produced by AB Svenska Biograteatern and five reels in legnth, it is also his screenplay from a play by Nils Krook which Sjöström had adapted for the stage in 1907. ------- Like Sarah Bernhardt, Hilda Borgström had came to film. Also in the film are Aron Lindgren and George Gronroos. William Larsson and Carl Barcklind both appear in the film as well. It is almost astounding that under the title Give Us This Day the legnth of the film is listed as having reached seven reels. Einar Lauritzen wrote, "The primitive tableau of the time cannot destroy the genuine feeling for both character and enviornment which Sjöström brought to almost every scene."
As a side note from the present author, the caption on the cover to the filmed version of The Painted Veil, starring Naomi Watts reads, "Sometimes the greatest journey is the distance between two people." What is beautiful is not only that the images of film consist of our being in a position to them spectatorially, or the look that is entailed within suture, but that behind the close ups of faces there is a character, quite often one in the midst of drama- if the cinema of attractions was followed by a cinema of narrative integration, what concerns aesthetics is that no matter how maudlin or whether or not plot was translated into fantasy, the cinema had begun to develop character more fully, more deeply. Bengt Forslund writes, "I am fairly convinced that it was always the fate of the individual that intrigued Sjöström- not the circumstances that led to it."
Interestingly enough, one of the best explanations of classical narrative construction, narrative form which is often based on there being a casual relationship between events that are connected spatially during the film brought about by its characters, comes from the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. In his autobiography Images, Ingmar Bergman relates that it was Stina Bergman, then head of the script department, who had asked for him at Svensk Filmindustri. She and her husband Hjalmar Bergman had in fact met with Victor Sjöström while in the United States, where Stina Bergman had acquired the technique of scriptwriting. "This technique was extremely obvious, almost rigid; the audience must never have the slightest doubt where they were in the story. Nor could there be any doubt about who was who, and the transitions between various points of the story were to be treated with care. High points should be allotted and placed at specific places in the script and culmination had to be saved for the end. Dialougue had to be kept short." Author David Bordwell often approximates this description of continuity in the feature film. Bergman continues in the autobiography to write that many of the remarks that Stina Bergman made at that time were treasured by him and that Hjalmar Bergman was his idol.
|the early photoplay Falling Leaves directed by Alice Guy Blanche the year prior to the filming of Ingeborg Holm, also being among films which centered its characters around a social drama. ---------- -Sweden, in 1953, made The Bread of Love (Karlekens brod). Writing about the films of Victor Sjöstrom, Bengt Forslund notes, "Guilt Redeemed, shot in the early summer of 1914, may perhaps be seen as an attempt to repeat the success of Ingeborg Holm. Guilt Redeemed (Skana Skuld) starred actress Lili Bech.|
|In 1913, Griffith directed Blanche Sweet in the films Love in an Apartment, Broken Ways, If We Only Knew and Death's Marathon. After the four reel Judith of Bethulia, a film which interestingly "is really an interior drama, in as much as the majority of the action is thoughtful, an interchange of emotions between two characters" (Slide), Griffith had left Biograph for Mutual to direct Gish in the five reel The Battle of the Sexes. With the advent of the feature film, in adddition to including a greater number of characters during each film, directors could more often include minor characters that would become spectators in the film watching the action, as when the camera had cut from a master shot to a closer angle, or during panning, character interest increased as the characters the viewer was watching were observed by the other characters in the film, the individual characters on the screen visual elements of the film that were to move in relation to each other, the film's secondary characters framing the action and visual interest of the film. The editing of Griffith would in fact begin to shift from one group of characters to another more often. |
Lon Chaney appeared in his first films in 1913, among those being Back to Life (Alan Dwan, two reels), The Lie, Discord and Harmony and The Embezzler
Manne Gothson having had been being the assistant director to the 1915 film In the King's Uniform (I kronas klader). George af Klerker in 1915 contributed the film The Rose of Thistle Island (Rosen pa Tistelon), the first film in which the actresses Elsa Carlsson and Anna Löfström were to appear. The film was produced by Hasselblads Fotografiska and Victorias Filmbyra. Goteborg, Sweden provided the location in which the studios of Hasselblads Fotografiska AB were housed. Two of Hasselblad's photographers that filmed under the direction of George af Klercker were Gustav A. Gustafson and Sven Pettersson.
Besides the photographers Julius and Henrik Jaenzon, another of Sweden's cameramen was Hugo Edlund who photographed the film His Father's Crime (Hans faders brott, 1915), the director F. Magnussen's first film, it having starred Richard Lund and Thure Holm. Both Edlund and Julius Jaenzon are listed as having been the cinematographer to the films Den Moderna suffragetten and For sin karleks skull. Magnussen in 1916 also directed the films The Hermits Wife (Enslingens hustru), starring Greta Almroth, Her Royal Highness (Hennes kungliga hoghet) ,starring Karin Molander and At the Eleventh Hour (I elfte timmen), also starring Greta Almroth, each filmed by Hugo Edlund.
It was in 1915 that Frances Marion began writing photoplays, her being the scenarist to Daughter of the Sea (Charles W. Seay, five reels). She wrote The Gilded Cage (H. Knoles, five reels) in 1916 and Stolen Paradise (H. Knoles, five reels), Battle of Hearts (Apfel, five reels) and The Feast of Life in 1917. Theda Bara would make her first film in 1915, The Clemenceau Case and two films for the director Herbert Brenon, Kreutzer Sonata (five reels) and Two Orphans (seven reels), which had been filmed by Selig in 1911 with Kathlyn Williams. Montague Love, who appeared with Lillian Gish in Victor Sjöström's The Wind began in film in 1915 with Exile and in 1916 with A Woman's Way, The Gilded Cage, and Bought and Paid For.
Clarence Brown during 1915-1917 was the assistant director and editor at Universal for director Maurice Tourneur. Notably, in 1925 he directed The Goosewoman with Louise Dresser and Constance Bennet for Universal/Jewel..Cameraman William Daniels had been an assistant cameraman at Triangle before becoming chief cameraman at Universal.
1914-1915 was also the brief period during which Dansk Filmfabrik, in Aarhus, Denmark produced the films of director Gunnar Helsengreen, including I dodens Brudeslor (1914), starring Gerda Ring, Jenny Roelsgaard and Elisabeth Stub, Sexton Blake (1915), Menneskeskaebner (1915) and Elskovs Tornevej (1915), also starring Jenny Roelsgaard, Gerda Ring and Elisabeth Stub.
(photo:cinemateket) Directed by Victor Sjostrom and photgraphed by Julius Jaenzon, the first of Gustaf Molander's screenplays to become well known was Terje Vigen (1916), from the poem by Henrik Ibsen. The intertitles being from the poem, the structure of a poem would accomodate the structure of a silent film, and yet the film shows that there was beginning to be a grammar to film technique of its own. Edison's 1912 The Charge of the Light Brigade has a similar use of the lines from the poem as intertitles and there had been an adaptation by the Independent Motion Picture Company of Hiawatha (1909) with Gladys Hulette as well. The 1912 poem Vanteenheittajat, written in Finland by Eino Leino, was to be filmed shortly after its publication by director Kaarle Halme as Summer (Kesa) with Hilma Rantanen. In regard to film preservation, the film Terje Vigen was rediscovered from a German print in 2004 and the translated restored intertitles charmingly read Svenska Biografteatern at the top framed by their owl logo and are in the from of stanzaic quotation, their being expository. The opening sequence is shot beuatifully and shows Victor Sjostrom portraying Terje Vigen as elderly against a background of the ocean at night during a storm in a series of shots during which he is filmed in blue tint and is shown framed by a doorway in adjacent masked shots alternating between over-the-shoulder and strait on shots, our sharing his view of the storm as well as watching his looking out into it. The intertitles then take the form of narrator as the film cuts to a restropective scene shot in a sepia-like red of Sjostrom as a young man aboard a ship to begin the storyline. Tytti Soila writes, "The film also established the term 'literary cinema' in Sweden." When reviewed in the United States, the film was seen as "forcefull despite its occaisional indulgence in too much sentimentality and moralizing." Bengt Forslund writing about the film notes, "the explanation is undoubtedly that the description of Nature plays such a major role. It is really the sea that has the main part, like the mountains in The Outlaw and His Wife and the dust strom in Sjostrom's last major work, The Wind. Appearing in the film with Victor Sjostrom are Bergliot Husberg, Edith Erastoff and August Falck. Molander had written Miller's Dokument (1916), directed by Konrad Tallroth and starring Greta Almroth, before writing for Sjöström. Later, with his film DefiancPe (Trots, 1952) Molander was to introduce another screenwriter to modern audiences, Vilgot Sjöman (Lek pa regnbagen, Playing on the Rainbow, 1958). The film begins the story of Terje Vigen aboard a ship, the early exterior shots including his climbing the mast. Sjostrom cuts from an extreme longshot to a full shot of Terje Vigen sitting on the mast. His wife in the film is portrayed by Swedish silent film actress Bergliot Husberg the interior shots in which she is shown with are for the main part non-tinted. Sjostrom is seen in the foreground of a midshot during a tinted exterior shot and then, during the shot, runs from the camera to the background of the shot, the camera then returning to an exterior midshot of the husband and wife. To reinforce his use of the Scandinavian landscape and the foreground of the shot as a source of compositional depth, the interior scenes are again, contrastingly, non-tinted intercut with shots of Terje Vigen silhouetted in the froeground of the shot in front of the expanse of the night sea, the film tinted blue. During the film, the movement within the composition of the frame is often that of the sea. Act Two beins with Terje Vigen having eluded his pursuers. He is show in the foreground of the shot in his skiff rowing against the background of the sea, spotted in a vignette circled masked shot of his pursuers telescope. Crosses at a graveyard are silhouetted against the ocean's horizon to end Act Two. Act Three begins with the same scene that was used to being the film, Sjostrom as elderly looking toward the ocean at night. He leaves his cottage to kneel on the beach, the waves crashing against the rock. Sjostrom espies a sinking craft admist the pounding surf and boards his skiff to aid in their rescue, the ship tossing in the spray of the ocean. In a later shot, Sjostrom leaves his cottage as Edith Erastoff sails away, the film ending with a shot of the crosses at the graveyard near the ocean.
During 1916 Geoge af Klercker wrote and directed the film Calle's New Clothes (Calles nya klader), starring Mary Johnson and Tekla Sjoblom, and Calle as a Millionaire (Calle som miljonar), the first film in which actress Helge Kihlberg was to appear.
a the 1916 Danish film The Queen of the Stock Exchange (Die Borsenkonigin), written and directed by Edmund Edel. The film is from the Nederlands Filmmuseum. Paired with the film will be the trailer to the lost film The Sunken (Die Gesunkenen, Rudolf Walther-Fein, 1925) also starring Asta Nielsen, a film in which she costarred with the actress Olga Tschechova.
Triangle Film Corporation had been formed in late 1915 to combine the efforts of Thomas Ince, D. W. Griffith and Mack Sennett. Sennett, who began at Biograph as an actor under Griffith had founded Keystone Studios in 1912. Not only was Sennett present at Biograph and Triangle with Griffith, but as a pioneer of silent film his name is alongside Griffith's in his contribution to the development of film technique and the development of a grammar of film, a grammar of scene construction. It may well be that the comedies of Mack Sennett have their origin in, or are a continuation of, the earliest of narrative films that prior to 1907, and prior to Griffith's joining Biograph, had brought together a cinema of attractions with films that depicted action, or the chase film. Just as Swedish silent film directors would use nature and landscape as a visual language, comedy would rely upon the visual in its use of the sight-gag. Among the comedies of 1912 were Love, Speed and Thrills directed by silent film director Mack Sennett and Love, Loot and Crash, also directed by the silent film pioneer Sennett, both films currently in public domain and both presently offered online by the Internet Archive, who were kind enough to write to the present writer and who it is sincerely hoped that in the future they will return again as my reader.
At Keystone in 1914 Mack Sennett had directed the first films of Charlie Chaplin, Making a Living and the silent film Kid Auto Races at Venice. In 1915, the silent film The Tramp would introduce a Chaplin character that would become familiar to audiences untill the end of the silent era. Silent comedian Charlie Chaplin would in 1916 leave Essanay studios, where he had made fourteen films, to film two-reel comedies with the Mutual Company, where he filmed The Immigrant (1917). Anthony Slide writes that Chaplin used as much film to shoot The Immigrant as D. W. Griffith had to film The Birth of A Nation. It was also at Mutual, where Chaplin had made eight films untill 1923, that Chaplin would film his first full legnth feature as director.
In 1912, while Stiller was beginning to film comedy in Sweden and Mack Sennet was beginning to film at Keystone, one of the other studios to produce comedies was Vitagraph. After joining Vitagraph in 1910, a studio for which he appeared in the film A Tale of Two Cities (1911) with Florence Turner and Norma Talmadge, John Bunny quickly became one of the most beloved of early silent screen comedians, teaming with Flora Finch in 1912 for films that included A Cure for Pokeritis, Stenographers Wanted, Irene's Fascination, and The Suit of Armor. The 1913 film Queen for A Day with John Bunny and the 1915 film Unusual Honeymoon with Flora Finch was screened July 30,2005 in Rosslyn, Virginia, near Arlington Virginia, as part of their film festival of silent comedies, which opened July 28 with the film Pool Sharks and a retrospective of the films of Mack Sennet, including Billy Bevan in the film Hoboken to Hollywood (1928).
---------- The Sunbeam, the first film written by June Mathis appeared on the screen during the year 1916 and Frank Lloyd would direct his first film, The Code of Marcia Gray (five reels), King Vidor his first film, Intrigue. Louise Glaum would that year star in The Wolf Woman (five reels). John Gilbert appeared in the films Apostle of Vengence, Bullets and Brown Eyes (five reels), The Eye of Night, Hell's Hinges and The Phantom and Lewis Stone appeared in his first films, The Man Who Found Out (1915) and Honor's Altar (Raymond B. West, 1916, five reels).
In directing The Girl From Marsh Croft (Tosen fran Stormyrtopet, 1917) for AB Svenska Biografteatern, Victor Sjostrom began a marriage between novel and film in his adapting the novels of Selma Lagerlof-one that would establish Swedish silent cinema as being f ilmic poetry. It is also his screenplay, as are the other screenplays he adapted from her novels, each of them having been reviewed by Lagerlöf. Writing in 1971 that the films of Swedish silent cinema were those to which "the prescence of mountain and pastoral landscapes gave a dimension of authenticity and elemental persuasiveness", Peter Cowie remarks upon Sjöström's use of bucolic subjects, David Robinson upon Sjöström's depiction of man's relationship to nature. Both find something spiritual or supernatural to the writings of Selma Lagerlöf, as though within the relation to the character's surroundings there is a solitude. Lauritzen noted that there is often the "juxtaposition of man and nature" in early Swedish cinema. Although remarking upon the films of Brunius, Stiller and Sjöström not having had been distributed to large audiences, as were the films of Ernst Lubitsch (Passion) that had starred Pola Negri, author Lewis Jacobs writes, "Opposed to the artificiality of the German films in their stress on the real world of nature, the sea and the landscape, Swedish pictures were impressive for their simplicity, realism, sensitive acting and sincerity." Starring the actress Karin Molander, when reviewed in the United States, the film was commended for its "unity of plot structure" and for "all its dramatic elements (being) dramatically related, its development (being) climactic and consitent.". Also in the film are Greta Almroth, Concordia Selander and Hilda Castegren in her first appearance on screen. The novel was in fact filmed again in 1947 by Gustaf Edgren and in 1958 Pby Gustav Ucicky with Maria Emo. Peter Cowie has put the films of Finnish director Ruani Mollberg (Earth is a Sinful Song, Maa on syntinen laula, 1973) alongside the films of Victor Sjöström and Mauritz Stiller, his writing, "His characters move not against the backdrop of field and lake and forest, but deep within the enveloping topography." ---------- Charles Magnusson in 1909 had hoped to film the novel The Wonderful Journey of Nils Holgersson, which Victor Sjöström had read with enthusiasm.
--------- Greta Garbo is quoted by Sven Broman as having said, "I know that he courted Sarah Bernhardt and wanted to write plays for her...But Strindberg still managed to get Sarah Bernhardt to do a guest performance in Stockholm- in La Dame aux Camelias at the Royal Dramatic Theatre." Silent Film director idirector J. Gordon Edwards in 1917 would direct Cleopatra (ten reels) and Camille (six reels), written by Frances Marion, as well as Salome (seven reels), The Rose of Blood (six reels), The Forbidden Path and Under the Yoke (five reels). The Forbidden Path like several of the films in which J. Gordon Edwards directed actress Theda Bara, is a lost film, and there are today no surviving copies in existence. ,Frank Powell directed Heart of the Desert. A Modern Musketeer (five reels), directed and written by Allan Dwan, starred Marjorie Drew and Douglas Fairbanks. His first screen appearance had been in Bertie The Lamb. Frances Marion that year also wrote the photoplay to the film Temple of Dusk (James Young, five reels), her following it in 1919 with the scenarios to A Regular Girl (James Young, five reels), The World and its Woman (Frank Lloyd, seven reels) and The Cinema Murder (George Baker, five reels). Lillian Gish in 1917 had starred in the films The House Built Upon Sand (Ed Morrisey, five reels) with Kate Bruce and Souls Triumphant with Wilfred Lucas.
Actress Olga Hallgren appeared in two films directed by George Klerker, Brottmalsdomaren, with Gabriel Alw and the actor George Blickingborg in his first appearance on screen and Ett konst narsode with Greta Pfeil, the assistant director to the film, Manne Göthson. For hem och hard was photographed by Swedish cameraman Sven Pettersson, Brottmalsdomaren by Swedish cameraman Gustav A Gustafson and Ett konst narsode, by Carl Gustav Florin. In 1918 Klercker directed The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter (Fyrvaktarens dottar), Night Music (Nattliga toner), photographed by Gustav A Gustafson and starring Agda Helin, Helge Kihlberg and Tekla Sjöblom and Nobelpristagaren.
Thomas Ince left the Triangle Motion Picture to form Thomas H. Ince Studios. One silent short that had belonged to Blackhawk Films, was a tour of the studios filmed by Hunt Stromberg between 1920-1922. An intertitle from Blackhawk Films reads, "Insisting upon strict adherence to complete shootingscripts, Ince supervised the direction and editing of each picture and thus managed to give all the appearance of having been directed by Thomas H. Ince, regardless of who did actually direct." The short, sent to exhibitors, shows footage of Ince viewing the rushes from the previous afternoon.
After Hearts of the World (1918, twelve reels) with The Greatest Thing in Life (1918, seven reels), starring Lillian Gish, Robert Harron and Kate Bruce. --------- Part of Sjöström's directing included placing objects in an anglular relation to the camera. He reversed the direction of the character's profile when cutting back between full shots and close ups of the same shot and cut ins of the exterior landscape in the use of varying camera distance, the size of the object within the frame of each shot, the composition within the rectangle of the frame, also varying, it becoming "a screen technique of close up and cutback to clarify plot movement, intensify emotional content" (Ramsaye). The dramatic interest is as though fastened to the character, the attention of the spectator directed to him or her within the relation of each shot to the shots that are subsequent to them, composition decided upon in accordance with editing; an element of the scene could be included in the interest of the scene by the director with each decision as to where to position the camera. It may often be that character interest can be enhanced by thematic meaning and its processes, as something that is reiterated at different junctures of events and as a background to the developing relationships between characters, their interactions, it being that thematic meaning, within narrative, is enacted. It is not only landscape that can provide a backdrop that will develop the atmosphere within a film, but there is also the script, mood advanced with and by plotline, the character bringing unity to the narrative. In that both are elemnts of composition, the use of nature as a background and mise-en scene are part and parcel of each other, subject positioning being not only that characters interact not only with the spectator but also with mise en scene reflecting that spatial temporality is the interplay between mise en scene and the film's characters, characters that move into the space seperating the objects in the film, characters that move in front of and behind objects within the frame, characters that inhabit the space in which they are seen. If narrative organization could be provided by the use of mise en scene, mise en scene that would include within the spatial arrangement of composition the figure of the character within subject positioning, narrative clarity could be provided by the use of camera positions and the editorial devices of technique. There is a unique use of reverse direction in the opening sequences of F. W. Murnau's film Sunrise (nine reels) where the screen direction of adjacent shots is reversed while being incorporated into the montage, the montage effect, of the sequence.
During Orphans of the Storm, Griffith reverses the screen direction of close shots during a dialouge scene by inserting a shot of the absent Lillian Gish. After a dialouge intertitle of it being announced that the character is to marry a Princess of the Blood, Griffith cuts from a close shot in profile of the character facing the left edge of the frame to an interpolated shot of Gish as his beloved and object of his reverie, her facing the left edge of the frame, the camera then cutting back to the conversation and original close shot of his facing the left edge of the frame, Griffith reversing the screen direction while both are in close shot. In effect, the shot functions as disruptive-associative montage, the shots linked thematicly by their placement in the sequence. It very well could be that the use of spatial discontinuity, the cutting to a different location during the scene, harkens back to the cinema of attractions and the use of brief static shots for effect, a single shot with its own aesthetic value included into the narrative as being seperate, editing and camera placement articulating the erotic as thematic within narrative through the use of the eroticism of display.
Silent Film director J. Gordon Edwards in 1918 directed actress Theada Bara in the film Her Greatest Love, and if it seems like there is no bridge between Griffith and other directors that were his contemporaries in his later career, particularly De Mille, the subject matter of the film is "founded on the novel Months, by Ouida"; the first British novel to depict a divorced woman as happily remarried, and yet the novel is all that there is to go on other than magazine articles from the time period, the film itself is lost.
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Scott Lord on Silent Film