That Should Be a Thing/Film Activism: Extant/Lost Film Database

OK, I know what you’re thinking: What’s with the slashes? Well, quite frankly, I’m not sure I’ve had a post that’s changed so much from the day I wrote it to the day I was going to post it. Essentially, what I was setting out was the first in a series wherein I would propose a utopian concept that should exist. Namely a database wherein you can type the title of a movie and its status (lost, extant, out-of-print, etc.) would be listed.

Here’s the text I started with:

I will always, and without apologies, support a utopian ideal if I think it will really be of service. For those who love film there is such a thing as film activism and if I should see something pop up that matches that criteria I will post a new edition of that series.

That Should Be a Thing is an idea that spawns more form my daydreaming about an ideal and not thinking or knowing if something like it exists. If it does not it should is what I am getting at here.

I am a strong supporter of film preservation efforts. The goal of preservation is the prevention of loss of films we already have. Sadly, many have already been lost. Finding out about a very cool sounding movie, looking for it; only to discover it is now considered lost is a terrible thing. However, much searching, headache and heartache could be spared the seeker of the arcane if a database existed listing the status of a given film.

Therfore, all one would have to do upon learning about a title would be to input the title and year of a film and be given a status report.

Do any of you know if anything like this exists? I know Movies Silently has been profiling lost films in a series, and it’s always great to feature lost titles but that’s not a searchable database of myriad titles, which would be ideal I’m envisioning. If there is such a thing I’d love to know about it.

Name That Film (EastmanHouse.Org)

So what changed the post? Well, it’s not quite the same thing, but there is an effort to assemble a comprehensive list of lost films, which has been organized by the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen, Berlin, and funded by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation). As per its about section anyone and everyone is encouraged to join:

Its purpose is to make visible the invisible portion of film history by acting as a collaboration platform for internet users to bring together relevant information and surviving documents concerning Lost Films.

The archive of titles currently contains over 3500 films believed or declared to be lost.

A constantly growing network of collaborators has been responsible for building up this archive.

Initial collaborators submitted almost 500 of these titles to a specially set up Wiki during the earliest stages of Lost Films’ development.

Others, meanwhile, have been kind enough to allow Lost Films to reproduce information already published elsewhere.

The archive was specially developed using a new Open Source Software called CollectiveAccess.

Using this software, it is possible to supplement individual titles with detailed textual, photographic, audio and video information – all in a single, virtual space.

As an example, the Deutsche Kinemathek has personally illustrated 37 of the most sought after lost German films, carefully selected through consultation with renowned experts.

The 6 partner institutions together submitted over 1500 surviving primary documents, which were then uploaded to the CollectiveAccess database and linked to the relevant film title(s).

Over 40 different document categories were assigned to the documents so that users would have the option to view the different document types separately.

Document types uploaded include surviving production records, such as scripts and set designs, as well as posters and other distribution materials, press items, censorship documents and music manuscripts. Also uploaded are numerous photographic stills and even in some cases digitised film clips.

An identify section, meanwhile, presents a selection of pictures and video clips of unidentified films for users to help identify.

All visitors to Lost Films are free to view its contents. However, members have the added benefit of being able to amend existing information, as well as to contribute additional information and documents.

Member contributions will assure the frequent and essential supply of the most up-to-date and accurate information.

All visitors to Lost Films are therefore encouraged to become members. Click here to register.

Buttons (1927, MGM)

Sure enough when I searched its database Buttons, (a title I was prompted to search for due to my having read The Keystone Kid) which was recently reported as lost to me via Warner Archive’s Facebook wall, is not in the database. Therefore, while I await the utopian arrival I will join and do what I can (try to get that title added). I hope you will too.

Thankful for World Cinema- The Passion of Joan of Arc

When looking for a theme in which to select films from the start of November until Thanksgiving being literal is not the best option. Films centered around Thanksgiving tend to be overly obsessed with dysfunctional families. So in thinking about the nature of the day which was initially a celebration of survival in the New World, I thought why not focus on foreign films.

The Passion of Joan of Arc

Maria Falconetti in The Passion of Joan of Arc (Gaumont)

The first thing that needs to be said about The Passion of Joan of Arc in the state it currently exists is that it’s a miracle we have it at all. Several cuts vanished through the years and this one suddenly surfaces in a Norwegian mental hospital 25 years ago. Truly, the salvaging of some of these older films is at times miraculous and lends even more credence to the importance of film preservation. These works of art shouldn’t be lost and we can’t leave it to chance to find wonderful cuts such as these.

Second, is if you’re watching the Criterion collection version of this film opt for the Voices of Light soundtrack. Again an interesting note is that even though music clearly, according to all the records, was played when this film was screened Dreyer has nothing in his notes to indicate what that music should be, which is odd if you see his other work you know how exacting and precise he could be. So this is as close to an “official” score as you get and it is truly wonderfully done and moving and while it claims not to be a score it syncs beautifully with the images and story.

This film should be viewed for the performance of Maria Falconetti alone. It is often cited as one of the greatest in the history of film a fact which is also unique to this film considering how infrequently Falconetti acted on camera, however, this is no rote repetition of consensus. She is marvelous. It can truly be said this performance is well ahead of its time and reads like one of the greats of the 40s who had the benefit of sound. Falconetti needed no sound, no words and carries this film single-handedly in the rare performance that can be called a tour-de-force.

Lastly, there is the story itself and how it unfolds. I think it is likely one that transcends religion. Whether you’re inclined to believe Joan or Arc’s claims or not you see someone being horribly mistreated, you see one of the judges hurting because he believes her and you witness the tragic outcome of the tale.

This film is a masterpiece of silent film. You’ll note as you watch very few titles are actually needed. It manages through it’s unique visual style to communicate its tale very effectively. It is a must see.

10/10

The 83rd Annual Academy Awards

I decided that I would not write during what portion of the red carpet I did watch as attention must be paid. Overall, while in the end there was nothing that will likely go down as a historic Oscar look. It was one of the better looking overall displays I can remember.

I don’t know when this half-hour pre-show started (it wasn’t that long ago). I never really cared for it and it’s a little superfluous and just makes the show end later. Why does it still happen?

Begnini’s celebration is my least favorite acceptance moment. For the record.

You gotta love Steven Spielberg. Wiping the producer’s forehead and giving him water is classic.

Like the opening montage of best picture nominees. Why not the end shot from Inception?

Great opening with Anne Hathaway and James Franco. Great joke in the opening about James ‘appealing to a younger demographic.’ Glad to see the families get introduced.

Tom Hanks presents as Gone with the Windand Titanic get mentioned. Art Direction and Cinematography mentioned early in the show is a nice change. This was not a category I was looking for an upset in Alice in Wonderland takes Art Direction. Shocked.

First, applause of the night upon hearing Wally Pfister’s name called for Cinematography. Very well deserved award. Loved his speech in regards to Nolan.

Another pleasant surprise and the first standing ovation of the night as Kirk Douglas is introduced.

Douglas’s shtick may go down as one of the moments of this year. Also, I have to see Animal Kingdom. It has been decided.

I stand corrected Leo’s speech.

“I’m Banksy”
-Justin Timberlake

Awesomely amazing line.

I said it previously I would be rather happy if The Lost Thing got animated short. Congratulations.

Toy Story 3 wins Best Animated Feature. I knew that already.

Didn’t really like that Screenplay got the short shrift in terms of presentation. No excerpts or anything. Surprised but gladdened by the win for The King’s Speech. I also think that winners should realize there are 23 other winners who all deserve their time to do their thanks and shouldn’t risk taking some time from others.

I want to see In a Better World but am a little surprised it won. It’s the 3rd Danish winner and surprisingly the first since 1959.

Am I the only conspiracy theorist who thinks clips are based on one’s chances of winning? That was not the best scene for Mark Ruffalo at all.

Best part of Bale’s speech was his saying he’d dropped the F-bomb enough already. Oscar-winner or not he’s had plenty of other wonderful and worthy performances not the least of which is the one that launched his career many years ago, Empire of the Sun. All roads lad to Spielberg.

I’ll bet the theme from E.T. has been played at the Oscars every year since 1982. It always makes the closing medley.

OK, so does Trent Reznor and Atticus Finch winning mean that the trend away from composers towards current/former recording artists is going to stick?

First, winner I was extremely geeked about in a while. Sound mixing goes to Inception. And there goes another sweep in the sound categories. I wish I had stats for it but I bet it happens a lot. I have also enjoyed how everyone is thanking Chris Nolan first, almost as if they are trying to subtly point out his being snubbed for Best Director.

I really wish that more time would be spent on the technical awards maybe a special after the earlier presentation. Some really awesome technology gets kind of glossed over.

I need to look into the other Make-Up nominee that I hadn’t heard of, The Way Back. Looks sweet.

Leave it to President Obama to have the best choice as best Oscar-winning song. I’m a little tired of these categories that flex their nominations between three and five. Pick a size. Really, only four songs were nominated? Why? The process is intricate but music is where you can add to your appeal if you’re looking to boost ratings. I was floored when “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” won that scored high enough to be nominated and win but yet this year songs by Eddie Vedder, Alanis Morissette and Justin Bieber didn’t?

Kudos to Luke Matheny not only on the win but on plugging all the nominees who are iTunes. They were great.

The best, most entertaining part of the night was the musical montage.

Inside Job wins and now I never want to talk about Banksy again.

Billy Crystal comes on for a bit. Always glad to see him back.

Inception wins visual effects and stops Alice’s unthinkable streak.

Jude Law and Robert Downey, Jr. should do something together that’s not as “Holmesy” that was pretty funny stuff.

Listening to the other nominees actually got me rooting for Randy Newman for the first time in years. Some sleepy stuff in there.

Complete and utter failure this year in the “In Memoriam” montage. Firstly, with the lives singing people who were shown didn’t get their due applause like they did in previous years and first the SAG Award show excluded Corey Haim and now the Oscars did too. I assure you he is missed by many film fans and is exclusion is a joke.

Tom Hooper wins for The King’s Speech. Dare they split it?

Best story told by a winner tonight has to be Hooper’s tale about how his mom found out about the play and said “Tom, I just found your next film.”

They were at it again. Kevin Brownlow is a man who has more than earned his Life Achievement award. For all intents and purposes he pioneered preservation and restoration of films and brought many silent films back from the dead. Here is a link to Kevin Spacey’s speech about him at the Governor’s Ball.

I also found it a little humorous that they said Jean-Luc Godard was sorry he couldn’t be there.

This congratulatory intro to lead acting categories is also making it take a lot longer than it has to.

It looks like there’ll be no surprises in the acting categories.

Congratulations to Colin Firth for his win. It’s his first but it shouldn’t be. If you haven’t seen A Single Man you most definitely should. It’s good to know that some people do get their due.

Listing the previous winners and nominees in the Best Picture category is a great way to lead off the Best Picture montage.

The King’s Speech wins Best Picture and now I can rest comfortably.

The finale was a fanastic and needed addition to the show. It was either ending on a jubilant note or a down one based on where my rooting interest were. if they keep this up it’ll be a fantastic close every year. Great job, P.S. 22.