Every language has words that uniquely capture the connotations of a psychological state; we grasp for them in our own idiom and then find them encapsulated with poetic efficiency in another. During the difficult days of COVID lockdown I kept searching for a way to describe my longing to travel, that yearning to jump on a plane and fly to some of the places I know well and love dearly, along with other places I’ve yet to go but draw me through beauty or historical associations. Two words came to mind: the German “sehnsucht,” beloved of German lieder writers and which C.S. Lewis defined as “inconsolable longing,” and the Portuguese “saudade,” which adds a melancholic tinge of nostalgia to a feeling of loss, of missing something that intensely. Then in May I accessed some of the Orphan Film Symposium online and watched a number of water-themed films that concretized the urge to leave my four walls and strike out, whether by car, train, boat, or plane.
With that in mind, I decided to put together a programme of short films that capture this desire, this need. From at least the early 19th century, we’ve had in English the expression “armchair traveller,” to describe someone who sits at home and, whether via travel books or photographs or simply his or her own imagination, envisions themselves in other places. W. Somerset Maugham opens his short story “Honolulu” (1921) with the line “The wise traveller travels only in imagination,” referencing Count Xavier de Maistre’s 1794 memoir Voyage autour de ma chambre (A Journey Round My Room), in which the author, under house arrest, passes his 42 days of incarceration imagining his bedroom as if it were a foreign land. It seems likely that the term “armchair traveller” is derived from the French “voyageur sédentaire” (literally “sedentary traveller”), which dates at least as far back as the time of Louis XV, when a “voyage sédentaire” is mentioned in the one-act play Les Amours déguisés (1726) by Alain-René Lesage and Jacques-Philippe Orneval. It’s fitting that the play takes place in Cythera, the birthplace of Venus and a setting that’s formed a larger part in the cultural imagination than the island’s actual geographical spaces.
Unsurprisingly, there’s an even more poetic expression in Arabic, مسافر زاده الخيال (Mousafer Zadoh Alkhayal), coined by Mahmoud Hassan Ismael and famously used in a song by Mohamed Abd El Wahab, which roughly translates as “a traveller whose provision is his imagination.” In this difficult period, with so many of us homebound, our greatest provision is indeed our imagination, and the greatest catalyst for the imagination is the moving image. I expressed my idea of a travel programme to a number of archivists, and with empathy and generosity they overwhelmed me with wonderful choices. The selection I’ve made is by design personal and doesn’t aim to be representative (if I tried to be representative, the programme would last five hours). My guiding principle was that the places shown should be a combination of familiar sites and locations less well-known but nonetheless captured in such evocative images that they make us silently sigh: “I want to be there now.” I’ve deliberately avoided including what can be construed as “the exotic,” as that opens up a can of worms best left for other kinds of programmes. Some may argue that the film of Cairo and Giza, Un Voyage au Caire, contradicts my rule, and while this gorgeous cross between travelogue and fashion film is indeed unquestionably exoticizing, the city of Cairo is a place very close to my heart, and one of the main places I’ve been yearning to fly to these past eight months. The Taj Mahal remains stunning but not exotic to people who visit Uttar Pradesh multiple times a year; Polynesian lagoons won’t be exotic to those who regularly go to Tahiti; and the Pyramids, while forever imposingly glorious, are not exotic to me.
The urge to travel isn’t just the pull of new sights and sounds, it’s about returning to places we know and love. For the practiced traveller, this means more than simply admiring famed tourist destinations; it’s feeling places not our own and allowing ourselves the belief that we can also somehow belong. I hope this programme speaks to your own desires to pack your bags and charge forth, whether to walk familiar streets in other cities, frolic in the waves of beloved beaches, or glide through canals you’ve never experienced before. Michel Robida wrote a lovely article about Parisian weathervanes, and its ending is a fitting summary of what I’ve tried to do here: “A journey in one’s armchair – a journey of the mind – is the nicest kind of journey, because it’s what we want it to be, because there are no obstacles, and all our dreams are granted.” (“Images de Paris. Girouettes. Les rêves tournent au gré des vents,” La Presse, 22.10.1934)
UN VOYAGE ABRACADABRANT (FR 1919)
regia/dir, sogg/story, anim: Henri Monier. prod: Pathé-Frères. uscita/rel: 1919. copia/copy: streaming digital file, 1’40” (da/from Pathé-Baby 9.5mm); did./titles: FRA. fonte/source: Cinémathèque française, Paris.
Trips made in the imagination have something magical about them, so what better way to start the programme than with Un voyage abracadabrant? In this delightful precursor to Pixar’s Up, Vendebout (a play on “vent debout,” or headwind) and his friend Courandair (“courant d’air,” or draft) invent a flying house that transports them to a desert in less time than it would take to read about it in a book of travels.
There’s a great deal of uncertainty regarding the identity of the animator Monier, who worked for Pathé as early as 1912 – his Le Grand Voyage de Marius appears in Lobster’s Les Pionniers de l’animation DVD box-set. Not only is his first name sometimes given as Henri/Henry, but his surname is spelled Monnier/Monier. Some have proposed he’s the Henri Monier who worked as an illustrator for Le Canard Enchaîné among other publications, but either his birth date of 1901 is incorrect (he couldn’t have been 11 years old when making Le Grand Voyage de Marius) or he’s a different person. Confusing things even further, an earlier Henry Monnier (1799-1877) was a well-regarded caricaturist, actor, and playwright.
We also can’t be certain that the film was originally titled Le voyage abracadabrant, or if it’s come down to us as such because that’s the first surviving intertitle. The character Vendebout, also called Vent-Debout, appears to have had his own series, including Le voyage de Vendebout and Vendebout chasseur, while Courandair’s name appears in three titles: Le rêve de l’aviateur Courandair, La dernière invention de l’ingénieur Courandair, and L’Ingénieur Courandair dans la lune, all of which were apparently released between 1920 and 1921. L’Éclair’s critic “Jicky” (29.05.1920) wasn’t a fan of animated films, but he made an exception for L’aviateur Courandair (which may or may not be the same film as Le rêve de l’aviateur Courandair), declaring it to be far less stupid than Mutt and Jeff, and was even enjoyable for adults.
[NEW-YORK] (SE 1911)
prod: Svenska Biografteatern. copia/copy: streaming digital file, 8’50” (da/from 35mm nitr. pos.); senza did./no intertitles. fonte/source: The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
The Statue of Liberty was inaugurated 25 years before Svenska Biografteatern trained their camera on New York in 1911. The resulting film, in stunning condition and beautifully restored by the Museum of Modern Art, acts as both a trip to a place and a voyage to a particular time, one that wisdom warns us was not “better” than now, even though our emotions at present may say otherwise. It’s a thoroughly modern city in a moment of change: we can see it in the mix of horse carts and motor cars, the rise of new skyscrapers – the Flatiron Building opened only nine years earlier, while construction had only just begun on the Woolworth Building – and the variety of women’s clothing, reflecting not simply class but also a forward-looking embrace of fashion versus a purposefully entrenched conservatism.
The film moves from workers and day-trippers arriving by steamship at Battery Park (with a nod to the statue of Swedish-American inventor John Ericsson) to views of lower Manhattan and its bustling network of grandiose bridges, trams, and elevated railroad tracks. From the Lower East Side, where my ancestors first settled when they arrived in America, and Chinatown, we shift to the Flatiron district and Ladies’ Mile. Next we focus on a chauffeur-driven car, identifiable thanks to the license plate as the newly registered vehicle belonging to Antoinette Lochowicz. We see her stone-faced in the back (in fact, only the African-American chauffeur seems to be enjoying himself) with her children Elsie and Francis, together with what must surely be their servant Mary Moriarty. In the front next to the driver sits Florian Lochowicz (he and his wife were likely cousins), barber to J.P. Morgan and other barons of industry, with daughter Emily on his lap. Once their Manhattan excursion was finished, they would have returned to their handsome townhouse just off Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, where Antoinette died in 1956.
This is – was? – my New York, readily recognizable, from the majestic web of cables on the Brooklyn Bridge to the billowing white smoke from steam pipes. The elegant emporiums on Broadway, the neo-Gothic reassurance of Grace Church, the gargantuan Venetian campanile of the Met Life Building. As Alicia Keys sings, “Even if it ain’t all it seems, I got a pocketful of dreams. Baby I’m from New York.”
PLANTY KRAKOWSKIE [Il parco Planty di Cracovia / Planty Park in Kraków] (PL 1929)
regia/dir: Szczęsny Mysłowicz. prod: Instytut Filmowy “Lumen”. uscita/rel: 1929. copia/copy: streaming digital file, col., 10′, incomp. (finale mancante/ending missing) (da/from 35mm, imbibito e virato/tinted & toned); did./titles: POL. fonte/source: Filmoteka Narodowa – Instytut Audiowizualny (FINA), Warszawa.
Welcome to Kraków, one of the most recognizable of Poland’s tourist destinations. For years it has been enticing international visitors with its beautiful architecture and historic atmosphere. Seizing the opportunity provided by this year’s online edition, we are delighted to present this 1929 short directed by Szczęsny Mysłowicz (1890-1946), and give you a virtual glimpse of what the city looked like in pre-war times.
This unique film constitutes an excerpt of a three-part project by Mysłowicz about Kraków, commissioned by the city council for the Polish General Exhibition that took place from 16 May to 30 September 1929 in the city of Poznań. The exhibition was held to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Poland’s restoration of independence and to present the major achievements of the rebuilt country.
Join us for a 9-minute walk through the city and its main park, Planty, caught by the eye of Mysłowicz, founder of the Lumen Film Institute. Unlike most major Polish cities, Kraków wasn’t destroyed during the Second World War, which means Planty krakowskie gives you a splendid opportunity to almost feel like you’re there today.
Iga Harasimowicz, Anna Sienkiewicz-Rogowska
UN VOYAGE AU CAIRE (Nos vedettes à l’étranger) (FR 1928)
prod: Pathé-Revue. uscita/rel: 1928. copia/copy: streaming digital file, col., 3’25” (da/from 35mm, pochoir/stencil-colour); did./titles: FRA. fonte/source: Gaumont Pathé Archives, Saint-Ouen, Paris.
The critic for L’Intransigeant (04.06.1928) complained that in this film, the couple Gabrielle Robinne (1886-1980) and René Alexandre (1885-1946) are seen in a hotel, like everyone else, viewing the Pyramids, like everyone else, and riding a camel, like everyone else. He does however admire the use of colour. It’s true that Cairo, the Pyramids, and the Sphinx were enduring mainstays of travelogues, but even so, this is hardly the kind of visit “everyone else” would be booking in the Thomas Cook Tours office on Fifth Avenue, seen in the New York film.
For starters, the Heliopolis Palace Hotel, which opened in 1910, was one of the grandest and most luxurious hotels in the world, with a basement service area so large that a narrow-gauge railway was installed. As Mme. Robinne and her daughter Colette (1918-2002) promenade in the extensive hotel gardens on an unusually windy day, we’re able to admire not just the verdant surroundings but also madame’s mauve frock (might it be from Maison Agnès, whose fashionable garments Robinne modeled for magazines of the time?). At the Pyramids, as they step out of their Isotta Fraschini (a similar model to Norma Desmond’s car in Sunset Boulevard), we approvingly note her green coat, equally functional as she rides a camel and poses before the Sphinx, drawing our attention to the fur collar and fetching buckle that cinches the folds and finds its match on her clever hat.
Un voyage au Caire, catalogued as Nos vedettes à l’étranger, is the classic tourist’s Orientalized view of Egypt, with the added attraction of being a fashion film. Robinne and Alexandre, stars of the Comédie-Française and well-known to cinema audiences of the 1910s, had already been to Cairo at least once before, in 1926, when they starred in a successful run of Georges de Porto-Riche’s play Amoureuse. They would have been intimately familiar with its cosmopolitan Francophone sophistication and its chic nightlife in places like the Alhambra Casino and the Café Riche, associating with worldly ex-pats but also possibly hobnobbing with the Westernized Cairene elite (look out for Raphael Cormack’s forthcoming book Midnight in Cairo: The Divas of Egypt’s Roaring 20s). If you look hard, you can still find traces of this past in the crumbling remains of the city’s downtown, where Art Deco details somehow survive dust storms and neglect. However, the Heliopolis Palace Hotel was converted by Hosni Mubarak into a presidential residence, and now, rather than embodying a sumptuous place of hospitality, it’s a symbol of the current brutal regime, instilling such fear among residents that locals literally avert their eyes.
TIEDEMANNS NATURFILM: OVER BESSEGGEN PÅ MOTORCYKKEL [I film Tiedemann sulla natura: Sulla cresta di Besseggen in moto / Tiedemann’s Nature Film: Over Besseggen by Motorcycle] (NO 1932)
prod: Wilse Film Co., per/for Tiedemanns Tobaksfabrik. v.c./censor date: 29.07.1932. copia/copy: streaming digital file, 3’40” (da/from 35mm); did./titles: NOR. fonte/source: Nasjonalbiblioteket, Oslo/Mo i Rana.
“Yes, traveller, if you have a soul devoted to nature’s worship, and a heart which responds to her most powerful appeals, pass the Sógne-fjeld,” asserted Emily Lowe in her anonymously published 1857 travel book Unprotected Females in Norway; or, The Pleasantest Way of Travelling There, Passing through Denmark and Sweden. She and her mother were trekking just to the west of where Over Besseggen på motorcykkel was shot, but the landscape is similar, and the almost religious sense of awe when faced with such a grandiose vista would be the same.
International travellers really discovered the Besseggen mountain ridge, straddling Lake Gjende and Lake Bessvatnet, in the years following Lowe’s account, and for Norwegians it remains one of the country’s most popular destinations, currently rated by National Geographic as one of the world’s 20 top hiking spots. Henrik Ibsen sets a key scene there in Peer Gynt, describing the ridge as “Nigh on four miles long it stretches sharp before you like a scythe,” which is how it appears in the film, as the motorcyclist approaches the edge with stomach-churning daredevilry. But what views! Gjendesheim, where the film opens, at the easternmost edge of the lake, surrounded by the Jotunheimen mountains, is apparently still the most visited mountain lodge north of the Alps. James A. Lees and Walter J. Clutterbuck, authors of the classic 1882 volume Three in Norway (by Two of Them), complained of the Gjende blackfly (Metacnephia tredecimata), though apparently last year their numbers dropped precipitously, causing concern for the ecosystem.
The film is a hybrid travelogue-advertisement sponsored by Tiedemann Tobaksfabrik, part of a series of cigarette commercials made between 1929 and 1937. At the 2019 Giornate we screened another example, in the section “Genre-Bending Commercials – or, ‘The Norwegian-Swedish Chocolate Connection’.” Tina Anckarman and Magnus Rosborn’s excellent catalogue note provides the history of these productions, but I do want to point out the film’s final image, of a pack of the company’s Medina mild Turkish cigarettes. The silhouette of mosques and minarets on the packaging, while the very definition of Orientalism, intentionally acts as another spur to the armchair traveller, opening up the imagination to exotic lands and making the beholder dream of adventure. (The company’s blasphemous print ads, however, are best left unreproduced.)
LA BELGIQUE PITTORESQUE / SCHILDERACHTIG BELGIE (series) (BE 1922-23?)
prod: Service Cinématographique de l’Armée belge (S.C.A.B.). copia/copy: streaming digital file, 13′, col.; did./titles: FRA, NLD. fonte/source: Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique / Koninklijk Belgisch Filmarchief, Brussels.
The Service Cinématographique de l’Armée belge (the Belgian Army Film Unit), known as S.C.A.B., was formed in 1916, and is best known today for their work during the First World War, but their activities continued in the years following, when they made newsreels and promotional films like La Belgique Pittoresque / Schilderachtig Belgie. This is a series of shorts designed to show off the beauties of the country and, no doubt, demonstrate how quickly Belgium had recovered (at least on the surface) from war damage. Each installment opens with a map of the country, and an animated pointer seemingly coming from the depths of France that lands on the pertinent area. In this programme we’re including two chapters, showing Ostend / Oostende and Bruges / Brugge.
LE LITTORAL BELGE / DE BELGISCHE KUST: OSTEND/OOSTENDE
“La Reine des Plages” and “The Queen of European Seaside Resorts” was how Ostend/Oostende was known when it ranked among the premier watering holes for the beau monde, who flocked to the town for its salubrious waters, fine sands, luxurious hotels, world-class nightlife, and of course the Casino in the famous Kursaal. In 1921 it took only five hours travelling time to get from London to the Belgian coast via two direct services daily from Dover, and the city was once again attracting swarms of British visitors, together with Continental tourists.
The film opens with a view of the monumental gateway of the 500-room Royal Palace Hotel (don’t fail to notice the exuberant boy dancing a jig for the camera at the bottom right) and then cuts to the eclectic Kursaal, an ungainly architectural mishmash of fantasy elements and a true Pleasure Palace, tempting visitors with a variety of amusements. Julien Vandenbrouck, entertainment manager at the time the film was made, booked only the top acts for the 6,000-seat theatre – Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes were in residence in the 1922 summer season and Benno Moiseiwitsch was but one of a number of solo pianists performing with the 100-piece orchestra. Though the roulette tables were periodically shut down (in any event, it was said the croupiers spun too slowly, making Monte Carlo really the only place for roulette), gambling remained a major evening occupation, and seafront promenades lasted well into the wee hours.
Ostend was known for its bathing machines as well as one-piece swimming costumes, both of which are seen here. Not everyone was enamored of the former: the pseudonymous Karl K. Kitchen, writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer (02.10.1921), complained of the unpleasantness of being trundled down to the water in a horse-drawn cabin and then forced to bathe with the animal beside him (no horses are in the film), but the sea was refreshing and it’s delightful seeing families and friends enjoying the sun and sand. Also not to be missed was the Wellington Hippodrome, beloved of King Leopold II, who had the Royal Galleries built to connect his villa with the racetrack. About the time the film was made, before the city was severely damaged during World War II, Edith Sitwell wrote her madcap poem “Scotch Rhapsody”: “There is a hotel at Ostend / Cold as the wind, without an end, / Haunted by ghostly poor relations / Of Bostonian conversations / … That is the place for me!”
BRUGES / BRUGGE
One can imagine the citizens of Bruges/Brugge today chafing at the word “quaint,” invariably exclaimed by enchanted tourists walking through the picture-perfect city. Already in 1840, William Makepeace Thackeray wrote, “It is the quaintest and prettiest of all the quaint and pretty towns I have seen,” and few would gainsay him even now. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its distinct urban character is protected, and very little has demonstrably changed since the S.C.A.B. cameramen were there – but what’s a mere 99 years in the life of a city that was already an economic powerhouse in the 12th century? The film’s greatest appeal comes from the evocative canal scenes, in which we too feel we’re gliding along the waterways, projecting ourselves into a lazy, tranquil afternoon, even imagining the particular way sounds are transmogrified on water. This is a classic travelogue film, using the motion of the camera as well as the motion of the boat to bewitch in a way only moving pictures can, engendering what Jennifer Lynn Peterson in her book Education in the School of Dreams: Travelogues and Early Nonfiction Film calls a “poetic reverie.”
A number of the city’s iconic locations are visible, with particular attention paid to the soaring Gothic belfry; the man-made reservoir of the Minnewater/Lac d’amour with the Kasteel/Château de la Faille; and the Begijnhof/Béguinage, founded in 1245 as a home for lay religious women. Also glimpsed is the tower of the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk/Church of Our Lady, below which sits Michelangelo’s unbearably moving Bruges Madonna. Even more though than providing glimpses of specific locations, the film’s strength lies in its ability to project us into one of those motorboats, passing under the bridges, brushing aside low-hanging branches, interrupting some swans, and admiring the way light reflects off the gently rippling surface.
SVATOJÁNSKÉ PROUDY [Le rapide di San Giovanni / St. John’s Rapids] (CS 1912)
regia/dir: Antonín Pech. prod: Kinofa, Praha. uscita/rel: 11.1912. copia/copy: streaming digital file, 3′, col. (da/from 35mm, imbibito e virato/tinted & toned); did./titles: CZE. fonte/source: Národni filmový archiv, Praha.
“Impeccable photography” boasted an advertisement in the Austrian trade publication Kinematographische Rundschau (Cinematographic Panorama, 29.11.1912), and indeed, the camerawork in Svatojánské proudy (the German title is St. Johannes Ströme) has such a fluid beauty that it was awarded the gold medal at the first Internationale Kino-Ausstellung (International Cinematographic Exhibition), held in Vienna in October 1912. The event was both a Congress as well as an exhibition of the latest in film technology, under the special patronage of the Habsburg Archduke Leopold Salvator, who together with his sons had a keen interest in cinema. The films shown on 22 October alongside Svatojánské proudy were a range of German, Austro-Hungarian, and French productions, and included other travelogues of Mont Blanc (Alexander Ortony), the Malay archipelago (Pathé Frères), and Bruges (Gaumont) – interestingly, in the programme the following day was a short about filmmaking produced by Karl Oberländer which I believe is untraced, Herstellung eines Kinofilms (Production of a Movie).
Included in the Filmarchiv Austria’s DVD set “K.u.K. Kinobox” is a brief actuality by Pathé Frères, Zur Kinoausstellung, showing some of the exhibitors attending that 1912 trade show, and I wonder whether Antonín Pech, director of the first Czech film company Kinofa and the man who made Svatojánské proudy, is recognizable among the crowds. Pech (1874-1928) was a photographer and exhibitor before he began working with pioneering filmmaker Jan Kříženecký; in 1911 he co-founded Kinofa, producing fiction and nonfiction films.
No doubt the judges in Vienna were especially struck by the way the film captures the dramatic views from a boat sailing along the swift currents of the St. John’s Rapids on the Vltava River (often known as the Moldau), seen during the shift from late afternoon to moonlight. It was a popular destination for campers at midsummer – some can be seen towards the start – and a stimulus for Bedřich Smetana, whose symphonic cycle Má vlast [My Country] includes the fast-moving rhythmic passage “Svatojánské proudy.” Even before Smetana though, the Rapids were an inspiration for a Romantic opera of the same name by Josef Richard Rozkošný.
Sadly the Rapids are no more, having been dammed up to create the Štěchovice Reservoir shortly after World War II. Pech’s film, restored to its gorgeous original tints and tones, allows us to still experience the grandeur of the cliffs plunging into the river as if we were on the water ourselves, either rowed by the ferrymen at the start or, better yet, with fellow canoers, dipping our oars into the swirling river as it speedily makes its way to Prague.
(TRIESTE, ESTATE 1939) (IT 1939)
regia/dir: ??. photog: ??. prod: ??. copia/copy: streaming digital file, 7′ (da/from 35mm); senza did./no intertitles. fonte/source: La Cineteca del Friuli, Gemona.
We’re driving along the coast road heading south towards Trieste when we glimpse the tower of the Castello Miramare perched on the headland. Built for the ill-fated Habsburg couple Maximilian and Charlotte [Carlota], the castle became one of the residences of Amadeo, Duke of Aosta, and his wife Anne d’Orléans, who may have been in residence when the film was shot. A jump cut takes us further up the coast to the picturesque bay of Sistiana, presided over by the Belvedere Hotel. Originally christened the Parkhotel, it was built by Prince Alexander of Thurn und Taxis [principe Alessandro della Torre e Tasso] in 1906, when Venezia Giulia and eastern Friuli were still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and combined the very latest in hygienic spa sophistication with restrained elegance. English décor characterized the guest rooms, and, at least when under its original management, diners could enjoy Viennese delicacies while relaxing on the wisteria- and vine-laden terrace. (More details can be found in “Sistiana bei Triest,” Der Fremdenverkehr [Tourism], 20.10.1912.)
The camera then takes us back south, through the tunnel created in 1928 by blasting apart the rockface, where tradition dictates we must give three honks of our horn before emerging into daylight. Next is the streamlined bathing establishment at Grignano with its small harbor, and then, properly crowded with summer swimmers, the Excelsior, packed with rowdy teenagers splashing in the waters next to the small neo-Gothic castle of Alessandro Cesare. Finally we move further into Trieste, where we can appreciate views of both the Lanterna and Ausonia-Savoia Baths; many of the impressive Moderne structures we see, described as looking like a village on stilts, were inaugurated just a few years before the film was made. Here we notice a happy mix of ages, together with impressive diving displays. But then, like a needle scratching across a vinyl record, we’re disturbed to note two portraits at the side of the pool of Benito Mussolini next to the Nazi sports emblem of a swastika and sword within a wreath of oak leaves. Yes, this is Italy in 1939.
Trieste would of course have had a soundtrack with voiceover narration, but the Cineteca del Friuli print is silent. The archive has a similar film made also in the summer of 1939 in Grado, and the two were most likely part of a series of films promoting the region as a summer destination. Its inclusion here is designed as a deliberately jarring note in the programme, a reminder of the dangers of nostalgia when unaccompanied by historical memory. In September 1938, Trieste was the backdrop for one of Mussolini’s most triumphant visits, described by historians as the moment when Fascist spectacle reached its apogee (newsreels of speeches and the adulatory Triestine masses can be viewed on the Istituto Luce website). In the lead-up to the official promulgation of the country’s anti-Semitic racial laws, which went into full force that November, Mussolini used the occasion to tell the city’s prosperous Jewish population that the decrees were directed at foreign Jews, not locals, but the cancerous propaganda had already infiltrated the popular press, and despite revisionist attempts to downplay the laws in relation to Germany’s, the effects were devastating. This is the background to the film, forcing us to confront that fraught mental space between armchair-travel enjoyment and historical unease.
TAVLOR FRÅN LONDON (Londonerbilleder) [Quadri londinesi / Paintings from London] (SE 1922)
regia/dir: Julius Jaenzon. prod: AB Svensk Filmindustri. dist: AB Svenska Biografteatern. uscita/rel: 20.03.1922. v.c./censor date: 17.03.1922 (no. 28985). copia/copy: streaming digital file, 7’35”, col. (da/from 35mm, imbibito e virato/tinted & toned); did./titles: NOR. fonte/source: Nasjonalbiblioteket, Oslo/Mo i Rana (Hans Berge Collection).
A total of 13 framed vignettes – 14 if we count the two shots of rainy streets edited together – comprise Tavlor från London, an enchanting picture gallery of London scenes in 1922. In that year the British Empire was at its territorial height, covering a quarter of the globe and thus making London truly the world’s capital. It’s something of a surprise to learn that the film was made by the great Swedish cinematographer Julius Jaenzon, shortly after he shot Victor Sjöström’s masterpiece Vem Dömer? (Love’s Crucible, screened at the Giornate in 2017). The film’s static compositions are too straightforward to suggest the work of a genius, but for our purposes they quite literally provide a window onto the city’s streets, each carefully mounted within its own picture frame in ways that recall Impressionist canvases.
Pass over the incorrect first intertitle and its misspelling: we open on Trafalgar Square, not Charing “Gross,” busy with traffic and pedestrians crossing in front of the lions at the foot of Nelson’s Column. In the background at the center of the image is the tower and distinctive globe of the London Coliseum, where, were this late January, we’d be able to enjoy performances by Cyril Maude and Lockhart’s Elephants, or, in mid-February, Isobel Elsom and Cicely Courtneidge. Or perhaps you’d prefer to catch Claude Rains in the hit play The Bat, an advertisement for which can be glimpsed on the side of a double-decker bus passing in front of Wellington Arch?
The intertitle writer clearly enjoyed the joke that London is forever wrapped in fog (“taake” in Norwegian), as even when things don’t look especially foggy, the word keeps reappearing. The climate must have exacerbated the deadly influenza epidemic that broke out in late 1921 – over 550 deaths were reported in the capital alone towards the end of January 1922 – but fortunately the virus petered out soon after. No matter the weather, this is a city in perpetual motion, where cars, wagons, trucks, and even the Horse Guards give energy to the streets. As Samuel Johnson said, “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” If you do want to escape though, you can purchase a ticket on Instone Air Line, advertised on the side of a van in the “Rainy Day” vignette, and in just 2 and ¼ hours you’ll be in Paris.
Our thanks to Magnus Rosborn for identifying the film.
UN VOYAGE ABRACADABRANT (FR 1919)
regia/dir, sogg/story, anim: Henri Monier.
copia/copy: streaming digital file, 1’40” (da/from Pathé-Baby 9.5mm); did./titles: FRA.
fonte/source: Cinémathèque française, Paris.
[NEW-YORK] (SE 1911)
prod: Svenska Biografteatern.
copia/copy: streaming digital file, 8’50” (da/from 35mm nitr. pos.); senza did./no intertitles.
fonte/source: The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
PLANTY KRAKOWSKIE (PL 1929)
[Il parco Planty di Cracovia / Planty Park in Kraków]
regia/dir: Szczęsny Mysłowicz.
prod: Instytut Filmowy “Lumen”.
copia/copy: streaming digital file, col., 10′, incomp. (finale mancante/ending missing) (da/from 35mm, imbibito e virato/tinted & toned); did./titles: POL.
fonte/source: Filmoteka Narodowa – Instytut Audiowizualny (FINA), Warszawa.
UN VOYAGE AU CAIRE (FR 1928)
(Nos vedettes à l’étranger)
copia/copy: streaming digital file, col., 3’25” (da/from 35mm, pochoir/stencil-colour); did./titles: FRA.
fonte/source: Gaumont Pathé Archives, Saint-Ouen, Paris.
TIEDEMANNS NATURFILM: OVER BESSEGGEN PÅ MOTORCYKKEL (NO 1932)
[I film Tiedemann sulla natura: Sulla cresta di Besseggen in moto / Tiedemann’s Nature Film: Over Besseggen by Motorcycle]
prod: Wilse Film Co., per/for Tiedemanns Tobaksfabrik.
v.c./censor date: 29.07.1932.
copia/copy: streaming digital file, 3’40” (da/from 35mm); did./titles: NOR.
fonte/source: Nasjonalbiblioteket, Oslo/Mo i Rana.
LA BELGIQUE PITTORESQUE / SCHILDERACHTIG BELGIE (series) (BE 1922-23?)
prod: Service Cinématographique de l’Armée belge (S.C.A.B.).
copia/copy: streaming digital file, 13′, col.; did./titles: FRA, NLD.
fonte/source: Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique / Koninklijk Belgisch Filmarchief, Brussels.
SVATOJÁNSKÉ PROUDY (CS 1912)
[Le rapide di San Giovanni / St. John’s Rapids]
regia/dir: Antonín Pech.
prod: Kinofa, Praha.
copia/copy: streaming digital file, 3′, col. (da/from 35mm, imbibito e virato/tinted & toned); did./titles: CZE.
fonte/source: Národni filmový archiv, Praha.
(TRIESTE, ESTATE 1939) (IT 1939)
copia/copy: streaming digital file, 7′ (da/from 35mm); senza did./no intertitles.
fonte/source: La Cineteca del Friuli, Gemona.
TAVLOR FRÅN LONDON (SE 1922)
(Londonerbilleder) [Quadri londinesi / Paintings from London]
regia/dir: Julius Jaenzon.
prod: AB Svensk Filmindustri.
dist: AB Svenska Biografteatern.
v.c./censor date: 17.03.1922 (no. 28985).
copia/copy: streaming digital file, 7’35”, col. (da/from 35mm, imbibito e virato/tinted & toned); did./titles: NOR.
fonte/source: Nasjonalbiblioteket, Oslo/Mo i Rana (Hans Berge Collection).