Discovering Kinemacolor

Kinemacolor was the world’s first successful natural colour motion picture system. It was preceded by some trial colour systems that did not work in practice, and it competed against artificial systems which painted colours onto film stock. Kinemacolor was the first system successfully to achieve one of the primary goals of the pioneers of motionRead More

Playing dead

Last weekend I sat through six hours and thirty-seven minutes of of Les Misérables (France 1925), the longest film I’ve ever experienced at a single sitting. It was shown at the Barbican in London, two comfort breaks and a supper break along the way. Neil Brand provided the live piano score, as he had withRead More

Lost colours

I’ve been adding more images to my Flickr pages reflecting the works of Charles Urban. Having started with pictures from his 1903 catalogue We put the World Before You, I’ve turned to another treasure among his catalogues, the Catalogue of Kinemacolor Film Subjects (1912). Copies of this catalogue are rarer than hen’s teeth, and I’mRead More

Amleto

Next month, on 23 June, I am introducing the film Amleto at the Bristol Watershed. It’s an Italian film, made in 1917, and yes it’s the story of Hamlet. Among all the celebrations of quatercentenarian William Shakespeare, and among almost every book written on Shakespeare and film, you will find no mention of this gem,Read More

Lumière forever

Most true histories are untidy; early film history especially so. The first years of cinema were a complex field in which the different elements that would make up the medium were ‘invented’ at different stages, in which the many participants engaged in its creation held widely different understandings of just what the medium meant, andRead More

Shooting Stars

The opening sequence of Shooting Stars is a hesitant but nevertheless ambitious crane shot swooping over an active film studio. The location is the Stoll Film Company studios, Cricklewood, and through this opening vista the self-reflexive theme is introduced. This is a film about the process of making a film. It is constructed as aRead More

In Bologna

I spent three days last week at Il Cinema Ritrovato, the renowned festival of restored and classic films held each year in Bologna, Italy. To my great shame it has been twenty-two years since I last attended the festival (though I was in the vicinity for a talk I gave three years ago). The reasonRead More