Digital tools put in service of restoring films from a century ago produce spectacular results with Blu-rays of Carl Th. Dreyer’s uncanny Vampyr (1932) and Louis Feuillade’s serial Tih-Minh (1919).
Howard Curle recently called my attention to an interesting on-line presentation posted by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival about a number of early films, many by Georges Méliès, which have been reconstituted from flipbooks from the late 1800s in which a series of photos printed from the films create a simulation of cinematic movement. In this guest post, Howard provides an introduction to this fascinating discovery.
Criterion’s new Blu-ray edition of Benjamin Christensen’s Häxan (1922) reveals a startlingly complex and modern work; a multi-layered essay on the subject of the European witch craze of the 14th to 17th Centuries, the film is richly detailed exploration of religion, power and madness which still has relevance today.
More random viewing: two obscure independent films from the BFI, Margaret Tait’s poetic Blue Black Permanent (1992) and Maurice Hatton’s gritty fake-umentary about the film business, Long Shot (1977); and three from Twilight Time – George Sluizer’s interesting Americanization of his existential thriller The Vanishing (1993), Terrence Young’s straightforward fact-based crime saga The Valachi Papers (1972), and D.W. Griffith’s monumental but deeply troubling Birth of a Nation (1915).
It’s remarkable that it’s still possible to discover a previously unknown yet major film from the silent era, but the BFI’s new release of Anthony Asquith’s first feature, Shooting Stars (1928) is a revelation; a fresh, self-aware film about filmmaking and the intersection of real and imaginary lives.