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Medium 9780861966967

Chapter 12 ‘Fumbling Towards Some New Form of Art?’: The Changing Composition of Film Programmes in Britain, 1908–1914

Kreimeier, Klaus John Libbey Publishing ePub

Young industries are often strangers to the established economic system. They require new kinds or qualities of materials and hence make their own; they must overcome technical problems in the use of their products and cannot wait for potential users to overcome them; they must persuade customers to abandon other commodities and find no specialised merchants to undertake this task. These young industries must design their specialist equipment and often manufacture it.
George Stigler1

In film history, the period between 1907 and 1914 has been described as one of ‘transition’ and ‘transformation’.2 It is the period in which film, as a commodity type, reached the level of mass production and consumption. To do this required the application of modern business throughput systems and an industry structure that allowed for the necessary division of labour. In the USA, daily changes of programme for first-run cinemas and twice-weekly changes for most of the rest became the exhibition norm during this period. Considering that there were some 8,000 motion picture theatres in the USA in 1909, increasing to 14,000 by 1914, the logistics of this operation must have been formidable.3 For both Eileen Bowser and Charlie Keil, 1907 marks the divide between film as essentially a handicraft industry and one built along big business lines.

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Medium 9780861966820

Army Years

Beardmore, Marie John Libbey Publishing ePub


John left the hallowed walls of Stowe in 1945; the war with Germany was over, but England and Japan were locked into a bloody and protracted battle, predicted to last as long as the German War had, at least four or five years. Before war interrupted, he was all set for Cambridge, but faced with the option of getting his degree or joining-up, John decided on the latter and signed up for three years in the armed-forces.

He coveted a place in the 11th Hussars elite cavalry regiment, once part of the brave Charge of the Light Brigade, but its commissioned ranks were limited to career soldiers not ‘part-timers’ like him. Usually, he would have been refused entry into the squad, but ‘Pussy’ came to the rescue: she knew the colonel, who pulled some strings for her son. John joined the 11th Hussars.

The army proved a life-changing experience for the young Coates, used to mingling in affluent society rather than with ‘ordinary’ folk. Army life started with six weeks basic training at Winchester Barracks. Like other new recruits, John, with brand-new kitbag, was nervous that first day and night. Next morning, he was kitted-out with standard issue battle dress and a rifle, without ammunition – that was allocated on the rifle range.

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Medium 9780861967155

Chapter 1 Distribution Center for Experimental Films

David E James John Libbey Publishing ePub

Curtis Harrington *

The postwar revival of the experimental film movement in the United States, which Lewis Jacobs wrote about in detail in the Spring, 1948, issue of the Hollywood Quarterly, has resulted in the formation of a coöperative distribution center to extend the distribution of these films through film societies, universities, art museums, and galleries, and all interested groups and private individuals. The organization has been named Creative Film Associates, and represents the attempt of the film makers to get together on a coöperative basis to insure the widest possible circulation of their work.

Already available for rental from Creative Film Associates is its Program I, which includes Film Exercises 4 and 5 by John and James Whitney, Fragment of Seeking by Curtis Harrington, Meta by Robert Howard, and Escape Episode by Kenneth Anger. Also available are a program of films by Maya Deren – Meshes of the Afternoon, At Land, A Study in Choreography for Camera, and Ritual in Transfigured Time – and Kenneth Anger’s much-discussed Fireworks. Further releases are to be made in the near future. For the convenience of those who wish to rent an evening’s program of experimental works without facing the almost impossible task of assembling a group of films from a wide variety of sources – usually, heretofore, from the individual film makers themselves – several of the films have been put together by Creative Film Associates to form a balanced, forty-five-minute program, which is available at a rental rate lower than the total of fees for each film rented separately.

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Medium 9780861967025

From the Past to the Future:

Loiperdinger, Martin John Libbey Publishing ePub


Feminism is increasingly being declared outdated, a mere museum piece: there is, the argument runs, nothing more to fight for and the agenda of the 1970s is well and truly obsolete.1 It was against this apparently postfeminist backdrop that a film programme entitled Frühe Interventionen: Suffragetten – Extremistinnen der Sichtbarkeit (Early Interventions: Suffragettes – Extremists of Visibility) ran at the Zeughauskino, the cinema of the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin, and met with an overwhelming response.2 The project was based on the observation that the women’s suffrage movement became radicalised at almost exactly the same time as cinema, still in the process of self-invention, began to consolidate itself and to shrug off nineteenth-century forms of expression. This historical conjunction is revealed in numerous newsreels and comedies. My choice of title for the series was intended to show very clearly where my primary interest lay: in the portrayal of rebellion, activism and an often high-spirited intervention against the ruling order at a time when cinema was itself experiencing a radical upheaval. I also wanted to show not only that the films made between 1900 and 1914 generally satirise the movement for emancipation, but also that the movement itself strategically deployed public images. My contention was, finally, that the films of this period intervene into the audience’s space in a very special way. How to keep this last aspect in sight was a question that recurred again and again during the planning of the programme.

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Chapter 19 Kent Mackenzie’s The Exiles: Reinventing the Real of Cinema

David E James John Libbey Publishing ePub

Ross Lipman*

A study of The Exiles is a study in parallel histories. The Exiles is in many ways a “missing link” or stray evolutionary chain in the development of cinematic language. Its unique production methodology, which arose from an effort to attain a location veracity that would only truly become attainable with technological innovations arising a few short years later, led directly to the formulation of a unique aesthetic, perfectly suited to the film’s theme.

The Exiles was originally produced by several graduates of the University of Southern California (USC) film school led by director Kent Mackenzie in collaboration with cinematographers Erik Daarstad, Robert Kaufman, and John Morrill. It was later followed by an amazingly detailed USC thesis by Mackenzie documenting the production history.1 Reading Mackenzie’s thesis, one quickly realizes that he and his colleagues were trying to reinvent the language of cinema from scratch. This revolution included both production techniques and aesthetic form – creating a work that at once echoed and broke down existing film strategies. Wrote Mackenzie, “We felt that we had to reject all the old methods and structures and study our subjects so intensely that we could develop new methods and structures of our own”.2 Or as one viewer noted at an early test screening, “You have succeeded in finding the form of formlessness”.3

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