One of the latest releases from Edition Filmmuseum, the label have once again done themselves proud with Ella Bergmann-Michel - Dokumentarische Filme All of her films - and the fragments - are in fine condition certainly looking better than the excerpts used in the documentary and demonstrate fine levels of contrast and clarity. Of course, damage is present in some instances Travelling Hawkers Furthermore, Edition Filmmuseum have also provided each of the titles with the option of being viewed either in their original silent form or with sparse, yet perfectly suited musical scores.
Election Campaign , in particular, makes effective use of piano accompaniment. As for the extras, this disc offers one of Edition Filmmuseum's best efforts yet.
The documentary, Blue is the Beat of My Heart does a fine job of contextualising Bergmann-Michel's work, whilst the collection of fragments and outtakes only serve to make this release all the more definitive. The complete 35mm footage for Travelling Hawkers totalling 46 minutes is particularly revelatory. Containing two differently synchronized versions of this masterpiece as well as an extended lecture-demonstration by Peter Kubelka of the reasoning behind his resynching of sound and image, this is an interactive package in the best sense that invites viewers into the discussion of how one paticular restoration is arrived at.
From a UK perspective the Edition Filmmuseum label is getting more and more interesting with each release. It would appear as though they're unearthing gems solely for our pleasure - the kind of thing that we perhaps wouldn't readily see on the shelves over here. First off we had Dziga Vertov's sound experiment Entuziazm Simfonija Donbassa , a fascinating adjunct to the director's better known Man With a Movie Camera, and now a second batch has introduced to the films of Mike and Alfred, a kind of German Jay and Silent Bob, through Westend and its attendant shorts, plus - in complete contrast - this particular silent venture from , Friedrich Schiller: Eine Dichterjugend, which was believed lost for many years and received a fine restoration as seen here from the Munich Filmmuseum in Essentially, Friedrich Schiller offers up the prestige period film s-style.
It's a handsomely mounted project - great care has clearly been taken over the costume design and other period trappings, plus there are sundry horses and cast members with which to fill the frames - and also a very serious one. Its subject is, of course, the famed author and poet albeit during his early years. We're getting the kind of biographical trick pulled off by MGM with Young Tom Edison, say, and as such a film which focuses on the formative influences as opposed to the famed achievements.
The second interview is more technically minded given that it's director of photography KaPe Schmidt who is doing the talking. Die elf Teufel , however, comes with its originals intact. Dziga Vertov's film, Entuziazm Simfonija Donbassa , which, as the back cover reads, "was praised by artists like Charlie Chaplin, was subsequently forgotten, and rediscovered by the avant-garde movement of the s. Its subject is, of course, the famed author and poet albeit during his early years. More to the point, it also looks really quite terrific, demonstrating excellent levels of clarity and detail. This disadvantage, however, has a positive aspect.
In other words it's about how little "Fritzie" become Friedrich. Friedrich Schiller is still a film which plays remarkably well to this day. Goetz's efforts clearly shine through, making for a tightly formed and polished little gem. The fact that it's also something of a rarity - at least in the UK - only serve to make its occasionally moderate pleasures all the more appealing. Eine Dichterjugend clocks in at minutes and is currently the longest known version in existence.
Thankfully, Goetz's original screenplay also exists and as such this restoration also includes explanatory intertitles to represent the missing sequences. More to the point, it also looks really quite terrific, demonstrating excellent levels of clarity and detail. Certainly some scenes across worth than others given the film's age, but the variable levels of damage are rarely a distraction and never once detract from our entertainment.
Also worth noting is the fact that Friedrich Schiller comes fully tinted and with barely a technical flaw. Of course, the quality of image makes it difficult to spot instances of edge enhancement or artefacting, for example, but then this never seems to be the case. All told, Edition Filmmuseum appear to have done as best as they can.
As well as the feature Westend we also find a pair of their short film appearances, a superb presentation and a fine array of extras all courtesy of Edition Filmmuseum. Whilst it may seem a mite odd to have Westend getting released by Edition Filmmuseum alongside such bone fide classics by Vertov and von Stroheim, they've nonetheless done an excellent job of getting the film onto disc. In presentation terms we really couldn't hope for better, with the graininess of the blown up Super 16 image intact and the 1.
Westend also comes anamorphically enhanced, taken from a spotless print and demonstrating superb contrast levels. Of course, the clarity isn't always there, but then that's to be expected as it was hardly going to be inherent in the original. As for the soundtrack, here we find the original mono present as DD2. The score by Haifaboys comes across especially well and the dialogue never once struggles for audibility. Indeed, all told we're getting a presentation which looks to be offering the film as good as gets.
Furthermore, the special features content is similarly impressive. As well as the two shorts films both of which would have made for a fine extras package in themselves , we also find a pair of interviews, the chance to listen to a number of songs from the soundtrack in their entirety, a brief photo gallery and even some DVD-ROM content.
And though only 15 minutes in length, it proves to be a mine of information as we hear about the manner in which Westend has been interpreted by Spanish critics it's all about Catholicism, apparently to the various rejection letters the pair received from potential financiers. The second interview is more technically minded given that it's director of photography KaPe Schmidt who is doing the talking.
At only five minutes, this piece is understandably the lesser of the two, but nevertheless Schmidt proves to be a succinct speaker and always gets straight to the point. Moreover, his technical input also adds an extra dimension not found in the other interview. The other additions are less essential than either the shorts or the interviews, but welcome nonetheless - as said, it's a fine all round package. And as a final note it's also worth pointing out that English subtitles are available on all special features where applicable.
Thanks to Peter Kubelka's rigorous and exquisite restoration, we are now able, finally, to actually look and listen to Enthusiasm.
There are two versions of the film here: It is in fact not so much of a restoration as more of a re-synchronization, because the original print is totally out of synch and Kubelka tried to approximate the film Vertov intended it to be. Exactly because this film relies so heavily on sound, the contrast between these two versions is very illuminating, and I am very happy both versions are included here. Other than the re-synchronization, there has been no restoration of the images however, and the result is a pretty damaged film: I asked the Austrian Film Museum why they have done this and I got the following reply: This totally makes sense of course, especially in the case of this film, which has had a highly tumultuous history.
The sound is characteristic of early sound cinema, with again no digital cleaning up, but preserving the original mono as it was intended. The extra's on the second disc are very interesting; the 65 minute documentary in which filmmaker Peter Kubelka discusses his re-synchronization and Vertov's approach to the film is almost worth the money alone. All in all this is a splendid package and very likely the definitive version of this remarkable film, so I'm very much looking out for the upcoming releases of this promising new label.
But if you're living far and away from a cinematheque, second best is better than none. And second best is DVD. The first title's just out: Dziga Vertov's film, Entuziazm Simfonija Donbassa , which, as the back cover reads, "was praised by artists like Charlie Chaplin, was subsequently forgotten, and rediscovered by the avant-garde movement of the s. What's doubly interesting is that Peter Kubelka has overseen the restoration the two-disc release includes the original print held by the Gosfilmofond, Kubelka's restoration and Joerg Burger and Michael Loebenstein's doc, Restoring Entuziazm ; doubly interesting because Vertov understood immediately that advent of sound opened up radical new possibilities for cinema, a concept Kubelka touches on in relation to his own work.
I'm intrigued enough to have been emailing the Austrian Film Museum's Franziska Schuster over the past few days.
These films belong to the valuable stock of the participating archives and are, notwithstanding their rare screenings in film theaters, of utmost significance for the history of film. And how is the Edition going about selecting its titles? The association will remain open for more institutions to join and deepen the pool of available 'content. From our own archive at the Austrian Film Museum, we will be releasing more Soviet Revolution films, such as the Vitaphone version of Battleship Potemkin the only existing sound records from that version are in Vienna , as well as other films by Dziga Vertov, and maybe also Pudovkin, Dovzhenko and others; and we'll be releasing important works from the avant-garde and experimental cinema of the s, 70s and 80s.
By the way, it should probably be be noted that there'll be subtitles in English and German, occasionally other languages as well, and that these are Region 0 releases, PAL format, yet if you're in the US and your player and TV are relatively new, there should be no problem though you might want to check.
The first DVD release by the Austrian Filmmuseum, they've set the ball rolling with a fine two-disc set. Disc one houses two versions of the film, whilst the second is reserved for some intriguing special features.
Beginning with the films themselves, we're offered the chance to see both the un-restored print which was preserved in the Soviet Union's Gosfilmofond and the re-synched version which Peter Kubelka prepared in As for extras, the key addition is a minute documentary in which Kubelka explains and demonstrates his restoration efforts.
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