Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

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Arndt
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Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by Arndt » Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:10 am

This year the Stummfilmtage Bonn will run from Thursday, 16 August, to Sunday, 26 August. Some information about this year's programme has already percolated through. It will start with ABWEGE (Germany 1928) and end with DIE STADT OHNE JUDEN (Austria 1924). In-between there will be ROSITA (1923), KOI NO HANA SAKU IZU NO ODORIKO/THE DANCING GIRL OF OZU (Japan 1933), BEN HUR (USA 1925), VALLFARTEN TILL KEVLAAR/THE PILGRIMAGE TO KEVLAAR (Sweden 1921) and a version of Murnau's FAUST (Germany 1926) with the restored intertitles written for the film by German author Gerhart Hauptmann. Sounds great so far!
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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Arndt
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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by Arndt » Fri Jun 22, 2018 12:56 am

Here's the full programme now:

16 August
One Week (USA 1920)
Abwege (Germany 1928)

17 August
Wagon Tracks (USA 1919)
Opium (Germany 1918)

18 August
L'hirondelle et la mésange (France 1924)
Silence (USA 1926)

19 August
The Battle of the Century (USA 1927)
Faust (Germany 1926)

20 August
Interplanetary Revolution (Soviet Union 1926)
Oblomok imperii (Soviet Union 1929)

21 August
The Count (USA 1916)
Rosita (USA 1923)

22 August
Our Crown Prince and his Wife in Hollywood (Sweden 1926)
Flesh and the Devil (USA 1926)

23 August
Bezucelná procházka (CSSR 1930)
Koi no hana saku Izu no odoriko (Japan 1933)

24 August
Ben Hur (USA 1925)

25 August
Vallfarten till Kevlaar (Sweden 1921)
It's the Old Army Game (USA 1925)

26 August
Three short films directed by Alice Guy-Blaché
Die Stadt ohne Juden (Austria 1924)
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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missdupont
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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by missdupont » Fri Jun 22, 2018 8:17 am

What a diverse program! Looks really good.

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Arndt
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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by Arndt » Mon Jul 23, 2018 3:40 pm

You can now download the bilingual programme here:

http://www.foerderverein-filmkultur.de/ ... H_2018.pdf
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by Ed Watz » Thu Jul 26, 2018 2:42 pm

Arndt wrote:You can now download the bilingual programme here:

http://www.foerderverein-filmkultur.de/ ... H_2018.pdf
What a terrific selection of films - I have to wonder if the Munich Filmmuseum's presentation of the restored THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY indicates that they will be releasing that title on DVD eventually.

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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by Arndt » Tue Aug 21, 2018 4:21 am

Sunday was my first day at this year’s festival and there was a lot going on. In the afternoon Stefan Drössler gave a talk on the rather convoluted efforts to put FAUST on the screen in the 1920s. Quite frankly, what with Ernst Lubitsch, Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, F.W. Murnau and a host of orther players involved, I was astonished the whole kerfuffle resulted in a film at all, never mind such an excellent one. Stefan Drössler talked expertly as well as entertainingly and showcased the results of his extensive research into the subject. He exploded some myths, confirmed other long-held beliefs and shrugged his shoulders where no certainty could be attained. I learned a lot.
The talk was garnished with film clips expertly accompanied by Richard Siedhoff, including screentests for the role of Mephistopheles for the Lubitsch/Pickford project. These were highly comical, as one candidate seemed to be more inappropriate than the other. What did not help was the fact that the ‘diabolical’ costume selected for the screen tests seemed to consist mainly of a pair of stained and much-mended long underpants and a horse blanket round the shoulders. I guess hell could not provide anything more impressive at short notice.
The reason why FAUST is on this year’s programme is that the Munich Film Museum have put together a version of the film that had originally been planned but never actually released, by inserting the titles written for the film by famous German author Gerhart Hauptmann. These take the form of rhyming couplets in imitation of the Goethe play, but instead of being worthy and reverential they are mostly amusing doggerel. They were originally dropped as the UFA bigwigs feared that audiences would not be able to read and understand them quickly enough. Stefan Drössler had unearthed a letter by some UFA official to Hauptmann, urging him to tailor his titles to the mind of an eight-year-old child, as that was the level of understanding the ordinary cinemagoer could be expected to possess.
One thing that I took from the lecture is an appreciation of the uphill struggle UFA faced in the world after the end of inflation in Germany in 1923. Audiences often preferred Hollywood films and Hollywood studios had the money to not only pilfer European talent but also to muscle their way into the German market despite the protectionist efforts of the German government at the time. FAUST and METROPOLIS were to be the films to break into the international market. Instead the ruinous cost of these films broke UFA. Still – what films came out of this miscalculation!
Last edited by Arndt on Tue Aug 28, 2018 1:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by Arndt » Tue Aug 21, 2018 4:40 am

The second event at the Rheinisches Landesmuseum on Sunday afternoon was a presentation of the programme of LEBENDE BILDER – living pictures – that had been shown at Pordenone in 2017. Valentine Robert of the Swiss cinematheque has put together a 90-minute programme that pairs these early films with the paintings, engravings or sculptures that originally inspired them. The films were divided into different categories. There were living images that recreated famous paintings or events from history, sometimes extending the stories told in the original images. There were a great many illustrations of the Bible. And there were nudes. Lots of them. I think it would be fair to say that most of the ‘images vivants’ on show tried to either instruct or to titillate the audience, and - if possible – to do both at the same time. Just like the original artworks did and just like Cecil B. DeMille’s films would do soon after. I guess sex sells especially well when it comes with a handy religious or artistic justification.
Valentine Robert herself gave a spirited introduction to the programme and Stephen Horne and Elizabeth-Jane Baldry accompanied the films very entertainingly.
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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Arndt
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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by Arndt » Tue Aug 21, 2018 4:57 am

Sunday started with THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY (1927) in its now extended form. By a stupid coincidence the last time this film had been programmed was just before the new material was discovered. So to make amends we got to watch this glorious pie-throwing feast one more time. Needless to say it brought the house down.
FAUST (1926) was Sunday night’s main film. What can I say about the film itself? If you have not yet seen it, do so urgently. It is a feast for the eyes like few others. Some of the scenes are so well executed that only the collaboration of true masters at their crafts could have produced them. But fortunately here we had Murnau, Jannings, Hoffmann, Kyser, Herlth and Röhrig working together. It is hard to pick out a favourite scene, but the sequence in which Faust beds the duchess, after Mephisto sets the lamp a-swinging, is a work of cinematic genius.
The rhyming titles with their often flippant tone gave the film a different flavour, softening some of the overly dramatic tropes and placing more emphasis on the allegorical aspects of the story. I enjoyed that.
Richard Siedhoff accompanied the films brilliantly. It is always such a joy to hear him play. I would go so far as to say I would even watch a Germaine Dulac film if he accompanied it. But maybe with my eyes closed.
Last edited by Arndt on Tue Aug 21, 2018 6:47 am, edited 2 times in total.
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by boblipton » Tue Aug 21, 2018 5:08 am

Don't you know, Arndt, that Dulac was a lesbian and a woman and that's why she was such an important film maker?

At least, that's what the earnest young woman droned from her notes at the MOMA retrospective in 2003.

Bob
Life's too short to sit on our rears watching other people's work.
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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by Arndt » Tue Aug 21, 2018 5:55 am

Tuesday night was dedicated to Soviet film. It started off with the short animation INTERPLANETARY REVOLUTION (1924), a crude film with a certain homemade appeal in which brave soldier Kominternov frees the galaxy from communist pigs (literally). What made this surprisingly enjoyable was the excellent musical accompaniment that Masha Khotimski had put together for it.
The feature was OBLOMOK IMPERII (1929) in the restored version that was also shown at the San Francisco festival. Twelve years after the October revolution this film takes stock of the changes it has brought to the country and – guess what – everything is hunky dory now in this workers’ paradise. To remind the viewers of the micraculous achievements of the socialist state the film has the protagonist get shellshocked in the war and only regain his memory in 1928. Uncomprehending he wanders through what he knew as St. Petersburg but what now has become Leningrad until eventually the workers’ collective take him under their wings and he becomes a communist convert.
While the first half hour of this film is visually exciting and moving the rest uses too massive a sledgehammer to drive the idea of “four legs good, two legs bad” into the audience’s brains. And frankly we see rather too much of the protagonist’s only facial expression of utter bewilderment for my liking at least.
At the end the film breaks the fourth wall as the protagonist turns to the audience and says: “Comrades, there is still a lot to do!” or some such inspirational stuff. To which I reply: there are still six days of the silent film festival to come. Germany has had an unbelievably hot and dry summer so far and it looks as if this will go on for the rest of the festival. For once.
Stephen Horne, the acclaimed multi-instrumentalist, performed miracles again as he accompanied the film. Wonderful stuff!
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by Arndt » Tue Aug 21, 2018 6:05 am

boblipton wrote:
Tue Aug 21, 2018 5:08 am
Don't you know, Arndt, that Dulac was a lesbian and a woman
In spite of these accomplishments her films bore me to tears.
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by missdupont » Tue Aug 21, 2018 8:10 am

That talk about FAUST sounds interesting. It is fascinating to read the stories in trade papers at the time about Lubitsch suggesting this to Pickford and his thought that Douglas Fairbanks could have played the role.

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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by Arndt » Tue Aug 21, 2018 8:27 am

missdupont wrote:
Tue Aug 21, 2018 8:10 am
That talk about FAUST sounds interesting. It is fascinating to read the stories in trade papers at the time about Lubitsch suggesting this to Pickford and his thought that Douglas Fairbanks could have played the role.
Apparently Lubitsch wanted Fairbanks to play Mephistopheles but Fairbanks would not entertain the idea. Stefan Drössler had even found a photo of Pickford and Lubitsch with Fairbanks dressed up as the devil.
I think Fairbanks would have made a great Mephisto, but for my life I cannot see Mary Pickford as Gretchen. Lillian Gish by all means, but not Pickford.
Lon Chaney would have been a great Mephisto.
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by greta de groat » Tue Aug 21, 2018 9:12 am

Arndt wrote:
Tue Aug 21, 2018 6:05 am
boblipton wrote:
Tue Aug 21, 2018 5:08 am
Don't you know, Arndt, that Dulac was a lesbian and a woman
In spite of these accomplishments her films bore me to tears.
Different strokes. I actually kind of like Dulac's films, more so than most experimental films. Jean Epstein, there's someone who bores me to tears.

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http://www.stanford.edu/~gdegroat

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Arndt
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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by Arndt » Wed Aug 22, 2018 1:38 am

Tuesday night started with Chaplin's THE COUNT (1916) and as it was a balmy summer evening the quadrangle was filled to capacity. So 1500 people had a good time.
The feature was the restored version of ROSITA (1923). I have always liked this film, even in the beat-up bootleg copy with Russian titles, but now I am sure that I love it. In his first film in the US Lubitsch gives us a kind of 'best of' of his German films, notably MADAME DUBARRY/PASSION and CARMEN/GYPSY BLOOD. Mary Pickford is by no means an ersatz-Pola Negri here. She makes the role her own, replacing sexual allure with feistiness.
I could not help but feel that Lubitsch had cast Holbrook Blinn in the role of the lecherous king because the actor is exactly the same type as Lubitsch. I bet Ernst would have loved to play that role himself but Mary (or her mother) would not allow it. Along the same lines romantic lead George Walsh is exactly the same type as Lubitsch's German leading man Harry Liedtke.
The formula works well. ROSITA is a fun film with great sets, a Mary Pickford in top form and a good supporting cast. Lubitsch tones down his style, cuts the more outrageous ideas and achieves the right balance between comedy and drama.
It is astonishing what a good-looking copy MOMA managed to concoct out of those Russian reels.
Joachim Bärenz accompanied both films. He truly is an old master - subtle, clever, sure-footed and always moving. A real joy to listen to.
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by monks19 » Thu Aug 23, 2018 9:02 pm

Let's hope that all those discoveries from this festival will find their way to home video (one way or another). Especially for Faust and Rosita.

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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by boblipton » Fri Aug 24, 2018 4:26 am

With English translations.

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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by Brooksie » Fri Aug 24, 2018 12:38 pm

greta de groat wrote:
Tue Aug 21, 2018 9:12 am
Arndt wrote:
Tue Aug 21, 2018 6:05 am
boblipton wrote:
Tue Aug 21, 2018 5:08 am
Don't you know, Arndt, that Dulac was a lesbian and a woman
In spite of these accomplishments her films bore me to tears.
Different strokes. I actually kind of like Dulac's films, more so than most experimental films. Jean Epstein, there's someone who bores me to tears.

greta
And yet based on what little I have seen of her work, Jean's sister, Marie Epstein, is something of an undiscovered gem and a completely different kind of filmmaker.

I was aware of the idea of Mary Pickford playing Gretchen, but Fairbanks playing Mephistopheles? That's inspired, that is.

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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by Arndt » Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:14 am

monks19 wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 9:02 pm
Let's hope that all those discoveries from this festival will find their way to home video (one way or another). Especially for Faust and Rosita.
I am also hopeful for ROSITA. Don't get your hopes up for this version of FAUST. It seems highly unlikely that it will make it to DVD.
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by Arndt » Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:28 am

Wednesday started with a 12-minute film about the visit of the Swedish crown prince and his princess to Hollywood. We get a lot of his royal highness standing around looking wooden, Prince Charles style. We get to see Louis B. Mayer, Great Garbo in an extremely wide-brimmed hat, Lon Chaney and the back of John Gilbert's head.
The feature was FLESH AND THE DEVIL. I love this film for four reasons:
1. Lars Hanson
2. Greta Garbo
3. The fact that it is based on a Hermann Sudermann story
4. The magnificent matte paintings
5. Lars Hanson
You will probably all know the film, so just a few thoughts. When Greta Garbo's character gets off the train it is as if an alien had just landed in this little well-ordered German idyll. A beautiful yet deadly vampire from outer space.
Those mattes! Is there any film that uses them quite as extensively and quite so blatantly? I counted fifteen different background mattes. They elicited titters from the audience when Gilbert's and Garbo's ecstatic necking did not. Greta Garbo makes this film, raises it to a different level. Not many actresses could have pulled that off.
The copy was decent but no revelation, but the accompaniment really shone, once again thanks to the wonderful piano playing of Joachim Bärenz. Long may he continue to play the quadrangle.
Last edited by Arndt on Mon Aug 27, 2018 9:19 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by Arndt » Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:41 am

Thursday started with an obscure eight-minute Czech amateur film called BEZUCELNA PROCHAZKA. Not only was it less than riveting, the Czech film archive had stipulated that it was not to be accompanied by music. The festival's only dead loss this year.
Thursday night's feature was the late Japanese silent IZU NO ODORIKO from 1933. This is based on a popular novel by Nobel laureate Yasunario Kawabata and suffers from the fate of many a piece of great literature made into film. Instead of trying to be be a good film it tries to do justice to the novel. So it has at least ten characters and fifty titles too many. Plot lines are left hanging and the whole thing probably only makes sense to someone familiar with Japanese culture, especially if they have also read the novel.
Still there is the rather wonderful Kinuyo Tanaka. Her delicate acting and interplay with male lead Den Obinata I found immensely affecrting, especially in the last ten minutes of the film. It was a privilege to watch and made sitting through the confusing two-hour epic totally worthwhile.
Günter Buchwald accompanied on piano and violin and proved more that a match for all the facets of human life the film threw at him.
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by Arndt » Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:47 am

BEN HUR! What's not to like about this film? Especially when you get to see the version with all twelve techicolor scenes and when it is accompanied by Günter Buchwald on piano and violin and Frank Bockius on percussion. The accompaniment made this a very special nght. The two musicians took risks, even singing in some sequences, but it worked wonderfully. They dared to be as bold as the epic film itself and triumphed. My favourite Bonn night this year.
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by Arndt » Mon Aug 27, 2018 9:00 am

Saturday night was a double feature: It started with VALLFARTEN TILL KEVLAAR (The pilgrimage to Kevelaer), an obscure Swedish film from 1921. Kevelaer is a pilgrimage town not far north of Bonn, where people come to ask a miraculous image of the Virgin for help. Great German poet Heinrich Heine (him of LORELEY fame) wrote a fairly short and rather ironic poem about this pilgrimage in the 19th century. The film directed by Ivan Hedqvist tries to turn this well-known poem into lyrical pictures and I feel it succeeds quite wonderfully. Günther Buchwald's beautiful accompaniment may account for some of my enjoyment here.
The second feature was the W.C. Fields comedy IT'S THE OLD ARMY GAME (1926). This is an enjoyable if uneven romp meant to showcase Fields as a comic actor and Louise Brooks as a female lead. It does what it says on the box: Brooks positively exudes charm and Fields is funny. He has not quite settled into the humour of his sound films here and tries his hand at various styles. My favourite sequence is the one where he tries very hard to sleep on a veranda despite all sorts of annoying intruders. Here the humour develops a deliciously surreal note.
Joachim Bärenz accompanied expertly.
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by Arndt » Mon Aug 27, 2018 11:42 am

The last day - Sunday - was dominated by the 1924 Austrian film DIE STADT OHNE JUDEN (The City Without Jews). This important film had been thought lost before a fragment was discovered in a Dutch archive. The film was restored from that and released on DVD in 2008. Then a collector found another fragment at a Paris flea market. Now the Filmarchiv Austria have joined both and are going to release the new restoration on DVD this autumn.
This is an interesting and important film for many reasons, as Nikolaus Wostry explained in his talk on the subject on Sunday afternoon. In the virulently antisemitic climate of interwar Vienna Hugo Bettauer, a progressive author, journalist and newspaper publisher who also wrote the novel on which DIE FREUDLOSE GASSE (Joyless Street) is based, had written the novel DIE STADT OHNE JUDEN in 1922 to satirize his countrymen's obsession with racial purity. For that and his other publications he was assassinated three years later. Like it happened so often in Weimar Germany, too, his assassin escaped any meaningful punishment.
The film is eerily prescient, as it envisages a nation in the throes of an economic crisis scapegoating its Jewish population and forcing them all to leave the country. That must have seemed impossible and satirical at the time. Not so some years later. When the film was shown in the evening the hush in the quadrangle was most profound when on screen the chancellor of the fictitious country explained how Jews were to be separated from non-Jews and who was to be considered an 'Aryan', very much along the lines of the Nuremberg laws of 1935.
DIE STADT OHNE JUDEN, however, has a happy ending. As things quickly deteriorate in the country the citizens ask their Jewish compatriots to return, officially welcome the first arrival and carry him through the streets.
Nikolaus Wostry's lecture pointed out the parallels between anisemitism in 1920s' Austria and the xenophobic populism rampant in that and many other countries in our own day. He drew solace from the fact that many people had chipped in to crowdfund the restoration of this unique and important film.
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by Arndt » Mon Aug 27, 2018 11:48 am

So much for the eleven days of the 34th Bonn silent film festival. It stayed dry every night but got a little cold towards the end. The musicians excelled themselves, just like every year. I thought the choice of features if not shorts particularly good this year. I went eight times altogether and will probably need to see a chiropractor now. I met lots of dear old friends and had a whale of a time.
Next year we are seriously hoping FORBIDDEN PARADISE will be on the programme. And who knows what else.
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by Brooksie » Tue Aug 28, 2018 3:55 pm

Arndt wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:41 am
Thursday started with an obscure eight-minute Czech amateur film called BEZUCELNA PROCHAZKA. Not only was it less than riveting, the Czech film archive had stipulated that it was not to be accompanied by music. The festival's only dead loss this year.
How strange. Did they give a reason for not permitting an accompaniment? It must have made a stark contrast to Ben-Hur which particularly rewards a big, blustery accompaniment and ends up reminding you exactly why you got into silent film in the first place ...

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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by Arndt » Tue Aug 28, 2018 11:14 pm

Brooksie wrote:
Tue Aug 28, 2018 3:55 pm
Arndt wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:41 am
Thursday started with an obscure eight-minute Czech amateur film called BEZUCELNA PROCHAZKA. Not only was it less than riveting, the Czech film archive had stipulated that it was not to be accompanied by music. The festival's only dead loss this year.
How strange. Did they give a reason for not permitting an accompaniment?
Apparently the reason was that as an amateur film it would originally always have been shown unaccompanied. A little dogmatic for my liking.
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by Donald Binks » Wed Aug 29, 2018 6:53 am

Thank you once again Arndt for your reviews of the Bonn Festival this year. I always look forward to reading them.
Regards from
Donald Binks

"So, she said: "Elly, it's no use letting Lou have the sherry glasses..."She won't appreciate them,
she won't polish them..."You know what she's like." So I said:..."

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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by oldposterho » Wed Aug 29, 2018 7:33 am

Agreed. The write-ups really give one a 'wish you were there' feeling. Thanks, Arndt.

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Re: Stummfilmtage Bonn 2018

Unread post by Rick Lanham » Wed Aug 29, 2018 8:00 am

+1 Thanks for your reviews Arndt, and I'm glad it didn't rain this time.

Rick
“The past is never dead. It's not even past” - Faulkner.

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