• Collection H. Rider Haggard: Imperialist adventure fiction in silent and sound film

    Monday 7 March 2016

    In the early 2000s the EYE Filmmuseum received a large amount of film-related materials (in particular about Dutch silent film) through the estate of film collector and historian Geoffrey Donaldson (1929-2002). In a previous blog entry we already talked about the archive of the Kinsbergen family which was created from the materials from this particular archive. Another part of the collection which has recently been inventoried consisted of 2 boxes containing 8 binders with material about the British author Henry Rider Haggard. Six of which contained information about films adapted from Haggard's works. Haggard, who is most widely known for his adventure stories set in exotic locations (predominately the jungles of Africa), is widely regarded as one of the first people to popularize the so-called “Lost World” literary genre.

    Henry Rider Haggard was born in Bradenham (Norfolk) on June 22nd 1856 as the eight of ten children. As the son of a barrister he was educated at Ipswich Grammar school and by private tutors. At age 19 he was sent to southern Africa as part of the staff of Sir Henry Bulwer, the governor of the South African province Natal. He was present during the signing of the treaty with the Boers (settlers in that region who had predominately Dutch ancestry) and the annexation of the Transvaal region by the British government. He later became head of his own government department. On August 11, 1880 he married Mariana Louisa Margitson and returned to England after the Transvaal gained independence in 1884. They had four children, one son (who tragically died from measles at age 10) and three daughters who he named after characters from his books. His first commercial success came with his fourth book, “King Solomon’s Mines”, an adventure novel in the vein of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island”. Among his most popular creations were Allan Quatermain, the hero of “King Solomon’s Mines” (and it's sequels), and Ayesha, the title character of his fifth book “She” (the novel that was most frequently adapted to the screen, at least 13 adaptations according to Donaldson).

    Donaldson collected everything he could find about films made from Haggard's books ranging from the earliest silent versions till the most recent film adaptation of "Allan Quatermain", “Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold” (USA, 1987) with Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone. The latter a sequel to the 1985 film "King Solomon's Mines" which tried but failed to reach the same level of success as Spielberg's Indiana Jones movies. The meticulously research contained personal notes in which Donaldson gave further details about the cast and crew and discussed whether the film should be considered part of the Haggard filmography. In some cases, as with the Méliès film “La Danse du Feu” (France 1899) he concluded that the film should not be considered as a adaptation of “She”, as some other film historians had suggested.

    Among the materials collected were more than 300 photographs and (vintage) postcards aquired from a number of archives around the world as well as a few original publicity items such as brochures, pressbooks and posters. 










    Donaldson's research included information about some of the more obscure versions of Haggard adaptations such as a Musical version of "She" called "Malika Salomi" (India, 1953) from India and a TV version of "King Solomon's Mines" from South Africa as well as a variety of photographs from lost silent films such as two US films from 1917 "Heart and Soul" and "Cleopatra" starring the famous Vamp Theda Bara.


    Those familiar with Dutch silent film might be particularily interested in the Austrian silent film "Die Sklavenkönigin" (1924), a version of the novel "Moon of Israel". One of the stars of the movie was the Chilean actor Adelqui Migliar who is most famous for appearing in a great number of Dutch productions. This connection is quite remarkable given the fact that Donaldson was particularily interested in Dutch film, spoke out against the claim by earlier Dutch filmscholars that the Netherlands had not been very prolific during the silent film era  and is well-known for writing "Of Joy and Sorrow" an indepth filmography about the Dutch silent film period.


    Dana Pastor, intern filmrelated collection


    silent film, sound film, Geoffrey Donaldson, H. Rider Haggard, stille film, archief, collectie, collection, archive, lost films, adaptation
  • In search of the Ottoman Empire

    Tuesday 23 February 2016

    Since the summer of 2014, films from EYE collection have been involved in numerous screenings of the project ‘Views of the Ottoman Empire’; a travelling film presentation aiming to discover and put into context archival images pertaining to former territories of the Ottoman Empire. This project grew gradually from the research into the hundred years ago programs and the WWI films, which revealed many short films, seemingly not belonging anywhere specific, but falling into the right place when viewed from the perspective of the Ottoman history and geography. 

    One of the most rewarding aspects of the project (which is always presented live to explain the underlying context) is bringing the films to the places they were originally shot. Screenings in places like Kosovo, Belgrade or Istanbul never fail to move the local audiences, confronting them with their home towns from a century ago. 

    In December 2015, when the project visited Istanbul for the second time, we brought a surprise from EYE: a 1926 film called Les fontaines de Constantinople contains the historic Tophane Fountain that is only 50 meters away from the cinema!

    Tophane fountain in Istanbul (december 2015)

    Since the project also hopes to improve the identification of these often scarcely catalogued images, it can be helpful to show the images to the locals. For example, at EYE we recently found and restored the film Pathé-revue n° 37 – Visions de Yougoslavie (Beelden Uit Yugoslavie, 1926). Despite its overall title referring to Yugoslavia, this compilation film appears to contain images of Istanbul’s Uskudar district (or ‘Scutari’, as referred to on the film); recognizable to the residents of the city (mainly thanks to the monumental Mihrimah Sultan Mosque), but not so obvious to us at EYE, due to the presence of many places called ‘Scutari’ on the Balkan peninsula.


    Ottoman Project asserts that the films from these territories, though often considered lost, can actually be found in unexpected places. The film Der Kaiser bei unseren Türkischen Verbündeten, shot by the German Army in 1917 has so far popped up in the Netherlands (EYE/Huis Doorn Collection), Germany (Bundesarchiv), England (Imperial War Museum) and Turkey (Turkish Armed Forces archive held by theTurkish Film and TV institute). Unique footage showing Balkan War refugees camping outside Istanbul’s byzantine walls in 1913 arrived to EYE in 2013 from a private collection. Images of the Armenian orphans in the occupied Istanbul (1918-1923) were found at the Library of Congress in Washington and restored by the Cineteca di Bologna in 2015. Images of the ancient Armenian city of Ani, shot by the Italian cameraman Giovanni Vitrotti in 1911, was found within the collection of the Swiss priest Joye, curently held and restored by the British Film Institute.

    After having visited Istanbul twice (during the 1st and 2nd Istanbul Silent Cinema Days); just as I thought we had run out of Istanbul images at EYE, a new film surfaced within a very recently donated batch of films only a couple of weeks ago: En Promenade Sur Le Bosphore (1928). Although not unique, this particular print is beautifully toned (as opposed to the French version that is b&w). At the moment there are no immediate plans to restore this particular film, but it is clear that the Ottoman project can continue to travel and gradually grow in the coming years.

    Follow the project by liking our Facebook page. Watch the trailer (all footage provided by EYE)

    Elif Rongen-Kaynakçi, Curator of Silent Film

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    Silent cinema, Ottoman, history, archives, discovery, lost&found, nitrate film
  • Special find in the Leonard Henny collection

    Wednesday 27 January 2016

    At the end of last year we began work on the collection of films in our archive by the Dutch documentary filmmaker Leonard M. Henny (4 August 1935 - 17 September 2011), donated to EYE before his death. Henny was a politically engaged filmmaker, what you would call a guerrilla filmmaker, but also a writer and professor with an academic background in sociology and Urban planning. He studied at the University of Amsterdam and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He spent much of his life moving between America and Europe, residing in Berlin, Cambridge Massachusetts, San Francisco, St. Louis Missouri, Micronesia and Venezuela. Throughout his life he worked as a professor and researcher at several American and Dutch Universities. During his time at the Sociological Institute of the University of Utrecht he coached various sociology students in documentary filmmaking.

    Henny was interested in the use of film as a tool to depict the elements of social, political and economic change that were taking place throughout America and Europe. He was mostly active as a filmmaker in the 1960s and 1970s. Much of his own work documents the Black Power Movement and the impact of the Vietnam war, both in Vietnam and in the United States. Henny was driven by the belief that film can be used as a platform for engaging people in discussion in order to harness a good understanding and much-needed solidarity with those groups or individuals in society who are oppressed or continually subjected to injustices.  

    “The main purpose of my films is to provide information on social problems from the point of view of people who are confronted with the problems, and who want to change them. In this way, the films provide graphic knowledge, and become a tool for people in universities, schools, churches and community groups to stimulate constructive discussion of the issues of our time…Thus, films provide an opportunity for people to meet with others with similar interests who are willing to engage themselves in efforts to change this world into a better place to live.” Leonard Henny 

    Whilst we were identifying and analysing Henny’s films we came across one film can labelled “Peace Pickets Original”. Within this can we found a fragment of a 16mm film reel which contains silent colour footage of Martin Luther King Jr entering Santa Rita Rehabilitation Centre. The footage, which is in excellent condition, depicts King being driven to the prison in a white car and then cuts to him, presumably upon exiting the prison, getting out of the car and delivering an impromptu speech to a crowd of anti-war protesters. After conducting thorough research on this subject matter we found that Martin Luther King was visiting the prison in Santa Rita on January 14th 1968 in order to visit his friend, the folk singer and activist, Joan Baez.  Baez had been arrested, along with her mother and her sister, for “disturbing the peace” at an anti-Vietnam war demonstration. In Leonard Henny’s film “Peace Pickets Arrested for Disturbing the Peace” - a documentary depicting the early draft resistance demonstrations - there is clear footage of Baez’s arrest. 


    The speech King delivered outside the Santa Rita Rehabilitation Centre was recorded by Pacifica Coast Radio and can be found here.

    Footage of an Interview with Joan Baez (courtesy of the San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive) on the day she was released from prison can be found here.

    At this stage we are still researching this important collection with the idea to start preservation on the films, including this special find, in the near future, aiming to generate interest in these rarely seen documents witnessing major social changes of its time. This is now just a first step in this direction and we will come back with updates during the process.

    Simona Monizza, curator Experimental Film & Ruth Sweeney, intern.


    Martin Luther King Jr, Leonard Henny, experimental film, experimentele film, Joan Baez
  • Saul Bass affiches tentoongesteld in EYE

    Thursday 21 January 2016

    De Amerikaan Saul Bass (1920-1996) is een van de beroemdste grafische ontwerpers van de 20ste eeuw. Hij ontwierp markante symbolen op allerlei gebied voor bijv. Minolta, United Airlines en Kleenex. Hij is vooral wereldberoemd en blijvend populair om zijn treffende filmtitelsequenties en filmaffiches. Zijn titelsequenties zijn een samenvatting van de film in enkele minuten, zijn affiches een samenvatting van de titelsequentie in een enkel beeld, vaak met hetzelfde symbool.

    EYE heeft nu een kleine tentoonstelling met 16 affiches van Saul Bass, die twintig jaar geleden overleed. Er bestaat geen complete catalogus van zijn filmaffiches die vaak niet zijn gesigneerd (van deze 16  zijn er slechts 5 gesigneerd), deels omdat maatschappijen zijn gestileerde werk afkeurden en veranderden, zoals toevoeging van stills aan THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM. Op het affiche voor ROSEBUD resteert van Bass’ ontwerp slechts de titel plus een vuist met mes. Toeschrijving van zijn ongesigneerde werk blijft ook voor zijn biografen een uitdaging. Er is vooral verwarring over films waarvoor hij alleen titelsequenties ontwierp maar geen affiche zoals PSYCHO en WEST SIDE STORY. 
    Zijn grafische filmaffiches hebben een krachtige en heldere stijl met soms slordige letters en tot de essentie teruggebrachte lijnen en figuratieve symbolen in weinig tinten met monochrome vlakvulling (vaak rood zoals hier bij 9 exemplaren) ogenschijnlijk kinderlijk eenvoudig maar trefzeker en onnavolgbaar. Sommige symbolen werden een icoon voor bepaalde films, zoals het lichaam uit ANATOMY OF A MURDER of de arm uit THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM en veel ander werk vooral voor regisseur Otto Preminger (hier vertegenwoordigd met 9 affiches). Handen werden Bass’ bekendste motief voor talloze titels (hier 8 exemplaren).

    EYE toont onder meer beroemde affiches als VERTIGO (met spiraalvorm voor duizelingen van de hoofdpersoon met hoogtevrees), ANATOMY OF A MURDER (met losse lichaamsdelen), THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM (met verwrongen arm van de verslaafde hoofdpersoon), ADVISE AND CONSENT (het opengeklapte Capitool onthult geheimen). VERTIGO is bij uitzondering een re-issue uit 1996 want een eerste druk hiervan ontbreekt in de EYE collectie en is nu zeldzaam en daarom zeer prijzig.

    Jan-Hein Bal


    Saul Bass, affiche
  • Reunited after almost 60 years

    Wednesday 6 January 2016

    Since the inscription of the Desmet Collection on Unesco's Memory of the World Register in 2011 (actually already in the stages of preparing the application) I have been trying to explain why it is difficult to provide an exact number of the films. Although the collection seems to be a finite entity, it also keeps growing (923 and counting)*. It's hard to tell how many films would make the collection 'complete': it is difficult to establish which films exactly had been distributed by Jean Desmet and thus which ones we are still missing. From the company papers it appears that he considered many items, not necessarily acquiring them all in the end. The fact that the poster and the film holdings only barely overlap, is also curious. Even when we do know for sure that he distributed some titles (based on the company papers), not all film prints were among the collection when it arrived to our archive in 1957. 


    Desmet himself had sold parts of his collection, and sometimes these film prints (still bearing the original Desmet company intertitles cards) find their way to our institute through private collectors. This was the case with Tragico Convegno, the 1915 film by Ivo Illuminati that we preserved a couple of years ago. Similarly, over the years, we have received and preserved more films from Desmet's distribution list; such as Loyalty of Sylvia (1912/USA, arrived to us via the Royal Information Services!), or Das Geheimschloss (1914/Germany, found in the year 2000 among thousands of nitrate cans that were privately kept inside the historic city of Haarlem for decades). In such cases, only after examining the print and identifying the contents, we can conclude that we are dealing with a film from the Desmet Collection.


    But what happened beginning of December 2015 was unprecedented: a few reels of nitrate (bought in a French flea market) were brought to our archive. One of the reels was still in an original Desmet company film can! It is of course very often that film cans get recycled so having the can does not necessarily mean that its content will also be related to the Desmet Collection. And yet, it was: the can contained the 1909 film Nerone by Luigi Maggi, of which EYE so far only held 12 original stills, received from the Desmet family sixty years ago!
    The Desmet can that arrived to EYE in december 2015


    So 106 years after its release in the Netherlands, and many decades after being separated from the rest of the Desmet Collection, the film (and the can) are now reunited in our vaults.
    What is going to happen now? First of all, we will be putting the film reel in a new archival film can, so that it can take its permanent place in our vaults. The historic can will go to the film-related collections. The film is not a unique print; several film archives around the world report to have a copy. This means that we will start a research round asking and comparing details, before we can take further action. As part of the Desmet Collection, to have this film preserved is among our prioritites, but it is even more important to do this with all things considered. After all, our print (after so many years of wandering around) may not be complete, or may not be in the greatest condition, and it certainly does not have the original Italian intertitles... So before proceeding, we will dive into international research in order to establish the universal value of what we have. 

    Frame capture from Nerone (1909)

    The significance of the Desmet film can, and particularly the fact that we can still receive such an item after so many years, remains very big; it keeps our hope alive that we can go on finding lost silent films from more than a century ago.

    * Did you know that you can download the 'complete' filmography of the Desmet film titles as published in the book Jean Desmet's Dream Factory (2014) by scrolling down on this page? Of course with the omission of Nerone.


    Desmet company film can that was kept in EYE since the donation of the collection in 1957

    The Desmet can contained a reel of Nerone (1909)

    Silent cinema, Desmet Collection, Jean Desmet, ontdekkingen, lost films, discovery, stille film, Desmet Collectie
  • Animatiefilmpjes St. Joost: Een zee van informatie

    Tuesday 3 November 2015

    Een groep vierdejaars animatiestudenten van de Academie AKV|St.Joost heeft korte geanimeerde teasers gemaakt van ongeveer 1 minuut, waarbij zij zich hebben laten inspireren door de Filmgerelateerde collecties van EYE. In een serie publiceren we hier deze filmpjes, die ook als voorfilm vertoond kunnen worden. Veel van de filmmakers hebben deze blog als vertrekpunt gebruikt bij de keuze voor het onderwerp van hun animatie.

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    Sophie Neeleman was onder de indruk van de enorme omvang van de archieven van EYE en maakte met affiches, bladmuziek, foto's en scripts het filmpje Een zee van informatie/ EYE EYE Captain. De zee is een metafoor voor de grote hoeveelheid materiaal, en de archivaris is de schipper die hierop vaart: “In de eindeloos lijkende zee aan film-parafernalia weet de EYE-Kapitein (archivaris) alles te vinden. Hij weet wat er onder het wateroppervlak voor waardevols schuilgaat. Hij kent de beste visgronden op zijn duimpje en brengt je precies bij de goede school. De Kapitein helpt je op je zoektocht naar die ene speciale vangst waar jij naar speurt.”

    De teaser is gemaakt met een collagetechniek. Allerlei verschillende onderdelen zijn getekend, gefotografeerd, geknipt en geplakt. Wil je meer weten over het werk van Sophie? Kijk dan op haar website.


    animatie, AKV/St.Joost
  • Herbert Curiël draagt archief over aan EYE

    Thursday 3 September 2015

    Onlangs heeft filmmaker Herbert Curiël zijn archief aan EYE overgedragen. Het is een omvangrijk archief van ongeveer dertig verhuisdozen. EYE beschouwt dit als een unieke en belangrijke aanwinst voor de Nederlandse filmgeschiedenis.

    De 87-jarige Curiël werd in 1975 bekend met de speelfilm Het jaar van de kreeft, naar de roman van Hugo Claus. In 1970 deed hij al stof opwaaien als maker van een controversiële korte film over een Griekse politieke vluchteling, De aktivist. De Nederlandse politiek vreesde dat de diplomatieke verhoudingen tussen Griekenland en Nederland verstoord zou worden, wat Curiël veel publiciteit bezorgde. Voor zijn latere film Cha-Cha dook hij met Herman Brood en Nina Hagen in de Amsterdamse punk/new wave scene. Dit  leverde een even opwindende en chaotische film op als het leven van Curiël zelf. In 1989 verscheen Rituelen, met Thom Hoffman en Derek de Lint in de hoofdrollen. Curiël schrijft nog steeds scenario’s.

    Minder bekend is dat hij al vroeg internationaal carrière maakte als bijrolacteur, onder andere in de klassiekers Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962) en Cleopatra (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1963). Hij werkte in zijn jonge jaren ook mee aan buitenlandse films die in Nederland werden opgenomen, zoals Spy in the Sky! (W. Lee Wilder, 1958) en The Diary of Anne Frank (George Stevens, 1959).

    Het is een veelzijdig archief, dat nog moet worden ontsloten, bestaande uit onder andere foto's, correspondentie, productiemateriaal zoals call sheets en scripts, en blikken met zijn films. Onlangs is er een documentaire uitgezonden waarin Curiël terugkijkt op zijn jeugd in de oorlog.