Amsterdam in the picture
In 2016, Eye conserved four films in the context of the project called ‘Breng Amsterdam in Beeld’. This project was made financially possible via crowdfunding, with 260 donors making contributions. The films come from Eye’s own collection. All four of them are about Amsterdam, and they had not yet been included in other ongoing projects. Now they have been conserved: these films were cleaned by hand, repaired where necessary, and then copied and digitized.
Beautiful Amsterdam is a short promotional film from 1927 made by Alex Benno. In addition to the usual tourist images, this film (with English intertitles) also features many shots of the Amstel Hotel, which had commissioned the film. The Amstel Hotel was most likely trying to convince American tourists to book rooms at the hotel when they visited the Olympic Games, which in 1928 were held in Amsterdam.
The second film is actually a compilation, ‘De oudste beelden van Amsterdam’ (‘The oldest images of Amsterdam’). These are the first shots of Amsterdam to be made by Dutch filmmakers. The city had already been depicted on film in 1898 and 1899 by cameramen from abroad, but producer Franz Anton Nöggerath Sr. was the first Dutchman to do so; he began filming brief impressions and news items in around 1900.
Many of his films took place in Amsterdam, but most of these films were lost in a fire at Nöggerath’s Variété Flora theatre in August of 1902. Fortunately, a number of these films resurfaced In the mid-1920s. Since that time, these have been known as the oldest Dutch films; see also The oldest Dutch films in the Eye collection and the Dutch Central Film Archive.
The films had already been conserved in analogue form in 1991, but some of the damage to the films remained very visible as a result of this technique. This time, the original negatives were re-scanned and digitally restored. The images have now been restored to their full glory.
Compilation 'the oldest images of Amsterdam'
The last two films date from the 1930s: Alarm Brand and Oudjes. They are both short sound films made by filmmakers from Amsterdam. Alarm Brand is a short documentary about Amsterdam’s fire department, made by Jo de Haas for the Amsterdam-based Filmfabriek Holland. This company also produced films for the Cineac cinema located on Amstelstraat, where this film was screened in early 1936. The film was recently found in a collection of films that were bequeathed to EYE.
Oudjes is a short film by Henk Kleinman about the love between two residents of a retirement home. The cast consists of actors who were well known at the time, such as August Kiehl, Riek Kloppenburg, and Louis van Dommelen. The chamber orchestra of the Concertgebouw provided the music.
‘Breng Amsterdam in Beeld’ is a collaboration between EYE and the Dutch crowdfunding site Voordekunst.nl. But EYE has already been working on conserving and digitizing its collection for many years, and that is why many early films about Amsterdam have long been available; you can see a selection of these films here.