Lon Chaney Jr. Documentary

Posted by Satanizmo | Posted in , , , | Posted on 23:12

Fotó: két Lon Chaney Sr. kép...

Posted by Satanizmo | Posted in , , , | Posted on 10:54

A következő két képet az Ebay-n találtam. Licitáltam is rájuk, de 10 font fölött nekem már nem érte meg (plusz 2GBP a postaköltség) szóval ezek már nem lesznek az enyémek :( Na nem baj!
Az első kép a He Who Gets Slapped egyik filmkockája, semmi rendkívüli nincs benne. A másik viszont érdekes, mert az egy behind the scenes kép a West of Zanzibar 1928-as verziójából (még ha a képen 1929 is van feltűntetve) Kissé felismerhetetlen rajta Chaney...




Egy értékelés a Faust - Restored Deluxe Edition DVD-ről

Posted by Satanizmo | Posted in , , , | Posted on 8:50

Nem tehetek róla ez a film nagyon tetszik ... a DVD kiadás pedig felvillanyoz!

Faust: Restored Deluxe Edition
by Fernando F. Croce
Posted: March 17, 2009

Following the success of The Last Laugh, German silent-film master F.W. Murnau was handed two prestige projects for UFA studios, both filmed in 1926 and both taken from literary titans: Tartuffe by Molière and Faust by Goethe. Though box office hits, both were at the time critically reviled as evidence of how cinema can only inevitably reduce the subtlety of great works of literature by trying to adapt them. Booby-trapped with myopic expectations of faithfulness from the beginning, the filming of Great Novels has always been a risky venture for all the wrong reasons—namely, the tendency to see the resulting film for what it should have been rather than for what it is. It is no surprise that contemporary critics saw in Tartuffe the coarsening of Molière's wit but not the filmmaker's rigorously formalist compositional storytelling, yet to them this was but a minor offense next to Murnau's alleged sins with Faust: How dare he degrade the most famous work of Weimar Classicism's key figure into a series of flights of fantasy?

Siegfried Kracauer, after Caligari but still before Hitler, called Faust a simplistic battle of good versus evil that thoroughly vulgarized the nuances of the author, yet there is nothing simplistic about the raging storm of sights and emotions that makes Murnau's film such a staggering experience. Goethe's text is sampled throughout, but for Murnau, a poetic visualist with a disdain for intertitles, the image comes first—the screen's chiaroscuro is sculpted with shadows and light, infernal beasts roam freely and the fate of the world rests on a wager between Satan and the Archangel. The greatest of wonders lies in humanity's freedom to choose between good and evil, aged alchemist Faust (Gösta Ekman) declares among the mortals, and since the cosmic bet hinges on the swaying of his soul, Satan makes things more interesting by spreading pestilence over the man's hamlet. The unforgettable sight of gargantuan demonic wings engulfing the miniature burg with plague precipitates Faust's spiritual decline, his inability to save the lives around him leading to despair and the magisterial crossroads rendezvous with Mephisto (Emil Jannings), the satanic trickster sent to show him the allure of decadence.

The words of their pact burn onto a blank scroll: Faust's soul for "the power and glory of the world," signed in blood. Rejected by the townspeople once the source of his miracles is revealed, Faust chooses pleasure and youth with Mephisto as his servant, the earth seeming to stretch before his eyes during a flight on an enchanted cloak. Here and everywhere, the pictures flow like supernal apparitions out of the characters' subconscious, revved up by Murnau's matchless illusionism; the tracking shots across the land during Faust's magic carpet ride are awe-inspiring not as a special-effect template, but as an indelible visualization of the character's burgeoning knowledge of the universe beyond the frame, expanding simultaneously with the awareness of his own potential for corruption. Films from the German Expressionism era, from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari to A Joyless Street and the Mabuse pictures, are famous for their fiercely stylized mise-en-scène, and to Murnau the medium's very artificiality provided the keys to locating its truths. Rejecting "realism," the director employs filmic elements (the camera's angles and movement, rhythm, depth and width of composition) not to photograph the world but to re-envision it as a liquid canvas where the fantastic continuously infuses the mundane. It's no coincidence that a book-length study of the countless stylistic wonders of Faust was later written by another (albeit considerably less baroque) believer in cinema's theatricalization of reality, Eric Rohmer.

Faust and Metropolis are often huddled together as ultimate examples of the UFA aesthetic, though the timeless fantasia of Murnau's vision is far less attuned to the Weimar epoch than Fritz Lang's classic (unless, of course, one counts George Sadoul's waspish comment on the head-shaking similarities here between the Duchess of Parma's ball to a 1920s German music hall). Lang's iron-clad architectural sense is also missing from Murnau's structurally messier film; indeed, Faust could be easily seen as the filmmaker's most uneven work, not only in format but also in tone and acting. Moods jar, Jannings bulldozes from Kabuki to Keystone in a heartbeat, the intensity is unbalanced—the unevenness is undeniable, but also rich, fascinating, and perhaps not entirely unintentional.

The passage most modern audiences seem to dislike is the courting sequence between Faust and Gretchen (Camilla Horn), the peasant waif whose simple purity captivates him after his period of dissolution; most people I have shown the movie to dismiss the young actors as completely inadequate, and just about crawl out for a cigarette during Mephisto's broadly comic interlude with Gretchen's randy aunt Marthe (Yvette Guilbert). The low, low comedy of these scenes—with Jannings's W.C. Fields finding his Marie Dressler in Guilbert, the two matching leers—is enlivening exactly because it offers a contrasting mood to the rest of the film, reaching back to the clowning-commenting couples of Shakespeare and Mozart while showing that what actors can with their faces and bodies is scarcely less magic than a studio recreation of a medieval town. The casting also deserves a second look: Ekman plays Faust as both an old and a young man, and his gravitas under aged make-up are just as striking as his feminine beauty as a callow youth (the gay Murnau would not really feel free to eroticize the human body until Tabu), yet it's with Horn that the filmmaker's attention lies. Forever seen as a second-choice after Lillian Gish turned the role down, she has the fragility to match Ekman, and her physical movements, particularly toward the film's final passages, are as achingly choreographed as Janet Gaynor's in Sunrise.

Coming midway through the film, the sequence represents in musical terms an intermezzo allegro within the overall work, an idyll that is to be crushed. Branded a "harlot" after her romance with Faust, Gretchen wanders the icy streets with her dying baby; captured for accidentally killing the child, she cries for her lover, and her scream, its sound stunningly turned into an image with a superimposition of her face, travels the world till reaching Faust's ears. What follows then is one of cinema's great emotional crescendos, with the distraught hero racing to rescue his beloved from being burned at the stake. Mephisto returns him to old age as he reaches Gretchen on her way to the pyre, and, in one of the most heartbreaking moments in film, Faust offers her the soul he no longer owns ("Forgive me my sin"). The fire destroys and purifies and the camera tilts heavenwards to join their souls in eternity; "love" is the word that breaks the Devil's pact. The cosmos aligned itself through emotion for Murnau—it's not a substitute for literature, it's pure cinema.

Murnau's astonishing visuals come through in a scintillating new transfer which, except for some rare combing, is close to spotless. Three scores are available: the majestic Olympia Chamber Orchestra one included in the film's 1995 revival, a fierce new one by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra (in 5.1 surround), and a piano recreation of the original 1926 arrangement. All three are outstanding.

In addition to the film's alternate 1930 cut released by Ufa Studios (which is 10 minutes shorter than Murnau's version), the bountiful extras include a very thorough documentary on the production of Faust, a pair of photo galleries (studio portraits and set designs), notes on the new Mont Alto Orchestra score, and an essay by film historian Jan Christopher Horak. Most intriguing, tattered test footage for Ernst Lubitsch's aborted 1923 production of Marguerite and Faust has several actors trying out the Mephistopheles cape.

A masterpiece gets the deluxe DVD treatment it deserves.

  • Az eredeti írás ITT

Faust - Eine deutsche Volkssage - Restored Deluxe Edition

Posted by Satanizmo | Posted in , , | Posted on 8:36


Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau was one of the most celebrated directors in the world when he embarked on his adaptation of Goethe's classic play Faust (1926). His 1924 feature The Last Laugh (1924), a story told with a minimum of intertitles and camerawork of unprecedented mobility, was hailed as a masterpiece of storytelling sophistication. It was enormously successful in Germany and around the world and became one of the most influential silent films ever made. UFA, which had produced The Last Laugh, signed him to two major prestige projects and Hollywood called with an offer to direct in America, which Murnau accepted. After he completed Tartuffe, Murnau started work on what would be his final German film and UFA gave Murnau a blockbuster budget and the resources of studio to create one of the most visually magnificent films of the era.

Murnau's Faust, scripted by Carl Mayer and subtitled "A German Folk Saga," reimagines the modern myth of the idealistic scientist who signs a pact with the devil as a holy battle between good and evil, with Faust as a kind of modern day Job. Mephisto (Emil Jannings, as a hulking bestial being with massive gargoyle wings) and the Archangel (Werner Fuetterer, looking like a heavenly Seigfried with feathery wings that tower over him) debate the goodness of mankind in an abstract celestial setting, where shafts of light breath through storm clouds like the dawn coming through the dark night. "I'll wager that I can wrest Faust's soul from God!" he bets the Archangel, who accepts (confident of mankind's goodness and, apparently, unconcerned over the torment the victims are soon to endure). Mephisto emerges over a picaresque mountain village, a looming monster who hovers over the innocent town like a storm of evil, his cloak smothering it in darkness while spreading noxious fumes that carry the plague. The image is astounding, a vision of darkness and pestilence personified and an image of pure visual power.

The wizened scientist and alchemist Faust (Swedish actor Gösta Ekman) despairs so from his inability to save his fellow man that he tosses the Bible into the fire and summons the Devil at the crossroads. His fate is sealed with a signature in blood and the temptations of power and sex. Mephisto makes Faust young and offers him his pick of maidens, and then brings tragedy upon the innocent young woman that Faust loves and seduces: Gretchen (Camilla Horn), a beautiful German maiden in pigtails and a glow of purity that is defiled by Mephisto's manipulations. Not even D.W. Griffith's tormented heroines suffered so at the hands of a hypocritical society.

Camilla Horn is Murnau's Teutonic Lillian Gish in a Wagnerian melodrama. In fact, Murnau had approached Gish for the role, but she was a major Hollywood star with tremendous clout of her own – she brought Swedish filmmaker Victor Sjostrom to Hollywood to direct her in The Scarlet Letter - and demanded that Murnau use her regular cameraman, Charles Rosher, which Murnau refused. Murnau found his Gretchen in Horn, an unknown 22-year-old dancer whose legs made brief appearance (standing in for Lil Dagover's gams) in Murnau's Faust. Murnau put Horn through an ordeal almost as unrelenting as the fictional Gretchen to draw a performance out of her, according to her autobiography. At one point, Horn was dragged across the stage in iron chains so many times that her knees bled and the crew took pity on her. "But I adored Murnau," she insisted years later. John Barrymore was initially considered for the role of Faust, for commercial prospects in the U.S., until he saw Gösta Ekman in Victor Sjostrom's Ven Domer and traveled to Sweden to cast him in to play both the young and, under heavy make-up, old Faust. They are impressive as parts of Murnau's mise-en-scene but rather bland as performers, especially next to the histrionics of Emil Jannings, the celebrated silent star whose broad style and hammy expressions still stand as the most exaggerated approach of silent film acting. Jannings delivers a larger than life performance just to compete with the magnificent sets and the scale of the effects. The approach is perfect for playing the dark prince Mephisto under massive wings that dominate the screen, but rather much when he slips into moral scale and flirts with Gretchen's aunt like a salacious satyr.

Faust is a tragedy drawn in magnificent images like paintings in light and shadow and is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful of Murnau's German films. Leaving nothing to chance, Murnau shot the film entirely in the studio, where he could maintain complete control of every aspect of the image. "At the height of his career, Murnau was able to mobilize all those forces which guaranteed him complete control of the film's space," wrote critic turned director Eric Rohmer in 1977. "Every formal element – the faces and bodies of actors, objects, landscapes, and such natural phenomenon as snow, light, fire and clouds – have been created or recreated with exact knowledge of their visual effect. Never has a film left so little to chance." Murnau's epic canvas creates drama by the sheer scale of his images and the masterful play of light, shadow, and mist on his beautifully designed sets. Karl Freund was set to shoot the film but had pull out due to illness, and it was Carl Hoffman (who had shot Dupont's Variety and Fritz Lang's Seigfried and Kriemhild's Revenge) who executed the complex camerawork and optical effects to bring Murnau's visions to the screen. The imagery of Mephisto and the Archangel is operatic and grandiose, yet delicately textured and intricately lit. Lucifer and Faust take a magic carpet ride around the world, looking down on jagged mountainscapes and fairy-tale kingdoms of opulence and decadence in a spectacle of expressionistically exaggerated miniatures and trick photography. An innocent staked to a pyre to burn for her sins becomes a scene of transcendence, at once harrowing and spiritual. You can see the influences of Murnau's painstakingly created images and magnificent effects in such silent masterpieces as Fritz Lang's Metropolis and Car Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc.

Murnau shot separate negatives for different territories and there exist at least seven negatives of Faust, each composed of slightly different takes. The differences between the versions are subtle, but some contain different framing and editing choices, and some show Murnau rethinking his visual choices over the course of the takes. Murnau personally supervised the American version and made slight changes to text and in some cases reworked images to make them more clear to American audiences. Kino released that version on DVD a few years ago. This new "Restored Deluxe Edition" features a newly mastered edition of the original German version, restored by the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation. It's a beautiful print with rich tones and it features the gorgeous original German intertitles, hand-painted cards with text over an abstract background of bold black strokes on a white background that suggests a stormy struggle between the forces of dark and light. The new restoration also features two scores – a compilation score of "historic photoplay music" by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra (recorded in 5.1 Stereo Surround) and a piano score adapted from the original 1926 orchestral arrangement.

The 53-minute documentary "The Language of Shadows: Faust," a chapter from a German documentary series presented with English narration, explores the making of the film through film clips, sketches by art director Robert Herlth and interviews. Also features twelve minutes of recently rediscovered screen test footage of Lubitsch's abandoned 1923 production Marguerite and Faust and galleries of set designs and stills. The second disc features the previously released U.S. version of the film, produced by David Shepard and featuring an original orchestral score by Timothy Brock performed by the Olympia Chamber Orchestra.

For more information about Faust, visit Kino International. To order Faust, go to TCM Shopping.

by Sean Axmaker

DVD extras:
  • Two-DVD edition featuring the restored German version (with optional English subtitles) and the previous U.S. release version
  • “The Language of Shadows: Faust,” a 53-minute documentary on the making of Murnau’s film
  • New musical score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra in 5.1 Stereo Surround or 2.0 Stereo
  • The lost screen test footage of Ernst Lubitsch’s abandoned 1923 production Marguerite and Faust.
  • Image Gallery
  • Essay by film historian Jan Christopher Horak


125 éve született Lon Chaney!!!

Posted by Satanizmo | Posted in , , | Posted on 10:16

On this day, April 1, in 1883, Leonidas Chaney was born. As Lon Chaney, he was a superstar of the silent movie era, literally a household name. Famous for devising his own intricate makeups, Chaney specialized in colorful character parts and gruesome villains, playing blind pirates, scarfaced gangsters, arm or leg amputees, elderly Chinese, would-be vampires, mad scientists, and even a little old lady.

In 1927, when Dracula wowed Broadway and barnstormed across America, Hollywood studios swooped in. Talkies were on the immediate horizon and the popular supernatural play was a hot movie commodity. Right from the start, conventional wisdom had Lon Chaney as the obvious, near inevitable choice for the part. Chaney’s home studio, the powerful MGM, vied with the smaller Universal Pictures for the rights.

Although he was a MGM star, Chaney’s two most famous pictures, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925), were made by the actor while on loan to Universal. Now the studio hoped to bring Chaney and Dracula together and took the lead, securing the services of Chaney’s favorite director, Tod Browning. And then tragedy struck. Suddenly, shockingly, Chaney was dead, a victim of throat cancer. He was only 47 years old.

MGM dropped out of the Dracula sweepstakes and Universal went on to make the film in 1931 with the stage Count, Bela Lugosi. It was a massive hit, and the papers proclaimed Lugosi as “the new Lon Chaney!”. Universal’s publicity department associated Lugosi’s name with a long list of projects including a remake of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame and, of course, Frankenstein. When that one fell to Boris Karloff, he, in turn, was given the “heir to Lon Chaney” mantle. Then again, most any actor who happened to play a villain in any movie made in the thirties had a good chance of being ballyhooed as “the next Lon Chaney”. The Man of a Thousand Faces had cast a long shadow.

In the March 1964 issue (number 27) of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, editor Forry Ackerman engaged in a bit of alternate history: Imagine a “mirage world” where the great Lon Chaney had lived on to play the classic Monsters of the early sound era. Illustrator George Barr was given the challenge of blending Chaney's distinctive features with the early Frankenstein Monster test makeup by Jack Pierce. Note the “clamped horns” on the forehead. (See a photograph of Karloff in the test makeup here).

Barr’s pen and ink work is superb, but the artist understood the irony of his assignment, writing, “It seems the whole point of Lon Chaney’s make-ups was to completely disguise himself — and now we’re trying to make him recognizable thru disguises he never wore! Strange.”

The problem with alternate history is that once you introduce a new twist, you open up countless new possibilities. If Chaney had survived, perhaps Dracula would have been a MGM film. Chaney might not have made a Frankenstein at all, and if he had, being celebrated as a makeup genius, it seems he would have created his own vastly different take on The Monster. Considering how very faithful Chaney had been to the descriptions of Victor Hugo and Gaston Leroux for the Hunchback and the Phantom, his Monster might have had the skeletal face, long hair and enormous stature that Mary Shelley evoked. And, of course, with Chaney around, there would be no Jack Pierce, no Lugosi, no Karloff, and certainly no Lon Chaney Jr. as Lon Sr. was adamantly opposed to his son entering show business.

It's fun playing "What If?", but changing just one thing changes everything.

George Barr is a Master among fantasy and science fiction illustrators. His elegant art has graced countless books and magazines. There’s much to enjoy on Barr’s official website, The Enchanted Thingamajig.

  • Az eredeti írást a FRANKENSTEINIA blogról vettem át! (és igazán sajnálom, hogy nincs ma időm egy saját post-ot írni...)