Wednesday, July 6, 2011

D. W. Griffith's His Trust

I have a real love/HATE relationship with the films of D.W. Griffith.  On the one hand, he was undoubtedly one the foremost pioneers of film--a great innovator of a number of original shots that became the foundation of narrative film making, even in the talkie era.  On the other hand, when allowed to make the films of his personal choice, he choose subjects that are deeply disturbing.  Most of them surround a kind of romanticizing of the Civil War, through the eyes of a citizen of a "border state;" which Griffith was (only not during the war), hailing from Kentucky, which was a border state during the time of the war.  A border state was a state that didn't take side with either the "north" or the "south."  Citizens from these states often served on both sides of the conflict.  Many from Kentucky sided with the North and wound up being some of the most barbaric burners of unarmed Southern towns.  Most from that state fought for the Southern Confederacy, which is the side that Griffith constantly fantasizes about in his original material.  Of course, Griffith is most well known for his infamous and vicious Birth of a Nation (1915).  I'm not taking that up at the moment.  Below is a good example of some of his original work from 1910, when he was still making shorts from Biograph.  It is interesting because it shows the bent of mind that would later think that bringing a horrible vision of the original KKK to the silver screen in what was one of the longest films ever produced by 1915 (and revitalizing the then dead KKK to boot).  His Trust (from 1910, some mistakenly put the year 1911 on it), shows a disturbing relationship with Negro servant (played by a white man in black face) and his white employer (a kind of Master, if you will), it what Griffith wants his audience to believe is a kind of relationship of equals, as the kind of "free equality" as he saw it.  Clearly it isn't true equality--it's the same sort of mind set that gave us the Jim Crowe laws:  "separate but equal."  Really what is meant is that "black people" are good for certain kinds of work of the subservient kind, and nothing else.  Griffith, not being content with just one film on the subject, went on to put out His Trust Fulfilled the following year (1911), if it weren't for it's content, it would be groundbreaking as being one the very first (if not the first) sequels in the history of film.  Well, here's His Trust:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Early French Cinema

I was looking for this film from 1895 on DVD.  It was supposed to be on Volume 2 of The Movies Begin Set from Kino, but I've owned that set for years, and have found no evidence of it ever being a part of that set, ever.  I thought it might be on one of the other sets, like Landmarks of Early Film, but alas no.  So I looked up on Wikipedia, and found the following:  the movie over at the DailyMotion.  Here 's the embed:

Lumiere - Barque sortant du port by kinetoscope