Not silence, but . . .

From: JEFFREY PAULL (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Oct 28 2009 - 11:28:17 PDT

A number of years ago - maybe 1980 - at the Toronto International Film festival,
they had a screening of Dreyer's "The Passion of Joan of Arc.", which I attended.
The glories of that screening were 3: Here is the story:
After the films initial screening(s) in Denmark, the original neg was sent to a lab in Germany (I think),
along with the theatrical print to act as a guide to making correct-looking prints.
It was to be duplicated for all Euro screens, and, I suppose, beyond.
But the lab burned down, destroying the neg and the print.
The distributer forced Dreyer to reconstruct the movie from his "outs", which he didn't want to do.
But he did it, and that's the version that everybody saw in film schools, and theatres, until . . . ..

In about 1978, the Danish archive got a phone call from a mental hospital in Norway: (!)
They had found, in the basement, a wrapped package that had been there for an unknown number of years.
When they opened it up, they saw it was old 35mm film, so might the Danish archive be inerested in
having it.
The film turned out to be a second projection print of the true version of "The Passion of Joan of Arc.",
that nobody had seen since the fire. It had been presumed lost.
Nobody knew what it was doing in this mental hospital or how it got there.

So this screening at the Toronto fiolm festival was the first (either in N. America or anywhere)
of the original authentic version of the movie.
That was glory #1.
Glory #2 was the ravishing beauty of the images run at correct slower projection speed.
But glory #3 was totally unexpected as well.
The film was accompanied by the original accompanying music, live, with a woman's chorus.

I wept.
And that was after being moved to my bones, years before, in film school, watching the (usual) crummy 16mm print
sitting at old oak chair-desks in a basement classroom. That screening, of course, was silent.
And seen through the vague haze of cigarette smoke because we could smoke in school in those days.

     Jeffrey Paull

On Wed 28/10/09 13:45 , Tom McCormack email suppressed sent:
> Dreyer's 'The Passion of Joan of Arc' (1928) was meant to
> be shown in complete silence.
> -Tom
> On Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 12:32 PM, Rob Gawthrop wrote:
> Check out Rick Altman’s “Silent Film Sound” though I doubt if
> it answers your questions about silence.
> Rob
> On 28/10/2009 16:58, "Myron Ort" wrote:
> It is often mentioned that "silent" films were meant to have live
> performed sound tracks, organ, piano, orchestras, etc.  Were any
> early films actually meant to be shown truly silent by their
> creators? What is known about this? Melies, Griffith, Eisenstein etc.
> did they all prescribe music/sound  for their film showings?  If
> not,
> what is the earliest known film truly meant to be shown  
> intentionally silent?
> When, where, and how prevalent was it to show films in silence.
> Obviously, as a film students for the most part  we saw  early
> silent
> films without any soundtracks, live or otherwise. This was
> widespread. How misleading was this typical experience? Now that I
> recall, most all of the shows I attended in my youth at that little
> movie theater across from my high school that showed Chaplin, Keaton,
> etc. were always silent. I am thinking I was mislead......
> default silence versus intended silence
> Myron Ort
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