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Fairy Tales: Early Colour Stencil films from Pathé [DVD]

3.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Directors: Ferdinand Zecca, Gaston Velle, Lucien Nonguet, Segundo de Chomón, Alice Guy
  • Format: Dolby, PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Bfi
  • DVD Release Date: 3 Dec. 2012
  • Run Time: 156 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008024OIO
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 64,973 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

FAIRY TALES EARLY COLOUR STENCIL FIMS FROM PATHÉ

Once upon a time, during the belle époque in turn-of-the-century Paris, a short-lived film form called 'scènes de feeries'('fairy films') were produced in great number by the Pathé Frères company. In jewel-like colours the films recreated the theatrical spectacles of the age with their fantastical settings, dancing girls, mythical beasts, supernatural brings and a plethora of stage illusion enhanced by the trickery of the new medium of film. Made to appeal to young and old spectators alike, these gorgeous films offer modern audiences a fascinating glimpse into the magical world of the nineteen-century theatre.

Presented here with original hand-colouring, each film is accompanied with a newly-commissioned soundtrack composed by recording artists from the leading experimental music label Touch. Contributions from such acclaimed composers as Chris Watson, Fennesz, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Ryoji Ikeda, Philip Jeck, and BJNilsen combine with the beautiful images to create a unique and unforgettable experience.

Special features

  • Newly commissioned scores by Touch artists, including Philip Jack, Fennesz and Chris Watson
  • Au Pays de l'or (1908, 8 mins): a trip to the magical underground gold foundry of the dwarves
  • Barbe-blue (1901, 11 mins): Georges Méliès telling of the Bluebeard tale with music by SAVX
  • Little Red Riding Hood (1922, 8 mins): Anson Dyer's animation made for Hepworth Picture Plays with music by Rosy Parlane
  • La Danse du diable(Sint-Lukas versions): nine alternative scores by students from Sint-Lukas Brussels University College of Art and Design
  • Fully illustrated booklet with film notes and credits

France | 1902 -1908 | stencil-coloured, tinted, and black & white | silent with music | 156 minutes | DVD9 | Original aspect ratio 1.33:1 | Dolby Digital stereo audio (320kbps) | Region 2 DVD

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

First I have to say that I agree with most of the remarks made in the review of Mr. Arias. No doubt the music is highly inappropriate. The tendency of scoring silent films with experimental music produces strange results. Latest victim is Méliès' handcoloured "Voyage dans la lune" with the Air soundtrack. I don't blame the musicians. If BFI had hired the Sex Pistols there would have been a soundtrack according to expectations. What you hear now are mostly electronic sound experiments or what is known as musique concrète. Well, these scores simply don't match the films that consist mainly of féeries, fairy tales, fantasy films or grotesques in the Méliès style with Albert Capellani shooting outdoors with a moving camera. Better composers have failed. I think of Mauricio Kagel who tried to score Bunuel's "Chien andalou". The whole thing is really annoying and unless you switch off the sound and play your Rimsky-Korsakov record you can't enjoy the naive pictures.

Another thing is the booklet remark that no attempt has been made to restore or complete the films of the BFI National Archive with the support of other Film Archives holding fragments of titles on the DVD. This is no policy solely practised by the BFI. There are also DVDs from the Netherlands Filmmuseum (De wereld rond met Pathé 1910-1915), the Belge Cinemathèque (Animalomania) and the Filmarchiv Austria (Inferno) with the same approach. In fact, the Animalomania-DVD contains the same German print of "Martyrs chrétiens" as the BFI-DVD. There is also the same English version of one of my favorites, "La peine du talion", here called "Tit for Tat".
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I agree with all the previous reviewers - the films are great but quite disappointed with the music soundtrack. Some in particular - La Dance du Diable is a complete failure.
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The earlier reviews were correct . Wonderful collection of early stencil art but the soundtrack ... What were they thinking? Old projectors running backwards do nothing to enhance the images. I resorted a few times to using my own sound tracks.
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I'm an asiduous silent movie fan and an usual buyer of this kind of products. Thus, I think I'm in a fair right to say this is not what it should have been. Films, of course, are interesting in themselves, and some of them are amazing, and DVDs of these materials are always welcome. I'm also aware that they are meant for a very specific group of buyers, and thus they should meet with certain expectations. Especially if they are produced by institutions like BFI.

That's why two of the decisions taken with this collection of hand-colored early films are hard to understand and to accept:

1) Films are not restored. Even the DVD producers state that other copies of these particular films exist in other places but that they didn't care to look for them in order to improve their prints of make them more complete. They argue proudly that they present all films as they were found on their archives, untouched, as if this was good in any way. The result is you get films with jumps here and there, no beginnings or no endings, some (if not all) of which could have been avoided by checking other prints in other film institutes in Europe. I'm sure BFI has their telephone numbers. Why to make the decision of presenting incomplete materials if that could have been prevented in a DVD meant to preserve those materials is something that escapes my mind. Obviously the original film producers didn't mean their films to be shown incomplete. So, to begin with, this is in my opinion a stupid and snob decision. On many cases, not even titles are put at the beginning of the films. If the original prints had no titles, then you get no titles on your DVD, which forces you to check on the menu or on the DVD box to understand what you at watching at, for in those cases films start abruptly.
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2 Comments 28 of 36 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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I agree with everyone's thoughts on the soundtracks. How inappropriate and annoying! If they want to experiment, go experiment on some other group of films...or better yet they should play "Far Away" as the old joke goes. A failed experiment indeed.
I think these probably played in some places with no sound at all. One of those places is in my living room. The films are little gems after muting the speakers!
Note: Not one of the above stars go to the musicians.
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