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Spiritismes/Séances (2013) is a forthcoming project by filmmaker and installation artist Guy Maddin, in which will re-create imagined versions of lost classics from cinema's silent film era. (Spiritismes is the French title, and Séances is the English title for the project.) Maddin will shoot one hundred short films within a hundred-day span, at locations in Canada, France, and the United States. The project will take the form of an art installation with an online (website) component, using the 100 short films as raw material for recombination through automatic, machinic processes, in a form of aleatoric art. The film shoots themselves are being presented as art installation projects, during which Maddin, along with the cast and crew, holds a séance "invit[ing] the spirit of a lost photoplay to possess them." The cameras used to record the shoots also live-stream their video online.
Spiritismes/Séances is described as séances for the ghosts of lost silent cinema." The majority of silent films (over 80%) have been lost for various reasons, whether misplaced, destroyed, or never completed -- including the work of well-known directors internationally regarded as significant figures in cinema history.
At the SXSW 2012 festival, Maddin announced that he had begun production on the Spiritismes/Séances project. On March 4, 2012, Maddin's productions of Blue Mountains Mystery (a lost Lottie Lyell film originally produced in Australia in 1921) and Poto-Poto (an unrealized Erich von Stroheim project), were reported in the press.
Maddin intends to release the films on a website partially hosted by the National Film Board of Canada, where online "viewers can hold their own virtual séances." This website will randomly generate a combination of the 100 short films, "connected together into a paranormally eerie, semi-coherent whole." The number of films will ensure "hundreds of billions of unique permutations."
This generated viewing experience will be shared by "3-5 other visitors from across the world who will all share the same unique experience of the website" that is destroyed after viewing. However, if visitors do not pay attention (e.g., by closing their browser and signing off prematurely) then "the signal will 'weaken' for the remaining visitors." This "weakening" will be apparent through visual and audio interference or aesthetic degeneration in the same way that the connection to the spirit world established during a séance might be thought to weaken due to the disengagement of the séance participants.
Spiritismes/Séances will also see theatrical release as a series of "live séances," during which similar degradations of the theatrical screening will occur. Cameras viewing the audience will register movement, talking, and so on, and adjust or alter the screening in response: "in direct proportion to sagging audience attentiveness, the audibility of the dialogue weakens; the actors are more likely to forget their lines; and the camera more likely to stray off the set, making boom mikes or crew members visible."
List of "Resurrected" Films
In addition to re-imagining lost films, Maddin is also "resurrecting" projects that were planned but never filmed. Maddin has stated that he will not be parodying or otherwise mimicking the approach of the directors whose films he is re-envisioning, but rather tried to capture the imagined "spirits of the films, rather than of their directors."
The following films were filmed at Centre Pompidou, Paris, February 22 - March 12, 2012.
Dream Woman (lost Alice Guy movie, 1914, USA)
Thérèse Raquin [or Shadows of Fear] (lost Jacques Feyder, 1928, Germany)
Gardener Boy Sought (lost George Schnéevoigt, 1913, Denmark)
Poto-Poto (unrealized Erich von Stroheim project)
Rausch [Intoxication] (lost Ernst Lubitsch, 1919, Germany)
The Strength of a Moustache (lost Mikio Naruse, 1931, Japan)
Lines of the Hand (unrealized Jean Vigo; his daughter Luce Vigo acted in this)
Over Barbed Wire (unrealized Aleksandr Dovzhenko, USSR)
Fist of a Cripple (lost Tetos Dimitriadis, 1930, Greece)
Blue Mountains Mystery (lost Lottie Lyell, 1921, Australia)
Idle Wives (lost Lois Weber, 1916)
Resurrection of Love (lost Kenji Mizoguchi, 1923, Japan)
Tararira (lost Benjamin Fondane, 1936, Argentina)
Bits of Life (lost Lon Chaney, Sr. & Anna May Wong, 1921, USA)
Ladies of the Mob (lost William Wellman)
Hello Pop! (lost Jack Cummings, 1933, USA)
Sperduto nel buio [Lost in the Dark] (lost Nino Martoglio, 1914, Italy)
The Blind Man (Alfred Hitchcock, unrealized)
Maddin's other planned "resurrections" are:
What Do Men Want? (lost Lois Weber, 1921, USA)
The Greatest Thing in Life (lost D.W. Griffith, 1918, USA)
Water Rats of London (lost James Young Deer, 1914, UK)
The James Mason Show (lost TV series, 1956, USA)
The Devil's Passkey (lost Erich von Stroheim, 1920, USA)
The Werewolf (lost Henry McRae, 1913, USA)
At the Café (unrealized Jean Vigo, France)
A Young Man Slept In (lost Teuvo Tulio, 1937, Finland)
The Lynching of Elizabeth Taylor (unrealized by blacklisted Edward Chodorov, USA)
Victims of Opium (lost Guan Haifeng and Zhang Schichaun, 1917, China)
Corazón Aymara (lost Pedro Sambarino, 1925, 1st Bolivian drama)
Di Yugnt Fun Rusland [Youth of Russia] (lost Henry Lynn, in Yiddish, 1934, USA)
The Bull-Dogger (lost Richard E. Norman, 1921, USA)
The Flames of Wrath (lost Martha P. Williams, 1922/23, USA)
Common Property (lost Paul Powell, 1919, USA)
Aïn el ghazel [The Girl from Carthage] (starring and written by Haydee Chikly, 1924, Tunisia)
4 Devils (lost F.W. Murnau circus film, 1928, USA -- Maddin will shoot all four lost endings)
Gunsaulus Mystery (lost Oscar Micheaux, 1921, USA)
The Forbidden Room (lost Allan Dwan incest melodrama set on a submarine, 1914, USA)
The Ownerless Ferryboat (lost Lee Kyu-hwan, 1932, Korea)
Women Skeletons (lost Guan Haifeng, 1922, China)
The Red Wolves (lost film recalled in reportage by German author Joseph Roth, c. 1928)
The Black Leotard (lost Musidora, 1915, France)
Urchins (lost Elvira Notari, 1917, Italy)
Bratishka (lost Kozintsev and Trauberg, 1927, USSR)
Feet of Clay (lost Cecil B. DeMille, 1924, USA)
The Vengeful Spirit of Eros (lost Yasujiro Ozu, 1930, Japan)
The Mountain Eagle (lost [[Alfred Hitchcock], 1926, UK)
Case of Lena Smith (lost Josef von Sternberg)
The Girl from God's Country (lost Nell Shipman winter aviation picture, 1921, USA/Canada)
A Trooper of Troop K (lost Harry Gant, 1917, USA)
Mad Fire, Mad Love (lost Esther Eng, 1949, China/Hawaii)
Take it Out in Trade (lost Edward D. Wood Jr., 1970, USA)
Monsieur Phot (unrealized Joseph Cornell)
Dalagang Bukid (lost José Nepomuceno, 1918, Phillipines)
The Goddess of Lost Lake (lost Wallace Worsley, 1918, USA)
Alam Ara (lost Ardeshir Irani, 1931, India)
The Miracle Man (lost Lon Chaney, Sr., 1919, USA)
Fergana Canal (lost Sergei Eisenstein)
Brother Martin: Servant of Jesus (lost Spencer Williams, USA)
The Telegony (lost ancient text, sequel to the Odyssey, 6th century BCE, Greece)
Bachelor Mother (lost Charles Hutchison, 1932)
A Sleeping Memory (lost George D. Baker, 1917, USA)
The Air Circus (lost Howard Hawks, 1928, USA)
Der Januskopf (lost F.W. Murnau, 1920, Germany)
Gabriele, the Lamplighter of the Harbour (lost Elvira Notari, 1919, Italy)
Hallblut (lost Fritz Lang, 1920, Germany)
Number 4 Staraya Square (unrealized Isaac Babel, USSR)
Pas de Chance (unrealized Jean Cocteau, France)
The Passion of a Woman Teacher (lost Kenji Mizoguchi, 1926, Japan)
The Dragnet (lost Josef von Sternberg, 1927, USA)
The Price of Applause (lost Thomas M. Heffron, 1918, USA)
Trumpet Island (lost Tom Terriss, 1920, USA)
Fall of a Nation (lost Thomas Dixon, Jr., 1916, USA)
The Virgin Demon (lost Ly You Sreang, c. 1970, Cambodia)
Vasya the Reformer (lost Aleksandr Dovzhenko, 1926, USSR)
Dämon des Meeres (lost Michael Curtiz, 1931, USA/Germany)
Blood and Soul (lost Kenji Mizoguchi, 1923, Japan)
The Shaming (lost Georges Méliès, 1899, France)
A Daughter of the Gods (lost Herbert Brenon, 1916, USA)
Never the Twain (lost Brad F. Grinter, 1974, USA)
La Tigresa (lost Mimí Derba, 1917, Mexico)
The Last Moment (lost Paul Fejos, 1928, USA)
An additional film, How to Take a Bath (lost Dwain Esper sexploitation film, 1937, USA) was scripted by American poet John Ashbery and completed in 2010.." In addition, Ashbery has given [Maddin] a copy of his collage-play The Inn of the Guardian Angel, which was produced from New York Times obituaries and 1930 Hollywood fanzines, to "strip-mine for dialogue for the lost films."
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 SXSW '12 Interview: Guy Maddin Talks Making 100 Short Films In 100 Days In Four Countries With Current Project 'Spiritismes'. Interview. The Playlist (2012-03-16). Retrieved on 2012-11-21.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Maddin, Guy, Evan Johnson and Robert Kotyk. Séances: Project Manual. Designed by Galen Johnson. Cinema Atelier Tovar, 2012.
- ↑ Guy Maddin is Live-Streaming Seances from Paris, Because of Course He Is. Criterion Corner (blog) (2012-03-00). Retrieved on 2012-11-21.
- ↑ It's Alive! Guy Maddin and Spiritismes. Sunset Gun (blog) (2012-02-22). Retrieved on 2012-11-21.
- ↑ Spiritismes: Guy Maddin revives lost films in Paris. A. Silent London (blog) (2012-03-04). Retrieved on 2012-11-21.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 Romney, Jonathan. "A Canadian in Paris." Sight & Sound (May 2012).
- ↑ Enright, Robert and Meeka Walsh. "A Constellation of Narratives: Dreaming the History of Lost Cinema: an interview with Guy Maddin." Border Crossings 123 (2012).
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