Restored Ground-Breaking Directors

 

 

Two absolute classics of worldwide cinema will be screened, for the first time, in restored copies during the 30° Mar del Plata International Film Festival. The Birth of a Nation -David Wark Griffith, 1915- and The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse -Rex Ingram, 1921- will be exhibited in definite versions never seen before in Argentina. The latter will be accompanied by live music performed by the Mar del Plata Symphony Orchestra, conducted by maestro Guillermo Becerra.

An adaptation of the novel The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan, written by Reverend Thomas Dixon Jr., Griffith’s film tells the events following the American Civil War, through the perspective of two friend families who end up as enemies due to the fact that one of them joins the Southern Confederacy, while the other one defends Abraham Lincoln’s government.

Inspired by Charles Dickens’ narrative style, the director was a pioneer in the use of cross-cutting to create action sequences that happen simultaneously but in different locations. Due to his innovative way of making the story move forward, creating diverse sub-plots that overlap –including the murder of President Lincoln– Griffith invented a new cinematographic language, creating a show that caused the audience to become particularly interested in audiovisual production like never before. It was the first blockbuster in the history of cinema.

The first Soviet film school, of which key men like Eisenstein and Pudovkin were part, analyzed the film over and over again, experiencing different narrative meanings.

Apart from its technical and epic impact, The Birth of a Nation still is one of the most controversial films of all times, due to its pro-slavery vision, portraying, animalizing and blaming the slaves for savage violations. Its racist nature becomes stronger when the Ku Klux Klan becomes a heroic figure, responsible for restoring order in the Southern states.  

This will be the world premiere of the film’s definitive restoration, championed by historian Patrick Stanbury from a 1993 restoration made by Photoplay Productions (Stanbury, Kevin Brownlow, and David Gill), and improved with elements taken from the original negatives. Joseph Carl Breil’s essential original score –one of the first to be specially written for a film– was adapted and orchestrated by John Lanchbery. Specialist Rob Byrne, head of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, invested six months in the digital cleaning of the film.

 

The second film is The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The ideological antithesis of Griffith’s masterpiece, Ingram’s film is inspired by some of the experiences of the author of the novel in Argentina, Spanish Vicente Blasco Ibáñez. The author escaped Spain due to his Republican inclination, opposed to the monarchy. His writing, considered revolutionary at the moment, had an impact on Hollywood, who saw in the novel a vehicle for telling the story of a Spanish farmer living in Argentina, whose daughters fall in love with a French and German immigrant respectively, both World War II enemies.

However, the impact of this immortal film was a consequence of Italian actor Rudolph Valentino’s sensuality, who played the role of the gaucho Julio Desnoyers, re-baptized as the first Hollywood Latin lover. The eroticism from the tango choreographies brought about a cultural revolution in the seventh art.

The commercial success of Ingram’s film turned Valentino into a living myth and, years later, he would star in another controversial adaptation of a novel by Blasco Ibáñez, Blood and Sand, by Fred Nibblo.   

The film has not been seen in its complete form in Argentine since the time of its release. The festival will dress up in order to receive it in this edition, in a 35mm print restored by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill with its original tones and a brief sequence in color, from elements preserved in Europe and the US. One of the most difficult scenes to restore was precisely the one of the tango, which had been mutilated in order to be used in countless newsreels and documentaries about Valentino. The score was especially composed by Carl Davis.

 

 

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Screening with live orchestra.

October 31st - Teatro Colón - 8.30 pm

November 1st - Teatro Colón - 8.30 pm

 

 

The Birth of a Nation

November 1st - Ambassador 4 - 7.30 pm

November 6th - Ambassador 4 - 10.10 am   

 

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