A blog and podcast from silent film accompanist/historian Ben Model covering the techniques of creating and performing live scores to silent films, as well as a discussion of the language of silent cinema. Find what goes on in the mind of a silent film accompanist before, during and after playing for a show. Learn about the aesthetics of silent filmmaking and storytelling language.
The 6pm show of The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906), plus the 1975 Sunday, Too Far Away was introduced by Paolo Cherchi Usai, of the National Film and Sound Archive in Australia, the archive that restored these films. Paolo told of the efforts to preserve and find the pieces of the Kelly film, the first narrative feature (or one of the first). While pieces had turned up over the previous decades -- a few minutes here and a few minutes there -- nothing else had popped up until about a year ago. Another few minutes of footage turned up in a garbage can in Melbourne, were turned over to the archive and preserved, and they now had 17 minutes (at 18 fps) of the film. These were shown, with gaps between segments separated by black film. Picture quality of the surviving material was very good. Story was very simple, and footage showed multiple robberies by Ned Kelly and his gang in long single takes. There were a few original titles and some color tints, and the final section showed the capture of Kelly, who was wearing a man-in-the-iron-mask type helmet (also reminded me of Ralph Kramden as the man from Mars). Hopefully more and more pieces of this historic feature will materialize.