The Sounds of Early Cinema (Early Cinema in Review: Proceedings of Domitor)
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The Sounds of Early Cinema is devoted exclusively to a little-known, yet absolutely crucial phenomenon: the ubiquitous presence of sound in early cinema. "Silent cinema" may rarely have been silent, but the sheer diversity of sound(s) and sound/image relations characterizing the first 20 years of moving picture exhibition can still astonish us. Whether instrumental, vocal, or mechanical, sound ranged from the improvised to the pre-arranged (as in scripts, scores, and cue sheets). The practice of mixing sounds with images differed widely, depending on the venue (the nickelodeon in Chicago versus the summer Chautauqua in rural Iowa, the music hall in London or Paris versus the newest palace cinema in New York City) as well as on the historical moment (a single venue might change radically, and many times, from 1906 to 1910).
Contributors include Richard Abel, Rick Altman, Edouard Arnoldy, Mats Björkin, Stephen Bottomore, Marta Braun, Jean Châteauvert, Ian Christie, Richard Crangle, Helen Day-Mayer, John Fullerton, Jane Gaines, André Gaudreault, Tom Gunning, François Jost, Charlie Keil, Jeff Klenotic, Germain Lacasse, Neil Lerner, Patrick Loughney, David Mayer, Domi-nique Nasta, Bernard Perron, Jacques Polet, Lauren Rabinovitz, Isabelle Raynauld, Herbert Reynolds, Gregory A. Waller, and Rashit M. Yangirov.
directly to the fragmentation of artistic modernism than to idealist models of an ahistorical “realism.” As Crary puts it, “Any effective account of modern culture must confront the ways in which modernism, rather than being a reaction against or transcendence of processes of scienti¤c and economic rationalization, is inseparable from them.”9 The technological double potentially calls into question the nature of human identity in a manner that parallels (and perhaps inspired) the initial
commit suicide, Bauer’s mise-en-scène demands that the perverted mistress go on dancing for quite a while with her guest, using exacerbated, hyperbolic movements. The audience must perceive 106 Dominique Nasta aurally the tango’s sensuous rhythmics in order to fully experience the shock of the victim’s subsequent suicide.20 A ¤nal comment on an apparently less sophisticated dance occurrence, this time from Gustavo Serena’s realistic melodrama, Assunta Spina (1915).21 A few moments before the
effects traps and machines, especially the Allefex), appears as “An International Survey of Sound Effects in Early Cinema,” Film History 11, no. 4 (1999), 485–498. 3. Colin N. Bennett, The Handbook of Kinematography, 2nd ed. (London: Kinematograph and Lantern Weekly, 1913), 280. 4. Kinematograph and Lantern Weekly, 5 September 1907, 258; 12 September 1907, 274–275. 5. Views and Film Index, 13 October 1906, 3. 6. Bioscope, 7 October 1909, 5. 7. “Effect Machines,” Bioscope, 8 November 1909, 4.
Culture: Magazines, Markets, and Class at the Turn of the Century (London: Verso, 1996). 47. I develop this argument most fully in The Red Rooster Scare, or Making Cinema American (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999). 48. During one of the discussion sessions at the Domitor conference, Karel Dibbets 154 Richard Abel (University of Amsterdam) made the provocative point that, at this time and even later, the German tonbilder may have had a function similar to that of the American
A clever speaker, resourceful in gags, humor and disguises of voice can, however, infuse much interest and add greatly to the enjoyment of the average ¤lm in this way.”35 Given his role as general manager of Cameraphone, Herbert’s negative assessment of ¤lm “talk” as an adjunct to screen realism should be taken with a hefty grain of salt. Nonetheless, his comments do suggest how ¤lm “talkers” might have drawn, however successfully in the eyes and ears of audiences, from differing aesthetic