Sunday 26 December 2021

Defending Cinephilia 2021 - First instalment of the annual series - The editor offers his thoughts

 So… a delayed start to this series where cinephiles are asked to offer five highlights that made their year.. but contributions now called for and previous contributors will be contacted

Mary Harald, Tih-Minh


Tih-Minh (and Judex) on Blu-ray

David Hare leapt all over this and you can read his thoughts  IF YOU CLICK HERE but what has to be recognised is the fact the French taxpayer paid hundreds of thousands of Euros to get these films restored and returned to an adoring public. A couple of years ago French producers had access to an annual fund of some 30 million to have their back catalogues restored. Needless to say Gaumont and Pathe would have been the major beneficiaries. But when you have Feuillade in your backlist you have both an awesome responsibility, a huge cost and a massive opportunity. The French lab outpost of Bologna’s L’immagine ritrovato has done the company proud with these two films, now released on Blu-ray. David Hare didn’t mention the extraordinary music score by Julien Boury nor the very subtle incorporation of some sound effects – bird song, the sea, pistol shots. 


As a matter of interest, it was reported that Emmanuel Macron’s government has slashed the funding for this program down to 3 million or thereabouts per annum. Nevertheless the most recent list on the CNC site, which you can find IF YOU CLICK HERE means we can look forward to more Feuillade (Vendemiaire) as well as more restorations of Gance, Truffaut, Carax, Becker, Mocky, Capellani, Franju and Doillon among a host of others from every era of French cinema.


Tih-Minh has largely existed in a terrible copy on YouTube. It has French and Dutch intertitles. I tried to watch this version on a couple of occasions but gave up early. You can see what I mean IF YOU CLICK HERE


Ever since Tom Milne wrote about a Feuillade season at the NFT, using 35mm nitrate prints  from the Cinémathèque Française, Tih-Minh always had a reputation that placed it in the same Pantheon as Fantomas, Les Vampires and Judex. Now we know.

You can think of it as the 21stcentury equivalent of the public lending library. That’s the most benign view. Needless to say many producers and their heirs and successors going back over a century think of them as thieves, and no doubt despise the Russian authorities who turn a blind eye  to permit blatant free exploitation of someone else’s intellectual property. has become the go to site for enthusiastic cinephiles to upload their treasured collections for all to see. No one gets paid to upload a movie, no one gets charged to watch whatever they find in whatever condition they find it.  And its all there in plain sight not some dark backchannel where whatever is the latest has been purloined and uploaded mostly to cause grief. Some of the users are utterly dedicated to the task of bringing the cinema’s history out of its closets and archives. By my count, someone called FleurRinna Guta has uploaded some 8000 films, all neatly categorised by star name, genre, period and nationality. A labour of cinephile love.


Cecil Holmes

Cecil Holmes and Three in One

The conventional wisdom about Cecil Holmes and his film Three in One is that the first two stories of the trilogy "Joe Wilson’s Mates” and “The Load of Wood” were very good and the third “The City” written by Ralph Petersen, was a clumsy and rather artless afterthought. Wrong. The screening of Three in One at Cinema Reborn in April, on a 35mm print from the NFSA that had hardly ever been through a projector, caused many to sit up straight and do a major re-assessment. The first story with its interpolations of some cod songs by The Bushwhackers goes on far too long. The second with Leonard Teale and Jock Levy is a small masterpiece. Petersen’s story captures the zeitgeist of the day superbly. 


The screening reminded me, if nobody else, that the AFI never honoured Cecil Holmes with the Raymond Longford Award, an oversight I shall not dwell on except to refer you to the list of winners. Many of them are exceptionally worthy but..

Moly Reynolds and David Gulpilil


My Name is Gulpilil

Moll Reynolds tribute to Gulpilil barely arrived before the great man passed on. A magnificent tribute and a reminder of an extraordinary life and unique career. The sequences featuring an unknown to me one man show that Gulpilil performed should surely be a priority for NFSA preservation, restoration and circulation.

Jed Mercurio


Jed Mercurio

Nobody does TV like Jed Mercurio. Ten years of Line of Duty is one thing. Throw in Bodyguard and an EP job on Bloodlands in just the last couple of years and you get quite some kind of prolific ability to keep millions enthralled.        


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