Tag Archives: movie

The first “talking pictures” in Newfoundland

Archival Moments

June 1, 1914

Advertisement: Evening Telegram (St. John's, N.L.)

Advertisement: Evening Telegram (St. John’s, N.L.)

There was much excitement in St. John’s on June 1, 1914 the talk in the town was all about the Casino Theatre on Henry Street, audiences at the old theatre were treated to a “talking picture” that united for the first time, sight and sound, through “talking” motion pictures.

The St. John’s, newspaper, The Evening Telegram declared that this new technology created by the American Inventor Thomas A. Edison, just one year previous, known as the ‘Edison Kinetophone’:

“has taken its place among the high class theatrical attractions now touring Canada and the United States, and is successfully competing with the largest of dramatic and musical organizations.”

Those attending the premier of the first talking pictures in Newfoundland were enthusiastic in their praise:

“it was with a general feeling that the kinetophone has scored …. the most novel success of this new mechanical form of entertainment.”

Audiences were delighted, the evening began with “the talking pictures being preceded by a film shown in the ordinary way with musical accompaniment … “. Typically, all theatres had pianos and or organs and the musician played along with the scenes as they appeared on the screen.

Following the silent film “the talkies (were) thrown on, music and voice, the clear natural tones of the actors as they appear in the different subjects is truly a marvel of genius.”

There were three presentations. In one of the subjects Sprigs from the Emerald Isle the dialogue songs and pipe music (were) so real so vivid in its presentation that the audience forgets the mechanical contrivance and last night broke into loud and prolonged applause.

The night also featured an interview with Baseball Manager John J. McGraw, manager of the New York Giants who won the National League pennant in 1913 and ended with with another talkie that scored a hit the “Four Blacksmiths” a vaudeville singing and talking act.

The reviewer for the Evening Telegram, declared that this new form of entertainment – these talking pictures would be a success. He wrote:

Every member of the audience last night spoke in most appreciative terms of the talking pictures in all their aspects the synchronization and marvelous record of human voice … it is safe to say that many of the pictures should be repeated before the company closes their engagement.”

The enthusiasm of the audiences in St. John’s was not shared by Thomas Edison the inventor. In 1913 he had produced thirteen talking pictures but by 1915 he had abandoned sound motion pictures.

It was discovered that because the sound portion was played on a phonograph that was separate from the projector, it was difficult to get the sound and the motion synchronized perfectly. Audiences found this annoying. Edison was an inventor, he was not a very creative film producer, many people thought his films were boring. Each lasted only six minutes, and portrayed scenes from famous plays or vaudeville acts.

The dissolution of the Motion Picture Patents Corp. in 1915 may also have contributed to Edison’s departure from sound films, since this act deprived him of patent protection for his motion picture inventions.

Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’ on this subject? Type  film  in the search bar here: http://gencat1.eloquent-systems.com/webcat/request/DoMenuRequest?SystemName=The+Rooms+Public&UserName=wa+public&Password=&TemplateProcessID=6000_3355&bCachable=1&MenuName=The+Rooms+Archives

 

 

Ashes, fasting and movies.

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

Ash Wednesday (March) is the beginning of Lent.

What are these ashes all about?

ash-wednesdayA colleague looked at another colleague today and wondered why she had dirt (ashes) on her forehead.  (March 1, 2017) in the tradition of most Christian churches (Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and others) it is Ash Wednesday, originally called dies cinerum or day of ashes.

Ash Wednesday is the name given to the first day of the season of Lent, in the typical Ash Wednesday observance, Christians are invited to the altar to receive the ashes. The Pastor applies ashes in the shape of the cross on the forehead of each, while speaking the words, “For dust you are and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).

For over twelve hundred years on the dies cinerum (day of ashes) faithful followers have approached the altar and received ashes upon their foreheads. These ashes are made from the burnt palm branches that were blessed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year.

Abstaimning , fasting and generally changing one’s lifestle during Lent was  taken very seriously.  People would often give up there favourite food, would refuse to play cards and or attend dances and other social functions.

Imagine, no movie fro 40 days!!

No movies during Lent

No movies during Lent

During Lent of 1909, Michael Francis Howley, the Catholic Archbishop of Newfoundland was very concerned about a relatively new form of entertainment that had become quite popular. His concern about this “new entertainment” stirred him to release a Pastoral  Letter to be read in all churches. The Pastoral Letter outlined the rules and regulations of Lent for that year.  The letter was very direct and forbade Catholics:

“to attend any worldly amusements; such as balls, dances, even in private houses, parties, theatrical or other entertainments, such as these new forms of moving pictures, or shows of any kind held in Public Halls by whatsoever name they may be called.”

The first moving picture in the province a showcase of moving images of famous persons was shown on February 19, 1901 at the British Hall (later known as the Paramount Theatre).

The idea of abstinence and fasting  is not exclusive to the Christian world.

Buddhism, the Buddha Himself encouraged monks and nuns to limit their food intake after the noon meal, and therefore it is common practice among Buddhist monks and nuns to refrain from eating after noon until the next morning on a daily basis.

Jews fast for six days which are spread out at various times in the Jewish calendar year; this means abstinence from food and liquids for both men and women – unless certain exemptions are necessary such as illness or pregnancy. The most important and holiest day of the Jewish year is Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement), and on this day Jews will fast and pray for a period of 25 hours.

Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset for 30 days during the month of Ramadan, (which is the month the Prophet Muhammad revealed the Quran), followers are to abstain from food, liquid and smoking. Fasting is considered the fourth of the Five Pillars of Islam (These pillars are: i. Creed; ii. Daily prayer; iii. Almsgiving; iv. Fasting; v. Pilgrimage), and it is obligatory for both men and women.

 

The First Newfoundland Film

Archival Moment

August 26, 1914

The First Newfoundland Film

The First Newfoundland Film

There was much excitement in St. John’s on August 26, 1914, residents interested in film were excited about the first public showing of a film that was produced in Newfoundland. They were anticipating the showing of the production “Ye Ancient Colony” at the Nickel Theatre.

The setting for the film was the newly established ‘Bowring Park’ known to most residents of the city as the Rae Island property. The company that had undertook the venture was the Newfoundland Biograph Company with financial backing from A. Winter, Mr. Outerbridge and Mr. Harvey.

The film was by today’s standards a documentary featuring the official opening of Bowring Park on 15 July 1914 by His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught.

Those promoting the film wrote in the Evening Telegram:

“We are inclined to hail the advent of the local firm who have had the courage to inaugurate the idea of preserving by means of animated photography figures, scenes and occurrences of our Home Land. Their courage and enterprise is something of which we must not lose sight ….“

The newspaper went on to read:

“and it is hope that the people who witness the film at the Nickel Theatre tonight, will bear in mind that this splendid presentation is no mere passing item, an ordinary release, but is a local rendition of a local subject, photographed by local people, financed by local promoters and offered as Newfoundland’s first contribution in the way of animated photography.”

Though much of the early film shot in Newfoundland and Labrador was lost or destroyed, a valuable and significant archive has been preserved.

Recommended Archives: The Provincial Archives at The Rooms includes footage by pre-Confederation filmmakers, Varick Frissell’s; The Viking (1931) and The Great Arctic Seal Hunt (1927) , NIFCO, the National Film Board of Canada maintain rich collections of much of the work done since Confederation. Search the Archives: https://www.therooms.ca/collections-research/our-collections

Recommended Reading: The Newfoundland and Labrador Film Development Corporation (NLFDC). The NLFDC has been mandated to promote the development of the indigenous film and video industry in the Province, as well as to promote the Province in national and international film and video markets as a location for film, television, and commercial productions. Read more:  http://www.nlfdc.ca/

Recommended at The Rooms Theatre: View archival film footage of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians during the First World War.  Ongoing showings from 2 – 4pm in the Level 2 theatre

Recommended Film Festival: The St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival (SJIWFF) is one of the longest running women’s film festivals in the world. Established in 1989 to support and promote women filmmakers, SJIWFF produces several screenings, workshops and other events throughout the year, culminating in a five day film festival held in October in St. John’s.  http://www.womensfilmfestival.com/