When Anthology Film Archives first opened in 1970, its inaugural screening – presented during a private event on November 30 – showcased four highlights from the foundational repertory cycle that would come to be known as the Essential Cinema Repertory Collection … The four films represented a short survey of film history, spanning from the turn of the century all the way up to the (then-)present day.
Voyage Across the Impossible (1904, Georges Méliès)
The hand tinted color is supremely excellent, the handcrafted, cardboard-looking sets and props very nice, and I couldn’t care less about the slapstick steampunk nonsense plot. More or less a sequel to A Trip to the Moon, this time to the sun. Jules Verne died the following year, so could potentially have seen this. When some passengers accidentally freeze into an ice block in the protective cooler car, their guide hurriedly warms them up by starting a fire with some hay… on the sun. I like the copyright notices hidden in plain sight, on cliff walls and the sides of trains and submarines.
The Midnight Party (1940s/1968, Joseph Cornell & Lawrence Jordan)
Stock Footage: The Movie. Sometimes the shots are flopped or frozen or repeated, with flashes of intertitles in between. The whole thing feels like it was made by mistake.
The Canaries (1969, Jerome Hill)
Canary songs and chirps are visualized as color blobs, which finally form new canaries made of pure sound and light which float away from the cage, visiting lovers on the beach. I wish I’d thought of this one.
Film No. 11: Mirror Animations (1956, Harry Smith)
I just watched this last year, probably my favorite of all the Harry Smith films I’ve seen.