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Category — Film and Technology

Wide Screen 6.1 Special Issue on Videogame Adaptation

cover-finalWe’re back after a two year hiatus! This special issue, titled Videogame Adaptation has been edited by Kevin M. Flanagan. Click here to access the entire issue. As usual, it is completely open-access.

September 7, 2016   No Comments  

Early colour motion pictures

The world’s first colour motion picture was stumbled upon in the National Media Museum, Bradford last year


And Kodak’s earliest colour film:


March 17, 2013   No Comments  

Pirating history

A few hours ago the Minister of Information and Broadcasting here in India, Ms Ambika Soni announced that on the occasion of hundred years of Indian cinema (which is next year by popular account), her ministry has assigned Rs. 500 crore  in the next five-year plan for setting up the National Heritage Mission that aims to digitize and restore all audio and video tapes of Indian films. While India faces a dire need to pay more attention to archiving its cinema history, this does seem an ambitious project. But here’s hoping it sees light of day.

Meanwhile, at a less official level, I recorded a ten-minute extract of the restored Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra, ostensibly India’s first film. With cinema entering its 100th year, I would assume this film has long entered the free-copyright zone and will not land me into trouble. The aim of the arduous exercise of putting this clip on YouTube was to contribute yet another unofficial, barely legal bit to the enormous, free and pirate archive of cinema that is floating across media, particularly on the Internet. So here it is:

Read the entire press report here: http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=83059

May 3, 2012   No Comments  

Back to the dungeon

It is, without doubt, the worst of times. BTJunkie, the haven for cinephiles across the world, was not even cold (neither was Megaupload), when news of lib.nu shutting down hit academics across the world. Lib.nu, formerly gigapedia, was the online reservoir of knowledge, free knowledge to be precise, housing hundreds of thousands of PDFs of books, available to download, no questions asked. As most of us woke up to an ominously bare page that merely had the words “rip lnu”, a sense of reassurance died.

The crackdown on the grey legal area of intellectual property rights has forced us to rethink the kind access that globalization promised us. Books published by foreign publications that were not easily available even at libraries and films that the increasingly strict and not to mention ridiculously prudish Censor Board refuses to release, were accessible to those of us who wanted to watch something beyond the lazy Las-Vegasness of Kareena Kapoor’s latest outing.

Let’s face it, production houses don’t need an audience any more to break even or even to be successful. The economics of production have changed thanks to intermediary players like television rights, music rights, overseas distribution etc. A full-house is just an incidental feel-good factor, an ego massage really. And as far as books are concerned, especially academic books, students or individuals have never really bought personal copies. No profit comes from individuals, and libraries will buy books irrespective. What then is the crackdown going to achieve?

As we pledge our support to the unidentified owners of lib.nu and to the hopeful aggression of piratebay, may be it is time to rethink what freedom means any more and who it is meant for.

And as I end yet another “The end of…” piece, here’s one by Lawrence Liang who seems to hold more hope than I dare to. Click here to read.

February 19, 2012   2 Comments  

Mildred Pierce: The (Re) Making of an “Event”

By Ramna Walia

The current economic recession in the United States of America and world over has led to a literary resurgence of an odd kind as the writings of economic theorist Karl Marx started selling in record numbers. Marx has now been accorded the status of the “comeback kid” of the present financial crisis.[1] Such spacio-temporal travels of past forms testify to the retrospective view of historical narration, one that is recounted through the gap between the moment of first encounter and the moment of recounting. Revivals, adaptations, and remakes have often been seen as cultural symptoms of this echo of history. Released among a web of inter-textual as well as inter-historical articulations, Todd Haynes’s multiple Emmy award winning mini-series Mildred Pierce (2011) strategically places itself along the nodes of a faithful adaptation of James M. Cain’s 1941 depression era novel and a reflective remake of Michael Curtiz’s inventive noir adaptation (1945) of the same.  Riding on the success and cultural memory of Curtiz’s film and socio-economic resonance of Cain’s novel, Haynes builds his version of Mildred Pierce as a mega television event which uses historical memory as a means to explore and expand generic possibilities of a remake, while simultaneously foregrounding its travels through the mediums of literature, cinema and television. [Read more →]

October 11, 2011   No Comments  

Pirate film appreciation

An eclectic collection of comments on the piratebay (torrent) page of Lars Von Trier’s The Idiots (1998). The protocol of critical comments on this page sheds light on fundamental changes in where all and in what form film criticism can emerge. On the one hand, thought comes wrapped with profanity and disgust, while on the other, this very pirate, very illegal page has the germs of a fan club, a discussion forum and indeed a quick film appreciation session! [Read more →]

August 10, 2011   No Comments  

From movie posters to DVD covers

I recently came across an article on The Atlantic, written by Steven Heller who discusses how DVD covers use original poster designs but add add stills from the film that make it more appealing and more marketable a package. In particular, he discusses the ‘butchering’ of the work of Saul Bass who did art work, titles and posters for Alfred Hitchcock among many others.

Click here to access the article.

April 3, 2011   No Comments  

The Allegory of the ‘Cave of Forgotten Dreams’, 3D

When I arrived at my hotel in Berlin to cover the film festival, I was surprised to discover a default image of a wood fire quietly crackling away on the flat screen TV on the wall of my room. I wondered what our caveman relatives would have made of a civilization that has come to this point: we don’t need a fire for heat anymore, but we still enjoy seeing and hearing one, even if it’s virtual. [Read more →]

March 15, 2011   No Comments  

Treating ‘orphan’ films

From: http://www.kino.com/metropolis/

Film prints that have been lost or damaged are referred to as orphans, and for seven years now, the Film Studies Department at New York University  Tisch School of the Arts, has hosted the Orphan Film Symposium. According to an informative article on the Museum of the Moving Image website, “What once simply identified those film works that have been abandoned (however inadvertently) by their owners, rights-holders, or “parents”—newsreels and ephemera, unreleased and unfinished works, home movies and stag films—now serves as a catchall for any work that exists outside the mainstream of commercial cinema. Indeed, any film whose future is in jeopardy—due to its diminished status in film history or its low priority in the usual operations of the archive—could be classified an orphan.”

It’s a wonderful report of the 7th Orphans Film Symposium. Click here to read the full article.

June 13, 2010   No Comments  

Mrinal Sen’s Khandar at Cannes 2010

Last year the Cannes Film Festival had proposed a mini-retrospective of the work of celebrated Indian director Mrinal Sen, but because the prints of most of his films were in ‘poor condition’, it never came through.

This year, Sen’s film Khandar has been selected as one of the films that will be screened in the Cannes Classics section of the festival. Films of directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Luis Bunuel and Volker Schlondroff are part of this selection. Sen is expected to be present for this screening.

The National Film Archive in Pune was given a directive by the Prime Minister last year to restore each of Sen’s films. The screening at Cannes has reportedly been made possible because of the successful restoration.

Khandar was made in 1983 and starred Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Pankaj Kapur and Annu Kapur. I had written a retrospective piece on the film on the occasion of Mrinal Sen getting the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Osian’s Cinefan Film Festival in 2008 in New Delhi. Click here to access it.

And while the Indian press seems just thrilled at this recognition India has got at Cannes, not one of them has got the name of the film right. All sites have picked up an agency copy which refers to the film as ‘Kandahar’. They have all retained the English title The Ruins, but no one has managed to put two and two together.

May 3, 2010   4 Comments