Welcome one and all to the 1st Annual
Galileo School Summer Film Festival
Please mark the dates on your calendars and come with us on a fantastic journey
to discover the wonder and magic of the cinema
We asked filmmaker Bill DiPietra to design a summer curriculum for our
school that would serve as a great introduction to the study of film. We thought it
would be fun for lots of people to watch the movies separately but come together afterwards
online to discuss the films as a group. So after you watch the films come back to
http://www.TheGalileoSchool.com to share your feelings, opinions and reviews.
Bill DiPietra will join the discussion. Come and ask questions, explore
ideas, and have fun! You can find all the movies on Netflix and Amazon.com/vod.
We hope you will join us.
JULY: The Magic of The Silent Era
These are films that were made when the motion picture industry was still
in its infancy. One can really learn the grammar of filmmaking by watching these
because they are told the only way any film should be told: visually.
Watch the films below and join the discussion all week long July 14-21st.
• The Passion of Joan of Arc – Carl Dreyer
• Biograph Shorts – D.W. Griffith
• Landmarks of Early Film Parts I & II– The Lumiere Brothers, Georges Melies, etc.
AUGUST: The Foreign Film
A good starting place to begin exploring films from all over the world. Open your mind to new
adventures in storytelling with these three classics.
Watch the following films then join the discussion all week long August 24th-31st
• The Bicycle Thief – Vittorio De Sica
• The Seven Samurai – Akira Kurosawa
• Ballad of a Soldier – Grigori Chukhrai
Bill DiPietra founded Richmond Productions, Inc. in June of 2007. Its mission is to create meaningful, thought-provoking short films in the spirit of master filmmakers such as Ingmar Bergman, Stanley Kubrick, Federico Fellini, Jean-Luc Godard, Sergei Eistenstein, Roberto Rossellini and many others.
PASSION is Richmond Productions, Inc.’s first production. It premiered at the 4th Annual Columbia Gorge Film Festival and earned the Best “Shortest” Experimental Film award. ‘Passion’ was also a 2011 Platinum Reel Award Winner for Experimental Film and was most recently presented at the Nashville Film Festiva, 2012. It’s about to start a University touring run around France and Spain as an official selection of the 2012 Cannes Independent Film Festival.
54 thoughts on “1st Annual Galileo School Summer Film Festival”
Just after watching Landmarks of Early film. It was a lot to take in. My first overall impression was the creative special effects achieved with simple methods. In the Great Train Robbery they placed projector screens in the windows to simulate activity taking place outside. It was primitive yes, especially compared to the effects we are used to in today’s films, but it worked nonetheless and certainly helped to visuallyl enhance the story and advance the plot. Any thoughts?
I agree the effects were very riveting, but this makes effects and CGI look more amazing. We have come a long way in the Cinema. Boy, and I thought the effects in the 80’s were bad. Even though I’m very impressed with the movies made over 100 years ago, I now have much more respect for the people who work in the film industry. Can you believe they actually had to paint the film to add color?
My favorite effect used in Landmarks of Early Film was the method of painting directly onto the film. The color, although a bit messy and unrealistic, was an unexpected delight and a was very beautiful as well. Before watching some of these films, I was unaware of this technique and was pleasantly surprised when a crate exploded and bright orange flashed across the screen in The Great Train Robbery. The pastel yellow coloring of the ladies’ skirts throughout the film were mesmerizing as well. The fact that the colors used didn’t seem realistic gave it an air of simplicity and subtle beauty. I like silent films, however, some of them were hard to follow. I wished some of them had been a bit simpler so you could understand what was going on. I enjoyed Landmarks of Early Film, and can’t wait to see more silent films later this week!
I think Payton is right. The painting of the film was an interesting fact. It was a nice touch to the black and white film. It also took thought away from the very bland cinematography. Every short film we watched was almost from the same angle and perspective. Does anyone know why and when they stopped painting film, and is there a reason why the cinematography was the same in almost every film?
Good observation on the angles and perspective: as you watch films from this era onward, make note of these. Early film cameras would have been more cumbersome and provided less opportunity for the camera operator to move.
I’m not certain of the reasons why painting fell out of fashion, but my guess would be:
– too expensive
– as film technology advanced, the opportunity to use paint might not be there in all cases.
I will have to take your word on this one. You have some reasonable answers that I cannot argue with.
I agree with you jack and I agree with you Daddy. In my opinion, I think they stopped painting film because it is very hard to paint it. It takes time a effort to paint film. So even though they did it write sometimes, as you saw, they still were a bit messy.
Most of the films presented in ‘Landmarks of Early Film’ had very few subtitles to guide the story, some had none. I was surprised by this because in my mind the bits of silent films I have seen over the years had more words to guide the story. It seems to me, being that these are the earliest examples of film, that as films evolved they came to have more written words, then more written dialogue and eventually an actual audio track. Do you think it would be easy to tell a story with only actions and no words? What film did the best job of this from this collection?
I think the Great Train Robbery did the best job. A story was told very clearly and I undersood who was who and what was going on. In most of the other films it was difficult to tell who was who and what was going on. It is very hard to make a movie or tell a story with no words. That’s why I think The Artist won best film,because they succeeded in telling a story and having the audiance understand and enjoy it.
One possibility is that we are watching these films as curated works … audiences who enjoyed them during their time may have been more actively engaged with the material – perhaps they shouted out the dialogue themselves or voice actors were employed to provide dialogue for the actors onscreen. Many of the films here were new to me, so I’m not sure. It might be interesting to take one of the films you found confusing and give it your own storyline and dialogue.
I think that “Troubles of a Grasswidower” was the best because it explained that women were kind of maids to their husbands. He tried to cook his own meals but he could not. I can understand that because he probably never cooked his own meal before. There is one part of it that was very silly to me. He tries to make the bed but he just messed it up even more. This film was easy to follow although it had no words.
Easy to follow yes, but accurate it was not. Men are completely capable of doing all those things. It is a false stereo-type similar to the stereo-type that women are maids and servants to their husbands.
Have you seen your father make the bed?
there’s the pot calling the kettle black …
I agree with Jack, the Great Train Robbery was the easiest to understand and follow. You could plainly tell from the title and the actual film itself that somebody was robbing a train. The Girl and Her Trust was also easy to follow. It also had a bit of a deeper storyline, more than The Train Robbery. I find The Girl and Her Trust to be the most impressive film in the collection.
One of the things I found to be most fascinating was the progression from inventors/engineers like Edison, who made simple films to simply demonstrate the power of the invention, to the films of artists like Melies and their desire to project their imagination onto the screen despite the limitations of the medium. What were some of the ways you saw Melies bring depth to the screen?
Some questions to consider:
– Are there any aspects to these films that you find to be more effective or more powerful than modern day film?
– Purely as a reflection of the times, what did you think of the subject matter and what, if anything, does that tell us about society at the time and society today?
I think the films Thomas Edison made were like every day life. Such as knocking down a wall. In New York we see construction all the time. I think that tells us something about society back then and how it has changed. They must have been so fascinated that they didn’t care what they were watching as much as that they were watching it. As time has gone on the bar has been set higher and higher. Today we are all very harsh critics of movies. Back then they didn’t even start to start to think about plots until everyone had been used to film.
Very insightful Jack. I agree. But isn’t fascinating for us now to get little glimpses into history from these films? I especially liked watching the milkman deliver the milk. How ordinary an activity this must have been back then, yet it raised a thousand questions in my mind. Not least of which was how did people not get sick from drinking unrefrigerated milk being doled out with a dirty bowl and a dirty dog drooling in it??
I find that simply just watching a silent film of a man and woman eating breakfast is extremely exciting and interesting. To see what people looked like and ate and drank 100 years ago is so neat! If I was shown a silent film of a present day man and woman eating, it wouldn’t be enjoyable, but for some reason watching someone from a century ago eat is fascinating.
what i want to know is where did they find the actresses and actors?
They cast them!
Great question. The theatre of course! Many of the actors were accustomed to performing on a stage before a live audience which, as you know Ava, is very different than performing for a camera. This is one of the reasons for some of the awkwardness that we perceive in some of these early films. These people were the pioneers of film-acting. Also, many times the people in these films were not actors at all. They might be family members, neighbors or co-workers, set builders… We know that even the director and his wife got in on the act occasionally, right?
What do you think inspired some of the plots of some of these films? How do you think Georges Melies came up with the idea for A Trip to the Moon?
Sean: Those are great questions for everyone to ponder.
Vanessa: There were indeed a lot of title cards used in silent films so that the audience could follow the story. But your last comment was the most telling. FILM IS A VISUAL MEDIUM. And when you can grasp the story with little or no title cards, that’s just good filmmaking. It’s the same today. You have a lot of dialogue-driven feature films that make a lot of money at the box office, but they have absolutely no visual narrative. When Steven Spielberg was on “Inside the Actor’s Studio” he said that if you turn off the volume when you’re watching a film and can still follow the story, then somebody’s doing something right.
Jack: I understand that compared to today’s visual effects and cinematography, these little films seemed rather dull and murky. But put yourself in that time period for a moment. Audiences were mesmerized to see far-off lands that they would probably never see in person projected onto a two-dimensional screen. Everyone was very used to still photography, but here were motion pictures. You’re correct: the rather wide framing was standard for a lot of early shorts like the ones you just saw. But since film was still in its infancy, the people behind the cameras were just having fun experimenting with the new innovation and audiences were eating it up.
And yes, the effects that are created today are amazing. But they are done by computer. Think of the laborious efforts that were made by those early craftsmen to paint EVERY FRAME. Twenty-four frames of film consist of one-second of screen time. I’m not sure when it stopped, but it’s a good question and I will try to get you the answer to it!
A few side-notes: “The Great Train Robbery” was the first film to use “parallel ediitng” – cutting from scene A, to scene B and then back to scene A – to make the audience aware that there were multiple actions going on at the same point in time. And George Meleies was the filmmaker who introduced basic effects like fades & dissolves to the cinema.
See yas next time!
Thanks Bill! We are off to a great start. These are the beginnings of many great conversations to come. We learned a lot watching this collection of films.
So, we just finish watching Carl Theodor Dreyer’s “The Passion of Joan of Arc”. The leap that we made in storytelling from “Landmarks of Early Film” is a big one. Dreyer doesn’t so much tell us a story but gives us an experience. Rather than following along from a distance, the camera work makes us feel as if we are in the room experiencing this inquisition. We are close to the characters, literally and figuratively. I liked the very creative use of camera angles. Joan is almost always shot from above and her Inquisitors are almost always shot from below. Can anyone guess what is trying to be conveyed with this technique?
I have a good guess. Dreyer probably is aiming to portray Joan as small and innocent, For in the whole movie she seems overwhelmed by everything and everyone. When shooting from above, the camera makes the person it is filming smaller. The opposite happens when you shoot from below. The Inquisitors are high and mighty. They are very important and powerful people. So when Dreyer filmed them from below they looked very large and mighty ( and regal in some sense). In this way the cinematography is very unique.
I would agree about the use of those angles to imply power or the lack thereof. This is something we see used all the time in films from later dates. I wonder if Dreyer was among the first to use these angles? By 1927 there were already almost 4 decades of films made. Was Dreyer inspired by earlier filmakers or the innovator? I guess that question is difficult to answer because so many early films have been lost or destroyed.
I think that the angles are suppose to represent who had power or not.
To me Joan seemed to be confused. I think that Joan was very brave to face the fact
that,to her,she had to do the right thing and stand up for herself. She had to stand up for what she beleived in.
Mom- I am guessing that it was to create the sense of the fact that the judges were extremely powerful, and that Joan was not. I was fascinated by the cinematography in ‘The Passion of Joan of Arc’. There were some very unique shots that intrigued me, such as upside down shots, or shots of a reflection in water. However, there were several shots where the person or object was not entirely in the frame. Was this on purpose, or because they couldn’t see what they were filming?
I loved the shot of the reflections in the water. I also liked the baby at the mother’s breast and the opening shot that pans the length of the room. In that shot there are people in the foreground and the background and it feels like you are in the room with them waiting for something important to happen.
Can someone answer this question ? In The Joan of Arc film, things were being mouthed on screen but not translated in writing. Why is that? Was this meant to be? Was this a mistake that was uncorrected? Was I the only one who noticed it? Am I wrong? Any Thoughts?
You are not alone, I did notice that most of the time their mouths were moving but no words were coming up.
I noticed it too Jack, but I think that they included the things that were not translated directly after they were said, either in the translation that had come before or had come after.
We come back to good story-telling and editing, here. This is seen in a lot of classic silents and the most logical reason for it is that someone like Carl Dreyer knows when NOT to do something (in this case, put a title-card up.) He probably looked at how the film was being cut together and felt the audience would be able to follow the scene without putting up a title-card every time someone’s mouth moved – which is the right way to edit. Instead of spoon-feeding the audience with title cards and turning the film into a dissertation, he lets the story unfold VISUALLY. And from the reactions I see here, it worked.
The actress who plays Joan, Renee Marie Falconetti, was a very strong presence on screen. What one word would you use to describe her character?
One word that I would use to describe Joan would be: distant. Although she was talking and interacting normally, her eyes were glazed and fixed and she seemed far away.
Fanatical. She portrayed Joan as one filled with excessive single-minded zeal. She seemed at any moment likely to collapse from the intensity.
Overcome. She seemed to be overcome with knowledge, and also fright. She was very paranoid and frightened.
I thought this would be a good film for everyone to watch as a follow-up to the Dawn of the Silent Era. As Jack mentioned, very few of the silent films that you saw last week were narratives and most hardly even had camera movement. “The Passion of Joan of Arc” is quite different by comparison. I haven’t watched this in a couple of years, but I seem to remember some very compelling and audacious tracking shots during the trial. And the sheer emotion on Marie Falconetti’s face (especially in the extreme close-ups – not a very common shot back then) combined with the sullen sountrack fully immerses the spectator in her plight.
Great black & white photography, too (something I am a big fan of!)
Jack…here is some info on the reason tinting of black and white film: By the mid to late 1920s, tinting and toning were phased out for a number of reasons, the largest being that it was expensive and time consuming. Since each color had to be dyed separately, then spliced into the show print, it also meant that each print was already weakened by having numerous splices in it, straight from the distributor. The introduction of panchromatic film stock, which registered all light rather than just blue light, also lessened the need for tinting. This meant that it was possible to shoot dark scenes and not have to tint them to relate to the audience that it was night.
Another minor, but prevalent, factor was the coming of sound. In 1929, Kodak added to their tinted stocks a brand known as Sonochrome — pre-tinted stocks for sound films that did not interfere with the soundtrack. But splicing together tinted sound prints interfered more with sound-on-disc processes such as Vitaphone, which needed to be frame accurate to keep in synchronization. Extra splices in a print were prone to human error and out of sync pictures.
I really enjoyed reading your comments…you all are becoming real film experts. I can’t wait for the next discussion.
Very interesting, Rosalie, thanks for the info! We are all learning so many new things. It was a real challenge to watch a 90 minute silent film. We are so used to film being experienced with our eyes and our ears that watching a silent film feels like something is broken. Especially a film like Dreyer’s Joan of Arc where there are no dance numbers or train robberies or circus dogs to keep us attentive. In this film we are watching the trial of Joan of Arc, a long and painful experience. But after the initial discomfort, we were drawn in. And by the end we were left very changed. The burning at the stake of Joan of Arc was scary, disturbing and very moving. I found the scene to be flawlessly shot and edited. Not once was the illusion broken. The successful suspension of disbelief enables the viewer to really become involved emotionally in this film.
Now, that’s something that even I didn’t know. Thanks!
Thats very interesting Aunt Roe! Thanks for commenting. I’ve learned so much about old film already. I can’t wait to learn more!
We just finished watching the bicycle theif. Their were some good and bad parts in the movie. There were also parts that were similar and different from American films. One good part of the movie was the part when Antonio mistakes a boy for the boy who stole his bike. The scene was well acted and well written. One bad part of the movie was the part with the old man. Don’t you think the director should have had him be in the movie longer instead of disappearing? One way the movie was alike to American films is that there was was a main character and a side character. In this case it was Antonio and his child Bruno. Most American movies have a main and side character. Like batman and robin or Han solo and chewbacca. One thing that was different from an American film was the ending. Usually in an American film there is a huge heroic ending. In this film the ending was very sudden and in some cases under whelming. Most of this movie was excellent though some parts were bad. It was very short and it lacked a good ending and a passable score. I give this movie 4 stars.
Jack- I enjoyed watching The Bicycle Thief, but I get the feeling that you did not. To make a movie moving and interesting, you don’t need a ‘passable score’ or an exciting end scene. This movie was not supposed to be exciting or funny, it was solemn and moving. The small spurts of music during a dramatic scene were to set the mood, and the sad end scene was to show that Antonio would be out of a job, meaning that he would not be able to support his family.
Today we watched a foreign film from Italy. It was called ” The Bicycle Thief”. I thought it was a great film. In the film there is more than one thief but you are not sure which one they are talking about in the title. I think the mouths were moving faster then the sound and it wasn’t timed write which was there only problem but other then that it was wonderful. I think that part of Rome was the perfect part to film it in. I liked that it was black and white it gave it a very rustic look. In the beginning Ricci sells his sheets because he needs to buy a bicycle to be able to get a job. So when he sells them he gets 7,500 dollars but Ricci shows little excitement. I wonder can anyone tell me why that is considered less money ? I think I would rate this movie 5/5 stars.
Today we watched The Bicycle Thief, an Italian film. The film was set in Rome, where a man, Antonio Ricci, sees his bicycle being stolen while he is working. He needs this bike so he can keep his job, he and his son Bruno set out to find the thief and the stolen bicycle. The movie wasn’t just about a man who stole a bicycle though, after days of looking for his bike, Antonio gives up. He decided while walking on the streets of Rome, to steal a bike he sees outside a house. He gets caught in the act, but he doesn’t suffer any consequences. Which bicycle thief do you think they were referring to in the title?
I think that the Bicycle thief in the title is the boy who stole Antonio’s bike. I want to know how you felt about the movie and how good you think it was. You have no opinions in your article, maybe add some in reply to my message.
We just finished watching the “Bicycle Thief”. It was a very good movie and it was also very a sad. The story is of a man named Antonio who is very poor and can barely feed his family. When he finally gets a job he finds out he needs a bicycle. After he gets his bike out of the pawn shop, he goes out to work, only to get his bike stolen on the first day. Through the rest of the movie him and his son Bruno keep looking for the bike until finally, Antonio is so desperate that he tries to steal a bike and fails to do so. The film ends with Antonio and Bruno walking away, down the street knowing that they will see neither Antonio’s bike or his job ever again. There were some good and bad parts in the movie. There were also parts that were similar and different from American films. One good part of the movie was when Antonio finds and confronts the boy that stole his bike but realizes he cannot prove that he is guilty. The scene was well acted and well written. One bad part of the movie was the part with the old man. Antonio sees the bicycle thief negotiating with an old man at the market place. The old man is obviously involved with the theft. Antonio confronts the old man but the old man gets away. Don’t you think the director should have had him be in the movie longer instead of disappearing? One way the movie was like American films is that there was a main character and a supporting character. In this case it was Antonio and his child Bruno. Most American movies have a lead and supporting character. Like Batman and Robin or Han Solo and Chewbacca. One thing that was different from an American film was the ending. Usually in an American films there is a huge, heroic ending. In this film the ending was very sudden and sad and in some way underwhelming. Most of this movie was excellent though some parts were disappointing. It was very short and it lacked a good ending and a passable musical score. I give this movie 4 stars.
Today we watch a movie called The Bicycle Thief. The movie is about a man named Antonio Ricci. Antonio is very poor. He does not have a job and there aren’t many to going around. When Antonio finally gets one he finds out he needs a bike so Antonio goes to the pawn shop and buys it back. This was my favorite part of the movie. This was my favorite part because the director did a good job showing how poor people were in Italy in 1948 . There is one scene when Antonio and his wife are in the pawn shop selling their sheets and we see that there are tons of people on line waiting to sell their belongings for food. It was very sad. On the first day of work Antonio gets his bike stolen. Throughout the whole movie he is trying to find this bike with his son Bruno. At the very end Antonio is so desperate that he tries to steal a bike and when he fails he is heart broken because he knows he will never get a job to feed his family again. I thought this movie was very good. I think it is very well acted movie and is easy to follow which in this case is impressive because it’s in a different language. What do you guys think could have improved the movie?
“Bicycle Thieves” is one of seven films that are considered part of the Italian Neo-Realist movement. Made during and after World War II, these films attempted to depict the drudgery of everyday Italian life in the war-torn country. Often referred to as “a cinema of poverty” or “a cinema of necessity,” neo-realist filmmakers cast local residents who had little to no acting experience and utilized harsh sunlight as their primary source of lighting. This was due to the fact that much of their film equipment was destroyed in Allied bombings during the war. So this cinema of necessity led to one of the first major film movements in history and it has influenced generations of filmmakers.