Image Entertainment in conjunction with Anthology Film Archives and Film Preservation Associates has prepared for home video release a DVD version of Unseen Cinema. The 7-disc box set contains 155 films, running 19 hours and is scheduled for release on October 18, 2005. The British Film Institute will release a similar version sometime after that.
The DVD series represents 100 avant-garde, professional, and amateur filmmakers working before World War II and is considerably refined from the touring film program. It is curated by Bruce Posner and produced by film historian David Shepard, known for his high-quality DVD restorations such as The Lost World, the Landmarks of Early Cinema series, and many other cinema masterworks: The General (Buster Keaton), The Birth of a Nation (D.W. Griffith), and The Chaplin Essanay and Mutual comedies.
Posner and Shepard have worked with the finest archival prints available, sometimes piecing together sequences from many different elements gathered from around the world. Each of the seven DVD programs runs over 2.5 hours and is ordered in themes and chronological date of production. Rare and wonderful treasures are to be found on Image Entertaiment's DVD of Unseen Cinema.
SPECIAL FEATURES include
• Picturing A Metropolis: New York City Unveiled, specially selected from Unseen Cinema DVD box set, will also be released nationally as a single DVD. The 26 short films depict scenes of New Yorkers among the skyscrapers, streets, and nightlife of Manhattan during a half-century of progress, while at the same time showing changes in film style and the history of cinema experiments.
• Ballet mécanique (Léger and Murphy, 1924) is drawn from the definitive Frederick Kiesler print with the color inserts from the hand-colored copy at the Nederlands Filmmuseum, and has been fitted for the first time ever with the George Antheil score in its original instrumentation of 16 player pianos, airplane propellers, etc.
• Twenty-four-Dollar Island (Robert Flaherty, c. 1926) is available in the longest known version of the film made from excellent 35mm film elements discovered at Gosfilmofond of Russia and Nederlands Filmmuseum with introductory titles derived directly from Flaherty’s own notes.
• Anthology Film Archives, under the direction of the legendary filmmaker and archivst Jonas Mekas, reveals its vast holdings of unique American experimental films with some of the DVD’s rarest discoveries: films by Rudy Burckhardt, Jerome Hill, Lewis Jacobs, Henwar Rodakiewicz, Seymour Stern, Christopher Young, and many more..
• Warner Bros., Turner Entertainment, and Paramount Pictures opened their studio vaults to offer excellent quality 35mm archive copies of works by James Cruze, Busby Berkeley, Oskar Fischinger, Ernst Lubitsch, Paul Burnford, and Slavko Vorkapich.
• The British Film Institute, Library of Congress, Museum of Modern Art, and George Eastman House loaned pristine preservation prints of a variety of late 19th century and early 20th century pioneer film titles by Edison Manufacturing and American Mutoscope and Biograph Companies as well as many one of a kind 35mm and 16mm films by avant-garde filmmakers Dudley Murphy, Robert Florey, and Ralph Steiner.
• The complete works of abstract film artist Mary Ellen Bute are presented in beautiful 35mm preservation prints along with numerous other ground-breaking abstract animations by Alexandre Alexeieff, Francis Bruguiere, Douglass Crockwell, Dwinell Grant, Francis Lee, Man Ray, Rrose Selavy (aka Marcel Duchamp), Norman Mclaren, and George Morris.
• Renowned American collage artists and filmmaker Joseph Cornell is represented by his brilliant film montages salvaged by animator Lawrence Jordan and include The Children’s Party, Cotillion, Midnight Party, Thimble Theater, Carousel, and Jack’s Dream (all films c. 1938- ) and several other titles inspirational to Cornell’s filmmaking.
• Vintage home movies of the 1920s and 30s by amateurs Elizabeth Woodman Wright and Archie Stewart are transferred from the original 16mm picture rolls held at Northeast Historic Films, Bucksport, Maine. While other amateur films by Norman Bel Geddes, Lynn Riggs, Emlen Etting, John C. Hecker, and Frank Stauffacher are presented off recently made preservations masters.
• At least two-thirds of the program is silent. Unless the filmmakers wished their work to be shown without music, all the silent films have been fitted out with very nice music composed and performed by some of the world’s best silent film composers: Donald Sosin, Eric Beheim, Robert Israel, Rodney Sauer, Neil Kurz, and Shane Ryan. Original music includes compositions by George Atntheil, Marc Blitzstein, Alec Wilder, Jack Ellitt, and Cameron MacPherson.
• Introductory historical notes and filmmakers' biographies written by Kevin Brownlow, David Curtis, R. Bruce Elder, Robert A. Haller, Jan-Christopher Horak, David James, Scott MacDonald, Bruce Posner, David Shepard, Paul Spehr, Cecile Starr, and 31 others and rare film and filmmakers photos in a 253-page picture gallery.