Magazine article Journal of Film Preservation

De Pathé Frères À Pathé Cinéma. Catalogue 1915-1916-1917-1918

Magazine article Journal of Film Preservation

De Pathé Frères À Pathé Cinéma. Catalogue 1915-1916-1917-1918

Article excerpt

Henri Bousquet, De Pathé Frères à Pathé Cinéma. Catalogue 1915-1916-1917-1918 Plein Chant à Bassac (Charente): Éditions Henri Bousquet, 1999. 204 pages, ill., ISBN 2-950-7296-6-5; ISBN 2-950-7296-5-7 (complete edition)

With the fifth instalment of Bousquet's monumental filmography, the author tackles the second major period in the activity of Pathé from World War I to 1927. Any praise for such an imposing endeavor, and the persistence with which Bousquet has managed to fulfill his commitment up to this point, would be at the same time insufficient and redundant. Clearly, we are witnessing the progress of one of the most audacious projects ever attempted in the reconstruction of a reliable inventory of the films produced during the early period, something which undoubtedly deserves the gratitude of film historians and archivists. No serious library in this field could exist without these volumes.

Because of the enormity of the task, some problematic side-effects are now becoming apparent. This is particularly evident at the end of this volume, where Bousquet has succumbed to the gentle pressure of friends and colleagues (as he admits in the preface) by including titles of Pathé films produced in foreign countries such as Italy, Russia, and the United States, Germany and the Netherlands. As much as this is a welcome addition to the catalogue, this list is bound to confuse the reader, as it does not organize the inventory by country. I do know, for example, that L'haim (Catalogue number 4088, March 1911, page 170 of the book) was produced in Russia, but only because I was aware of this title and had included it in a filmography of Russian cinema published by the Pordenone Silent Film Festival in 1989. Other readers may not be so fortunate, and find themselves at a loss. Similarly, the index of titles at the very end of the volume is divided into four sections, and the rationale of their organization may not be immediately clear. With the further inclusion of another section dedicated to corrections and additions to the previous volume, it becomes evident that consulting the filmography as a whole is becoming a task as challenging as the compilation of the filmography itself. One wonders if it would have been preferable to keep all this supplemental material for a separate volume, once the basic chronology had been established. …

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