L'Art cinématographique, 'that the great silent cinema of Sweden is dead, dead and buried. . . . It would take a genius to resurrect it from its present, routine state.'
The fiction films made in Sweden in the silent period are estimated to have been about 500 (including shorts synchronized with phonograph recordings). About 200 are at present preserved at the Svenska Filminstitutet in Stockholm.
Engberg, Marguerite ( 1977). Dansk stumfilm.
Film in Norway ( 1979).
Forslund, Bengt ( 1988), Victor Sjoström: His Life and his Work.
Schiave bianche allo specchio: le otigini del cinema in Scandinavia (1896 1918), ( 1986).
Uusitalo, Kari ( 1975), 'Finnish Film Production (1904-1918)'.
Werner, Gösta ( 1970), Den svenska filmens historia.
Original as it may seem in style and subject-matter, film production in Russia started as an offshoot of international trade. Because neither cameras nor film stock were manufactured in Russia in the 1910s, Russian production companies developed in a very different way from the major film companies in the west. Rather than being a corollary of the equipment industry, national filmmaking in Russia was actuated by importers (in the first place), distributors, and (in rare cases) theatre owners.
With the notable exception of the ex-photographer Alexander Drankov, the importer was the key to the first production companies in Russia. The importer was a gobetween linking foreign film producers and local exhibitors; the more companies an importer was able to enlist, the more chances he had to launch his own production. Alexander Khanzhonkov's production company started as a small commission agency selling films and projection equipment manufactured by Théophile Pathé, Urban, Hepworth, Bioscope, and Itala Film. Companies like Gaumont (until 1909), Warwick, Ambrosio, Nordisk, and Vitagraph were represented by Pavel Thiemann, another powerful figure in the pre-revolutionary film industry. Because it took a lot of travelling between Russia and the exporting countries, the share of early American films on the Russian market was relatively small. Pathé-Frères preferred to send their own representatives engaged in equipment sales (from 1904), laboratory services, or production ( 1908-13). Gaumont followed Pathé's example, but on a more modest scale.
Around 1906-7, film theatres in Moscow and St Petersburg started renting used prints to the provinces, and the system of importers purchasing films from production companies to resell to exhibitors began to be replaced. Specialized distribution agencies in Moscow supplied prints to the city's theatres and regional agencies. Each regional agency controlled several provinces, known as their 'distribution district' (prokatnyi rayon), renting prints to local cinemas.
Incidentally or otherwise, the first home-produced films appeared when the distribution system was fully established on the Russian film market. Combining production with distribution in this way was the only hope of success for a film-producing company in Russia in the 1910s. A vertically semi-integrated system allowed Russian studios to invest the money they earned from distributing foreign films into native productions-a system that would be used, with variable success, by the stock-holding company Sovkino in the mid-1920s.
Two types of strategy -- disruptive and competitive -- were employed by studios competing for the Russian market. Disruption (sryv), was a notorious gimmick whereby a competitor's production was undermined by a cheaper (and sloppier) version of the same subject (story, title) released earlier or on the same day. Borrowed from the theatre entrepreneur F. Korsh (who used the method to rob competitors' first productions of their novelty value), disruption was systematically employed in the film industry by financially insecure companies like Drankov or Perski in order to tempt regional renting agencies with a low-price alternative to Khanzhonkov's or Pathé's hits. This policy achieved little beyond hectic production races and a pervasive atmosphere of paranoid secrecy. Distinct from disruption, a strategy of competition (developed by studios with solid financial backing: first Khanzhonkov, Pathé-Frères, Thiemann, and Reinhardt, later Yermoliev and Kharitonov) consisted of promoting the idea of 'quality pictures' and turning a recognizable studio style into a marketable value.
In terms of style, Russian pre-revolutionary film-making falls into two periods, before and after 1913. From 1908 and the first Russian-made movie (Drankov's Stenka Razin) until 1913, the two main competitors were Khanzhonkov & Co. and Pathé-Frères. However, in 1913 all foreign production in Russia was curtailed, and the