Lyrisch nitraat (1991) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • This film is a compilation of scenes from silent films made between 1905 and 1915 that sat in storage in an Amsterdam cinema for many years. The title refers to the deteriorating nitrate film stock used in these films.

  • Surviving very short film clips of the period 1905-1912 are loosely grouped together in subjects, and a few sequences wholly intact, working like one-act plays on love, loss, and death. The clips are introduced by title cards: BODY, various human forms; LOOKING, shots of people looking through telescopes or binoculars, and a montage of what they have seen; DRAMATIS PERSONAE, introductory shots of actors; CHILDREN shows babies and very young children crying, smiling, and playing; DEATH is the crucifixion and death of Christ in a religious film, partly tainted in yellow; GOODBYE is yet scenes from a religious film showing Adam and Eve on the Garden of Eden and the tempting Serpent, with the best on camera special effects (images juxtaposed). The last sequence has been all but obliterated by the decay of the film, but with the 1990 musical score now works as an abstract painting. Amidst these categorized sections, and with no obvious relation with them, there are some travel films, shots of a railway that runs on tracks over the cars, wide-open tracking shots of the cities, and a few group and face shots of Central African natives.


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