Lyrisch nitraat (1991) Poster

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Achingly Poetic...Painfully Beautiful...
bok60228 December 2005
VERY VERY FEW films can move me to tears.

This is one of them. Both the tragedy of the lost films, the ravishing beauty of the subjects captured and the precious fragments preserved here are at once poetic and pitiful.

The glorious travelogue footage of a world since vanished; the literally flickering images of men and women long since dead; the faces of children who would today be pushing 100 years old and the pathetic remains of deteriorated film footage bringing the program to a close on an eloquent and wrenching contrast...

For me the most riveting moments were those of Lyda Borelli. For all I know the fragments presented here are all that survive of her entire film career -and that alone renders into greater perspective the stunning artistry she projects simply and subtly with her eyes...a gesture...the subtle movement of her head. Even her very presence projects intensity and drama in shots where she is standing still.

It is completely possible, in the seven or so minutes that her clips are presented, to be moved and touched and involved in whatever tragic scene(s) she is enacting -even without their original context.
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Moments of brilliance in an other wise dull film
dbborroughs26 August 2007
This is another collection of clips from nitrate films spanning from 1905 to about 1912 that were found in a cinema in Denmark. Grouped together in subjects (LOOKING is a series of shots "through" telescopes or binoculars, DRAMATIS PERSONAE is introductory shots of actors, CHILDREN is self explanatory, DYING is the death of Christ in a religious film.) that sort of kind of has the structure of a film. The whole thing ends with GOODBYE which was scenes from a religious film on the Garden of Eden that has been all but obliterated by the decay of the film. With in the film there are some hypnotic travel films, a wonderful series of shots of a railway that runs on tracks over the cars and what maybe the only surviving snippets of a woman named Lydia Borelli who is a stunning beauty and seemingly great actress.

The problem is that the film doesn't add up to much. To be certain the film has some stunning pieces, and at times the marriage of image and music transcend the whole and become something special, but for the most part the sequences are simply a series of disconnected shots grouped together. The effect is sleep inducing and aside for the odd moment or piece of film I was bored to tears. Decasia, another film that uses nitrate film for different effect (all of the footage there is decaying resulting in an almost alien landscape) is much better since its use of decay forces you to work with the film
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haunting images, though somewhat pointless ultimately
tbyrne46 September 2007
Basically a collection of very early "found" film footage. We get small portions of larger fictional narratives, tourist-like shots of cities, people (mostly children) posing and smiling for the camera.

Obviously, this was early in the development of the photographic image so the footage reflects the wonder and confusion many people seemed to experience at having themselves filmed. People were not as camera trained as we are now, and seem charmingly unsure as what to do.

The big draw here (at least it was for me) is the gorgeous, apparition-like texture the film creates and exists within. Much of the footage is just breath-takingly beautiful. In particular, the wide-open tracking shots of the cities are absolutely stunning. If you have that lust for old silent film and the moods it can evoke, this is right up your alley.

Remarkable as well are the snippets of larger narratives that we get. One involving a man and a woman shipwrecked on an island and what happens to them carries tremendous dramatic weight, though we only get about three scenes (and roughly ten minutes) of actual footage.

Biggest complaint I have is that the film ultimately is nothing more than what it is: a collection of found footage. Thematically, there has been no attempt by the person who put it together to create "something" with the footage. It is what it is. Nothing more, nothing less. But ultimately, it's nothing more than pretty pictures.
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