Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Alice Guy Goes North

Watching the first episode of Mark Cousins's Story of Film on TCM, I was glad to see him credit the pioneering director Alice Guy-Blaché as the person to very nearly invent the idea of a story arc. A number of the films she made for Gaumont are readily available on DVD from Kino Lorber, but very her early American films, produced for Solax with her husband Herbert are much less well-known. The Blachés were innovators not only in story lines, but in portraying such things as the struggles of immigrants or the everyday life of an African-American family, that many studios didn't think were screenworthy. And here, in an advert from 1911, is another genre-busting film; more than a decade before Nanook of the North, the Blachés tackled Arctic exploration as a film subject. The movie, alas, is not known to have survived, but it was probably filmed in Saranac Lake, New York, at a film 'camp' established by champion dog-musher Caribou Bill Cooper; Cooper's "Arctic Film Company" rented out its sets and dog-teams for all manner of early "Northern" films.

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