Dresden Engle's Posts

Dresden Engle is the Public Relations Manager for George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.

Many thumbs up for Roger Ebert’s Legacy

Posted by on Apr 05 2013 | Motion Pictures

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Roger Ebert in 2006 at the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House

Roger Ebert was such a good writer that he earned a Pulitzer Prize — the first film critic to earn the honor. And because he made major contributions to the art of film, George Eastman House bestowed upon him in 2006 the title of George Eastman Honorary Scholar.

Mr. Ebert passed away on April 4, 2013 at age 70, following a long battle with cancer. He leaves behind a great legacy, which was elevating film criticism to an art form. He influenced our thinking about cinema, from scriptwriting to acting, and motivated us to talk about it, either over coffee with friends or via scholarly discussions online.

When Mr. Ebert visited Eastman House, he was keenly interested in our film preservation efforts and publicly told the Dryden Theatre audience,

“George Eastman House is among the holy places of cinema, where films are loved and preserved.”

He also noted, “I won the Pulitzer Prize in 1975, but I know I’m supposed to sound more noble now that I’m a George Eastman Honorary Scholar.”

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Roger Ebert and I in the Dryden Theatre lobby

On a personal note, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and talking with Roger Ebert, who kindly participated in a press conference with our local news outlets – he was approachable, generous and, for certain, a font of knowledge in regard to film.

Over the last few years, I stayed in contact with Mr. Ebert, who remained a passionate supporter of the museum. When the museum gave an award last year to Richard Gere, I needed a single quote that would sum up the breadth of Gere’s career. I wrote to Mr. Ebert and he came through immediately for us.

When the Eastman House acquired the Merchant Ivory Productions film archive in 2010, I needed the perfect quote for the press release, to reflect the importance of these treasures and the brilliance of the Merchant Ivory team. I asked Roger Ebert for that quote, and he readily shared one:

“Working fruitfully over five decades, the team of Merchant and Ivory held steady with a vision centering on the adaptation of great literature to the screen. Without compromise, observing the highest standards, they made intelligent and worthy films that remain memorable.” And he signed the email, “Cheers, R”.

And the above quote is quite relevant since this past week we lost the writing powerhouse of the Merchant Ivory team, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.

James Ivory, also a George Eastman Honorary Scholar, is joining us in person at the Dryden Theatre tomorrow evening. With his help, we will salute these legends and be proud of their connections to our film collections as well as their place in film history.

 

 

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Preserving Oz — its legacy is great and powerful

Posted by on Mar 15 2013 | Motion Pictures

With Disney’s Oz the Great and Powerful taking the box-office lead upon opening last weekend, we have proof once again that the “Oz” legacy remains great and powerful.  From a story written in 1900, the words of author L. Frank Baum have leapt from the pages onto the stage, from small theaters to Broadway, and to the silver screen, including the MGM film of 1939 — which has been seen worldwide more than any other film ever made — and also the earliest surviving film version of the tale, dated 1910.

In the case of the two classic film versions, they are preserved at George Eastman House, and have been for decades — the only original print of the 1910 version and the original camera negatives from the Judy Garland fave, The Wizard of Oz.

Going down the yellow brick rick in the 1939 MGM classic The Wizard of Oz© Warner Bros.

Going down the yellow brick rick in the 1939 MGM classic The Wizard of Oz© Warner Bros.

The 13-minute early screen version was influenced by a stage musical directed by Baum himself and features young Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tinman, Lion, Toto, and a glamorous good witch and a scary bad witch … plus random characters like a costumed cow and dancing girls. The early film’s influence on the Technicolor classic created three decades later are detectable, from scary-faced trees to the Scarecrow’s costuming and mannerisms.

The cultural significance of the “Oz” films is obvious, but the importance of the preservation may not be so obvious. The 1910 silent film is the only existing copy in the world and its proper archiving and inspection has allowed for it to be stable enough to be digitized and shared — 103 years later — and also for the original film to be around for generations to come.

Young Bebe Daniels as Dorothy meets the Scarecrow for the first time in the 1910 silent film The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Young Bebe Daniels as Dorothy meets the Scarecrow for the first time in the 1910 silent film The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

In the case of MGM’s The Wizard of Oz, the camera negatives at Eastman House have been the original source material for every print, every video, every DVD, and every Blu-ray copy ever made. To make the 70th anniversary Blu-ray in 2009, Warner Bros Studio borrowed the 1939 negatives to create high-res scan, because the original film material is still the best source from which to garner the highest quality imaging and sound.

The studio did not use, mind you, the previous digital copy made a few years back, but the well-preserved YCM negatives (separate reels for yellow, cyane, and magenta, as these colors were layered to create the color-separations for the Technicolor classic).
These negatives were the actual film in the camera when the movie was shot, just feet away from Judy Garland, as she declared “There’s no place like home.” And Eastman House is proud to be the home for her on-screen persona for many, many years to come. Click, Click.

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From Our Vaults To Your Living Room

Posted by on Sep 14 2012 | Motion Pictures

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Barbara Kent as Mary and Glenn Tryon as Jim in "Lonesome."

Our preserved films from the vaults are making their way to your living room, as several titles have been released this year on Blu-ray and DVD. While it’s exciting to know there are 30,000 motion pictures safely housed here at Eastman House, it’s also exciting when they are shared with the world.

The latest home-video release is Lonesome, the 1928 buried treasure from Hollywood’s Golden Age, set in Coney Island over the Fourth of July weekend.

Lonesome is on the big screen tonight at the Andy Warhol Museum and our film preservation officer, Anthony L’Abbate, is in Pittsburgh to introduce the film, a pioneer in early color and talking sequences, made by little-known but audacious filmmaker Paul Fejos. The screening is part of the Warhol museum’s “Unseen Treasures from the George Eastman House” annual series.

In the spring, New York Post, Los Angeles Times, and many other national publications were buzzing about the release of the David O. Selznick Collection on Blu-ray and DVD. The set features high-definition digital transfers from the Selznick estate/personal collection preserved in the vaults at Eastman House. The titles are Farewell to Arms (1932), Bird of Paradise (1932), Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936), Nothing Sacred (1937), A Star Is Born (1937), and Made for Each Other (1939).

This fall, the Eastman House collection further adds to your entertainment releasing The Wedding of Palo (1934) and The Penalty (1920), a horror film starring Lon Chaney.

Lonesome is available now at the Eastman House gift shop or at criterion.com All other releases available at kinolorber.

 

 

 

 

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Colorama returns home to Grand Central

Posted by on Jul 26 2012 | Photography

JR. MISS PAGEANT

JUNIOR MISS PAGEANT by Lee Howick (pictured center is ABC’s Diane Sawyer) March 9-30, 1964

I had the thrill of attending a press preview in New York City earlier this week for the exhibition Colorama. I happily stood amongst a vivid selection of 36 Coloramas from the Eastman House collection, on view to the public beginning Saturday at the Transit Museum at Grand Central.

One could say this is a homecoming for the Coloramas, the gigantic panoramic images that dominated Grand Central Terminal for 40 years, from 1950 to 1990.

Over time, a total of 565 Coloramas were displayed, changing out every three weeks. These towering backlit transparencies often received ovation from New Yorkers and travelers whenever a new photo was unveiled. The ad campaign ended when the terminal was restored in 1990.

The images in the new exhibition are a few feet in width yet still subtly suggest you buy film so you, too, can take a beautiful color photo. This subtly in advertising dates back to company founder George Eastman, who sold the experience and emotion rather than just the camera and roll of film.

Colorama by Neil Montanus December 27, 1962 to January 12, 1963 #235

I’ve talked with and befriended at least a dozen of the Colorama photographers and have heard several dramatic backstories. I shared many of these stories at the press preview, and doubt I will ever tire of talking about the wonder of Colorama.

For the millions passing through busy Grand Central for almost half of the terminal’s existence, these scenes were a moment of escapism, as New Yorkers and tourists longed for these Kodak moments to unfold in their own worlds. I had that experience, once again, yesterday. And I’m still smiling.

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Happy Birthday, George Eastman!

Posted by on Jul 12 2012 | History

300 million photographs are uploaded every day to Facebook (yep, I also had to re-read the number when I saw it). And today we celebrate George Eastman’s birthday (July 12) as if it was a national holiday, remembering the young man who made photography easy and accessible more than 100+ years ago.

At just 25 years old, George Eastman began his career introducing photography and motion picture film to the masses, founding Kodak (in 1880) and ultimately becoming one of the biggest philanthropists of the 20th century.

Eastman’s legacy is still strong today, more than ever. We’re reminded of the same spirit from the drive of Steve Jobs, the intelligence and philanthropy of Bill Gates, and the innovation of Mark Zuckerberg.

As we mark the anniversary of Eastman’s birth, I recall a post written by new Eastman House Trustee Tom Hoehn, where he declared Eastman an “Internet-age pioneer.” He wrote, “I think George Eastman was prescient, a fancy term for showing knowledge of events before they take place.” This includes:

Attention to user experience and ambiguity: Eastman helped create Kodak’s first advertising slogan to explain to consumers the process would be easy: “You press button, we do the rest.” Yes, just one click and magic happened, as with the best web design. Ubiquity just like photo-enabled cameras, phones, and tablets everywhere.

Privacy: Ah, not a topic surfaced by the proliferation of Google and Facebook. When Eastman’s cameras were first introduced, people were trying to come to grips with the fact that they could be the subject of a photograph without their permission. In 1899, The New York Times reported “kodak fiends” were harassing the ladies of Newport, and Teddy Roosevelt was “known to exhibit impatience at attempts to kodak him” and even banned cameras for a time from parks in Washington as a violation of privacy.

Tagging: Kodak introduced Autographic cameras that had a flip door and a stylus, so one could notate photos as they were taken. An ad for the camera said, “It makes the record authentic; answers questions: When did make this? Where was this taken?


Thank you, George Eastman. I will celebrate your legacy tonight as I post online many photos of my children, taken as we play in your gardens during an outdoor concert. Happy Birthday and cheers!

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