Published: April 7, 2023
Family in the Brilliant Biograph

Q&A with Giovanna Fossati. Free show!

April 11th at 7:00pm in Fiske Planetarium.

Former CINE Prof Sabrina Negri also in attendence!

The Mutoscope and Biograph Collection is the oldest film collection held at Eye Filmmuseum. It includes over 200 films, most of which made in Europe between 1897 and 1902. This constitutes the largest existing collection of Mutoscope and Biograph films surviving in the world. 

These films are all photographed with the unique large-format 68mm Mutograph camera, which provided extraordinarily high-resolution images. These one-minute time capsules from 120 years ago still convey some of the richest and sharpest images that film can achieve. 

Let yourself be carried away in the mesmerizing events and celebrities of the time, and feel the enthusiasm of early cinema that overcame the challenge of capturing life-like movement.

The Brilliant Biograph: Earliest Moving Images of Europe (1897-1902) is the winner of the FOCAL Award 2021 in the category: 'Best Archival Restoration and Preservation Project'.

The compilation is divided into five thematically arranged chapters, connected by images of train rides, that take viewers on a tour across Europe (both in space and time). 

The selection is not based on historical or geographical accuracy. Instead, the films are put together in an abstract collage to evoke various prominent aspects of turn-of-the-century life, such as urbanization, recreation, tourism, technological innovation, and vaudeville theatre and performances. The special piano score, composed and recorded by Daan van den Hurk, holds the compilation together.

Digital technology today allows us to digitally copy the 68mm material through 8K digitization. The original system lacked the now standard perforations that drive film through the projector, which resulted in visible wear and tear. This issue has been addressed during the digital restoration process, although not all marks have been removed, as they are inherent to the technology. 

The Brilliant Biograph is an attempt to reproduce the grandeur and brilliance of the original Mutoscope and Biograph films through 8K digitization.