Some rays of light

Source: Photograph by Andrew Byrne (@aqbyrne), posted on Twitter, 2 September 2015, https://twitter.com/aqbyrne/status/639153715631554565.

Comments: The photograph shows Syrian refugee children in Budapest, Hungary, watching an impromptu screening of Tom and Jerry cartoons, set up outside Keleti railway station by a local events company. The accompanying text reads: “Some rays of light. Hungarian volunteers have set up an outdoor projector playing ‘Tom & Jerry’ for kids. #keleti” The image was much retweeted at a time when resistance by the Hungarian authorities to supporting refugees from the fighting in Syria dominated news headlines. Andrew Byrne is an Irish journalist.

Links: Other images of the screenings are published in a piece by The Independent newspaper

Jaws on the Water

Source: ‘Jaws on the Water’ by https://instagram.com/hlkfotos, referenced in ‘The most TERRIFYING screening ever? Seriously, would you watch Jaws like this?’, http://www.express.co.uk/entertainment/films/589985/jaws-screening-on-water-scariest-films-alamo-drafthouse, 9 July 2015

Comments: A screening of Jaws (USA 1975), Steven Spielberg’s film about a shark terrorising a beach resort, at the Alamo Drafthouse, New Braunfels, Texas, where audiences watch the film from rubber rings floating in a lake. The Alama Drafthouse ski ranch and entertainment complex first introduced the ‘Jaws on the Water’ concept in 2002.

Links: Jaws on the Water event page

Red Carpet

Source: Xinhua/REX Shutterstock, http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2015/may/16/the-20-photographs-of-the-week#img-9

Comments: This photograph shows Palestians in the el-Shuja’ia neighbourhood, east of Gaza City, watching a film during the Karama-Gaza Human Rights film festival, popularly known as ‘Red Carpet’. My thanks to Deac Rossell for pointing out the photograph to me.

Links: The Guardian

First Flying Cinema

Source: E. Bacon (photographer) ‘First Flying Cinema’, 6 April 1925, Hulton Archive, courtesy of Getty Images, Editorial Photos #2666504

Comments: This photograph shows passengers on an Imperial Airways flight from London to Berlin, watching what is claimed to be the world’s first screening of a film in the air. The film they saw was The Lost World (USA 1925). The record for the photograph on the Getty Archive (originally from the Hulton Archive) is dated as 6 April 1925 with the caption “Passengers on a German airline watching the first ever in-flight film”. A live radio broadcast from Berlin supplied the music to accompany the film. However, apparently there was an earlier ‘in-flight movie’ in 1921 on an Aeromarine Airways plane circling the Navy Pier in Chicago, which showed a film called Howdy Chicago to the passengers.

Links: Paleofuture: ‘The First In-Flight Movies Had a Live Orchestra’

Scott’s Last Expedition

ponting

Colour plate from Scott’s Last Expedition: ‘Mr Ponting Lecturing on Japan’

Source: Robert Falcon Scott, journal entries for 29 May 1911 and 22 August 1911, in Captain R.F. Scott, Scott’s Last Expedition (London: Smith, Elder, 1914), vol. 1, pp. 292, 387-388

Text: Monday, May 29. – … Lecture – Japan. To-night Ponting gave us a charming lecture on Japan with wonderful illustrations of his own. He is happiest in his descriptions of the artistic side of the people, with which he is in fullest sympathy. So he took us to see the flower pageants. The joyful festivals of the cherry blossom, the wistaria, the iris and chrysanthemum, the sombre colours of the beech blossom and the paths about the lotus gardens, where mankind meditated in solemn mood. We had pictures, too, of Nikko and its beauties, of Temples and great Buddhas. Then in more touristy strain of volcanoes and their craters, waterfalls and river gorges, tiny tree-clad islets, that feature of Japan – baths and their bathers, Ainos, and so on. His descriptions were well given and we all of us thoroughly enjoyed our evening.

[…]

Tuesday, August 22. – I am renewing study of glacier problems; the face of the ice cliff 300 yards east of the homestead is full of enigmas. Yesterday evening Ponting gave us a lecture on his Indian travels. He is very frank in acknowledging his debt to guide-books for information, nevertheless he tells his story well and his slides are wonderful. In personal reminiscence he is distinctly dramatic he thrilled us a good deal last night with a vivid description of a sunrise in the sacred city of Benares. In the first dim light the waiting, praying multitude of bathers, the wonderful ritual and its incessant performance; then, as the sun approaches, the hush – the effect of thousands of worshippers waiting in silence – a silence to be felt. Finally, as the first rays appear, the swelling roar of a single word from tens of thousands of throats: ‘Ambah!’ It was artistic to follow this picture of life with the gruesome horrors of the ghat. This impressionist style of lecturing is very attractive and must essentially cover a great deal of ground. So we saw Jeypore, Udaipore, Darjeeling, and a confusing number of places – temples, monuments and tombs in profusion, with remarkable pictures of the wonderful Taj Mahal – horses, elephants, alligators, wild boars, and flamingos – warriors, fakirs, and nautch girls – an impression here and an impression there.

It is worth remembering how attractive this style can be – in lecturing one is inclined to give too much attention to connecting links which join one episode to another. A lecture need not be a connected story; perhaps it is better it should not be.

Comments: Robert Falcon Scott (1868-1912) was a Royal Navy officer and explorer, who led the British Expedition to the South Pole on the Terra Nova and died on the return journey. The expedition included a photographer and cinematographer, Herbert Ponting (1870-1935). During the winter months when there was no sun at the Antarctic various entertainments were put on for the expedition members in their hut at Cape Evans. These included regular lectures given by Ponting, using a magic lantern and photographs taken by him from around the world (Ponting had been on photographic assignments to Burma, Korea, Java, China, India and Japan). Scott’s journal makes several references to these lectures, as well as to Ponting’s photographic and cinematographic work. Ponting did not exhibit his films to the expedition as he did not have a projector not the mean to process prints from his negatives.

Links: Copy at Internet Archive

Scott's Last Expedition

ponting

Colour plate from Scott’s Last Expedition: ‘Mr Ponting Lecturing on Japan’

Source: Robert Falcon Scott, journal entries for 29 May 1911 and 22 August 1911, in Captain R.F. Scott, Scott’s Last Expedition (London: Smith, Elder, 1914), vol. 1, pp. 292, 387-388

Text: Monday, May 29. – … Lecture – Japan. To-night Ponting gave us a charming lecture on Japan with wonderful illustrations of his own. He is happiest in his descriptions of the artistic side of the people, with which he is in fullest sympathy. So he took us to see the flower pageants. The joyful festivals of the cherry blossom, the wistaria, the iris and chrysanthemum, the sombre colours of the beech blossom and the paths about the lotus gardens, where mankind meditated in solemn mood. We had pictures, too, of Nikko and its beauties, of Temples and great Buddhas. Then in more touristy strain of volcanoes and their craters, waterfalls and river gorges, tiny tree-clad islets, that feature of Japan – baths and their bathers, Ainos, and so on. His descriptions were well given and we all of us thoroughly enjoyed our evening.

[…]

Tuesday, August 22. – I am renewing study of glacier problems; the face of the ice cliff 300 yards east of the homestead is full of enigmas. Yesterday evening Ponting gave us a lecture on his Indian travels. He is very frank in acknowledging his debt to guide-books for information, nevertheless he tells his story well and his slides are wonderful. In personal reminiscence he is distinctly dramatic he thrilled us a good deal last night with a vivid description of a sunrise in the sacred city of Benares. In the first dim light the waiting, praying multitude of bathers, the wonderful ritual and its incessant performance; then, as the sun approaches, the hush – the effect of thousands of worshippers waiting in silence – a silence to be felt. Finally, as the first rays appear, the swelling roar of a single word from tens of thousands of throats: ‘Ambah!’ It was artistic to follow this picture of life with the gruesome horrors of the ghat. This impressionist style of lecturing is very attractive and must essentially cover a great deal of ground. So we saw Jeypore, Udaipore, Darjeeling, and a confusing number of places – temples, monuments and tombs in profusion, with remarkable pictures of the wonderful Taj Mahal – horses, elephants, alligators, wild boars, and flamingos – warriors, fakirs, and nautch girls – an impression here and an impression there.

It is worth remembering how attractive this style can be – in lecturing one is inclined to give too much attention to connecting links which join one episode to another. A lecture need not be a connected story; perhaps it is better it should not be.

Comments: Robert Falcon Scott (1868-1912) was a Royal Navy officer and explorer, who led the British Expedition to the South Pole on the Terra Nova and died on the return journey. The expedition included a photographer and cinematographer, Herbert Ponting (1870-1935). During the winter months when there was no sun at the Antarctic various entertainments were put on for the expedition members in their hut at Cape Evans. These included regular lectures given by Ponting, using a magic lantern and photographs taken by him from around the world (Ponting had been on photographic assignments to Burma, Korea, Java, China, India and Japan). Scott’s journal makes several references to these lectures, as well as to Ponting’s photographic and cinematographic work. Ponting did not exhibit his films to the expedition as he did not have a projector nor the mean to process prints from his negatives.

Links: Copy at Internet Archive

The Circle in the Square

Source: Postcard c.1908 of The Circle in the Square, 28 Leicester Square, London

circleinthesquare

Comment: The Circle in the Square was the first cinema (as opposed to variety theatres showing films as part of their programme) in London’s Leicester Square. Originally known as the Bioscopic Tea Rooms, it opened in June 1909 and in common with many cinemas at this time offered teas to its patrons, here in an adjoining room, though teas could be taken into the cinema itself. The cinema, which seated 192 with standing room for 42, was open daily 2pm to 11pm, with teas provided 2pm to 7pm. Today the same location is occupied by an Angus Steak House.