On Sunday 23 April Barbican cinema presents a six-hour screening of a recently restored version of Henri Fescourt’s 1925 film Les Misérables from Victor Hugo’s novel. As the Barbican promises the new print has ‘all the riches of the various colour techniques employed by Fescourt in 1925 (tinting, toning, and mordanting).’ As if that weren’t enough, the legendary Neil Brand is at the piano with a full score. It’s an unmissable event, and tickets are still available. I’ll be there – and to get us all ready for it, here’s some reading prep.
• Pordenone post no 5: Pamela Hutchinson reports from a 2015 screening of the restoration at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto:
… it is a faithful, and skilful, adaptation of an uncontainable novel. I was captivated by its visual elegance but also its well crafted story, which builds almost unbearable tension despite its bountiful events, characters and subplots… Neil Brand took on the Herculean task of accompanying the whole film. He played, and played, and played, such sensitive and sumptuous music, I could barely believe it was the work of one man and one piano alone. Matching the film’s scale and singularities note for note, Brand’s score was the triumph that the film deserves.
• Playing Les Misérables: Neil Brand writes on the film and the score.
It is one of the great silent films and an unmissable experience for anybody interested in what the cinema, in its purest, pictorial form, can do.
• DVDKlassik on the restored version [in French, but Google Translate does a decent job].
• Les Misérables, 1925 – Henri Fescourt: Wonders in the Dark in 2013 on the shorter, unrestored version.
• Les Misérables (European): Kinématoscope reprints Variety’s 1926 story about the premiere of the film.
• Mordaunt Hall for The New York Times reviews a recut version of the film in 1927
• The Novel of the Century by David Bellos review – the story of Les Misérables: Ruth Scutt for the Guardian on David Bellos’ recent book about Hugo’s novel and its afterlives.