Prvi nadrealistički film nije Buñuel/Dalíjev Andaluzijski pas nego La Coquille et le Clergyman Germaine Dulac, napravljen prema scenariju Antonina Artauda.
Cijeli film (32 minute):
A few weeks ago, we posted New York Times critic A.O.Scott’s thoughtful three-minute look back at the surrealist classic Un Chien Andalou. The 1929 Buñuel/Dalí production may well be the world’s most famous bit of early surrealist cinema, but it was not the first. That honor goes to another very strange (and indubitably surreal) short film screened in Paris in 1928, prompting the now infamous condemnation from the British Board of Film Censors. It insisted that the 31-minute film was “apparently meaningless.” They then added, “If there is a meaning, it is doubtless objectionable.”
The Seashell and the Clergyman, based on Antonin Artaud’s screenplay about a priest who lusts after a General’s wife, was directed by the cinema theorist, journalist, and critic Germaine Dulac (1882-1942). Dulac was also a groundbreaking feminist filmmaker — she is best known today for The Smiling Mrs. Beudet (1923), a seminal silent film about a woman trapped in a loveless marriage. - www.openculture.com
La coquille et le clergyman (1926)
L'invitation au voyage (1927)
La Souriante Madame Beudet (1922, Germanie Dulac)
(zovu ga i prvim feminističkim filmom)
Siân Reynolds, 'Germaine Dulac and newsreel: 3 articles, Introduction', Screening the past 12,
Born Germaine Saisset-Schneider in 1882, the film director we know as Germaine Dulac came to prominence in the 1920s, alongside Louis Delluc, as director of a series of feature films, the best-known of which is La souriante Madame Beudet (The Smiling Mme Beudet, 1923). Her controversial collaboration with Antonin Artaud, La Coquille et le Clergyman (The Seashell and the Clergyman, 1928) led to a row with the Surrealists. Towards the end of the 1920s, she turned to abstract and theoretical subjects, and much of her known writing is about film theory. Dulac was an influential film critic, an energetic promoter of the cine-club movement in France, a prolific lecturer and speaker, and author of hundreds of reviews and articles. After the coming of sound, she made no further fiction features, and in the 1930s, formed a small company France-Actualités, associated with Gaumont but editorially independent, to make newsreels and documentaries (1932-5). After suffering a stroke in the mid-1930s, she did little active directing, but was closely involved with Popular Front cultural groups in 1936, acting as an adviser on several films. Having become increasingly immobile, she died in 1942 in obscurity, during the German Occupation.
Well-known in her time, both as creator and enabler, always well-regarded by film specialists, she was however in need of rediscovery when feminist film historians in recent years began to explore the work of the very few women directors active before 1939. The most extensive work from this perspective has been done by Sandy Flitterman-Lewis (To desire differently, Urbana, 1990), an essential source on the feature films. A collection of Dulac's writings was also recently issued in France (P. Hillairet, ed., Ecrits sur le cinéma, Paris, 1994). Marie-Anne Malleville, her constant companion from the time of her divorce from Albert Dulac in 1920, donated all Germaine Dulac's papers to BiFi, and it is from these papers that her less well-known work on newsreels can be reconstructed.
The team she headed at France-Actualités made and sold to distributors, including its patron Gaumont, a weekly compilation of about twenty minutes made up of short news items. In the 1930s, cinema programmes usually consisted of a short film, and a newsreel, before the "big film". News theatres offering non-stop newsreels and cartoons were just opening. About five companies, including Pathé, Eclair etc., competed for contracts. A typical newsreel programme from the archives of France-Actualités, for 2 March 1934, ran for 20-30 minutes as follows :
1. Belgium: accession of King Leopold
2. Lake Placid bobsleigh competition
3. 'Paris-humour': a taxi-driver's strike, using a puppet
4. Maiden voyage of the Normandie
5. The mysterious death of local councillor in Dijon*
6. General review of the army garrison in Algiers
7. Children's string band in Montmartre
8. Police work: how laboratories help trace criminals
9. Film awards at Harry's Bar, Venice
10. Two air force planes collide in mid-air
11. Funeral of victims after a street riot
12. Saint-Malo fisherman's religious procession
*(This item, an early piece of investigative journalism, ended in a lawsuit from a local notable whose house was recognizably filmed in the item.)4
One could construct a cultural history of 1930s France using these iconographical clues, but this kind of compilation was not "the news" as we would understand it today. Since it was designed to be shown around France over a period of weeks, there would be no point in "warming up" the main political events of the day. It concentrated on ceremonies, features, and what are known in France as faits divers, those small news items which project ordinary people into the headlines. Nevertheless one can discern in this apparent compilation of trivia a deliberately contructed orchestration, moving from the light-hearted through to the more serious items, with the thought-provoking juxtapositions which became the trademark of Dulac's newsreels. It was a technical challenge to make something significant from this genre: each item consisted of about 30 or 40 metres of film, about one and a half minutes on screen. Sound, commentary and image had to combine to make a point quickly (cf. M. Huret, Ciné-Actualités, Paris, 1984, for the history of the French newsreel).
Dulac wrote several articles about newsreels. She set out from a minimalist position, arguing that even the blandest of them captured the authentic flavour of contemporary reality -- a boring official occasion from a few years ago would enable you to notice that hairstyles had changed for instance. Because they were free from commercial pressures they could bring out "the universally human social and authentic visual features of cinema". She acknowledged that newsreels, including her own, while not subject to official censorship, were to some extent self-censored; that they were often bland, not sharply angled politically; and that they were as a rule trivial. But within the confines of the genre, she tried to do something different, as critics (alerted by her name on the credits) were quick to notice, if not always seeing the point : "She seems to want to give her newsreel a musical and 'visualist' tendency, which we cannot fully appreciate... It is far from boring" (Cinématographie française, 1 October 1932). "This company is curious: it has intelligent cameramen and editors, who have a sure touch. But it seems to concentrate on tiny events, never the great ones -- why?"
Some critics appreciated what she was trying to do. Pointing out that most newsreels had truly awful commentaries, hectoring and bland at once, one reviewer remarked:
it is a pleasure to announce the real effort made by a young company France-Actualité, run by Germaine Dulac: the camerawork, the sound and the commentary all show that at France-Actualité [sic], everyone knows his trade... [Her work is ] characterized by variety... sometimes humorous, sometimes with a bitter note, or touched with emotion. [She] juxtaposes complementary images. Here is a tea party thrown for children of higher civil servants by the President, and here is one given by the Salvation Army for homeless children. No superfluous commentary: the spectator has to work out the philosophy from what he sees on screen. ... In one item, the unveiling of a plaque in memory of a writer, she stayed after the official opening and asked local residents about him, getting very funny answers [nobody had ever heard of him]. On other occasions she filmed two lovers after a suicide pact and a body being pulled out of the Seine.
Dulac herself referred to her newsreels in what one might describe as classic humanist mode. They were obviously a departure both from her psychological full-length features of the early 1920s and from the formal and theoretical shorts she had made later: "If only you knew how much constant contact with ordinary people, living their lives, suffering, working, loving normally can change the perspective of a film director used to facing more or less fictional characters. In a filmed report, all is real, not deformed by the imagination or theoretical reasoning." She clearly saw this work as enabling her to escape from the constraints of the plot, even when doing "stories". As a marginal art form, newsreels could paradoxically be seen to have a degree of artistic freedom. Ironically however (see article on budget below), financial pressure put an end to this phase of her production. Employing several people, she was going over budget while the parent company was facing serious financial crisis. France-Actualités was wound up and at about the same time, perhaps not coincidentally, Dulac suffered a stroke.
The articles here may surprise those familiar with Dulac's other work. There is a direct simplicity of approach which seems almost naive to us now, used as we are to the distortions and biases which have marked filming the news for television. It helps to remember that Dulac was above all a visual film-maker, whose best work was in the silent era. When she insists the camera cannot lie, she is thinking of the images on the screen, and specifically remarks that "of course" commentaries can be superimposed to give misleading information. She was also writing in the somewhat optimistic atmosphere of the Popular Front, and with a clearly pedagogical and historical approach. One can hardly argue with her point that if only cinema had been invented a hundred years earlier, even the most naively-filmed images of the French Revolution would give us invaluable historical evidence.
 Germaine Dulac, 'Germaine Dulac and newsreel: 3 articles', Screening the past 12, http://www.latrobe.edu.au/www/screeningthepast/classics/cl0301/gdcl12a.htm, uploaded 31 March 2001.
The articles translated here come from Germaine Dulac's personal archives, preserved in the Fonds Colson Malleville in the Bibliothèque du film (BiFi) in Paris, with the kind permission of M. Yann Beauvais, representing the copyright holders.
I The educational and social effects of newsreels
The cinema is only forty years old. For a human being, to reach forty means achieving maturity, but for inventions, it is still the bloom of youth: their development depends on the speed at which intelligence is brought to bear on them to make successive improvements.
When the cinema was first discovered and given mechanical and technical form by the Lumière brothers, it took by surprise a world by no means ready for it.
If we compare cinema with the invention of printing, that too had brought upheaval, by finding a completely new means of spreading the written word, but it did not create any new form of expression: on the contrary, it appeared in response to a need. By making literary works available, replacing the slow handwriting of the scribes by a faster means of reproduction, printing put a world of thought and feeling within general reach, but it did not make that world visible for the first time. The cinema on the other hand came as a complete surprise. When it appeared, no one had been calling for it. After all, for everyday news there was the printed press. For entertainment, there was the theatre. What could moving pictures possibly contribute to knowledge or to art? The world was hardly interested at all in their artistic, scientific or social value, being unaware of the rich and varied treasures they contained. Still, once the first movie camera had been manufactured, it had to be replicated. The age of engineers, optical experts and technicians had begun. The camera needed long rolls of film, so means had to be found of manufacturing and processing them, and of making multiple copies of the images they had registered: chemists entered the picture. New trades were created to handle the cameras: photographers started to "crank the film". Projectionists too had to learn their trade, followed in "literary" order, so to speak, by authors who wrote scripts, producers who composed and linked together the images on the screen, and performers who interpreted the films.
Various interests or intellectual groups came together therefore in a haphazard way to build up the economic, social and artistic tradition of the cinema. Businessmen, industrialists, scholars, impresarios, artists, craftsmen, all with their divergent aims, found themselves linked together in a single purpose, whose importance they did not entirely grasp, except that it was clear that new activity and a new product was being created.
Too recent an invention for its first steps to be deemed an expression of serious thought, the cinema developed intellectually in fits and starts, without any very clear trajectory, whereas its commercial foundations were very solid from the start. As a result, it reached its peak of economic and popular development before its true nature had really been defined. Commercial entrepreneurs had created a "need" for cinema among popular audiences before artists had had a chance to reflect on its possibilities.
I do not intend here to reflect philosophically on the dramatic feature films which commercial companies and public taste seem to have promoted to being the acme of cinematic expression. But what I can say is that this conception is quite mistaken. Filmed dramas certainly offer one application of the art of cinema, but by no means its essential truth, which is probably much better served by scientific films and newsreels.
Scientific films and newsreels, the former on account of their educational importance, the latter because of their social significance, are perhaps the productions that have best captured the spirit of cinema, by registering real life without any commentary, in its various distinctive movements. Being somewhat neglected by commercial interests, having developed at some remove from the constraints of film as spectacle, and thus being protected from the censorship of thought, they have been able to escape the strict, confining and oppressive discipline which is applied to commercial movies, and to bring out the universally human, social and true visual features of cinema.
Spectacular feature films have dominated the market economically, while education films and newsreels have always been marginal, considered as propaganda, information, education, but not as money-making concerns. It is still difficult for them to be distributed. Cinema managers are not greatly interested in them. The recently created special "news theatres" which show newsreels and documentaries are starting to give them the importance they deserve.
And yet... this kind of cinema is the great modern educator of society. It brings together the most diverse intelligences, the most varied races, and by a magnetic current, it throws a girdle round the earth. It can show every cinemagoer the intimate details of the life in foreign countries and the human beings behind the official face of historical tradition and imagination. Like the scientific film, the newsreel reveals the kind of truth about life everywhere which cannot be gained from books, newspapers or guides. Seen this way, the cinema becomes an individual experience, enabling us all to live something instead of imagining it. Classes and races meet in the cinema without intermediaries. Emotions, gestures, joy - humanity rises above its individual characteristics: as the sight of other human beings brings understanding, it helps to destroy hostility.
The newsreel is freshly created every day. It is not premeditated. It captures events of which it gives a faithful reflection, as well as showing the people and surroundings that illustrate them. It goes to the heart of their moral and emotional being. A newreel is the mirror of a nation, of its pleasures, its endeavours, its preoccupations. Affinities can be created through it, as can agreements and disagreements, far and wide across the globe. Newsreels show us the life of the universe, in its beliefs, its struggles, its hopes and fears.
Newsreels from all over the world are usually shown in the first part of a cinema programme, linked together to form a kind of magazine, made up of short and varied elements. They cover every subject because their purpose is to provide information about national and international events, political, legal, scientific or artistic. Thanks to them, we know not only what our own national figures look like but also leaders from abroad. Some politicians, who were at first given an unfavourable reception when they appeared on screen, have become popular on the very same screen because we have grown used to seeing them. The public has learnt to notice any changes in their attitude, their appearance or their gestures. Familiarity starts to breed sympathy and perhaps understanding of ideas. Greater familiarity leads to more informed judgment. Walls come down. The vagueness of speeches can be harmful. The precision of the camera brings the clarity of truth.
Thanks to newsreels, we can enter into diplomatic discussions, into quarrels or alliances between peoples, and we can learn about their society. We see people in their home surroundings, and through insignificant remarks or actions which have nothing to do with the big issues, but which can create certain human contacts, we draw closer to them. Whether intentionally or not, ideas circulate via newsreels and became more human, less abstract and elitist. By bringing a greater awareness of the rest of the world, the newsreel makes it possible to reveal the general characteristics of humanity, and individual feelings.
Newsreels also reflect industry and the arts. We learn what effort is required to manufacture an object which comes to us from the other side of the globe, and we have a context for every object, related both to the idea behind it and the labour that has gone into it. Brotherhood may be the result. Newreels provide us with items about hygiene, sport, scientific discoveries, new means of educatiion, not just from one country but from every country. A newsreel is a mirror held up to the entire civilization of a generation, reflecting its hopes and fears, not only in our corner of Europe but throughout the globe. Every country can reveal its enthusiasm and its misery, its very life, through its films. Newsreels break through barriers: they should be indiscreet and true, and give precise information without embroidering it in a literary way.
II Chapter from projected book on cinema by Germaine Dulac, c. 1936
Cinema at the service of history: the role of newsreels
Cinematographic expression is varied and flexible, but with a unity of purpose: it seeks to catch life unawares, in its true movement and spirit, and to project it, still palpitating, on to the screen.
The cinema, with its whirlwind of moving images, delivers what we all dream about, all the things that escape conscious thought. Making light of frontiers and distances, it brings the life of the world into the life of every one of us. The "newsreel films" that all countries exchange with each other constitute just one of these faces of cinema.
What is a cinema newsreel? What can it be, other than the exact reflection of events which a movie camera first captures, without any premeditation, from day to day, then reproduces true to life in its entirety, after the event is over -- and may even pass on to posterity if the subject is important enough.
Newsreels are the history of an age, which the film-maker and his or her lens record, day in, day out. The news item is the irrefutable, lived document that any given year bequeaths to the next. An event recorded today, the importance of which has not immediately been grasped, may appear at a later date in the fullness of its significance, and in all its immediacy of movement, for later generations who will know how to judge it.
What lessons could have been learnt if the cinema had been invented a hundred years earlier, if it could have captured the ancien régime and then the events and people of the French Revolution!
A newsreel is a machine for writing history. We may laugh today, as week by week we watch endless pictures of inaugural ceremonies, of parochial events which don't interest us in the least; but in later years, these inoffensive scenes will reveal what our surroundings looked like.
At one time or another, we see quarrels, massacres, wars and rebellions break out in every corner of the world. We gasp as we watch them, but these rebellions and conflicts are transmitted in a haphazard sequence: one day it's China, then Cuba, next somewhere in Europe. In future, when the face of the world is radically different from a hundred years ago, will these upheavals not be seen as links in a chain, and will future generations not draw lessons from them?
New inventions, ideas, social problems of the day, the preoccupations of every nation on earth (since a newsreel is international after all!), the political and social anguish of diplomatic coming and goings, changes of government - it all adds up to a chaotic sequence of events, in which the trivial follows on the heels of the momentous, without any sense of priority. The newsreel holds up a faithful mirror to the true face of the world, a mirror which can not only bring something educational but a philosophy for those who know how to look for it. It is truly the touchstone of an age, presenting that spectacle in all its brutal honesty.
In future years, historians will unquestionably go to this source rather than to written documents, because thanks to film, they will be able to reconstitute an event not merely in the imagination, but with an exact visual image.
It is through newsreel films, a renewed form of History, that the future "which we are preparing" will judge us and give us our place in the development of the world. But does the cinema newsreel as presently constituted really satisfy us? Since its subject matter is made up of a real-life event, it ought to be beyond our criticism. One can't criticise an event that happens whether we like it or not: one can only experience it and react to it.
But is every event of equal interest to us? No, because what is happening every day is so intensely living and real that we would always like to see it respond to every step in our curiosity, We criticize or approve of it to the extent that it satisfies or fails to satisfy our thirst for knowledge. There are some important events in which we would like to be a participant; others one would want to avoid because they are unimportant or tiresome. People often say about current newsreels, whether in France, China or America: they are so boring, the same things are repeated over and over. But life itself is repetitive. The exciting events that come along from time to time are the exception, not the rule.
Are there any weeks when nothing of significance happens anywhere in the world? There is always something happening on the surface of the globe, and a camera operator is almost certain to catch that "something" on film. The "image-chasers"are everywhere.
If we are so often disappointed, the reason is this: events are of two kinds: there is the blockbuster event -- sudden and important; and then there is the slow-burn kind of event, which evolves as the days go by and whose true meaning becomes clear only with time. The striking event and the subtle event. And that is not to mention the kind of event which one might describe as "documentary" , which may or may not be destined to last..
So we might conclude that if newsreels sometimes seem hollow and empty to the spectators, that is because they do not know how to decipher their future significance. The other day, out of curiosity, I looked through the weekly progammes of a newsreel company, taking as my theme political and social change in France between 1935 and 1936. I would sometimes jump two or three weekly programmes, then in the fourth I would single out one or two items, and so on. The result of this little survey was as follows: the items I had selected from the weekly programmes were actually dependent on each other: one thing had led to another. When stripped of irrelevancies, their graph told an inexorable tale. The cinema was truly in the service of history.
Another question might be asked: can newsreel used as a document be authentic?
A news item - and this is the great strength of the cinema - cannot be other than authentic, since it is the faithful reproduction of an event. It can be inaccurate or misleading only by omission.
The lens cannot transform an event, because it has to register what passes in front of it, just as it happens, unadulterated and without any preparation. Where inauthenticity can set in is when a choice is made or when prejudice intervenes, but the truth is so powerful that it often triumphs over such a choice, if the latter is the echo of a particular view, The image itself is always authentic. It is the added commentary and post-synchronized sound that might be inauthentic: created by someone's imagination, they may reflect particular ideas. Obviously if one post-synchronises boos and jeering on to a soundtrack of a speech or event originally hailed with cheers and applause, then the event's image may be transported into a context which falsifies it.
Through the technique of cinematography itself, news unveils the face of the world, but that authentic face cannot appear in its full authenticity if relevant facts and views are omitted: so the period of splendid social courage which we are living through at the moment will reveal all its true force in newsreel films. Perhaps to us now, it is only showing some glimpses of this aspect of the world. One has to see the whole picture to appreciate it. What we really need is for newsreel to be scientifically and sytematically placed at the service of history. To play this role, it must be objective and relate things accurately; it should particularly refrain from commenting on news films imported from other countries.
I say this because having referred to the technical authenticity of the visual image of a newsreel, and the possible inauthenticity of post-synchronized sound, one should note that whereas documentary films are themselves subject to commercial constraints, and may not reach certain parts of the world which are closed to this kind of production, newsreels can actually cross frontiers without being subject to the laws of supply and demand. As information, they automatically get distributed into the newsreel circuits, and newsreels are shown all over the world, without much regulation or concern for artistic preferences. This is another example in which the cinema binds together the scattered forces of humanity and coordinates them into a single current which thereby gives them wider distribution. From familiarity to understanding, and from understanding to friendship, is but a step.
III The budget for newsreels
Ladies and Gentlemen, dear comrades
I'm here tonight to speak to you about the budget for making newsreels. I say budget, not estimate, because I will not be describing a detailed set of projected accounts for the making of a single film, but rather the overall expenses and income of a film department engaged in constant production over a whole year. Each spectacular feature film has its own career, with an individual pattern of finance, but newsreels require a constant commitment of money from a stable company, with its own permanent staff and technical support.
What exactly is a newsreel? It is a narrative in sight and sound of a series of items which may vary from week to week, depending on current affairs. To make up these weekly reels of film requires not so much imagination, ingenuity and calculation as the ability to capture the unexpected reality of life in the world which the newsreels must reflect : noteworthy events, disturbances and happenings of every kind. Newsreel making has perhaps not yet acquired in our time the flexibility and rapidity of movement needed to provide total and instantaneous information. But what one can say is that it offers a means of acquiring knowledge and understanding equal to or better than the written press. It is a raw, living document.
A newspaper can record, describe and capture a facial expression by printing a photograph, but a newsreel is an implacable form of recording, giving the passing event a life which makes it easier to follow. The press appeals to the imagination; the newsreel chooses something and presents it with accuracy and precision in its very movement, so that afterwards all those who see it can feel they were there and draw their own conclusions. You will already have concluded that it is the news item to be captured that determines the activity of the the newsreel maker, and also influences the budget. Over and above a fixed regular set of costs, there is the unexpected, the cost of which is hard to predict.
Let's examine the fixed costs first: a newspaper has a daily quota of say 6 to 8 pages, and the newsreel too has its fixed footage for the week, which can vary between 400 and 500 metres, depending on the company. That strip of film will contain certain items, each of them representing variable expense, difficult to estimate in advance because that may depend on distance, the importance of the item, and its duration. But the director who puts the newsreel together may obtain a certain financial balance by dropping minor items too expensive for what they are worth, in favour of something significant. The secret of the financial health and interest of a newsreel company lies in offering the public week by week a compilation of really striking items, as distinct from those that have only passing interest. Some news items look decidely passé a week later, while others retain all their quasi-historical interest. The key is not to spend all your money on "fireman-rescues-kitten" stories, but not to let anything escape you which might be remembered by the audience. By the choice of news items and their balance in a given programme, every newsreel can have a fairly predictable fixed-costs budget. I would add that the analysis and evaluation of news items is the very basis of the life of a newreel company.
The general budget of a newsreel company is divided up into weekly tranches. Since we are going to talk figures now, let's look at the regular expenses. We'll take a newsreel which makes 150 copies a week of a newsreel made up of 400 metres of film, The number of copies varies according to distribution contracts. The cost per metre of making the negative of a newsreel is about 140 francs a metre, which brings the overall bill for the negative to 56,000 francs:
What does that cover on a weekly basis? [all figures in 1936 francs]
The weekly wages of the technical staff, editor-in chief, administrator, cameramen-reporters, sound engineer, film-editors, processors, archivist, secretary, typist, commentary-writers and presenter: total 19,600
Travel expenses for camera team (trucks etc) 7,000
Blank film 12,000
Developing the film 2,000
Dispatch of "mauves" to subscribers 2,000
Postage for film and customs on film received
from regions and overseas 6,500
Making, developing and adding soundtrack 3,000
Sub-titles, diagrams, alterations 2,000
These figures are not hard and fast. They vary according to the company, but the headings will always be the same. The number of cameramen, editors and secretaries might vary. The cost of buying foreign newsreel may fall, depending on the exchange rate, or increase if you use a lot of foreign material. As a rule there are fixed agreements between big international companies and every week they all engage in sale, exchange and purchase of documentary film from abroad. Almost every country, even if it has no film industry to speak of, will have newsreel companies. So international links have been established which make it easier to get news from distant places. It is dispatched by the fastest available kind of transport. And there are some freelance cameramen who operate in remote areas for film companies. These links are organised so as to allow documents to be bought and sold. Around the central nucleus of firms there gravitates a multitude of freelancers. But sometimes a news company will want to have a document made by its own team either for technical reasons or because the event is of special significance. Then reporters from the headquarters will be sent out into the field. Life in a newsreel company is rather like that in a newspaper. You have to have the right staff available at any moment to drop everything and cover a story. The number of cameramen and sound recordists can vary too. so the budget I have given you is indicative, but fairly normal. You also have extraordinary expenses from time to time, if a significant event occurs far away and the firm wants to send an on-the-spot team, or if something crops up at the last moment.
To the cost of making the negative, we must add the production costs. 150 copies of a 400- metre-film comes to 159,000 francs, to which must be added the publication of our newsreels in foreign-language editions, at 2,500 per edition.When the newsreel has been shot and edited, it must be distributed to customers and subscribing cinemas. These commercial costs are estimated at about 300,000 francs a month, or 75,000 a week.
Cost of negative 56,000 francs
Production costs 160,000 francs
Distribution costs 75,000 francs
Total weekly outlay: 291.000 francs
And we haven't yet mentioned rent, expenditure on technical equipment, trucks, or the purchase of new materials such as cameras, as the technology changes, not to speak of tax, insurance, and bonuses.
If we now multiply our weekly cost by 52: rounding up our 291,000 to 300,000 francs, we reach a grand total of 15,600,000 francs a year, not counting the headings above. So the working capital of a newsreel company must be at least something of the order of 16 million francs.
Now what about the receipts? They come entirely from the subscriptions of cinemas who take the newsreels. There is also the possibility of advertising revenue. The newsreel companies do not reject this, but it is not as frequent as you might expect. And I do not personally believe there are hidden subsidies available.
So here is what it costs to hire the copy:
Week 1: 700-1000 francs
Week 2 300-400 francs
Week 3 150 - 200 francs
Week 4 80-100 francs
Week 5 70-100 francs
Week 6 50-6- francs
Week 7: 40-50 francs
Top-price copies therefor bring in 1,910 francs and lowest priced copies 1,390.
After Week 7 these 'newsreels' may still be projected but for next to nothing. In order that a newsreel realises its full value, it must have a booking for every week. Sometimes it is not even worth taking the first week if the rest of the bookings are not assured.
Contracts for newsreels are agreed for one year with the cinema owners. The company is then assured of a regular income over this period. Before the contract expires, it has to do its level best to get them renewed. That effort can be translated as always producing a better class of information, with improved technical reproduction, and constant editorial attractiveness. But during the summer (June, July, August) many provincial and suburban cinemas stop showing any newsreels at all.
We have already noted that if things go well, bookings for a newsreel will pay back the costs of making the copy and contribute to the overheads on the negative, the distributing and general costs. It can only start to make a profit above a certain number of copies and the margin is never very great.
We ought also perhaps to add to receipts the sales of contratypes of certain documents. at about 100 francs a metre. But that adds on very little. As for advertising, as I have already said, it exists, but there is less of it than one might think. For instance, when we are shooting a scene, we might happen to show hoardings on the walls of the street: they are part of the landscape and people think it means we get income from advertising. It is only rarely the case and then only on a very small scale. What about documents commissioned with advertising in view? Firstly they are expensive to make and they also cause problems. A company which includes them in its newsreel is always afraid the public will react badly, or that the cinema manager, who ordered news not advertisement features, will complain. The advertising footage may therefore be cut. And that leads to disputes. Another aspect of the question is that the companies paying you a share of their advertising budget are hard to please. They always think the advertising is not given enough prominence. In the end, advertising is only acceptable when it can be made informative, providing knowledge or education for the public. As a resource it is unreliable, subject to dispute and therefore leading to unpaid bills. A newsreel company can never count on it as a steady source of revenue.
I am not well qualified to talk to you about figures and I'm afraid you may have found all this tedious. But it is difficult to introduce any excitement to them. The estimates for a feature film may give rise to amusing anecdotes, but the running budget of a newsreel company is not a subject on which one can bluff, cheat or exaggerate. I would add that the price of booking newsreels is high for cinema managers but is coming down. The news theatres ought to send it up, if they are to remain viable. But cinemas have to face heavy expenses which don't allow them to pay more. And then there is competition, as some foreign producers have their negative subsidised by distribution at home, and can drop the price; other companies lease their newsreels alongside big feature films and are able to charge less.
Are there any savings one can make? One can ask the cameraman to economise on film, But then along comes an important event and he makes it up again. If there is an uneventful week (the worst-case scenario for a newsreel company) then another one comes along with too much subject matter - and once again the expense balances out.
I've set out the facts as plainly and simply as possible. Our task tonight is not to look at the moral side of newsreels, either to criticise or praise them - that's another debate. We know that every night the newsreels offer us the face of the world and that those willing to turn psychologist can see in this reduced compass a forecast of the future. Newsreels offer facts, and facts are more eloquent than writing or speeches. I remember someone said to me one day, "Why do newsreels always go to town over military parades and armaments displays?" And I had to reply: "I can't help it, that is what the world looks like this week". I remember having to bring out a newsreel when even Switzerland was joining in the military chorus. These events were obviously significant and heavy with menace. A newsreel is given life by the breath of the world.
Newsreel companies do not get the same financial rewards from their films as the producers of features. But while they may not make much, they do have to try not to actually lose money and to get sufficient return on their capital.
 The articles translated here come from Germaine Dulac's personal archives, preserved in the Fonds Colson Malleville in the Bibliothèque du film (BiFi) in Paris, with the kind permission of M. Yann Beauvais, representing the copyright holders.
 This piece was written in 1934, and a version of it was published in the Revue internationale du cinéma éducateur in August that year. At this date, fascism was just beginning to be taken as a serious threat in France. The article is probably more influenced by Briand-style pacifism than by anti-fascism, but it is possible that some of the allusions to 'international understanding' refer to the Soviet Union. This translation is based on the typescript in the BiFi archives, Fonds Malleville, GD 1298.
 Translated from BiFi archives, Fonds Malleville, GD 1371.
 Author's note: NB This text was written a few years before the war, at a time when newsreels in the cinema were allowed to circulate freely. Since 1939 things have changed. Newsreels in every country now mislead their public by omission, since no belligerent power has any wish to show the public images filmed by the enemy. Cinema newsreels, which for all the authenticity of their images have rarely been entirely objective [in presentation], have now become one of the most developed and important branches of propaganda.
 Translated from lecture notes in BiFi archives, fonds Malleville, GD 1131, c. 1934.
In Abel, Richard, ed. French Film Theory and Criticism. Princeton U P, 1988.
- " Aesthetics, Obstacles, Integral Cinégraphie"  389-397.