Skip to main content

LYRICAL NITRATE

Netherlands, 1990 (MIFF 1991, Documentaries)

Director: Peter Delpeut

Lyrical Nitrate is a compilation of film fragments dating from the period 1905-1915. They originate from the collection of films of Jean Desmet, the first film distributor, which is currently being preserved by the Netherlands Filmmuseum.

Surprisingly, these films were originally exhibited in colour and are shown here in their original rich and subtle shades. The film is constructed like a musical composition, starting with the theme of watching cinema itself, then moving on to love and passion and finally to death. It culminates in a reflection on the transitory nature of the film material itself.

All films from this period are mute. To emphasize their lyrical character, which appears to be rooted in the 19th century theatrical and operatic tradition, the sound track of Lyrical Nitrate contains music in that vein, mostly recordings from the time.

Director Peter Delpeut made this film as a tribute to early cinema and its mise-en-scene. To highlight the wealth of its cinematographic talent and beauty, he subtly manipulates the speed at which it's projected, according to the mood of the images. The result is a view of film history, that is emotional rather than didactic, a re-appraisal of cinema in its purest and most basic sense, where it engages our willingness to look and be moved.

See also...

THE FORBIDDEN QUEST

Breathtaking silent-era footage of polar exploration is exploited to surprising — some have said outrageous — effect in this tall tale of mystery and imagination. However you view this ... More »

Emma Zunz

"Actually the story was incredible, but it impressed everyone because substantially it was true True was Emma Zunz' tone, true was her shame, true was her hate. True also was the outrage she had ... More »

ROMANCE IN VALENTIA - ONLY THE BRAVE

This dazzling feature documentary captures the incredible ceremony and cruelty of what is decried by much of the world as a bloodthirsty spectacle: the bull fight. ... A kaleidoscope of the ... More »

THE TUNNEL

Take an incredible trip to the subterranean world of New York's family of street people living in a disused railway tunnel below Central Park. Writers, poets, drop-outs, black, white, young, smart ... More »

FOREVER

Paris' famous Père Lachaise cemetery is the resting place of famous artists - from Marcel Proust to Jim Morrison - and is the setting for this uplifting documentary. Through the simple concept of ... More »

MASTER AND HIS PUPIL,THE

The Master and His PupilNetherlandsWinner of the Best Documentary award (for directors who have made more than two features) at this year's Tribeca Film Festival, The Master and His Pupil is an ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director