Godard once observed that, with the passing of time, the fantasy films
of Georges Méliès have become actualities, now that man has in fact
made a voyage to the moon, while the actualities of the Lumière
Brothers have become fantasies, since they record lost worlds to which
we can never return, as mythological now as Oz.
I thought of this while watching Electric Edwardians,
the Milestone DVD of Mitchell & Kenyon actualities of Edwardian
Britain. I must say I was blown away. It's the most
gorgeous collection of cinematic images outside of Intolerance or Sunrise or Welles's Falstaff, lyrical and deeply moving.
possible exception of a few infants who lived to a great age, all the
people in these films are dead. As a commentator on the DVD
observes, the young boys in the films were part of a generation that
would be swept into oblivion long before their time by the mass carnage
of the Great War a decade or so later. The bustling street life
that most attracted Mitchell & Kenyon becomes for us now a memento
mori, incredibly sweet and sad.
I can't imagine
that anyone who loves movies and owns a DVD player wouldn't want to
have this DVD and to watch the films on it over and over again.
They may constitute a kind of unconscious art, but it's art of a very