Cinematic spiritualism

Resurrecting the unfinished, the abandoned and the lost.

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Keyhole's master locksmith Guy Maddin's Séances or Spiritismes project, the incomparable resurrection of 100 unfinished, abandoned, and lost silent films began on February 22, 2012 at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. He directed 18 short films in front of a live audience with an alluring cast that included Charlotte Rampling, Geraldine Chaplin, Maria de Medeiros, Mathieu Demy, Udo Kier, and Mathieu Amalric. Luce Vigo, daughter of Jean Vigo acted in Lines Of The Hand, the spirited channeling of her father's unrealised movie. The filming of the Parisian leg concluded 20 days later on March 12.

Guy Maddin's Séances at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.
Guy Maddin's Séances at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

Another 12 short films in 13 days are in the process of coming to life at the Phi Centre, Montréal right now till July 20. The installation will eventually be transformed also into a film and an interactive work. The public is invited to attend these séances of "cinematic spiritualism".

In response to an inquiry by me on the project, Guy, before dashing off to the set this morning at the Phi Centre explained the two titles: "Séances is a continuation of what started out as Spiritismes in Paris last year and will continue next year in a few other cities. The project is called Séances and will end up as a website viewing experience in about a year."

Alfred Hitchcock to F.W. Murnau, from Ernst Lubitsch to Kenji Mizoguchi, the directors' unrealized plans are Maddin's springboard to enable what could have been but never was.

Cinema, in itself the art form of the eternal return, receives with this project - in another turn of the screw - an added dimension. Maddin's Séances are the enlightened variety of 3D. While what returns did not exist in the first place, this grand endeavour, maybe even more importantly, makes you appreciate all the masterpieces that do exist on celluloid, all light and visitation for our pleasure and illumination. With each Mountain Eagle lost and each Oyster Princess rescued, thoughts of fate and talk of trance, the Séances have but one objective - a celebration of cinema.

Anne-Katrin Titze with Guy Maddin.
Anne-Katrin Titze with Guy Maddin. Photo: Lee Meltzer

The following were shot at Centre Pompidou, Paris, February 22 - March 12, 2012.

Dream Woman (lost Alice Guy movie, 1914, USA)

Thérèse Raquin [or Shadows of Fear] (lost, Jacques Feyder, 1928, Germany)

Gardener Boy Sought (lost, George Schnéevoigt, 1913, Denmark)

Poto-Poto (unrealised, Erich von Stroheim project)

Rausch [Intoxication] (lost, Ernst Lubitsch, 1919, Germany)

The Strength of a Moustache (lost, Mikio Naruse, 1931, Japan)

Lines of the Hand (unrealised, Jean Vigo)

Over Barbed Wire (unrealised, Aleksandr Dovzhenko, USSR)

Fist of a Cripple (lost, Tetos Dimitriadis, 1930, Greece)

Blue Mountains Mystery (lost, Lottie Lyell, 1921, Australia)

Idle Wives (lost, Lois Weber, 1916)

Resurrection of Love (lost, Kenji Mizoguchi, 1923, Japan)

Tararira (lost, Benjamin Fondane, 1936, Argentina)

Bits of Life (lost, Lon Chaney, Sr. & Anna May Wong, 1921, USA)

Ladies of the Mob (lost William Wellman)

Hello Pop! (lost, Jack Cummings, 1933, USA)

Sperduto nel buio [Lost in the Dark] (lost, Nino Martoglio, 1914, Italy)

The Blind Man (Alfred Hitchcock, unrealised)

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