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Narrative Index


The group of Archive documents showing pre-Revolutionary life in Russia contains the materials of Khanzhonkov, Ermoliev, Talduikin, "Pate", "Russia", 'Screen" film companies. Their materials were kept in cinema factory storehouses and were nationalized after the Revolution. (1917.) In 1918 the "Scobelevs Committee" was also nationalized. The Archive of the Royal family (about 20,000 meters of film) was taken from Tsarskoye Selo. It contains the works of A.K. von Gan and A.K. Gan-Jagelskiy between 1902-16.

During the period of nationalization film documents were taken from storehouses without edit logs; some descriptions of the nationalized films were lost. Many film documents were mixed up in 1919-1920 during their transportation to the storehouses of the All-Russian Photo-Film Department. Parts of the films were lost because they were kept in very bad conditions in unsuitable rooms. Film businessmen took some of the documents out of the country.

The Archive got many odd and mixed-up documents. Some lost their titles and inner captions. It was impossible to define the ownership and authorship of films, to interpret the subjects of filming and to reconstruct the author's edit logs of many newsreels. It made scientific research into these films difficult, and good information for scientists and filmmakers was hard to come by. The pre-Revolutionary film documents stood unpacked for dozens of years. Only a rough count of them was made.

In spite of this, some pre-Revolutionary documentaries were used for Socialist propaganda. For example, filmmaker E. Shub made documentaries " The Fall of Romanovs Dynasty" (1927), "The Great Way", (1927), "Russia of Nicholas II and Leo Tolstoy" based on old film materials.. His work started the development of historical-documentaries in Soviet cinematographic art.

The effort to analyze pre-Revolutionary materials was made several years ago. It helped to reconstruct, interpret and describe part of the World War I documentaries, which forms 1/3 of the entire pre-Revolutionary film collection.

Research and practical work by the Archive staff helped reconstruct the primary edit logs and bring back to life many film documents which were presumed lost. Now the research work is proceeding.

Among recently reconstructed documentaries are: several series of "Skobelevs Military Committee", " Baltic Fleet" by Khanzhonkov, "Celebrations in Riga", ( 1910 ) by Drankovs Company, "The Holiday of Pokrov in Mtskheta", (1910 ) and "The Festivals in Erivans House Hold-Troops of His Majesty in Tiphlis", (1913 ) by cameraman Digmelov, chronicle "The Meeting of Nicholas II and British King Edward VII on Revels Raid" , (1908 ) by Drankov, films about the 300th Anniversary of Romanov Dynasty, etc. The negatives of some films were found, some mis-edited films were reconstructed, authors, dates and objects of films were deciphered.

Unfortunately most of films made during the first twenty years of Russian cinematography do not exist - all together the Archive keeps 1040 films dated 1896-1916.

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