Crafts and Techniques of Early Cinema in the 1900s Rio de Janeiro between the Theater, the Newspaper, and the Screen

< Program < PANEL NO. 5: Early Latin American Cinema

Early cinema established an intrinsic relationship with other arts and cultural manifestations, soon appropriating the structure and staging from theater and circus, for example. This paper deals with the appropriations and adaptations made by the early cinema of crafts and techniques that came from elsewhere. We will focus on the Brazilian capital of the 1900s, Rio de Janeiro, which appropriated the latest foreign innovations, adhering to the modernity led by Paris. Considering that the empirical analysis of the film object is complicated, as very few films shot in the period in Brazil have survived. We will take as the object of analysis mainly the journalistic chronicle, the contracts, and the remaining correspondences that belonged to people involved in the craft. The years 1907-1910 are turning points in Brazil when we consider the cinematic scope. Rio de Janeiro is renovated accordingly with the French capital. Cinema massively enters the city due to the agreement between the Ferrez family and Pathé Frères and, thanks to worldly chronicler Figueiredo Pimentel, it becomes a fashion habit. Worldly carioca events are recorded by the camera, and Pimentel takes on the role of a pseudo-director, recommending to the elite, for example, that on a parade day “coachmen and chauffeurs” moderate their speed; or that pedestrians “always circulate and stroll the whole length of the Bar instead of sitting down. Only then the films will come out splendid.” However, the elite was certainly not the sole actor in Rio’s cinematic plots. The “National Exhibition of 1908”, which closely followed the example of the World fairs, becomes the setting of the 1908 film Sô Lotéro e Nhá Ofrasia com seus produtos à Exposição (Mr. Lotéro and Mrs. Ofrasia with their products at the Exhibition), clearly influenced by the theatrical genre “year review”. The film’s main characters and mise en scène came from the review “Maxixe”, by João Foca, while Foca himself focuses on the technique that allows the transposition of theater to cinema, in a series of chronicles printed in that period in Jornal do Brasil. Therefore, as we intend to demonstrate, journalistic chronicle, theater plays, printed documents, and the few surviving films of the period shot in Rio contribute to clarifying the specificities of the métier that was still being structured.

Download communication

Danielle Crepaldi Carvalho (Universidade de São Paulo)

Danielle Crepaldi Carvalho holds a post-doctorate degree from the Escola de Comunicações e Artes of the Universidade de São Paulo (ECA-USP, FAPESP). Her research examines the uses of sounds in silent cinema, and seeks to think about the circulation and reception of cinema in a transdisciplinary and transnational context. PhD from the Universidade de Campinas, with a thesis focused on the analysis of short texts about cinema and related optical devices, published in the Rio de Janeiro press until 1920. She carried out a research internship at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3. She is part of the research group “História e Audiovisual: circularidades e formas de comunicação”, co-ordinated by Profs. Drs. Eduardo Morettin and Marcos Napolitano at ECA-USP. Co-organizer of Cinema e História: circularidades, arquivos e experiência estética (Sulina, Brazil, 2017) and Cinema, estética, política e dimensões da memória (Sulina, Brasil, 2019), of annotated editions of short stories from Brazilian writers from the late XIXth and the XXth centuries (Lazuli, Brazil, 2013 and 2016), and co-author of the Portuguese translation and critical analysis of the French theatrical melodrama L’Auberge des Adrets (Penalux, Brazil, 2015).