On Friday the 23rd, editor Camille Blot-Wellens and executive publisher Christophe Dupin delivered a presentation at Il Cinema Ritrovato on the newly expanded edition of Harold Brown’s Physical Characteristics of Early Films as Aids to Identification, following its publication in November of 2020.
The project, which was first proposed by Blot-Wellens in 2014, remains true in content and spirit to Harold Brown’s original edition, published by FIAF in 1990. In addition to preserving and clarifying his work with the integration of more than 900 images into the body of the text, and the inclusion of updated information in footnotes and a comprehensive index, the second section of the new edition is comprised of additional research, with a wealth of contributions from archivists specialising in film-identification.
A particularly valuable feature of the expanded text concerns the dating of film from specific production companies: Blot-Wellens and collaborators from a range of archives and cinematheques provide critical findings which enable the precise identification of film stock from AGFA, Pathé, Fuji, and other production companies by year.
Dupin began with a tribute to Brown, sharing details from his extraordinary life as a pioneer in archival preservation and film identification with attendees at Auditorium DAMS lab. From his post as an office boy at the BFI at just 15 years old, Brown would go on to be at the forefront of the creation of scientific film identification methods, a key player in FIAF’s Technical and Preservation Commissions, and an active educator, continuing to teach and publish even after his retirement. The expanded work is an extension of this remarkable legacy.
Additional remarks were made by Martin Koerber, head archivist at the Deutsche Kinemathek and author of the volume’s foreword, as well as Peter Bagrov of the Eastman Museum, whose essay, ‘Preliminary Notes on Soviet Nitrate Film Stock and Other Aids to Identification of Russian and Soviet Films,’ is included in the new edition.
Harold Brown’s Physical Characteristics of Early Films as Aids to Identification is available for online order through FIAF and North American distributor Indiana University Press, as well as for purchase at the festival book fair in Bologna.