25 OCTOBER 1930, Page 13

The Cinema

THE publication of a list of new recommendations to be submitted by the Theatre and Music Halls Committee of the London County Council to the Council was happily timed with the first performance of this season's Film Society programme. Apparently the object of these drafted recom- mendations is to enable the Council to exercise a closer super- vision over private film societies. One of the rules which have been suggested fur inclusion in the constitution of such societies reads thus : " No cinematograph film shall be exhibited which contains subversive propaganda, liable in any way whatsoever to endanger the tranquillity of any part of the territory of the British Empire, nor shall any

cinematograph film be so exhibited which is likely to be injurious to morality or encourage or incite to crime or to lead to disorder or to he in any way offensive in the circum- stances to public feeling, or which contains any offensive representation of living persons."

There is no space here to argue about the interpretation of every phrase, and,. in fact, of most of the words used in this comprehensive regulation. It is probable that no single film has ever been made which could not be found guilty of some infringement of this rule. What is urgent is to prevent the London County Council front taking upon itself any further supervision of private film societies. What is the object of these film societies, if it is not to enable a more or less specialized public to see those films which are ton intelligent, too serious in subject, and too sincere in aim to appeal to film marattes who think they know the public taste so well ? Is it less harmful to the public to SC(' cheap, vulgar, entertainment films than to be stimulated by the best work that is being done in the cinema world ? If the pro- grammes suggested for the Sunday performances of film societies are to be submitted to more rigid censorship than they have so far received, and the rule quoted above is mode effective, the educative powers, both technical and artistic, of these societies will be considerably diminished.

The feeling of resentment which these new drafted rules produced in me on Sunday morning was intensified by live o'clock in the afternoon after seeing one of the most interest ing programmes which the Film Society has so far presented. The programme included a short film, H2O, showing a variet y of exquisite photographs of water ; a less pleasing though decidedly clever American cartoon film illustrating simply how a talking picture is made ; a number of scenes showing how Mr. E. A. Dupont is making the English, French, and German versions of ('ape Forlorn ; one of Mr. \Volt Disney's hest cartoons ; a Silly Symphony called Frolicking Fish ; a most sinister British InstrumentalFilot,The Strangler—" the story of the Dogger, one of the convolvulus family, and is typical criminal of the plaint world "-- a film which took eighteen months to photograph ; and a perfectly delightful German fantasy in silhouette form by Lotte Reiniger and Berthold Bartosch, called Running After Luck.

The most ambitous film of the programme was the newly finished Soviet film, Earth. Its director, Alexander Dov- zhenko, has attempted to show the material and spiritual changes which have taken place in a typical Ukranian village during the past fifteen years. The story of the recent struggle between the rich peasants (kulaks), and the peasants who farm their land collectively is extremely difficult to follow unless one is well acquainted with this strange piece of contemporary history. Mr. Dovzhenko's method of emphasizing his theme by contrasting many incidental and only subtly related shots of the old superstitious peasant life with the new materialistic attitude ogler] makes the theme

even snore baffling. Although these contrasts arc s times extraordinarily effective, the continuity of the film has been badly damaged.

But there is a great deal in the story, and in the manner of its telling, which is extraordinarily beautiful. Many different types of Ukranian peasants have been carefully chosen to give a fair impression of the Ukranian peasant populat' . There are some fine-looking men, hard-wrinkled women, delightful children, young men with the lire of adventure in their eyes, and young women standing laughing in the sunshine binding leaves. To give an impression of the vast expanse of sky on the steppe, and no doubt to signify the victory of the new life, there are many statuesque and magni- ficent silhouette shots against the skyline. The abundant fertility of the Ukraine is constantly and skilfully emphasized.

The film moves slowly : Dovzhenko produces the effect of the impotence of the old attitude to life against the new by a sequence of beautiful, motionless photographs. His method is static rather than dynamic. His treatment of his theme is restrained and powerful, but Earth does not con- tribute so much of importance to the development of the art of the cinema as does the work of Eisenstein, Pudovkin or Alexander Room.