Film: 365

Media | 1910 | Silent | B/W


Operations of the Pathe film company, circa 1910's. Processing of negative and positive film (both professional and amateur gauges), the impressive prop departments and beautiful theaters of the Pathe circuit, and a demonstration of the groundbreaking Pathecolor stencil colouring technique. The film makes clear the beauty and technical supremacy of Pathe product due to the efficiency of the factory-style work environment of the company. Countless men and women are shown working like clockwork, but the viewer is not led to believe they are overworked, as we also see them relaxing and eating in the refectories happily.

Various buildings along an empty street. A suited man wearing a boater hat turns a corner as another man, Charles Pathe, exits a building – they shake hands, the boater hatted man excitedly pulls a reel of 35mm motion picture film out of his coat, they both take a brief look at it, and Pathe leads them both up the stairs inside. Pathe takes a seat at his desk – his visitor places his hat on the desk and pulls the 35mm film back out, unspooling a good bit of film. The visitor stretches about a foot of film out for Pathe to see – Pathe looks at a small section closely and with interest. The visitor tears off a piece of film, and Pathe puts a pair of spectacles on to inspect both sides of it. They shake hands, the visitor leaves, and still wearing spectacles, Pathe reads a sheet of paper inquisitively.

The film editing room is shown – many rows of people in small cubicles. From behind we see a film editor joining a film with cement. A montage of theatres in the Pathe circuit are shown, all featuring large marquees and artwork – people walk by the theatres, some stand in front of them staring at the marquee, cars drive past them. A packed Pathe company cafeteria is shown – the food is steaming hot. Hot food in pots and pans being stirred and flipped. Montage of women eating at countless tables – the tables are shown from above and from ground level, then we see closeups of forks and knives being used, grapes are picked off vines, cups are thrown back, plates are cleaned. A very utilitarian prop storage building is shown from the outside – very box shaped with windows spaced at regular intervals. Montage of props and decorative items useful for films situated in any era – seen are Greco-Roman statues, 18th century style paintings, a mannequin with a costume on. A long corridor featuring furniture and various décor mostly leaning against walls is shown.

Rows of men mostly in lab coats working in a film negative development laboratory, a very industrial or factory-esque location. A man pulls film hanging on a rack out of a vat of chemicals, inspects it and slides it back down – others do the same. A man pulls a rack out and grips a few pieces of film in his hand. Finished film racks are hung on a pipe against a wall and slid one by one. A worker swivels a film rack on a tripod as the film on the rack passes through various loops and wheels in a film drying machine. The development and drying of smaller width amateur films – termed Pathe Baby films – is shown. Workers pull the smaller width films on small racks out of developing chemicals and slide them down pipes, ready for drying. Women operating drying machines – a reel spins on its own accord as the women turn wheels simultaneously like clockwork. Montage of women working at hulking, continuous contact printers for striking positive film from negatives in the claustrophobic, yet equally hulking room they are housed in – closed reels, a mass of wires, pipes are all shown. The camera drifts from worker to worker as each woman operates each machine quickly and identically as if they are machines themselves – correctly laced films pass through each machine at the same rate.

Rows of women shown stencilling the positive films in cubicles – all working very efficiently and with deep focus. From behind we see worker after worker tracing areas to be coloured with styli on rear projected images from each film print, and the traces made by each stylus are cut into the same area on the print itself by a blade connected to the stylus by a pantograph. This process is shown from a closer vantage point where it is easier to see the process, as a film stencilling machine operator stencils frame after frame and then pokes the traced portions out of the print with her stylus. Montage of women operating the machines used to add dye to unstencilled prints in the exact same areas where traces were made in the stencilled films – row after row of women operating machines quickly and efficiently, film passing up and down conveyor belts, film being laced into the machines, reels spinning.

The final stencil coloured film is shown – a fantasy epic with a very exaggerated, stylised background and stylised costumes. Ballet dancers dance before a painted background featuring Greco-Roman architecture.

To request more details on this film, please contact us quoting Film number 365.