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Fairy Tales: Early Colour Stencil films from Pathé on DVD in December

2 November 2012

Once upon a time, during the belle époque in Paris, a short-lived film form called scènes de feeries, or fairy films, became popular thanks to the Pathé Frères company. Made to appeal to young and old alike, the films recreated the theatrical spectacles of the age in jewel-like colours. Fairy Tales: Early Colour Stencil films from Pathé brings the films to DVD for the first time, each accompanied by a newly commissioned soundtrack by recording artists from the leading experimental music label Touch.

These gorgeous films feature fantastical settings, dancing girls, mythical beasts, supernatural beings and a plethora of stage tricks. Enhanced by the techniques of the then-new medium of film, they give modern audiences a fascinating glimpse into the magical world of the nineteenth-century theatre.

Presented here with original hand-colouring, the new soundtracks, all by recording artists from the Touch label, feature contributions from such acclaimed composers as Chris Watson, BJ Nilsen, Hildur Gudnadóttir, Philip Jeck and Fennesz. Their music, at times elegant and playful, at times intense and challenging, combines with these beautiful images, in often surprising ways, to create a unique and unforgettable experience.

The included films and their soundtrack composers are:

  • Un Drame au fond de la mer (Drama at the Bottom of the Sea) (1901) – Jana Winderen
  • Les Sept châteaux du diable (The Seven Castles of the Devil) (1901) – Joachim Nordwall and Henrik Rylander
  • Ballet des Sylphides (1902) – Marcus Davidson
  • Ali Baba et les quarante voleurs (Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves) (1902) – Leif Elggren
  • Valse excentrique (Eccentric Waltz) (1903) – Marcus Davidson
  • Japonaiseries (1904) – Pascal Wyse
  • La Danse du diable (Weird Fancies) (1904) – Leif Elggren
    Métamorphose du papillon (Metamorphosis of a Butterfly) (1905) – Chris Watson
  • La Poule aux œufs d'or (The Hen That Laid the Golden Eggs) (1905) – Achim Mohné
  • Martyrs chrétiens (Christian Martyrs) (1905) – Sarah Nicolls
  • Loïe Fuller (1905) – Philip Jeck
  • L'Album merveilleux (The Wonderful Album) (1905) – Oren Ambarchi
  • L'Antre de la sorcière (The Bewitched Shepherd) (1905) – Maia Urstad
  • La Peine du talion (Tit for Tat) (1906) – Christian Fennesz
  • La Fée printemps (The Fairy of Spring) (1906) – Hildur Guðnadóttir
  • Les Roses magiques (Magic Roses) (1906) – Sohrab
  • Le Scarabée d'or (The Golden Beetle) (1907) – Michael Esposito and Mike Harding
  • Cendrillon ou la pantoufle merveilleuse (Cinderella) (1907) – Philip Jeck
  • Le Spectre Rouge (The Red Spectre) (1907) – Michael Esposito and Mike Harding
  • Le Pied de mouton (The Talisman) (1907) – BJ Nilsen
  • La Sorcière noire (The Black Witch) (1907) – Michael Esposito and Mike Harding
  • La Belle au bois dormant (Sleeping Beauty) (1908) – Sarah Nicolls
  • L'Oiseau bleu (The Blue Bird) (1908) – BJ Nilsen
  • La Légende du fantôme (The Black Pearl) (1908) – The London Snorkelling Team
  • Le Faune (The Fairies and the Faun) (1908) – Hildur Guðnadóttir

Fairy Tales: Early Colour Stencil films from Pathe will be released on UK DVD on 3rd December 2012 by the BFI at the RRP of £19.99.

Special features will include:

  • Barbe-blue (1901): Georges Méliès' telling of the Bluebeard tale with music by SAVX
  • Au Pays de l'or (1908): a trip to the magical underground gold foundry of the dwarves
  • Little Red Riding Hood (1922): Anson Dyer's animation made for Hepworth Picture Plays with music by Rosy Parlane
  • La Danse du diable (Sint-Lukas versions): nine alternative scores by students from Sint-Lukas Brussels University College of Art and Design
  • Illustrated booklet with introductory essay by the BFI's silent film curator Bryony Dixon, music essay by Touch's Mike Harding, plus film notes and credits