Rediscovering a lost 1930 Technicolor gem


It often takes international cooperation to get a film made, or restored in the present day. Australian film historian Paul Brennan recently tracked down a print of the 1930 Technicolor epic Mamba, an expensive film that bankrupted its studio, Tiffany Pictures. (It is said that prints from Tiffany Pictures were used to fuel the fire in Gone with the Wind.) The print was found in Adelaide in the property of an 85-year-old ex-traveling showman. But this print had no sound. Brennan then discovered a complete set of nine soundtrack records at UCLA. Then it was time to hire a Swedish sound engineer, Jonas Nordin, to synchronize everything. The restored Mamba had a premiere screening in Melbourne in November and a U.S. screening in Syracuse, New York, last month. The film was initially advertised as the "screen's first all-talking, all-color drama.”

An international co-production of a different kind bought the Finnish dark sci-fi comedy Iron Sky to life. Finnish, German and Australian companies banded together to fund the movie, with filming done in Germany and Australia under the control of Finnish director Timo Vuorensola. The story follows a group of German Nazis who fled to the dark side of the moon in 1945; they have now regrouped and are ready to invade Earth. The film opened in April in Finland and Germany, with other countries to follow. Even before it had debuted, the picture sold to over 70 countries including most of Europe, the U.K., the U.S., Australia and much of Asia.

Australian author Tim Winton's book The Turning has 17 connected short stories of the same name. Screen Australia has recently given development funding to a film adaptation. The movie will have 17 directors each helming a chapter. Directors include the actors Cate Blanchett, Mia Wasikowska and David Wenham, as well as numerous film directors including Justin Kurzel, Tony Ayres and Jonathan Auf Der Heide. No casting choices have been announced as yet.

On a recent trip to Indonesia, I helped Disney's beleaguered John Carter. Faced with a choice of 2D for around $2 or 3D for $3 (Australian or US dollars—they are near equal), I chose the more expensive option.

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