Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Now Online! "On the Firing Line with the Germans" (USA, 1915)

With a perfect sense of timing the Library of Congress has released the digitally restored version of Wilbur H. Durborough's World War I feature film On the Firing Line with the Germans. The web launch of this movie was set for Friday November 11, 2016: Veterans Day. An original Great War film from 1915 is now back on the screen!

Durborough and Ries in their Stutz Bearcat roadster heading for the Great War. Copied from Automobile, 28 November 1915

Link to low res image

After one hundred years this breathtaking war film on Durborough's film adventures with the German army during the Great War can be seen again in all of its former splendor. Mike Mashon, Head of the Moving Image Section at the Library of Congress, on November 11 announced the online release in the National Audio-Visual Conservation Blog Now See Hear! For the readers of the weblog we published a short introduction on Durborough's historic film.

Scene from On the Firing Line with the Germans (1915) 

As Mike noted Library staff members George Willeman and Lynanne Schweighofer did a terrific job in selecting the best surviving scenes from among 32 reels of nitrate film, nine reels of paper print fragments, and supplemental 35mm from the National Archives, then assembling the digital files created from them to present a complete version of the film as it premiered in November 1915. So, here is a big THANK YOU!  to Mike, George, Lynanne and their colleagues!

New Extended Story 

To coincide with this online release the authors prepared an extended story on the making of Durborough's war film. Based on our previous book American Cinematographers in the Great War, we added new information that was found earlier this year in the German archives as well as in the American and Dutch newspapers. In this new edition we describe how Durborough and his camera operator Ries went to East-Prussia in June 1915, where they filmed the devastating effects of the invasion by the Russian army. We also found out how Durborough with his typical boldness filmed Field Marshal von Hindenburg during this exciting trip to the Eastern Front. The Film Annotation has been illustrated with numerous new pictures on Durborough's photographic work during the First World War.

The On the Firing Line with the Germans Film Annotation is now available for download here.

You can also read the story here on the digital publication platform Yumpu

We have uploaded the restored Durborough film to our YouTube channel. Enjoy!


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