Segundo de Chomón

Segundo de Chomón
Segundo de Chomón.jpg
Born
Segundo Víctor Aurelio Chomón y Ruiz

(1871-10-17)October 17, 1871
Died May 2, 1929(1929-05-02) (aged 57)
Years active 1900–1927
Spouse(s) Julienne Mathieu

Segundo Víctor Aurelio Chomón y Ruiz (also Chomont or Chaumont, French: [ʃomɔ̃]; 17 October 1871 – 2 May 1929) was a pioneering Spanish and French film director, cinematographer and screenwriter. He produced many short films in France while working for Pathé Frères and has been compared to Georges Méliès, due to his frequent camera tricks and optical illusions. He is regarded as the most significant Spanish silent film director in an international context.

Biography

Born in Aragon (Spain), Segundo de Chomón reportedly got into film through the efforts of his French actress wife, Julienne Mathieu, who appeared in early Pathé Frères productions and worked in some special effects Parisian workshops like Thuillier's studio. Around 1900 he became an agent for Pathé Frères in Spain, publicizing and distributing their films out of Barcelona. In 1901, Chomón began producing actuality films in Spain on an independent basis and distributing them through Pathé; his first trick film was Gulliver en el país de los gigantes (1903). Chomón and his wife also specialized in producing stencil colored film prints and were one of the developers of the Pathéchrome process, patented by Pathé in 1905.[1] Charles Pathé also noted the quality of Chomón's trick films and, from 1903, began to support these efforts with the desire of competing with Georges Méliès. Chomón was expert enough at making trick films and had proven himself so valuable to Pathé that in 1905 he and Mathieu moved from Barcelona to Paris, and Chomón was placed in charge of a color stencilling shop in addition to his periodic duties as a director. Through 1907, Chomón worked in close collaboration with Pathé's top director, Ferdinand Zecca; the partnership worked so well that in 1907 Zecca selected Chomón to co-direct a major project, the remake of Zecca's own 1903 Vie et Passion de Notre Seigneur Jésus Christ. Shortly afterward, Zecca moved into an executive position at Pathé and did little direction from that time; Chomón's most productive years as a filmmaker lasted from 1907 to 1912, a period during which Méliès' production went into a steep decline. Chomón often worked with other directors; in addition to Zecca he collaborated with Gaston Velle, Juan Fuster, Alberto Capellani and Émile Cohl. Although he remained with Pathé, in 1910 Chomón returned to Barcelona and started an independent production company, Iberico Films,[2][3] which proved short-lived.

In 1912, Chómon accepted an invitation to make films in Italy. In addition to his own films, he worked on special effects on the films of others, notably Giovanni Pastrone's epic Cabiria (1914). Pastrone returned the favor in 1917 through collaborating on Chomón's last directorial effort, La guerra e il sogno di Momi; Chomón's own films had become less frequent after his move to Italy, and he had primarily worked in visual effects and cinematography in these years. After 1917, Chomón principally worked on creating visual effects for the films of others, including Guido Brignone's Maciste in Hell (1925) and Abel Gance's Napoléon (1927). Towards the end of his life, Chomón collaborated with Swiss inventor Ernest Zollinger (ex-Pathé, ex-Itala Films) to develop a photographic, two-color color film process.[4] Chomón was planning to get back into full-time film production on his own when he died, suddenly, of a heart attack at age 57.

Legacy

The very year that Chomón died, the Surrealists organized a soirée that would rehabilitate the artistic reputation of Georges Méliès and to begin the long process of recovering his films. Chomón was effectively forgotten in the wake of his death, though over time silent film collectors began to recognize some of his shorts and he was dubbed "The Spanish Méliès" in English-speaking lands.[5] Two of his films, Le spectre rouge (1907) and Hôtel électrique (1908), persistently circulated in the collector's market and were also circulated by the Museum of Modern Art film library; the first as an example of stencilled color and the second as a Pathé Frères film by an unknown director. The Italian film Cabiria (where he was director of photography & special FX) featured what may have been the first "dolly shot" in the movies, utilizing a device built by Chomón. Finally, recognition came to Chomón in his home country, as the Filmoteca de Catalunya established a special division with the purpose of collecting and cataloguing what was left of his output; a DVD collection in PAL format with 31 films,[6] Segundo Chomón: Le Cine de la Fantasia, was released by the Filmoteca in 2010. Many of de Chomon's Parisian Pathé Frères films have been recovered, but his Spanish and Italian productions have proven more elusive.

Comparisons of Chomón's work with that of Georges Méliès is inevitable, with those in Chomón's court insisting that he was a better filmmaker, whereas those on Méliès' side insist that Chomón was a mere imitator. While it is hard to top Méliès' achievements in discovering basic editing and in his eye-popping production designs, Chomon was a slightly more modern filmmaker than Méliès. Chomón relied extensively on animation, a field in which he was a pioneer and a technique Georges Méliès seldom, if ever, used. Moreover, Chomón offered slight improvements on some techniques that Méliès already had tried, such as in Les Kiriki, acrobates japonais (1907).[7] Chomón's work was also more expansive in terms of genre than that of Méliès; he started in actuality films and continued working in this field after the transition to documentary and was also employed on standard dramatic features as well. Méliès began making actualities also, in 1896, but after discovering and developing the trick film and fantasy genres, he stayed put. Nevertheless, it is for his trick films that Chomón will be best remembered;[8] Spain honored him with a postage stamp in 1994. Chomón's film Armures Mystérieuses (The Mysterious Armor or The Wonderful Armor) was preserved by the Academy Film Archive in 2010.[9]

Film historian Tom Gunning has suggested that Luis Buñuel and/or Salvador Dalí were familiar with Chomón's Superstition andalouse (1912) years before making their experimental film Un Chien andalou in 1929.[10]

Filmography

Made in Spain

Made in France

  • 1904: Barcelone, Le parc au crépuscule
  • 1904: El heredero de Casa Pruna
  • 1906: Le roi des dollars, L'obsession du billard, Le sorcier arabe, Les cent trucs, Le courant électrique, La maison hantée (1906), La fée aux pigeons, La dernière sorcière, Plongeur fantastique, L'homme aux trente-six têtes, Le théâtre de Bob, La maison hantée, Ah! La barbe, Hallucination musicale, L’obsession de l’or, Le mariage du roi Alphonse XIII, Le troubadour (starring Gabrielle Robinne), L'antre de la sorcière, Les roses magiques
  • 1907: La Passion de Jésus, Métempsycose, Les tulipes, Le scarabée d'or, Le charmeur, Le bailleur, Les flammes diaboliques, Le parapluie fantastique, Fantaisies endiablées, Le spectre rouge, Les œufs de Pâques, La fée des roches noires, Les chrysanthèmes, Le sculpteur express, Silhouettes animées, Armures mystérieuses, Les verres enchantés (starring Julienne Mathieu), La boîte à cigares, Satan s'amuse, L'étang enchanté (starring Julienne Mathieu), Ali Baba et les quarante voleurs, La forge infernale, En avant la musique (starring Julienne Mathieu), La maison morcelée, Les Kiriki, acrobates japonais, Les glaces merveilleuses, Le baiser de la sorcière, Métempsycose, Le scarabée d'or, La maison hantée[11]
  • 1908: La table magique, Voyage original, Les œufs merveilleux, L'araignée d'or, Création de la serpentine, Voyage oriental, Le secret de la sorcière, Le rêve des marmitons, Les affiches animées, Sculpteur moderne, Voyage dans la lune, Chiffonniers et caricaturistes, Le rêve de Toula, La grenouille (starring Julienne Mathieu), Les lunatiques, L'auberge tranquille, L'insaisissable pickpocket, Les papillons japonais, La légende du fantôme, Les flammes mystérieuses, Déménagement magnétique, Les tribulations du roi Tétaclaque, Hôtel électrique (starring Julienne Mathieu), L'aspirateur, Les grotesques, Cuisine magnétique, Le chevalier mystère, Hôtel électrique (starring Julienne Mathieu), L'écran magique, La grotte des esprits, Mes fleurs, Magie moderne, L'abeille et la rose, Le voleur mystérieux, Les pantins de Misole, Les ombres chinoises, Les jouets vivants, La maison ensorcelée
  • 1909: Symphonie bizarre, Le voleur invisible, La liquéfaction des corps, Les cocottes en papier, Le petit Poucet, L'âne de la sorcière, La forge du diable, Les cadeaux de la fée, Le jeu de patience, Farce macabre, Cauchemar et doux rêves, Les têtes fantastiques, Voyage sur la planète Jupiter, La leçon de musique, Pickpock ne craint pas les entraves, Une excursion incohérente, Les guirlandes merveilleuses, Mars, Le Roi des aulnes, Voyage au centre de la Terre

Made in Spain

  • 1910: Amor Gitano, La expiación, El puente de la muerte, Venganza de un carbonero, La fecha de Pepín, La fatalidad, El ejemplo, Pragmática real, Justicias del rey don Pedro, La manta del caballo, La hija del guardacostas, La gratitud de las flores o Flores y perlas, Los guapos, El puñao de rosas, Las carceleras, La tempranica, El pobre Valbuena, Lucha fratricida o Nobleza Aragonesa, Los pobres de levita, Los dulces de Arturo, Una farsa de Colás, Flema inglesa, Gerona: la Venecia española, La heroica Zaragoza.
  • 1911: Pulgarcito
  • 1912: El talismán del vagabundo, Soñar despierto

Made in France

  • 1912 : Métamorphoses (with France Mathieu)

Made in Italia

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