15 May 2009

More Selig

Being the first film studio in California (see entry of 14 May) has unintended consequences -- most of the 2000+ films made by Selig are thought lost. This is pretty sad. Although it is likely a great majority of the films would not be considered classics by today's standards (or even good) it is a shame that we cannot actually see them to judge for ourselves.

Aside from photographs from these lost films, one thing that has lasted nearly a century is the movie poster -- more specifically, movie posters, like the ones pictured here (click to enlarge). They tell of another world and another time. Not only does one have to wonder the plot and story of these presumably now-lost Selig films (yes, just why is the sheriff a bachelor?) but also to wonder about the artist(s) who created these great works of art.

Most posters from this period were made from a process known as lithography in which a surface (like limestone or a piece of metal) is carved with an image and then covered with paint. Paper is pressed on that surface, pulled away exposing an image. The thing is, EVERY color used has to have its own carved surface. You press the same paper on the different surfaces (making sure everything lines up properly) and then you end up with one of these posters. This can be done manually or with machines. I find this just amazing. Not only that it works, but that it works so well.

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