- Editors' Foreword
Pathé bookends this issue of The Moving Image. We launch it with Jan Olsson's "Rooster Play: Pathé Frères and the Beginnings of In-Frame Trademarks," in which he excavates the origins, applications, and meanings of the company's trademark, the red Gallic rooster. Born in an era of fierce patent, trademark, and copyright wars, the French company Pathé Frères annexed the Pathé family's phonograph trademark to create a distinctive brand identity for their new film business. Branding is a concept that is ho-hum for us now, but it was a vital, innovative component of doing business on a global scale at the turn of the twentieth century. By including the rooster trademark in their films' mise-en-scène, Olsson then shows, with a case study of Sweden, how the Pathé brothers visually generated an international presence. As Olsson continued to beat the archival bush on his rooster hunt, he observed that the filmmakers went beyond simply asserting their corporate rights in the expanded international marketplace; they also associated it with patriotism—the coq gaulois is a beloved, but unofficial, symbol of France. The company may also have inserted its mark or its corporate signature to comment on the film's narrative, sometimes humorously, but occasionally to stake out moral positions on contentious public issues.
Pathé, of course, still functions as a major multinational multimedia enterprise engaged in production, distribution, and exhibition.1 The issue ends by reprising the Pathé legacy in a Forum interview by Tim Palmer and Liza Palmer with Anne Gourdet-Marès, the archivist responsible for the equipment and studio collections at the Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé Foundation, in Paris.2 The public foundation—which pays homage to the coq in its logo—was created in 2006 and, in 2014, moved into its stunning new [End Page vii] quarters, a nineteenth-century building renovated by architect Renzo Piano. The twenty-two-hundred-square-meter facility includes the Charles Pathé cinema for public screenings; permanent and temporary exhibition spaces; an equipment and poster gallery; a researcher workspace; and storage for diverse collections of documents, ephemera, and nonfilm artifacts of the vertically integrated company and its productions going back to its beginnings in 1896. Gourdet-Marès is particularly passionate about the foundation's mission to reach out to young audiences, and she shares one of her narrated lectures. Her "horrible little cinematograph" reconstruction of a traditional youth-directed lecture uses films from the incunabula of Pathé to take kids, and us, back to the beginning of the rooster's reign. Her lantern slide-and-film spectacle is also a potent reminder that in its early days, live performance was often paired with cinematographic shows, and sometimes relied on the external narrator to provide users with, or remind them of, the stories of the films they were enjoying.
In "Riding, Shooting, Viewing: Railroads, Amusement Parks, and the Experience of Place in Early Hollywood," Dimitrios Latsis explores other ways that the early studios, specifically Universal and Selig Polyscope, sought to establish their brands, not so much by inserting their trademarks into their films (although they did that too) as by building associations with Americana, the myth of the West, and the railway journeys that brought Easterners out to the "Coast." Here visitors encountered the prototypes for future theme parks that were under construction: Universal City and the Selig Zoo. These schemes were not merely intended to attract tourists, though. The studios wished to convey this vision of Edenic lands and experience in their films as well. It is important, Latsis implies, to look beyond the "place" of the early Western film genre as a historical and mythic reference but also to see these locales as signs of the film's actual place of production in western American acreage, particularly as products of California.
You have never heard of Colin Ross? You are in the majority. As Nico de Klerk admits in "Belonging to the Interwar World: Tracing the Travelogues of Colin Ross," he too was unfamiliar with Ross at the start of his research. And yet the filmmaker had been a household name and...