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Sensational finding for Polish cinema. Missing film score found in Italy after decades

TVN24 | TVN24 News in English

TVN24 News in English, PAP
Original score for the movie "Janko Muzykant" has been foundNational Film Archive – Audiovisual Institute
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National Film Archive – Audiovisual InstituteOriginal score for the movie "Janko Muzykant" has been found

A long-lost film score for the 1930 movie "Janko Muzykant" directed by Ryszard Ordyński has been found in a private collection in Italy - the National Film Archive – Audiovisual Institute (FINA) has told Polish Press Agency (PAP). Based on a short story under the same name by Polish writer and winner of 1905 Nobel Prize in Literature, Henryk Sienkiewicz, the picture was one of the first sound films in Poland.

In one of the editions of "Kino" weekly from 1930, photographs from the making of the score for "Janko Muzykant" can be seen. "They show the recording studio, actors Witold Conti and Maria Malicka. Next to her stands Grzegorz Fitelberg, and in the background is the screen on which the movie was being displayed. It was Grzegorz Fitelberg and Leon Schiller who had composed the score for "Janko Muzykant"" - FINA's head of promotions Dorota Zajdel told PAP.

"Janko Muzykant" (Janko the Musician) was one of the first feature films with sound made in Poland. It was shot in Warsaw and its environs, whereas the sound was recorded in a studio in Berlin.

In Ordyński's film, for the first time in the history of Polish cinema, the songs were performed by the protagonists. It remains unclear why the sound for "Janko Muzykant" was recorded in Berlin, as already at the time there was a sound studio in Warsaw, in which the score for the first Polish sound movie ever "Moralność Pani Dulskiej" (The Morality of Mrs. Dulska) - was recorded in 1930. The said score had also gone missing.

The movie premiered on the 8th of November, 1930. The score was stored on gramophone records. Both the score and sheet music went missing after the war.

A still from the movie "Janko Muzykant"National Film Archive – Audiovisual Institute

As the film was made at the turn of silent and sound film era, dialogues and storyline elements were displayed on boards, the film could be easily played as silent movie. In 2016, it was screened at the 35th silent film festival in Pordenone (Le Giornate del Cinema Muto).

Thanks to the publicity the movie had attracted in Italy, as well as search efforts by the National Film Archive – Audiovisual Institute, the records with the original score have been found in a private collection and brought back to Poland. According to film experts from FINA, "it is one of the most sensational findings in recent years when it comes to Polish interwar cinema".

FINA has been working on digital reconstruction of the film and on reattaching of the lost soundtrack. The re-premiere of the film has been scheduled for April 2021. It is to take place during the Silent Film Feast organised by FINA in Warsaw's Kino Iluzjon. The world re-premiere is to take place in May 2021 at Castro Theatre in San Francisco.

"Ahead of us is one of the most daring renovation projects we ever had to face. In our hands are to two incomplete copies of the film, one Polish and one Czechoslovak, while the only complete material is the sensationally recovered score. FINA experts face a tremendous challenge in restoring the score from these incredibly fragile records," said vice chairperson of FINA, Anna Sienkiewicz-Rogowska.


Źródło: TVN24 News in English, PAP

Źródło zdjęcia głównego: Filmoteka Narodowa – Instytut Audiowizualny (FINA)