24 June 2018 | krburditt
Terrific Film, stunning Art Deco sets
Saw Transatlantic on June 23 at a special screening at AFI/Silver, in the glorious restored Art Deco Silver Theater. In a joint presentation with the Art Deco Society of Washington an audience of almost 300 people enjoyed a restored copy of a little know early talking film Transatlantic. I was expecting a film like many of the early 30's films, a little slow, flat sets, and a thin story line. I was stunned to watch a fast paced, gripping story line that was definitely Pre Code, with a touch of Noir, and had stunning sets.
Its called Grand Hotel on the Ocean, which is a bit unfair. You can see the similarities but this is a piece on its own. The gorgeous Art Deco furnishings, wood work, and grills, the flashing directional signage, exuberant jazz music, and costumes that would be popular today. There is infidelity, corruption, theft, and raspberry pie. The finally is a cat and mouse chase scene through a multi tiered engine room with tracking shots that is as good as any CGI super hero film today. A really amazing and superior film for its time, and you definitely see the talents of James Wong in its design.
The AFI presentation included a pre film lecture by Christian Roden on early 20th century ocean liners and how the Liner companies updated their interior designs from the English country house look to the very latest cutting edge designs that are now referred to as Art Deco. The lecture provide helpful context on an industry now known more for Caribbean cruises than necessary and elegant transportation.
Pay particular attention to a montage of scenes when the ship is going through high seas - couples on a dance floor and elegantly clad ladies falling down steps provide a look at how the real transatlantic crossing passengers braved high seas in practiced good humor.
Many thanks to MoMa for the restoration. They made the overlap transition to subtitle, in sections where dialogue is missing, seamless to the viewer. Many thanks to all the technicians who pulled together the many foreign copies to recreate this film.
Many in last nights audience wanted to know if the film would be shown again, and when it will be released for sale. We all want to see it again and again, and hit pause to admire the sets.
If you have a chance to see this film, it is worth the time and effort.