Chelsea Girls (Andy Warhol, 1966)

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snapwolfe
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Chelsea Girls (Andy Warhol, 1966)

#1 Post by snapwolfe » Tue Jun 24, 2008 1:01 am

Perhaps some one here could help me find a complete set of projection instructions for the Chelsea Girls' proper projection.

Was this originally film in 16mm with sound or was the sound recorded separately? Are the new MoMA prints made with synchronized sound on the 16mm film or is there a separate soundtrack to be played?

If you are in New York and can help me out perhaps we can organize a screening.

Cheers.

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Dr Amicus
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#2 Post by Dr Amicus » Tue Jun 24, 2008 3:53 am

I can't be much help I'm afraid, and it's 20 years since I've seen it, but...

When we were shown this on our Film Studies course - a 16mm copy - I remember being told that there were effectively two soundtracks, one for each image (just in case anyone doesn't know this, there are 2 16mm images projected side by side), and it was up to the projectionist (possibly under instructions) to determine which side had the sound at any one time. Meaning that you need to see the film at least twice...

Hope that helps.

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The Fanciful Norwegian
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#3 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Tue Jun 24, 2008 5:59 am

The MOMA/Warhol Foundation version includes very specific instructions for both the sound mix and the order of projection, although I believe originally it was left up to the projectionist. The soundtracks are optical tracks on the prints themselves (although one reel is completely silent).

mikebowes
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#4 Post by mikebowes » Tue Jun 24, 2008 10:18 am

Upon reading your post I emailed a friend who projected Chelsea Girls about 7 years ago with a dual 16mm projector set up (not the MoMA one with both images on one print). This is what he said:

"I am pretty sure this is from Warhol’s Auricon days which was a 16mm sync camera. I can’t remember if the Auricon recorded straight to a magnetic strip on the film, or if it was slaved to an audio mixer, but it is definitely a sync camera and Chelsea Girls is definitely a sync film. The print I used had an optical track, so I needed to use a 16mm projector (actually, two of ‘em) with an optical audio reader. As you know, Chelsea Girls needs two projectors to run simultaneously. The directions that the MOMA supplied had the reel order and which audio track you should use at a given time. Because, you basically have to switch back and forth between the two projectors audio tracks as Warhol intended it. Also, you need to start the second projector after the first one at a given point. Other than that, all I remember is the whole film starts and ends with Pope Ondine. Good luck!"

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zedz
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#5 Post by zedz » Tue Jun 24, 2008 4:02 pm

The Raro Video release (discussed here) presumably preserves the 'official' presentation of the sound, and the transfer incorporates 'downtime' on each side of the screen while imaginary reels are changed on each imaginary projector.

The notion of strict instructions for what gets heard when strikes me as somewhat control-freaky, however. Is there any evidence for this being Warhol's personal call? It's an obvious DVD feature for viewers to be able to 'mix' their own soundtrack, so it's a shame that it's not available.

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domino harvey
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#6 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jun 24, 2008 4:12 pm

My guess is that the print Raro used for their DVD of questionable legality was only provided with the soundtrack as-presented. Based on the amount of time and attention put into these DVDs, if they had the materials to present both audio tracks, I'm certain they would be on the disc.

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zedz
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#7 Post by zedz » Tue Jun 24, 2008 5:10 pm

domino harvey wrote:My guess is that the print Raro used for their DVD of questionable legality was only provided with the soundtrack as-presented.
I assumed that the digital 'print' would have had to be assembled from its component parts (and presumably according to the official 'script'). Does The Chelsea Girls even exist as a 35mm or 16mm composite? I've only ever heard of it being a dual projection.

The other, unanswerable question, is who did the transfer, which gets into the whole murky business of the DVDs official-or-not status.

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miless
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#8 Post by miless » Tue Jun 24, 2008 5:18 pm

Aren't all Warhol releases (of the films that his estate owns the rights to) bootlegs as they haven't consented to any home video release? (until last year when they signed up for an avant-garde compilation being assembled by Image and several prominent arts organizations with subsidies from the government)

Adam
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#9 Post by Adam » Tue Jun 24, 2008 5:21 pm

Correct, there are NO current legit DVD releases of any Warhol films.

As for 'Chelsea Girls," there are thorough projection instructions, but "strict" is open to debate. One can, for example, show the reels in any order - there is no defined order of presentation (or maybe it was no defined starting reel).

It is a double projection, side-by-side, with sound on reels, and I believe one just chooses which one wants to play the sound from.

snapwolfe
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#10 Post by snapwolfe » Tue Jun 24, 2008 7:53 pm

So, I was able to find a copy of the projection instructions. they were simpler than i had expected. i figured it would be good to post them here... enjoy.

Image

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foggy eyes
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#11 Post by foggy eyes » Tue Jun 24, 2008 8:30 pm

Yes, this 'official' version derives from Jonas Mekas's instructions for the film's first screening at the Cinematheque. It was presumably planned under Warhol's supervision, so I guess it's about as 'definitive' as we're going to get (as far as I know, there is no record that he ever confirmed the sequence as definitive). Over the years, the recognised tradition does seem to have been that the film begins and ends with Pope Ondine/Nico.

This standard sequence is preserved by the Raro transfer, although at some point on the disc the film goes completely silent after a reel accompanied by sound ends and the simultaneous one is still going, as if somebody forgot to flick the switch from one to the other. Two reels are left without any sound for a while, and it's only when the next parallel projection starts up that the sound returns. I can't remember exactly when this happens, but I think it's somewhere around reels 6, 7 and 8 - the first Hannah Hanoi (5) and Eric Emerson (9) sections definitely have sound. There is nothing in Mekas's instructions that indicates complete silence across both reels at any point, so this must have been a screw-up at the mastering stage (unless there something wrong with my copy or memory).

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zedz
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#12 Post by zedz » Wed Jun 25, 2008 12:11 am

foggy eyes wrote:This standard sequence is preserved by the Raro transfer, although at some point on the disc the film goes completely silent after a reel accompanied by sound ends and the simultaneous one is still going, as if somebody forgot to flick the switch from one to the other. Two reels are left without any sound for a while, and it's only when the next parallel projection starts up that the sound returns. I can't remember exactly when this happens, but I think it's somewhere around reels 6, 7 and 8 - the first Hannah Hanoi (5) and Eric Emerson (9) sections definitely have sound.
I looked back at my comments on the disc linked above and was surprised that I went to the trouble of giving a blow-by-blow account of what soundtrack is heard where. So if anybody's interested, the information can be found in the Warhol thread.

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foggy eyes
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#13 Post by foggy eyes » Wed Jun 25, 2008 10:02 pm

zedz wrote:I looked back at my comments on the disc linked above and was surprised that I went to the trouble of giving a blow-by-blow account of what soundtrack is heard where.
Ah, yes, thanks. Unless some other technical problem kicked in, it appears that somebody forgot to switch back to reel 8 during the telecine stage.

Anyway, I had a similar reaction to the film as you, but really suffered during the unbelievably abrasive Hanoi Hannah sections. As the diegetic sound is of such dreadful quality, the relentless shouting, bitching and shrieking grates so much that both become extremely difficult to sit through - far more challenging than, say, the violent and unforgiving hap-hazard zooms during The VU & Nico or the tremendously minimalist hour-long extract of Empire. Otherwise, I thought the Pope Ondine, Eric Emerson & Nico sections were utterly compelling, and much of the rest not too far behind.

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hearthesilence
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Re: Chelsea Girls (Warhol, 1966)

#14 Post by hearthesilence » Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:30 pm

MoMA is holding a program based around The Chelsea Girls from May 4-13, and it is a very rare opportunity to see not one, not two, but THREE different screenings of that film (although if you live in NYC you're a bit luckier than others because Metrograph screened this not that long ago).

Besides a slew of related films, the screenings for The Chelsea Girls come in three different ways: a new digital transfer (running about 3 1/2 hours), a 16mm print screening (also running at 3 1/2 hours, which is apparently the most common running time for this film), and a 16mm print screening that runs 4 hours due to more reels which is how it screened at its premiere (and I believe is also what was shown at Metrograph).

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