Jerusalem is one of those cities that clings to you long after you leave it. The mix of faiths, the musky scents of the markets, the muezzin’s call … once you’ve been there you can’t forget it.
It’s prominent in the imaginations of many who haven’t even been there, so it’s no surprise it was one of the first travel destinations filmed in the first years of motion pictures. In 1896, a crew from the studio of Auguste and Louis Lumière headed to Jerusalem, then part of the Ottoman Empire, to film its sights and people in what might be the very first foreign travel film.
Like all films in those days it was silent – the narration in this video was added decades later – but much of the spirit of Jerusalem shines through.
The Lumière brothers of France were pioneers in motion pictures. Their American rival was Thomas Edison, who was soon making his own travel pictures. He convinced transportation companies to give his film crews free rides to far-flung places such as the American West, China and Japan. Edison was not only an engineering genius; he was a master of marketing and saw films as a good way to get some press trips.
Here’s a fun little silent film from way back in 1908 called “The Electric Hotel.” At that time technological progress was all the rage, new inventions seemed to pop up every day and electricity was just becoming commonplace. In this film we see how the hotels of the future will look. The amazing invention of electricity will shine your shoes, undress your wife and unpack your luggage. It all works great until a drunk hotel employee messes with the switches and chaos ensues.
This film was the work of Segundo de Chomón, a Spanish director who at that time was working in France. He was an early innovator in special effects and color film and many of his films feature hapless tourists getting into trouble.
For modern hotels that actually exist, be sure to check out our Gadling hotel articles.
Want to buy a piece of movie history? Wrestle crocodiles and relive the 1980s? Now you can, because the Walkabout Creek Hotel, location of some of the most memorable scenes from the 1986 hit film Crocodile Dundee, is up for sale.
Located in the small town of McKinlay in Queensland, northeast Australia, it’s on the Matilda Highway and gets good business from both Australians and tourists. It was previously named the Federal Hotel but was called the Walkabout Creek Hotel in the movie. When the movie became a hit the owners changed the name. It was originally built in 1900.
Needless to say, the place is filled with movie memorabilia and is a pilgrimage site for movie buffs visiting the Outback.
Crocodile Dundee, a sensitive and realistic portrayal of Australian rural life (sarcasm) was part of the boom in the Australian film industry during the 1970s and 1980s. The boom started when the eerie 1975 mystery Picnic at Hanging Rock received international acclaim. The working class drama Sunday Too Far Away became a hit that same year.
Mad Max came out in 1979 and launched a trilogy of hugely popular films. Plans to make a fourth Mad Max film experienced long delays and now it appears the fourth movie will instead be a remake of Mad Max 2 (released as Road Warrior in the U.S.) and will be titled Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s due to be released in 2012.
A few years ago I interviewed Kristine Kearney, the head of costume design in the Department of Theatre at The Ohio State University. Kearney’s costume design expertise brought her to the sets of Fried Green Tomatoes, Shawshank Redemption and Driving Miss Daisy among others. She talked about quality fabrics, how costume designers make decisions and what colors look best for the stage.
Every year during the Academy Awards, I watch with interest the costume award nominees. These are truly the artsy folks. If you’re a person who loves costumes and can remember what actors had on in various roles, here is an exhibit you might want to check out this summer.
At the Paine Art Center and Gardens in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, “Fashion in Film: Period Costumes for the Screen” is on exhibit through September. There are 36 costumes to remember if you’ve seen them worn by Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Gweneyth Paltrow, and Elizabeth Taylor. Let’s see, among these women we have Virginia Wolf, Karen Silkwood, a Shakespearean actor/actress, and Cleopatra. Those costumes may not be the ones on display, I just wanted to see what I could name off the top of my head. How many centuries does that cover?
The Paine Art Center and Gardens was once the estate of Nathan Paine and his wife Jessie who built the mansion beginning in the 1920s with the idea of turning it into an open-to-the-public museum. It took them until the 1940s to complete it due to financial slow downs. You can also tour it on-line.