A few months ago, preparing a lecture that I was going to give at the School of Architecture of Valladolid, invited by GIRAC, I was looking for more information about Albert Bela Viragh, a scenographer I had already written about, and I found an advertisement for the movie Empty Ams directed by Frank Reicher, published in several American film magazines in February 1920.
In this ad, a photograph of Bela Viragh appears, along with spaces from the film and in the middle of the following text, probably written by a publicist, but very interesting:
One of the innovations of Lester Park and Edward Whiteside is what they have developed in the scenic effects under the skilful direction of A. Bela Viragh Flower.
Very few film producers have realized the possibilities of interiors. Some of the best stage producers, such as Belasco and Ordynski from the Metropolitan Opera House, have proved that an entire story can be told virtually before a word is said, if the sets and curtains are the right kind.
In the new school of stage art, we find teachers like Bakst, Anisfeld, Urban, Pogany and Wenger. Add to that the name of Flower, one of the biggest in film circles, because he has dedicated his genius to the perfection of interiors related only to the screen.
“Interiors that act” is an advance of Park-Whiteside Productions. It will recognize Park-Whiteside Productions at the moment the scenes appear on the screen due to the fact that they are wonderful actors in themselves.
They tell the story before human actors have moved a muscle or said a word. Watch the other producers imitate the Acting Flower Interiors, but more particularly, be the first in your city to take advantage of this new screen innovation.
First it is interesting to know how Viragh Flower was, thanks to his photography; then five theatrical set designers are chosen, although Urban and Pogany also worked in the cinema, demonstrating their importance and mentioning that Viragh Flower has only been dedicated to the cinema; but the fundamental thing is the consideration that the spaces act, play a role, as the actors do, an idea that until now had been believed to have been raised for the first time by the extraordinary architect and cinematographic set designer Robert Mallet-Stevens, when in Le décor moderne au cinéma wrote:
«A modern decoration, to be a good decoration, must act»,
this text was published in 1928, but as can be seen, it had been enunciated eight years earlier and possibly also had been used on other occasions referred to theatrical sets.
Jorge Gorostiza, PhD architect.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, november 2018
Author of the blog Arquitectura+Cine+Ciudad
Doctor arquitecto, proyecta y construye edificios y desarrolla trabajos de urbanismo. Desde 1990, publica numerosos artículos sobre cine y arquitectura en medios de su localidad, revistas como Nosferatu, Nickleodeon, Academia, Lateral, Cahiers du Cinema… y en varios volúmenes colectivos. Entre el 2000 y el 2005 dirige la Filmoteca Canaria. Imparte conferencias sobre arquitectura y cine en instituciones como el CAAM en Gran Canaria, la UIMP, el CENDEAC en Murcia, INCUNA en Gijón, Fundación Telefónica, la ETS de Arquitectura y el CCCB de Barcelona, las ETS de Arquitectura de La Coruña, Sevilla, Valencia y SEU madrileña, La Ciudad de la Luz en Alicante, la UNED en Pamplona, en varios colegios de arquitectos, así como en las universidades del País Vasco, Gerona, Valladolid, Málaga, Granada, SEK en Segovia y CEES de Madrid. Jurado en varios festivales cinematográficos, como los de Alcalá de Henares (2001), San Sebastián (2002), Sitges (2003), Las Palmas (2005) y Documentamadrid (2005), y comisario de las exposiciones Constructores de quimeras. (Centro Conde Duque, Madrid, 1999) y La arquitectura de los sueños (Capilla del Oidor, Alcalá de Henares, 2001).
He publicado bastantes libros y muchos artículos, he impartido conferencias, he sido comisario de exposiciones y jurado en muchísmos festivales. Si quieren saber más no duden en consultar mi blog ARQUITECTURA + CINE + CIUDAD.