Introduction by restorer Bruce Posner
In 1923, the great Robert Flaherty and his wife Frances went to Savai’i island in Polynesia to start making a film that, like Nanook of the North, would both record and meticulously reenact traditional rituals and ways of life of the Samoan people. They brought along their 3-year-old daughter Monica, who returned to Savai’I in 1975 with Ricky Leacock to create a soundtrack for her parents’ film, each individual sound carefully recorded and synchronized with the images. Moana with Sound was finished in 1980, but the picture elements were far inferior to the original. Preservationist and curator Bruce Posner and filmmaker Sami van Ingen, a great-grandson of the Flahertys, have gone back to Monica Flaherty’s recordings, newly remixed by the great Lee Dichter, and synced them to a beautiful new 2K element, created from the best surviving 35mm materials. The result is absolutely wondrous.
A Night of Storytelling / Oidhche Sheanchais
Robert Flaherty | Ireland | 1935 | 35mm | 12m
This remarkable short, thought to be lost for decades until a nitrate print was found in the Houghton Library at Harvard, was filmed by Robert Flaherty when he was recording the post-synch sound for his classic Man of Aran. A Night of Storytelling, commissioned by the Irish Free State, features Seáinín Tom Ó Dioráin, a renowned storyteller who died at sea not long after this film was completed. He sits before a fire, across from Colman “Tiger” King and Maggie and Michael Dirrane from Man of Aran, reciting an ancient tale in Gaelic. This beautiful film was restored and preserved by the Harvard Film Archive, in collaboration with Houghton Library, the Celtic department and Harvard’s Office of the Provost.