Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio has been awarded a $9,210 grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation to preserve part of its collection of 16mm films taken by George L.K. Morris in the 1930s. The Foundation's grants support preservation of rare films such as silent films and films of sites receiving little media coverage. This current grant funds preservation of three films taken by Morris during a 1934 trip to the Far East during which he visited China, Japan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Hawaii, India, Korea, and Philippines capturing on film colonial, pre-World War II life and historical and culturally significant sites. These 1934 films make up almost half of those in the FMH&S collection. These three films, documenting Hong Kong, Shanghai, Suzhou, Mount Abu, and Udaipur are the final Far East films to be preserved.
"Over the past five years, FMH&S has preserved the oldest portions of its film collection of thirty-eight 16mm films," said Director Kinney Frelinghuysen. "Thanks to a number of generous grants from the National Film Preservation Foundation, we have created film-film copies of the most at-risk films from this important archive to share with the public both online and in several exhibitions presented at the museum."
Films being preserved are:
Hong Kong Shanghai Soochow—Title cards aid in identifying locations in this film. Traditional Chinese garments as well as more modernized western clothing are shown in a section of the film, “the Native Quarters of Shanghai.”
Mt Abu—This film is a beautiful example of how Morris captures the traditional history of an area as well as glimpses of modernization, including exciting footage of a ceremonial dance, images of the Aurangabad Mausoleum, and a National Monument in Bombay flanked by 1930’s Ford automobiles.
Udaipur—Morris’ fascination with architecture through his peaceful studies of buildings is documented in this film. In some footage, Morris is rowed through the lakes by members of the local community, while in others Morris plays with more artistic framing as he captures the Bibi Ka Maqbara. Cultural celebrations are not to be overshadowed by architecture as Morris also filmed a wedding procession featuring an elephant in Jaipur.