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New York - From Vienna To South Carolina: The Long Journey Of Chofetz Chaim Film Clip

Published on: February 25, 2015 08:49 PM
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Image grab from the video shows the Chofetz Chaim in 1923 (Photo credit courtesy given to VIN News by the University of South Carolina – Moving Image Research CollectionsImage grab from the video shows the Chofetz Chaim in 1923 (Photo credit courtesy given to VIN News by the University of South Carolina – Moving Image Research Collections

New York - As the Jewish community continues to marvel at what is possibly the only footage of the Chofetz Chaim, new details have emerged about the four minute fifty one second clip that has logged tens of thousands of hits on YouTube over the past 48 hours.

As previously reported on VIN News, a Fox newsreel of the first Knessia Gedola, held in Vienna in 1923, shows moving images of the Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan, arriving at the gathering, where he spoke on two separate occasions, addressing an audience of prominent rabbanim, men and women.

According to Benjamin Singleton, a production manager at the University of South Carolina’s Moving Image Research Collections which owns the footage, the clip has been available for both study and licensing for 34 years, but has become more widely viewed since the MIRC launched a YouTube-style website in 2012.

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“This film was among many thousands of reels given to the University of South Carolina in 1980 by 20th Century Fox,” Singleton told VIN News.  “The films were cataloged and viewed by the University library system and made available to the public.  The university now keeps the film in an underground vault.”

The clip is the only known footage in the Fox newsreel collection of the 1923 Knessia Gedola and was shot on August 15th and 16th by Fox News cameraman Hans Von Pebal, who covered assignments in Czechoslovakia, Austria, Romania, Yugoslavia and Hungary.

Fox News began filming silent newsreels worldwide in 1919 and as technology progressed, Fox started producing footage with sound in 1928 under the name Fox Movietone News, with cameramen in over 20 countries.  Fox continued recording newsreels in the United States through 1963 and in the United Kingdom, under the name British Movietone News, through 1979.

Singleton said that Von Pebal worked for Fox News from its initial launch in 1919 and continued on through at least the mid 1930’s.  While the nitrocellulose negative was created from 35 millimeter Agfa film, it is unknown what type of camera Von Pebal used when he filmed the Knessia Gedola, although it was likely a hand cranked model.

Once completed, Von Pebal’s historic footage was placed in a metal can and shipped, undeveloped, to the Fox News office on Manhattan’s West Side.  Fox developed and edited the footage, with the outtakes negatives cataloged via the Dewy Decimal system, where they remained in a can for 57 years.

Once acquired by the MIRC, the Fox newsreel was transferred to video, which can be a complicated process when working with decades-old negatives.  The film is placed on either a scanner or a telecine, a digital camera that can take up to 24 photographs per second as the film rolls, recording at real time. 

As most silent films recorded at the time run at 17 frames per second, the Knessia Gedola clip, which consisted of 4,468 frames, would have taken a little over four minutes to transfer to video, once all the necessary preparatory work had been completed.

“There are a lot of other time-consuming and tedious steps before an old film is scanned,” explained Singleton. “The film is often fragile.  Nitrocellulose, an old type of plastic, is very flammable and has a tendency to decompose.  The university stores these films in a climate controlled vault which is very cold and dry.  An eighty year old film can therefore be in delicate condition and many hours may be required to piece together.  Cleaning of the film may also be necessary.”

The historical footage has proven to be big news in the Jewish community and an exciting turn of events for the MIRC.

“The recent interest in the film has been tremendous,” said Singleton.



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Read Comments (9)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Feb 25, 2015 at 09:57 PM Nuchem Says:

This clip was not available for the last years, only the 2nd part of it (were no major public figure besides Moirenu R Yakov Rosenhim is shown), until recently when the Lederer family requested a download of the clip in what their grandfather from Vienna is seen, in January they got an email from the university saying they discovered something longer and clearer, attached was this amazing 4 minute clip, it was put on the university's website this motsei shabbos, and the first one linking to it in the jewish community was an historian writing under the nickname: 'Vnivnesu hair' on the forum Kavehshtiebel.com

2

 Feb 25, 2015 at 10:00 PM Godol-Hador Says:

I'm sure there are many other similar films out there....
I once heard there was a newsreel crew at the Lubavitcher Rebbe's ZT"L wedding

3

 Feb 25, 2015 at 10:14 PM Belze Guy Says:

Wow, not even one beaber hat. No chassidim there from Boro Park or Williamsburg. And no Moshiachnistin from Crown Heights.

4

 Feb 25, 2015 at 11:01 PM יקנהז2015 Says:

Reply to #3  
Belze Guy Says:

Wow, not even one beaber hat. No chassidim there from Boro Park or Williamsburg. And no Moshiachnistin from Crown Heights.

And of course no VIP parking

5

 Feb 26, 2015 at 01:06 AM shvigger Says:

Reply to #3  
Belze Guy Says:

Wow, not even one beaber hat. No chassidim there from Boro Park or Williamsburg. And no Moshiachnistin from Crown Heights.

There are plenty beeber hitten. Did you even see the video?

6

 Feb 26, 2015 at 01:16 AM anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Belze Guy Says:

Wow, not even one beaber hat. No chassidim there from Boro Park or Williamsburg. And no Moshiachnistin from Crown Heights.

This is in Vienna in 1923. There was a Belzer Klaus in the Lilienbrunngasse in Vienna and the Bilkamener Rebbe was there and so was I as little boy. Reb Avruminu in Rueppgasse received chasidim in a gray hat, brown hat. The external garb did not defined the chusid but his maasim tovim and ahavas yisroel

7

 Feb 26, 2015 at 07:27 AM anonymous Says:

Reply to #5  
shvigger Says:

There are plenty beeber hitten. Did you even see the video?

First it is Bieber hat but dear shvigger you must have eidems the importance is not what is on the kop but what under the hat brown, gray or black

8

 Feb 26, 2015 at 07:44 AM Ina Says:

Recognition must be given to Yosef March whose persistence over considerable time has brought this wonderful footage to us all! Well done, Reb Yosef March!

9

 Feb 26, 2015 at 09:51 AM anonymous Says:

Reply to #5  
shvigger Says:

There are plenty beeber hitten. Did you even see the video?

In the middle ages the horses of the knights were covered with silver but it remained a "Pferd" , a horse and today the silver atura. the strajmel and the kapote does not change a rude beheimo

10

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