UC Berkeley Library

A Vision of the World

This program delves into Kahn's origins and formative years and the launch of his Archive of the Planet project. Topics include Kahn's Jewish ancestry and Alsacian upbringing; his early success in finance; his admiration of Japanese art and customs; the development of autochrome photography by the Lumiere brothers; Marguerite Mespoulet's colorful documentation of Ireland's vanishing Celtic traditions; and Kahn's expedition to Cornwall and London with August Leon. 50 min. Men of the World In 1908, Albert Kahn and his chauffeur embarked on a global trek to observe and absorb other cultures -- an early "prototype' of the many photographic missions Kahn would fund over the years. this program illustrates that formative round-the-world trip as well as the 1913 journey undertaken by photographer Stephane Passet to China, Mongolia and India. Viewers will encounter startling images of early 20th century Manhattan, San Francisco, Tokyo and Beijing, as well as views of nascent Rio de Janeiro and burgeoning Buenos Aires. Scenes from Tsarist Siberia, the Mongolian steppes, a Varanasi teeming with worshippers, and a camel-and-elephant caravan on the Khyber Pass reaffirm the spectacular value of Kahn's grand project. 52 min. Europe on the BrinkPoverty, emigration, declining birth rates, and ethnic divisions weakened many European countries as the 20th century began. From France to the Balkans, leaders prescribed nationalism and military buildup as the only solutions. This program studies the continent's march to war as depicted in the photographic record commissioned by French banker Albert Kahn. Early color images and film footage explore a range of themes -- including contrasts between urbanization and rural life in France, Germany and Scandinavia, the decline of the Ottoman Empire and its impact in Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and Macedonia; and the grittiness of everyday life in Europe. kahn's pacifism is also a topic. 51 min. The Soldiers' StoryAs World War I engulfed his country, Albert Kahn struck a deal with the French army: his team of photographers would capture images and footage that helped the war effort in exchange for direct access to militarized zones. A century later, this program presents the results -- revealing the life and environment of the French soldier as recorded in Kahn's Archive of the Planet. The visual details of trench warfare and all its misery are combined with pictures from towns, hospitals , and barracks a few miles from the front -- evoking the humanity of the ordinary fighting man as well as the appalling devastation wrought by the era's instruments of death. 52 min. The Civilians' Story: Albert Kahn's Archive of the PlanetIn addition to documenting the Great War, Albert Kahn's team of photographers recorded the impact of the conflict on French civilian ife. This program explores both the propaganda value and the genuine emotional power in images of the war-torn French populace. French and Belgian refugees, ruined churches, and farms tended by women and the elderly are a few of the subjects rendered in exquisite and moving detail. Soissons smolders after a German retreat; Reims and its shattered cathedral hover on the edge of total destruction; and the Alsace region, Kahn's birthplace, regains its French identity. 52 min. Europe After the FireVersailles, 1919: French banker Albert Kahn and his camera team are among the few photographers allowed inside the Hall of Mirrors for the treaty signing -- an example of Kahn's uncanny talent for documenting change. This program focuses on Kahn's pictorial record of the war's aftermath and the challenges of securing a true peace across Europe. Zeppelin-borne aerial footage conveys the scope of the destruction, while grave-digging and burial scenes evoke the staggering number of combatants killed. Other events and subjects include the influx of foreign workers that filled France's labor void; the French occupation of the Rhineland; German breadlines and Paris dance-halls; and war monuments in London and Verdun. 52 min. Middle East, The Birth of NationsNo sooner had Europe declared an end to its Great War than the seeds of new conflict were sewn -- in the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire. With typical global awareness, photography archivist Albert Khan chose to document the historic changes occurring in the colonial Middle East. This program traces his team's expeditions into Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine as Western powers redrew the map of the region. The French takeover of Syria, the Balfour Declaration, and Turkey's war with Greece come to life in Kahn's street-level films and autochromes-- which also serve as reminders that Jerusalem, like many other Middle East locations, suffered greatly during World War I. 52 min. Far East, Expeditions to EmpiresFrom 1914 through much of the 1920's, Albert Kahn's photographic team was hard at work in Asia, amassing culturally and historically vital images. This program recounts journeys through Indochina and greater Asia in which the Kahn team opened up a world most Europeans had never dreamed of. Viewers discover Vietnam through its beggars, Tet celebrants and elegantly dressed Mandarin administrators; Cambodia, through its dancers and the imposing Angkor City complex; Japan, through rapidly Westernizing homes, dress and hairstyles; and India, through pictures of the maharajahs and other authorities rendered powerless by British rule. 51 min. The End of a WorldAs they built an unsurpassed visual archive of world culture, Albert Kahn and his photographers turned their attention to widely divergent locations. This program follows the maritime odyssey of Lucien Le Saint, circa 1922, as he captured on film the daily lives of Newfoundland cod fisherman, as well as expeditions into northwestern Africa. Images from Morocco and Tunisia focus on occupying French soldiers, the prostitutes they patronized, and larger changes in those societies, while pictures taken in Dahomey (now Benin) shed light on the symbiotic relationship between Catholocism and the Vodun religion. Viewers also learn about the Colonial Exhibition of 1931, Kahn's financial collapse, and the fate of his archive after his death in 1940. 51 min.