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February 18, 2008

Nietzsche Returns?

Oliver at Cult Punk posts this haunting footage of Nietzsche. "I had no idea he'd actually been filmed," he writes, "but just before he died primitive motion pictures were being made, and I guess that included these uber rare scenes of a mentally-gone Nietzsche vegetating in a hospital."

But the problem -- which I noticed on the second time viewing -- is that the quality of "film stock" is just too good. Not a scratch; no grain or degeneration, either. And the images are quite familiar. Chances are, this is what you get from feeding photographs of Nietzsche into some CGI gizmo that can bring the dead back to life.

A matter of time before we get breakdancing Bergson....

Posted by smclemee at February 18, 2008 6:26 PM


What you say is true, and maybe this is mere wishful thinking, but did you see the Emma Goldman video below it? The Goldman vid was from '34 and and, like the Nietzsche vid, is very choppy and pixellated, and likewise shoes no real scratches or blips, perhaps because of the pixellation that YouTube makes all videos undergo before displaying them. (YouTube transforms all uploaded videos into Flash files, and the lower quality the original, the more blocky/pixellated it looks; this would, I would think, in its own wy eliminate the scratchiness or other residue simply because it makes the whole thing blurrier -- hence why there's little of that on the Goldman newsreel as well.) Also, as with so many silent movies, like, say, Clara Bow films, might it not have been remastered and/or cleaned up and then that version was uploaded?

I know the difference between filming in 1934 (Goldman) and Nietzsche (1890s?) was light years in difference in film technology. Hell, maybe Snopes.com needs to look into this.

Posted by: Oliver at February 19, 2008 2:29 PM

But the Emma footage is actually much jumpier and more beat-up looking than the "Nietzsche video." I've never seen any footage from the 1890s that didn't look much worse than the Emma film.

Not that it's impossible something might have been perfectly preserved, but it's a real stretch.

Also, I just found this discussion, which tends to support the idea that the Nietzsche footage is fabricated from still photos:


Posted by: Scott McLemee at February 19, 2008 3:19 PM

Argh - yeah, but did you read the commens to the blog you just linked to. It just adds further mystery.

For example, someone int he comments linked to this film/video/whatever of Nietzsche:


And they insist that one is legitimate. now, that one does look more beat up. Not as haunting -- more pathetic, actually.


Posted by: Oliver at February 19, 2008 3:40 PM

I uploaded the more authentic-looking Nietzsche footage to YouTube, here:


Posted by: Olivr at February 19, 2008 7:51 PM