"Os Crimes de Diogo Alves" (The Crimes of Diogo Alves) is a spoken film from 1911, before the electrical sound speaker technology would be invented. It is also the first portuguese motion picture (non-documental), and it's based on a true event from 1841, a serial killer that killed people by throwing them from the Aqueduct in Lisbon.

The head of the serial killer Diogo Alves is still preserved in a state medical university in Lisbon, as ordered by the 19th century portuguese doctors, for future study of physical ilnesses of the brain:

Portuguese language wikipedia entry on the serial killer: https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diogo_Alves

The 19th century sound recording cylinder - Could not be used for a film in a movie theatre

"On July 18, 1877, Thomas Edison and his team invented the phonograph. His first successful recording and reproduction of intelligible sounds, achieved early in the following December, used a thin sheet of tin foil wrapped around a hand-cranked grooved metal cylinder.[3] Tin foil was not a practical recording medium for either commercial or artistic purposes and the crude hand-cranked phonograph was only marketed as a novelty, to little or no profit. Edison moved on to developing a practical incandescent electric light and the next improvements to sound recording technology were made by others.[2]".

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonograph_cylinder

Electrical amplified speakers

Kellogg and Rice in 1925 holding the large driver of the first moving-coil cone loudspeaker.

"In the 1930s, loudspeaker manufacturers began to combine two and three bandpasses' worth of drivers in order to increase frequency response and sound pressure level.[11] In 1937, the first film industry-standard loudspeaker system, "The Shearer Horn System for Theatres"[12] (a two-way system), was introduced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It used four 15″ low-frequency drivers, a crossover network set for 375 Hz, and a single multi-cellular horn with two compression drivers providing the high frequencies. John Kenneth Hilliard, James Bullough Lansing, and Douglas Shearer all played roles in creating the system".

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudspeaker#History

Method used in Portugal to make a spoken film in 1911

Altough the technology to record sounds was invented in the 19th century, it was invented 50 years too soon to be of use in the film industry, because of the lack of electrical amplified sound speakers. In other words, one would have to touch the device with his ear, inside a silent room, to hear anything. This technology could not be heard on a crowded theatre.

So what did the portuguese film director Joćo Tavares do?

Well he had the actors speak all the lines in real time, at the theater in Lisbon, where this film was projected for a few months in the year 1911. At the time, the capital of Portugal didn't yet have movie theaters as we know them, the city had regular theaters for Stage Plays, with good acoustics, and the film actors were hidden behind the projection screen, speaking their lines.

Also, there was a musical soundtrack played by the Repubican National Guard band.

As far as I know, all this information pertaining to the spoken dialogues, and the musical soundtrack are lost. This film was not shown for another 100 years, and was forgotten in a dusty archive. But it looks to me it might be a pioneering entry in the History of Cinema.

All we have now is a visual restoration (no sound) done by the "Cinemateca Portuguesa". I took a personnal interest in this film and in 2017 I did two things;

a) Corrected the framerate from 24 fps to 18 fps.
b) Created a soundtrack with copyrighted sound material I found on You Tube. (I used some tracks from the Valerie Project band).

I did that, just for fun, as my You Tube and Vimeo channels are not monetized.

Here is a trailer from my 2017 version:

Note: More information to follow on another post.