Friday, October 10, 2008


[Announced: L'Arroseur arrosé, actually shown:]
A Centenary compilation of Lumière films, films not identified in the compilation, my guesses are that they were:
La Sortie des usines Lumière (FR 1895)
La Voltige (FR 1895)
La Pêche aux poissons rouges (FR 1895)
Neuville-sur-Saône: Débarquement du congrès des photographes à Lyon (FR 1895)
Les Forgerons (FR 1895)
L'Arroseur arrosé (FR 1895)
Repas de bébé (FR 1895)
Le Saut à la couverture (FR 1895)
Place des Cordeliers à Lyon (FR 1895) - very nice prints
Martin Sopocy: "This anecdote of one continuous uncut shot pictures a man sprinkling his garden when a mischievous boy, unseen by him, plants his foot on the hose to stop the flow of water, then waits for the moment when the puzzled gardener, looking for a blockage, brings the hose up to his face. The boy then takes his foot off the hose. Louis Lumière departs from his model, a contemporary cartoon by Hermann Vogel, by showing us the chase the cartoonist mentions only in passing (in which, apparently, the boy escapes), and thereby introduces into the story film one of its most basic and cinematic standbys. Its popularity with audiences is shown by the three worn negatives in the Lumière museum, for he was obliged to restage it twice. We may well wonder why audiences that may have grown blasé to what was after all a standard routine of circus clowns, should have been so affected by this one. The answer may lie in the circumstance that this, the first chase ever photographed by a moving picture camera, produced a novel impression by objectifying it for its viewers, by bringing to the fore the fact that still photography, which functions as our stand-in or surrogate, is transformed by the medium of cinematography into becoming the intermediary for the entire experience, making it possible to see the action between the gardener and the prankster as a fresh experience despite its familiarity. And so the chase, reborn, has now entered the art of cinema. Soon to follow would be elaborations, by other filmmakers, of the race to the rescue, the race against time, and the myriad of all its other cinematic descendants and variants." – Martin Sopocy
A Reservist Before the War and After the War
GB 1902. PC: Williamson. D: James Williamson. Orig. l: 290 ft. Print: BFINA, 288 ft /16 fps/ 5 min, no intertitles
Martin Sopocy: "A descendant of the life-model slide narratives of Bamforth and York, this little tale owes most of its beauty to James Williamson’s ideas on the actor’s proper role in the making of film narratives, of which this has become the finest extant example. From Lumière’s films he seems to have learned that cinematography created new possibilities for drama, but on his own he saw that these possibilities somehow simultaneously – he never explained how – created a demand for natural behavior in its interpreters. He has obviously been working with his players, coaching them in the ways of expressing their feelings in the body language of the everyday. (He would later learn that his ideas worked best in stories about ordinary people performed by ordinary people; not until 8 years later, at Biograph, was a collaborative breakthrough made jointly by Mary Pickford and Griffith – he also felt the need for photogenic acting – pragmatically at first, and then, definitively, by Thomas Ince not long afterwards.) Here Williamson has already adopted the stage-frame for his interiors, although he free-frames the exterior shot in which the Reservist, having left his cottage, steals the loaf from the baker’s cart, which leads to an implied but unshown chase before the narrative (and the stage-frame) resumes in the cottage again. However many times I see it, this little film remains, for me, one of the most beautiful silents ever made." – Martin Sopocy. - A simple story of the reservist who steals bread for his starving family. Yes, there is a similarity with Griffith and Biograph.

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