Holy shit, the Lumière films have been remastered in HD and look incredible. I understand no spoken French, so played the music-only track on the blu-ray, though I’ll bet the narration is super interesting. Hope this comes out in the U.S. eventually.
Sortie d’usine III (1896)
Sortie d’usine II (1896)
Sortie d’usine (1895)
Three takes shown in reverse order (and with declining picture quality). There are dogs (the same dog?) in all three, and dudes who need help riding their bikes.
Débarquement du congrès de photographes à Lyon (1895)
The first self-reflexive movie? A photographer notices he’s being filmed, his own camera aiming towards our camera.
Repas de bébé (1895)
This baby would be 120 years old now.
Hammering and cranking – right as the film ends the anvil guy is being poured a drink. Can’t help but notice how clear the scene looks even with the fast hammer motion. I wonder what (approx) framerate this was shot at. Reportedly a remake of an Edison kinetoscope from 2.5 years earlier.
Arroseur et arrosé (1895)
Classic hose gag, ends in a spanking.
Partie d’écarté (1896)
While drinks are poured, cigars are smoked and cards are played, the waiter in the background is overreacting to the scenario, single-handedly inventing silent-film ham acting.
Arrivée d’un train à La Ciotat (1897)
It’s coming right at us!
Démolition d’un mur (1897)
I’d like a hand-cranked wall-demolisher. Everything was hand-cranked those days – construction equipment, cameras, fireplaces. Afterward this film is played in reverse, which is apparently a thing projectionists did to blow minds, a post-post-production effect.
Panorama de l’arrivée en gare de Perrache pris du train (1896)
Looking out the side of a train, with nice view of a horse-and-wagon bridge. “Panorama” apparently meant “moving camera”.
Arrivée d’un train à Perrache (1896)
Another train arrival (possibly the train we rode in the previous film). The behavior is what’s odd here. Bunch of uniformed mustache fellows waiting anxiously for the train to arrive, motioning at it, grabbing its handles seemingly in an effort to make it stop faster, then opening all the nice-looking cushioned side doors as a Napoleon-hatted man in the distance slowly paces.
Place des Cordeliers (1895)
Nice angle on a busy street. Horse-drawn double-decker bus!
Place Bellecour (1896)
Some of these are probably really special if you’re familiar with the corner today. Wonder if that hotel being built in the background is still standing. Unexciting until right at the end, a car reading “Absinthe Premier” appears on the right side. An advertisement like we put on tops of cabs and sides of buses, or – still my heart – an absinthe delivery truck??
Quai de l’Archevêché (1896)
It must have been unusual that this street would be flooded, given the huge audience of people watching from the sidewalk as cars pass by. But maybe not, since there’s also a boat. Don’t these people have somewhere better to be? Ah, “floods of the Saône river during the first week of November, 1896” says IMDB.
Place du Pont (1897)
Camera glides beautifully down a trolley line, but Lumiere didn’t have great timing with this one, as we stop to allow a rubble truck to pass. I guess those are simply bus ads for alcohol after all, since here we’ve got “Dunoise liquor exquise” and “Alcool de menthe” (probably De Ricqlès). My new theory is that these are party buses full of college students, who hop from one to another when they want to try a different spirit.
Concours de boules (1896)
A pretty damned exciting game of boules with a big crowd of suit-wearers, who are apt to dash into the middle of the court right when someone’s about to throw.