Emile Cohl: 1909-1910 Shorts

Les Joyeux Microbes (1909)

Similar to Transfigurations, but now it’s a scientist trying to get an overacting scarf fella to look at different microbes under a microscope, each of which displays a different transmogrifying animated scene, usually involving cranky old people. Towards the end, one of the drawings becomes 3D, a drunk character’s paper arms wrapping around a prop bottle. Another wonderful detail: the final second of the film was presumably supposed to have the scarf guy storm out of the room, but the set door (which was working in the opening shot) bends, doesn’t open, Scarfie mooshing up against it until the film quickly cuts.


Japon de fantaisie (1909)

I guess it’s stop-motion using Japanese props. An insect lays an egg, hatches into a mask, which spews forth rats. Doesn’t seem like a very positive view of Japan… or maybe it’s a prequel to the Mothra films.


Clair de lune espagnol (1909)

These are getting more difficult to summarize now that Cohl has discovered intertitles and I don’t know French, but it looks like a matador gets rebuffed by a fan lady, so he leaps out a window… but is saved by a space-bound vessel. The man angrily shoots the moon with a shotgun, is challenged to a duel by moon men, then thrown back to earth, where the fan lady is now impressed with him. I liked the prop star that shoots sparks.


Le Songe du garçon de café aka Hasher’s Delirium (1910)

Waiter falls asleep during his shift, has loony prop-and-cartoon-based dreams. From all the bottles that appear, we can assume he’s a drunk. His appalled-looking cartoon dream-body is subjected to the ludovico technique, watching names of alcoholic drinks alternate with demons and horrors. Then he’s made to kick his own ass. Then he’s awakened in the most predictable fashion, given that just before falling asleep he gave a table of identical hat-wearing men four seltzer bottles.


Le Mobilier fidèle aka Automatic Moving Company (1910)

Debt-ridden Mr. Dubois hugs all his furniture one last time before it’s all repossessed and auctioned on a street corner. Later, each piece of furniture torments its new owner and flees (serves ’em right for taking advantage of poor Mr. Dubois, who cries and wails all through the auction), returning to Chez Dubois where they belong.

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