Two more sections from the amazing-looking Lumière blu-ray:

Chap 3: Enfances

La Petite fille et son chat (1900)

A horrific film introducing early filmmakers to the problem of making movies with animals. The action is a girl in a preposterous hat hand-feeding a hungry cat, but the cat loses interest halfway, ditches the film and has to be thrown back into frame. The girl’s a much better sport – in the second half you can see the cat clawing her arm, but she continues to act through the pain, pushing further back in her seat in case the animal goes for her eyes next.


Premiers pas de bébé (year unknown)

Kid in wind-inflated clown clothes walks unsteadily down the sidewalk, then falls down – a comedy or a tragedy, depending whether you like kids.


Pêche aux poissons rouges (1895)

Mustache man works hard to get a kid in a diaper-hat to reach for the fish, which she does occasionally in between trying to keep a steady foothold and trying to pull the whole thing over – kind of a failed attempt at a filmed action, but maybe film was super expensive so they released it anyhow.


Petit frère et petite sœur (1897)

Boy and girl swing in circles until they fall down, what fun. The film hasn’t run out yet, so he picks her up and they start again, with the girl shooting a “what? I thought we were finished” look into camera.


Enfant pêchant des crevettes (1896)

Kids in increasingly ridiculous hats skim the water with shrimp nets while their parents hover nearby.


Le goûter des bébés (1897)

Two girls at either ends of a table while young Casanova sits in between feeding them grapes. According to google, the title translates as The Taste of Babies.


Baignade en mer (1895)

Older kids dressed as escaped convicts jump off a rickety diving board into the sea.
I’ve seen some of these before (and taken the exact same screenshots).


Enfants jouant aux billes (1896)

A game of marbles, at an unfollowable distance even in this beautiful HD edition. The dirty kids in their adorable period garb are still worth watching, though.


Défilé de voitures de bébés à la pouponnière de Paris (1897)

Long train of nannies with babies in buggies.


Chapter 4: La France Qui Travaille

Ateliers de La Ciotat (1899)

What is happening? Spinning gears and flywheels, as workmen carry large things about.


Chaudière (1896)

Men climb down a ladder, then remove the ladder. What is that thing? Ah, English title is Loading a Boiler, not so thrilling.


Ouvriers réparant un trottoir en bitume (1897)

Spreading what looks like black tar on the ground – looks hot and miserable.


Défournage du Coke (1896)

I’ve seen this one a bunch of times, and it’s fascinating… super-hot coal residue, sliding slowly out from whatever contraption this is, one guy hosing it down, others hesitantly attacking it with poles, finally increasing the pole action towards the end.


Laveuses sur la rivière (1896)

There was a laundry shed for ladies along the river. Nicely framed shot – my favorite part is the men standing lazily above watching the laundry get done.


Transport d’une tourelle par un attelage de 60 chevaux (1896)

Sixty horses towing a massive whiskey barrel (or a turret, acc. to google translate). This film has a cut, because obviously the Lumières wanted to see the line of the horses then the giant object wheeling into view but a supervisor holds the line, so it seems they stopped shooting until it resumed.


Pêche aux sardines (1896)

Untangling fish from the net, which goes slowly because the fishermen keep turning around to look at the camera.


Les pompiers I: passage des pompes (1896)

So cool, horse-drawn firetruck passing through, as street traffic moves aside for them.


Attelage d’un camion (1896)

More horse-pulling action, this time a smaller team than a few films ago, pulling a less interesting load (concrete blocks).

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.


Forgerons (1895)

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.

“He was the first and only zoopraxographer.”

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Hour-long doc about the man who invented a form of motion photography (the famous series of tripwire-triggered photos of horses running), spending half his career as a successful still photographer, and the other half capturing and studying human and animal motion with his zoopraxiscope.

Visually, the movie is mostly composed of Muybridge’s work, nicely assembled and presented, including moving reproductions of his motion series. Voiceover tells us his story (memorable detail: he was acquitted for murdering his wife’s lover in 1875).

For his location still photography Muybridge (pronounced “Edward Mybridge” – people added extra letters to seem fancy back then) travelled with a “darkroom wagon”, foreshadowing Medvedkin’s cinetrain.

Muybridge photographed the effects of the Great San Francisco Earthquake… but not the one in 1906 – this is from October 1868!
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Muybridge died in 1904, having seen the birth of Edison’s cameras and Lumiere’s cinema which shuttled his own inventions to the sidelines. It would be 90 more years before The Matrix would combine Edison’s motion photography with Muybridge’s circular camera arrays to create the bullet-time effect. Muybridge’s photographs of San Francisco are valued as a record of the city before it was leveled by the Even Greater Earthquake of 1906.

Movie is narrated by two-time Cannes best-actor-winner (and future Blue Velvet crooner) Dean Stockwell. Editor Morgan Fisher went on to make that movie I read about which is composed of all insert shots, and the same year, director Andersen made the stock-footage masterpiece Los Angeles Plays Itself. All Movie Guide says this film took ten years to make, and J. Rosenbaum calls it “one of the best essay films ever made on a cinematic subject.”

Muybridge self-portrait:
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Andy gave us some Jean Painlevé action from a different DVD than the one I’ve got. Love the “FIN” made up of stop-motion creatures at the end of most shorts. Love the octopus crawling through the mud, the way sea urchins walk with thin suckers that stick out past their spines, the umbrella dances of the acera, the camoflaged crabs, and everything about the sea horse. These are crowd-pleasers. Nice to hear the original music, which is actually really neat, especially the early electronic sounds.

Also saw something called Predatory Mushrooms by one of Painleve’s influences, Jean Comandon – microscopic mushrooms create three-cell nooses to ensnare and eat tiny worms. Sounds icky, but it looks bizarre and wonderful. Could’ve used some music (GBV’s “Mushroom Art”). And the 1898 The Separation of Siamese Twins by Dr. Doyen. It’s not the doctor sawing these two people apart that is most disturbing, it’s their inhumanly spindly legs. Also could’ve used music, maybe something by Ministry.

Always happy to watch Jean Vigo’s À propos de Nice again. I only said one sentence about it last time, which is not fair. Seems to be a humorous portrait of a rich, beach-side tourist town with thrilling associative editing and the occasional staged scene (guy gets super-sunburned, woman in beach chair changes clothing repeatedly). Watched on 16mm. For music I suggest some Luna, or a jaunty classical piece.