Saturday, 5 January 2013

4 & 5 January 1915 - Moving Pictures

The cover of Moving Picture World, January 4 1915:

In March 1907 James Petrie (J.P.) Chalmers, Jr. (1866-1912), had founded The Moving Picture World and View Photographer, which soon shortened to The Moving Picture World. By 1914, it had a reported circulation of approximately 15,000, and was an influential early trade journal for the American film industry.

The earliest films, from the 1880s, were simply one static shot, but by 1900 a little editing was being employed and several scenes could be strung together to tell a story, with written card in-between each to let the viewer know what was happening or to insert some dialogue. These films with no spoken words were purely visual art, but theatre owners would hire a pianist or sometimes a full orchestra to play music that fit the mood of the film at any given moment.

1913 was a big year in motion pictures. The first Hollywood feature film,The Squaw Man was made, and at the end of the year Charlie Chaplin would sign a contract with Mack Sennett to begin making films at Keystone Studios.

Charlie Chaplin in 1913, source

Georges Méliès', French filmmaker and innovator sometimes referred to as the first "Cinemagician", made his last movie in 1913. Two of his most well-known films are A Trip to the Moon (1902, see below) and The Impossible Voyage (1904), Verne like fantasy-science-fiction stories, but he was also an early pioneer of horror cinema, which can be traced back to his Le Manoir du diable (1896).

His last movie in 1913 was Le Voyage de la famille Bourrichon, a 15 minute silent film. Unfortunately only about 200 of Méliès's 531 films still exist, and this does not appear to be one of them. I was able to find this one still though, which gives the idea the journey may have been by train.


On further searching a French website gave the synopsis of the film as this:

Pursued by the hounds of his creditors, the noggin family decided to flee. After an eventful train trip and a stay in a haunted inn the noggin will be forced to pay their debt to escape the persistent obsession.

It seems that Noggin is the translation of Bourrichon - not quite as glamorous, is it? And here is one more still from that same website:

Filmed in an actual train, with the sides removed - clever!

I'll look at another vintage, or I suppose I could say antique now as they are 100 years old, movie next week.

Deb xxx

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