Imperial Cinema

649-Fuerstliches_FamilienglueckFürstliches Familienglück
P: Eiko-Film GmbH (Berlin). D 1913
Print: Deutsches Filminstitut – DIF

View this film on european film gate way

“Die Aufnahmen zeigen einen Besuch von Kaiser Wilhelm II. in Braunschweig 1913 anlässlich der Taufe seines Enkels Ernst August. Wie im Kaiserreich üblich feierte Braunschweig die Visite mit aufwändigen Festlichkeiten als „Kaisertage“. Neben Wilhelm II. – mit Totenkopf-Husarenmütze – sind unter anderem Eitel Friedrich von Preußen, Sophie Charlotte von Oldenburg, August Wilhelm von Preußen, Alexandra Viktoria von Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg sowie Friedrich Franz IV., Großherzog von Mecklenburg zu sehen.”

Kaiser Wilhelm II. Unspecified footage.
Print: Library of Congress.

Various scenes of Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany, in different locations: clear view of the Kaiser walking towards camera, with German officers on his left, and a postal delivery service building in immediate background; view of Wilhelm and unidentified man entering carriage, Kaiser with group of men on horseback, Kaiser greeting a line of dignitaries, and final long shot of Wilhelm posing for the camera with a large group.
Library of Congress

044b-Berlin Kameramänner vor dem Schloss 1907
Prussian Paparazzi: Camera men in front of the Berlin castle, expecting the crown prince

Frühjahrs-Parade in Potsdam
P: Louis Held. D 1910

About the photographer Louis Held:

>>> Victoria Luise 1913Experimental Color Movie


Brighton: Entertainment 1900

302-Brighton-AquariumBrighton: Aquarium

“In October 1901 the building and business were purchased by the corporation for just £30,000, and Brighton Aquarium was henceforth managed as a municipal enterprise, apart from a brief private letting in 1905 and 1906. The Aquarium’s popularity then rose again as Brighton’s fortunes in general revived. From 1907 until 1918 a municipal orchestra played in the conservatory which was renamed the Winter Garden. There were also occasional film shows from before 1900, and in the First World War the Winter Garden was briefly known as the Aquarium Kinema; film shows continued until 1939”.
Tim Carder
My Brighton and Hove

304-Brighton-Alhambra-AuditoriumBrighton: Alhambra


Chase Films

The Terrible Kids
R: Wallace McCutcheon, Edwin S. Porter. P: Edison Manufacturing Company. USA 1905/06

The Terrible  Kids (April 1906) was part of the widespread comic depiction of undersocialized youth. In the cinema, the popular bad boy genre would soon  come under heavy criticism for providing young viewers with undesirable role models. Porter‘s comedy shows two boys disrupting a neighborhood’s routine with the help of their dog, played by Mannie. Every scene is a variation on a mischievous prank: Mannie ‘jumps onto the Chinaman’s back, seizes his queue and drags the poor chink to the ground’; when they encounter a billposter on a ladder, the dog ‘grabs the billposter by the leg of his trousers and he falls to the ground with the ladder on top of him while the kids enjoy the billposter’s predicament.’ (Film Index, 23 June 1906). Several women and an Italian apple vendor with a push cart are also victims. Eventually these annoyed adults turn pursuers and capture the two pranksters with the help of the police. As the boys are driven off in the police van, Mannie opens the van door, and the kids escape as the film ends. (…)
The relationship of The Terrible Kids  to similar films (and to the bad boy genre in other popular forms) was an essential part of the film’s meaning. Since the boys in these films were anonymous, intertextual and intratextual redundancy were essentially of the same kind. The audience’s frequent encounters with similar texts provided the reassurance of familiarity. Audiences were expected to identify and sympathize with the kids, suggesting a nostalgic desire for a simpler, less regimented past. According to the catalog description of The Terrible Kids, “The antics of the kids, the almost human intelligence of ‘Mannie’ and the narrow escapes from capture, are a source of constant amusement and are sure to arouse a strong sympathy for the kids and their dog.” The genre savors the rejection of authority even as it offers a momentary release from the increasingly regimented workplace. The bad boys escape at the end of both The Terrible Kids and The Little Train Robbery  — as if to appear in some other film.”
Charles Musser: Before the Nickelodeon. Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company. Berkeley/Los Angeles/Oxford 1991, p. 344/345

The Unfortunate Policeman
R: Robert W. Paul (?). P: Paul’s Animatograph Works. UK 1905

“This elaborate chase comedy is an example of the increasing use of real locations in R.W. Paul‘s work, perhaps thanks to the influence of rival filmmakers like James Williamson, who turned his native Hove into the location for everything from dramatic epics (Attack on a China Mission, 1900) to quasi-documentaries (Fire!, 1901) to knockabout comedy (Our New Errand Boy, 1905).
(…) the film cuts to actual and recognisable London locations, near Muswell Hill where Paul’s studio was based, though the policeman might as well not have bothered, since every person he encounters ends up obstructing and usually beating him thanks to a series of misunderstandings. By the end, it’s the policeman himself who is being chased, and the apprentice gets clean away by leaping into a well-placed horse-drawn cab, pushing the sleeping driver off the other side.
But, as the film historian Ian Christie pointed out, the irreverent and disrespectful treatment of the policeman would soon become impossible in British films, thanks to the notorious list of proscriptions laid down by the British Board of Film Censors shortly after its creation in 1912.”
Michael Brooke
BFI Screenonline

Daring Daylight Burglary
R: Frank S. Mottershaw. P: Sheffield Photographic Co. UK 1903

“(…) A Daring Daylight Burglary (d. Frank Mottershaw, 1903) looks like a conventional chase thriller, but it was one of the first films to trace the course of a single piece of action across multiple locations, and went on to influence The Great Train Robbery (US, d. Edwin S.Porter, 1903), the film credited with inventing the action movie (Porter’s earlier The Life of an American Fireman (1901) had been similarly inspired by James Williamson’s Hove-based Fire! from the same year).”
BFI Screenonline

A Desparate Poaching Affray
P and R: William Haggar. UK 1903

The beginnings of the British cinema:
“The real roots of the cinema that was to come lay not in the variety theatres but in fairgrounds. Fairground shows had always featured ghost shows, marionettes and ‘living pictures’ (tableaux) and from the late 1890s they naturally accommodated film shows. The elaborately-decorated booths some came to be known as bioscopes, and the largest could accommodate a thousand visitors (many standing) at a time. According to legend, the first fairground operator to host a film show was Randall Williams, and many of those who followed after him became significant film exhibitors – some, like the Welshman William Haggar, whose bioscope show is illustrated, moved into film production as well. The fairground bioscopes demonstrated the popularity of an auditorium that regularly and exclusively showed film. They were popular in Britain throughout the Edwardian period but gradually died out as permanent cinemas took away their audience.”
Luke McKernan
Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema

How to Ride a Bike

His First Ride
R: Gilbert M. ‘Broncho Billy’ Anderson. P: Selig Polyscope Company. USA 1907

“Although His First Ride supposedly depicts the efforts of an inexperienced cyclist to avert disaster, it’s very obvious that we’re watching a stunt performer who knows precisely what he’s doing. He expertly manipulates his velocipede along a wooden sidewalk, zipping within a hair’s breadth of outraged ladies in floor-length skirts. As the surviving footage ends — at a point which doesn’t seem to be the end of the movie — he seems to be on the brink of doing either a handstand or a handspring over his handlebars. (…)
His First Ride is clearly meant as a comedy, but the daredevil bicycle antics here are more thrilling than funny. A few years later, Al St John and Joe Jackson would (separately) perform their comedy bicycle routines in western vaudeville. St John was both a talented comedian AND a brilliant stunt cyclist who could manoeuvre his bicycle expertly while SEEMING to be incompetent.”
F Gwynplaine MacIntyre

Fat Man on a Bicycle
R: Fred Evans. D: Fred Evans. UK 1914
Print: BFI

“Pimple, a lovably childlike oaf in clownish make-up, was the creation of Fred Evans, who in the mid-1910s filmed some 200 skits, parodies and spoofs in an endearingly shambolic style. Evans wrote and directed as well as starred, mostly in partnership with his brother Joe. The two came from solid showbiz stock – their uncle Will Evans was an acrobatic music hall performer, while great-uncle Fred was a pantomime star.”
BFI Player

>>> Bicycle Stories on this website

>>> Pimple Parodies on this website

Brighton School: James Williamson

P and R: James Williamson. UK 1901

More about Brighton School:
Brighton & Hove

About James Williamson:
“His views on the proper use of the new medium were emphatic, personal and prophetic of the direction it would take. He was one of the chief pioneers of the film narrative, beginning with faked news items such as Attack on a China Mission (January 1901) in which he became the first filmmaker to cut from one shot to another for dramatic effect introducing a primitive form of the race against time. In Stop Thief  (October 1901) he introduced the movie chase of more than one shot (this one, a comic, had three); Fire! (October 1901), in which a family saved by an efficient crew of firemen, is the earliest film in which narrative action is moved along by a logical sequence of cutting from shot to shot. He recruited his actors from his family and friends, and acted in many of his own films.”
Martin Sopocy
Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema

375-James williamson


Dangerous Cars II

An Extraordinary Cab Incident
P and R: Robert W. Paul. UK 1903


Les débuts d’un chauffeur
R: Georges Hatot. B: André Heuzé. K: Segundo de Chomón. D: André Deed. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1906

Some years later:

The Speed Kings
R: Wilfred Lucas. D: Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle, Mabel Normand, Ford Sterling, Teddy Tetzlaff, Earl Cooper, Barney Oldfield. P: Keystone Film Company. USA 1913

Dangerous Cars I

Explosion of a Motor Car
P: Cecil Hepworth. Hepworth Manufacturing Co. UK 1900

How It Feels to Be Run Over
P: Cecil Hepworth. Hepworth Manufacturing Co. UK 1900

“It is also the first known film to feature intertitles, which would become a staple of silent film grammar. Here, they are used in a strikingly creative way, with individual words (spelling out the sarcastic ‘Oh! Mother will be pleased) intercut with exclamation marks so rapidly that they almost become animated.
Although it is unclear from the film how the titles were created, they may well have been scratched directly into the celluloid, which would account for their jittery nature. This might be irritating in a different context, but here it seems entirely appropriate – indeed, this may well be the very first film that attempts to capture a subjective mental state through techniques other than first-person point of view shots.”
Michael Brooke
BFI Screenonline

“Während Explosion of a Motor Car den Autounfall in Verbindung mit Zerstörungsphantasien zeigt, spielt der zweite Film mit der Illusion, dass Fahrzeuge durch bestimmte Kameraeinstellungen aus der Leinwand scheinbar heraustreten und damit implizit eine Bedrohungssituation des Publikums auslösen. Der Titel gibt zu verstehen, dass es um die filmische Inszenierung eines Auto-Unfalls geht, bei dem der Zuschauer die Situation des unsichtbaren Opfers visuell nachempfinden kann. Die Schwärze der Leinwand nach der Überrumplung des Beobachters ist zugleich Ausdruck der absoluten Dominanz des schwarzen Autos, eines Bewusstseinsverlustes des vermeintlichen Opfers und formaler Hintergrund für die ironische Bemerkung des unsichtbaren Passanten. Hier treffen sich schwarzer britischer Humor, Lust am filmischen Experimentieren und vielleicht auch eine Anspielung auf die ‘Panik-Legende’, die nicht nur in frühen Filmen reflektiert, sondern auch als Werbemittel eingesetzt wurde.”
Dorit Müller: Gefährliche Fahrten. Das Automobil in Literatur und Film um 1900. Würzburg 2004, S.226f.

How To Stop A Motor Car
R: Percy Stow. D: Cecil M. Hepworth, T.C. Hepworth, Claude Whitten. P: Hepworth. UK 1902

“Body parts scattered on the street and ‘magically’ put back together again in Cecil Hepwoth’s How To Stop A Motor Car (1902), or death by car accident followed by the resurrection of the victim in Willam Paul‘s Extraordinary cab accident (1903), are just a few more examples in a very long list of similar yet always inventive productions. Slapstick comedies of the 1910’s proposed variations on these physical transformations, sometimes in even more poetic ways (think of Max Linder varying his height and metamorphosing his body in the manner of Méliès in his 1912 Max veut grandir).”
Tom Paulus, Rob King: Slapstick Comedy. Routledge 2010, p. 232

351-Hepworth  Cecil Milton Hepworth


>>> Dangerous Cars II on this site


The First Sight

The Countryman’s First Sight of the Animated Pictures
P: Robert W. Paul. UK 1901

Uncle Josh At The Moving Picture Show
R: Edwin S. Porter. P: Edison Manufacturing Co. USA 1902

“(…) did early audiences actually confuse image and reality? This idea that the filmic image is so real that the naive audience cannot distinguish it from reality is pervasive in the early folklore of the cinema, perhaps too much so for it to be taken entirely at face value. Indeed, a number of films from this period dramatize this very confusion. Both the British The Countryman’s First Sight of the Animated Pictures (1901) and the American Uncle Josh At The Moving Picture Show (1902) centre on the response of a ‘naive’ spectator to film, with which the actual audience can contrast their own more knowing attitude.”
Nicholas Daly: Literature, Technology, and Modernity, 1860-2000. Cambridge University Press 2004, p. 67


1898: A Story to Continue

Come along, Do!
P and R: Robert W. Paul. UK 1898

Two sets, two shots, one story: How the narrative cinema was beginning

“Originally one of the first films to feature more than one shot, R.W.Paul‘s Come Along Do! sadly only survives as a fragment today. In the first shot, a couple sit outside an art gallery, idly eating their lunch. Noticing that others appear to be flocking to the exhibition advertised outside, they decide to follow suit. Apparently, the second shot featured the man showing a keen interest in a nude statue, until his reverie was interrupted by his wife pulling him away, presumably uttering the film’s title in the process. A still from this second sequence survives, and is reproduced above”.
Michael Brooke, British Film Institute
BFI Screenonline

About Robert W. Paul:
Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema


Another example, one shot:

Kiss me
P: American Mutoscope & Biograph Co. USA 1904

“A high board fence is shown covered with theatrical posters. The one in the center shows the head and shoulders of a pretty girl. An old farmer and his wife are strolling along, the old gentleman being a little ahead. He looks at the picture of the girl and fancies he sees the eyes winking at him. He puts on his glasses to make sure that he is not dreaming, when the girl leans forward with an expression as if inviting him to have a kiss. The old man is about to take advantage of his delusion when his wife appears on the scene, and taking him by the ears rushes him away.”
Biograph Catalog
American Memory