Serpentine Dances (colorized)
The Barber Shop
Feeding the Doves
R & K: W.K.L. Dickson / William Heise. P: Edison Manufacturing Co. USA 1894-1896
“The imminent completion of the kinetoscopes spurred the Edison group into serious film production. Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze (9th January 1894) was a short film made for publicity purposes during the first week of January 1894. By the beginning of March, Dickson and assistant William Heise had shot The Barbershop and Amateur Gymnast, both full-length subjects. As with most films made during the coming year, these were slightly less than fifty feet long, shot at approximately forty frames per second, and lasted less than twenty seconds. Like Blacksmith Scene, The Barbershop depicts a homosocial environment where easy comradery is routine. A customer receives a ‘lightning shave’ for five cents – the cost of seeing the film. Since the shave and the viewing of the film take the same amount of time, the subject would seem to gently rib the film spectator, who has been quickly separated from his money. Yet the depiction of a complete shaving cycle highlights the work process (the barber’s) and treats the barbershop as both a workplace and a place of leisure.
Amateur Gymnast shows a young man performing a somersault: it was probably one of several films taken of members of the Newark Turnverein, a nearby athletic club. Others show two men on parallel bars and a brief boxing match. These may have been rehearsals for the kinetograph’s first famous visitor, the strongman Eugene Sandow next hit. On March 6th Sandow came to the Edison laboratory accompanied by the management of Koster & Bial‘s, the music hall where he was then performing. For the kinetograph, Sandow stripped to a loincloth and assumed an array of positions that showed off his muscular physique. In cinematography as in photography, Dickson had a well-trained eye. His camera framed Sandow next just above the knees. Against the black background, the strongman’s physique captured the complete attention of his audience.”
Charles Musser: Before the Nickelodeon. Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company. Berkeley-Los Angeles-Oxford 1991, p. 40
TRAUM UND EXZESS, S. 131 ff., S. 165 f.