Early Advertising Films

De zieke gemeente-ambtenaar (Van Houten’s nieuwe chocoladeprikkel)
R: Emile Lauste. D: George Verenet. P: Nederlandsche Biograaf- en Mutoscope Maatschappij / Hollandsch Tooneelgezelschap Grand Théâtre. NL 1899
Print: EYE Collection, Amsterdam

“Despite resembling a stage play, this nineteenth-century Dutch film is essentially a proto-television commercial. A man tosses and turns in his bed, clearly in great physical distress, and pulls on a rope to summon a doctor. Following a quick examination, the doctor walks offscreen and returns with a dose of ‘Van Houtens Cacao,’ as the enormous cup and its equally large saucer helpfully proclaim in painted letters. The ill man gulps it down and immediately revives, much to his delight. While it’s not especially clever or amusing (…), it’s interesting to see how this new medium was being used for advertising even before the turn of the century.”
Cinematic Scribblings

Dewar’s It’s Scotch
P: International Film Mfg. Company. USA 1898


Alfred Machin-1

Le moulin maudit
R: Alfred Machin. D: Pitje Ambreville, Berryer, Mademoiselle Saunières. P: Pathé. Fr / Be 1909
Engl. titles

The 1993 restored version:

“Although it is no longer a popular symbol in the Netherlands, even in the tourist industry, the mill is still an emblematic and referential image. In the years when Alfred Machin was working in Holland andBelgium, he both used and abused this image. So much so, that I like to think of these films as forming a cycle of mill films. Admittedly, Machin films mills extraordinarily well. Often, it is only the base of the mill or the tiny staircase that is visible, together with the sinister shadow of the sails (as in Le moulin maudit). Sometimes he uses a double image: in De molens die juichen en weenen (The Mills in Joy and Sorrow), the little boy is seen playing with a miniature mill in the foreground, with the real mill looming in the background. In Le moulin maudit the image of the windmill is reflected in the waters of the river in which the hero drowns. Then, suddenly, we are shown a mill on fire: in Maudite soit la guerre and in De molens die juichen en weenen, where in a beautiful (and very long) final shot, the burning mill is reflected in the water. On yet another occasion (La fille de Delft, The Girl from Delft), a windmill is struck by lightning. A burning windmill is a fantastic sight, with the wind furiously whipping its flaming sails. There is something agonising and baleful about the turning sails of a windmill, even when they are not on soit fire. The blind fury of the wind is trapped in their teeth, and the air is lashed into a violent struggle between the machine and the forces of nature.”
Eric de Kuyper
Internationale Stummfilmtage Bonn 2020

Le diamant noir
R: Alfred Machin. K: Jacques Bizeuil. Ba: Raoul Morand. D: Albert Dieudonné, Blanche Derval, Fernand Crommelynck. P: Belge-Cinéma Film. Fr / Be 1913
Print: CINEMATEK – Het Koninklijk Belgisch Filmarchief

Alfred Machin (1877 – 1929) was a French director, cameraman, and producer. In 1907 he made his first films for Charles Pathé. A year later, he travelled to the Netherlands to shoot a number of short documentaries, including Comment se fait le fromage de Hollande and Coiffures et types de Hollande. These films were produced by Kinematograaf Pathé Frères, the Dutch subsidiary of Pathé Frères.
After having made a number of films in Africa, Machin returned to the Netherlands in the autumn of 1911. On a commission from the production company Hollandsche Film, he made a few short feature films for the foreign market. His films portrayed the clichéd image of the Netherlands, with traditional clothes, fishermen, windmills, and wooden shoes. In Volendam, he made films including Het vervloekte geld, a fishing drama starring Louis Bouwmeester. A year later, Hollandsche Film produced a second series of short feature films. It is unclear whether these were also directed by Machin (some sources mention Henri Adréani).
In 1913, Machin became the general manager of Belge Cinéma Film, the Belgian subsidiary of Pathé Frères. Before the First World War began, he made films including ‘Het meisje uit de bloemenvelden’ (La fille de Delft) and Maudite soit la guerre. When the war broke out, Machin returned to France, where he served in the Army and shot footage of the battle on the Western Front.
After the war, Machin started a film studio in Nice, as well as a private zoo with exotic animals. These animals appeared in his films. Machin was married to the actress Germaine Lécuyer, who acted in some of the films he made in the Netherlands.”

>>> Alfred Machin 2


Wilhelminischer Humor

Press at the picture to view this film on filmportal.de

Vor dem Damenbad
P: Duskes GmbH, Berlin. D 1912
Kopie: Deutsches Filminstitut – DFI

The German Early Cinema Database gibt 1907 als Produktionsjahr an und nennt einen gleichnamigen Film aus dem Jahre 1910.

Alfred Duskes war in den ersten beiden Jahrzehnten ein Konkurrent von Oskar Messter als Film- und Kinotechniker und als Produzent. Er erwarb zahlreiche filmtechnische Patente, vor allem für den damals beliebten Geschäftszweig der Tonbilder (z.B. die Synchroneinrichtung »Cinephon«, 1907). 1905 gründet er die Firma Alfred Duskes in Berlin, die als erste Filme auch leihweise abgibt. Sie produziert unter der technischen Leitung von Charles Paulus im Rex-Atelier im Wedding. Die Firma wird im Februar 1912 aufgelöst; Duskes gründet an ihrer Stelle im März 1912 die neue Firma Duskes GmbH, Atelier für künstlerische und wissenschaftliche Kinematographie.
Angaben nach:
CineGraph-Berliner Film-Ateliers. Ein kleines Lexikon

Habsburgische Ironie:

Aufregende Lektüre
R: Johann Schwarzer. P: Saturn-Film. Austria 1910

Johann Schwarzers ‘Herrenabend-Films‘ waren frecher und freizügiger als vergleichbare Produktionen und kreisten mit demonstrativer Nonchalance um eine offiziell verpönte Erotik, deren ironische, bisweilen offen gesellschaftskritische filmische Inzenierung beim bigotten Habsbürgertum für multiple Höhepunkte der Entrüstung sorgte. Das Filmarchiv Austria machte in Berlin und Prag mehr als die Hälfte der 54 nachweisbaren Saturn-Filme ausfindig, inzwischen sind sämtliche erhaltenen Nitroquellen repatriiert.”
Silvia Breuss
Filmarchiv Austria

Italienische Grandezza:

La signora dall’eterno sorriso
R und Darsteller unbekannt. P: Itala. It 1912

>>> Herrenabendfilme

>>> Tonbilder


Griffith, prehistoric

Man’s Genesis (Frgm.)
R: David W. Griffith. Kamera. G.W. Bitzer. D: W. Chrystie Miller, Robert Harron, Mae Marsh, Wilfred Lucas, Charles Hill Mailes, W.C. Robinson, Claire McDowell, Mack Sennett. P: American Biograph Co. USA 1912

“Although this little drama of primitive man was apparently intended as a serious work, it’s awfully difficult to watch it today without at least cracking a smile. Whatever the filmmakers’ intentions — – and they’re not entirely clear —- Man’s Genesis is undeniably funny. Perhaps director D.W. Griffith was concerned that audiences would find this material amusing no matter how he handled it, for he added a subtitle calling the film ‘A Psychological Comedy’ (whatever that is) Founded upon the Darwinian Theory of the Evolution of Man.’ Looks like he was hedging his bets: if they laugh, fine, it’s a comedy. Otherwise, the film seems intended as drama, taking the audience back to the discovery of creative intelligence; specifically, to the very moment a primitive man discovers his ability to craft a tool—specifically, a weapon—to achieve an important goal. This isn’t at all the `genesis` of humanity, but why quibble?
Despite having to wear grassy outfits that are sure to provoke mirth, the actors appear to take their roles seriously, especially the leading lady, solemn-faced Mae Marsh, and they emerge with dignity more or less intact. The structure of this film is problematic, however. The story is related as a tale-within-a-tale, told by an old man to a pair of siblings, a little boy and girl who are fighting. Apparently, the old man’s intention (and the director’s?) is to indicate that we should use our intelligence to solve conflicts, that Might does not make Right, but the protagonist of his story uses his intelligence to build a club, and pound his enemy to death. Hasn’t he proven that Might, backed by intelligence, is indeed Right? (…)
Man’s Genesis is not entirely ridiculous. It’s well worth seeing, either for campy laughs or to get some sense of what contemporary attitudes were about early civilization, but no one is going to mistake it for a serious work of speculative anthropology, either.”
Review in IMDb

>>> Griffith’s Brute Force

>>> Jurassic Park, anno 1915 on this site

The Mob Outside

The Mob outside the Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition
P: Thomas A. Edison, Inc. USA 1901

Filmed on the date and at the site of President McKinley‘s assassination, September 6, 1901. Location: Buffalo, New York.

From a contemporary Edison film company catalog:
“On Friday, September 6th, 1901, we had our cameras in position to photograph the President as he left the Temple of Music, but the deplorable assassination, of course, prevented our getting this picture. We did, however, secure an excellent panoramic view of the mob surging in front of the Temple of Music attempting to get at the assassin. These pictures have created intense excitement and interest. Our cameras were the only ones at work at the Pan-American Exposition on the day of President McKinley’s speech, Thursday, September 5th, and on Friday, September 6th, the day of the shooting. This picture was photographed immediately after the shooting, and shows the intense excitement of the people. The Pan-American Exposition guards are plainly seen in the background trying to check the frantic multitude as they sway backward and forward in their mad endeavor to reach the assassin.”
Library of Congress

>>> Pan-American Exposition by Night on this site: Electric Illumination

Mug Shot

Subject for the Rogue’s Gallery
K: A.E. Weed. P: American Mutoscope & Biograph Company. USA 1904
Print: Library of Congress

“This remarkable film shows a woman being subjected to a mug shot. The police brutally pin her in place. She attempts to resist the mug shot by making ridiculous faces. She begins to cry, and then the film ends. A few odd feet of footage, apparently taken after the actress’s scene was over, then follow. It’s not clear why–perhaps to reassure audiences that it was all a fake?
The film depicts the power of police authority in the 1900s. The woman is exposed, subject to a ruthless mechanical and human gaze. Her attempts to subvert it can only fail. The audience sympathizes with her desire to avoid being identified, but viewers also inevitably identify with authority–our point of view becomes nearly the same as that of the police camera, and the actress is made fascinating to the viewer by the long, slow zoom.
A. E. Weed operated the camera for the film. The slow zoom towards her face is very unusual for the time and adds a great deal to the film’s effect. We don’t know if this was the whole film, or only part, and if so we have no idea what part. Filmakers had to submit an example of their work to the Library of Congress to secure copyright. They often submitted fragments of longer films, smaller parts designed to represent the character, subject matter, and cast of the whole film. In other cases, the Library of Congress received the entire film.”
The Early Cinema

A.E. Weed‘s career as a Director of Photography for the American Mutoscope & Biograph Company did not last long, but he was solid and innovative, like his compeer, the better remembered Billy Bitzer. In this one, we have a tracking shot, starting from a long distance into a close up as policemen restrain a woman for her mug shot — and she does some mugging to enliven the piece.
Biograph’s cameramen were experimenting at this point in order to spice up their shows — Weed would spend most of the remainder of his career shooting short actualities of local interest, like schools in Missouri. His work here would evolve eventually into the grammar of cinema, but at this point, it was not the method, but the point of the piece.”
The Moving Camera, 3.11.2010

Time-lapse Camera

Star Theatre
K: Frederick S. Armitage. P: American Mutoscope and Biograph. USA 1902
Print: Library of Congress, Washington D.C.

“Using time-lapse photography, the film shows the demolition of the famous Star Theatre. Judging from the various exposures, the work must have gone on for a period of approximately thirty days. The theater opened in 1861 as “Wallack’s Theatre,” and was re-christened the “Star” in 1883. It was well known for it’s excellent productions, and a number of celebrated actors and actresses worked there, among them Ellen Terry. The celebrated English actor Henry Irving made his first stage appearance in America at the Star.”
Library of Congress

349-Star Theatre 1900

Star Theatre, ca. 1900

>>> Onésime Horloger on this site: Time-lapse: Paranoia under Control