1911: Joris Ivens’ First Movie

De wigwam (aka De Brandende Straal, Flaming Arrow)
R: Joris Ivens. B: Joris Ivens. K: Kees Ivens. D: Dorothea Ivens, Hans Ivens, Jacoba Ivens, Joris Ivens, Peter Ivens, Theodora Ivens, Willem Ivens. P: Joris Ivens. NL 1911
Filming Locations: Nijmegen, Gelderland, Netherlands
Print: Film Institute Netherlands

“Ivens is thirteen years old when he shoots his first short film. Fascinated by Karl May‘s books, Ivens turns a story about good and bad Indians into a film. In revenge of the reprimand given to his daughter, the bad Indian, Black Eagle, kidnaps the youngest daughter of a farmer’s family. The good Indian, Blazing Beam, goes after the kidnapper, shoots him, takes his scalp en brings the child back to her family. Afterwards, the family offers gifts to Blazing Beam and together they smoke the peace pipe. Ivens made use of a professional wooden Pathé handcamera from his father’s shop. To Ivens, the availability of the camera was the reason to switch from ‘playing Indian’ to making a film about Indians.”

Joris Ivens in his book “The Camera and I” about what he found in his father’s photographic shop and what he did to use it consequently:

“There was a white elephant in my father’s shop – a professional Pathé cinema camera, wooden and hand-cranked, that my father despaired of selling to the citizens of Nymegen. It was not a difficult transition from playing our Indian games outside the town to thinking up an Indian film for our own fun. The old Pathé camera was the spur. I organized my two brothers, two sisters, parents and naturally myself, as a double cast of Indians and whites. When playing Indian roles our make-up was good Dutch chocolate powder. My headdress, as the Indian hero, Flaming Stream, was made of stolen turkey feathers. The landscape exteriors turned out splendidly with sand hills and heather fields doing duty as the Mojave Desert and the Rocky Montains. An old white horse played a romantic role in the sand hills. But we forgot to take his close-up. This we had to do weeks later in the garden to the rear of the house. I solved this, my first film production problem, by bringing the big white horse to the garden, leading him straight through the narrow marble-floored corridor of our good burgher home, his old flanks scraping the walls, the pictures and the gaslight fixtures – resulting in broken tubes and escaping gas with an imminent explosion barely voided. My mother had less pleasure than the rest of us at the screenings of our Flaming Arrow.”
Joris Ivens: The Camera and I. Berlin (GDR) 1969, p. 14