Chomón’s Box of Tricks

Le rêve des marmitons
R / K: Segundo de Chomón. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1908
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

„The director continued with his project of investigating the possibilities of cinematography, in particular by submitting his characters to all sorts of absurd situations. Of course, unusual situations are a staple of comedy, not least in the cinema, which can use technical trickery to multiply such situations. The same goes for fantasy, which, by its nature, is no slave to ‚the natural course of things‘ and which also benefitted enormously from that new trickery. Amongst the many devices in the Spaniard’s box of tricks, stop-motion proved the most fertile for materialising the mad dreams of fantasy worlds. In Le rêve des marmitons (1908) it is the device that is used for making people’s hands detach from their bodies and remain alive, in a sort of proto-surrealism that would have delighted Salvador Dalí. (…)
This is animation at the service of laziness, showing a dream of how, one day, all the most tedious domestic chores might by done automatically, as in this proto-surrealist fairy story. In Chomón‘s hands, this new toy — stop-motion — was capable of allowing even flies to have a lead role in a film. And it was, indeed, a little fly that the director gets to intervene in Le rêve des marmitons by drawing caricatures on the bald head of one of the cooks: while the man is asleep, the insect wets its legs in a bottle of Chinese ink and then runs amok, making a number of irreverent drawings on the shiny pate. And just as the Spanish director could feature a fly in a film by means of stop-motion, so he could include, among his celluloid extravaganzas, parasols processing through the streets and dancing to the sound of a circus band. This occurs in Symphonie bizarre, a film that, as in the case of Le rêve des marmitons, would have warranted the description ‚surrealist‘ if that word had been current in 1908.“
Paulo Roberto de Carvalho Barbosa: The Man of a Thousand Tricks: Chomón the animator. In: Art Research Journal / Revista de Pequisa em Arte, V. 2, n. 1, jan. 2015, p. 126-127

Symphonie Bizarre
R / K: Segundo de Chomón. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1909