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Summary: Fictional comic piece illustrating the stop-action techniques popular in the earliest French cinema.
Description: The stage-like set is the interior of an eighteenth century drawing room (note the placard "Lumière" on the right). A wizard mixes and pours powders into a bowl on a pedestal. This changes into a hunched old man whom the wizard ushers out. A lady of the court brings the old man back in, whereupon the wizard makes him vanish in a puff of smoke. He and the lady then retire offstage, mystically summoning the next character as they do so. The character who enters is a pantomime young man in a tricorn hat with a carpet bag and stick. He puts these on a table and goes to sit in the wizard's chair. This jumps sideways so that he falls over, and when he goes to sit in it again jumps back to its original place with the same result. On the third attempt he manages to sit. A solid but ghost-like figure completely draped in white approaches him. He takes up his sword and dagger to defend himself and these change into a broom and chamber-pot. He takes up his stick instead and strikes at the figure, which vanishes and reappears behind him. He goes to strike again and the figure changes into the lady, to whom he bows. She sits in the wizard's chair and at once changes into a skeleton, then as the young man recoils the skeleton changes into the wizard, who seizes the young man and causes him to vanish in a puff of smoke.
Production Details: Lumiere Brothers (Production company)
Lumiere, Louis (Production individual)
Lumiere, Auguste (Production individual)
Personalities, Units and Organisations:
Keywords: camera (concept)
Physical Characteristics: Colour format: B&W
Sound format: Silent
Soundtrack language: None
Title language: French
Subtitle language: French
Technical Details: Format: 35mm
Number of items/reels/tapes: 1
Footage: 131 ft; Running time: 2 mins
Notes: Production: according to the opening credits this is film catalogue number 2003 in the Musée du Cinéma de Lyon
Remarks: not exactly war-related, but amusing film on a good-quality print. The stop-action changes have been disguised by blurring, either in the camera or later, the two frames on either side of the change, making the whole effect surprisingly smooth