Categories
This Film Is More Than 100 Years Old

Various short films of waves breaking by the shore (1895-1902)

These waves have been crashing
on indistinguishable shores
for a billion years
and will
for four billion more

__________

Notes

1. I love waves.

2. And watching waves.

3. These waves are all over a hundred years old.

4. Lovely waves.

5. Anyway, there’s shots from ten different films here, all of which I watched on the BFI Player.

6. The first film, and the earliest, is Rough Sea At Dover, from 1895.

7. Which apparently fueled a boom in scenes of the sea.

8. For which I am forever grateful.

9. The second one is Breakers, from 1896.

10. It’s only 20 seconds long but it’s lovely.

11. With a good selection of hats.

12. Ship At Sea, from 1898, and Four Warships In Rough Seas (thought to be from 1897, but tagged 1900 on the BFI site) are two nice early examples of the pleasures of mouting a camera on a ship and letting the rise and fall of the sea around them induce seasickness in you from afar.

13. Also for some reason Four Warships In Rough Seas Sea contains at least six warships.

14. Presumably due to some sort of military misinformation campaign.

15. Sea Breaking Against Some Rocks (1898) and Rough Seas Breaking On Rocks (1899) are astonishingly atmospheric depictions of the scenes described by their titles.

16. Which is nice.

17. I love them both quite a lot.

18. And could watch them for hours rather than these scant minutes.

19. There then follows two films called Rough Sea, both from 1900.

20. Rough Sea #1 has a brick harbour wall in it.

21. And Rough Sea #2 does not.

22. If you absolutely need to differentiate between the two.

23. Mostly I included these ones for completions sake.

24. (I don’t know where the comma in completions sake should go so I’m leaving it out entirely)

25. Rough Sea At Roker (1901) is two minutes of not particular rough seas at all.

26. I’ve seen bigger waves at Clacton.

27. I’ve eeen bigger waves at Southend.

28. But it’s still strangely comforting to watch.

29. And the seas do look slightly rougher in the second minuter than the first.

30. I’ll give them that.

31. The final film is Waves At Southport, from 1902.

32. The first minute or so of this contains possibly the most sedate waves ever captured on film.

33. But the second half cuts to a cacophony of seagulls.

34. Seagulls being rougher than all the seas combined.

35. They’ll eat the flesh from your bones

36. And then the bones from your flesh

37. Until there’s nothing left for you to give.

38. I’m too scared to look at any more seas now.

39. So let this be the end

40. Of this little adventure.

__________

Film Information

Title: Rough Sea At Dover
Year: 1895
Director: Birt Acres
Duration: 1 minute
Watch: BFI Player

Title: Breakers
Year: 1896
Director: Henry William Short
Duration: 1 minute
Watch: BFI Player

Title: Ship At Sea
Year: 1898
Duration: 1 minute
Watch: BFI Player

Title: Four Warships On Rough Seas
Year:1897, or maybe 1900
Duration: 1 minute
Watch: BFI Player

Title: Sea Breaking Against Some Rocks
Year: 1898
Director: Charles Goodwin Norton
Duration: 1 minute
Watch: BFI Player

Title: Rough Seas Breaking On Rocks
Year: 1899
Duration: 1 minute
Watch: BFI Player

Title: Rough Sea
Year: 1900
Duration: 1 minute
Watch: BFI Player

Title: Rough Sea
Year: 1900
Director: James Bamforth
Duration: 1 minute
Watch: BFI Player

Title: Rough Sea At Roker
Year: 1901
Director: Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon
Duration: 2 minutes
Watch: BFI Player

Title: Waves At Southport
Year: 1902
Duration: 3 minutes
Watch: BFI Player

Categories
This Film Is More Than 100 Years Old

Preston Egg Rolling (1901)

Preston Egg Rolling is a short snippet of documentary film by Mitchell and Kenyon, recording an Easter egg rolling fair, in Avenham Park in Preston, in 1901.

It doesn’t actually contain much egg rolling action (there’s a brief egg roll at about a minute in), everyone being much more interested in the film camera than the sheer mundanity of rolling an egg down the very slightest of hills.

It does contain some pretty brilliant children and babies, however, including the group photo below, and an excellently stubborn baby in a pram who resolutely refuses to hold up her egg for the camera. That child is my hero.

And that was Easter, in Preston, in 1901.

___________

Notes

1. I watched this on the BFI site again

2. Which is where all my information has been gleaned from too

3. I have very little else to add

___________

Film Information

Title: Preston Egg Rolling
Directors: Sagar Mitchell; James Kenyon
Year: 1901
Duration: 3 minutes
Watch: BFI Player; youtube

Categories
This Film Is More Than 100 Years Old

Le Voyage Dans La Lune (1902) / Mister Moon (1901)

Le Voyage Dans La Lune (or, A Trip To The Moon), directed by Georges Melies in 1902, is perhaps the most well-known of all early films, especially the image of the moon with a spaceship in its eye.

I’ve always quite liked the way that the conventions, limitations and constraints of early film-making led to a similarity in style and appearance to early computer games (especially adventure games), which were the result of a very different set of technical problems, but which utilised very similar solutions.

So here you get static single screen sets with lavishly painted backgrounds, through which the characters move one scene at a time (such as the two images immediately below).

Partly this would have been due to the limitations/difficulties of the filming process itself (movement juddering, smooth camera control, re-focusing, etc), partly for stylistic reasons (the recreation of a theatre-style viewpoint) and also because of the cost, size and other logistical problems in the making, building and staging of sets.

These are evoked, in a way, by the static pre-rendered screens of something like Dizzy or Monkey Island, which allowed for a much higher graphical detail at the expense of screen movement/scrolling, the number of moving characters/enemies, and so on.

The more obvious lineage, of course, is that of Le Voyage Dans La Lune’s imagery being referenced and replicated in the 120 years since in everything from subsequent HG Wells and Jules Verne adaptations, to Tintin and Flash Gordon (the crashed spaceship and the hopping Selenite are very similar to the initial landing scene and the strange green monster that gets incinerated a bit later in the 1980s version), right the way up to The Smashing Pumpkins (I’ve often wondered if that video was the creation-myth of steampunk).

When they return to Earth, the scene where they crash into the sea is very similar to the corresponding scene in The Automatic Motorist, even down to the newts swimming about.

(I’d noticed the more obvious homages to this in The “?” Motorist and The Automatic Motorist when I watched them, but had missed this one)

I also watched Mister Moon, a 1 minute promotional video for the musical hall star Percy Henri’s comedy act, filmed in 1901, and which also features a terrifying human-faced moon (and nothing else at all, in this case).

Unsurprisingly, I found this utterly terrifying.

__________

Notes

1. I watched both of these on the BFI player again – Le Voyage Dans La Lune; Mister Moon.

2. The crashed spaceship image from A Trip To The Moon is one I’ve, erm, well, stolen repeatedly over the years, although I’ve not yet resorted to moons with faces, thankfully.

3. I didn’t realise the BFI player was region locked to the UK, so I’ll try to add alternate links to things I’ve watched from now on

4. If I can

5. Although you might well have been glad of the chance to not see the full horror of Mister Moon, to be honest.

__________

Film Information

Title: Le Voyage Dans La Lune
Director: Georges Melies
Year: 1902
Duration: 12 minutes
Watch: BFI; youtube

Title: Mister Moon
Director: Percy Honri
Year: 1901
Duration: 1 minute
Watch: BFI; youtube