Categories
This Film Is 100 Years Old

Elsie And The Brown Bunny (1921)

Elsie And The Brown Bunny is an 8-minute advert for Cadbury from 1921, which slightly surprisingly combines two of my favourite things – Alice In Wonderland and documentary footage of industrial processes.

The first half of this is an Alice In Wonderland parody, with Elsie eating chocolates and daydreaming of bunny rabbits. She chases the slightly terrifying brown bunny down a hole. In thanks, he ferries her across the river to the industrial wonderland of a chocolate factory (which I like to think is perhaps an allusion to Orpheus’s descent into hell. Don’t look back, Elsie!).

Inside, Elsie gets a tour of the factory, looking at everything with the same baffling joy that presumably I exhibit while watching all this footage of conveyor belts and production lines and warehouses full of boxes neatly piled in endless rows.

At the end, things take a dystopian turn. The brown bunny shows Elsie the men’s and the women’s recreational areas. The men are all playing cricket and tennis in startling factory fresh whites, all smiles and laughter; the women are dressed in black, dancing and marching in unison in a tiny walled square, trapped in glorious worship to the great god of chocolate himself (a humanoid bunny rabbit).

Elsie, having looked back, wakes to a bunnyless world.

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Notes

1. I watched this over at the BFI site again.

2. It was only now, while watching this, that I realised Bournville was spelt Bournville and not Bourneville

3. Although as they probably haven’t included a Bournville chocolate in anything for 20 years now I can forgive myself this mistake.

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Film Information

Title: Elsie And The Brown Bunny
Year: 1921
Duration: 8 minutes
Watch: BFI Player; youtube

Categories
This Film Is 100 Years Old

Tai-ani: The West Gate (1921) / Foo-chow, China (1921) / River Scenery China (1921)

Tai-ani: The West Gate, Foo-chow, China, and River Scenery China are all hundred year old, one minute long, slices of real life from various places in China. Tai-ani: The West Gate and Foo-chow, China are both street scenes, while River Scenery China is footage from a busy river front somewhere. There’s not a lot of information to go with these, unfortunately, with the locations of the first and last one seemingly unknown, although the second one is, as the title suggest, from Fuzhou, but they’re still captivating (to my eye, at least).

It’s nice having the two different camera angles in the two street scenes, as each one provides a nicely different perspective on the events (or non-events) shown. The elevated perspective in the Foo-chow footage, especially, makes it feel like I’m idly watching this out my window while drinking tea/smoking/waiting for a delivery to arrive (delete as appropriate for current procrastination scenarios).

Both of those also feature the near universal constant in these sorts of films of various bystanders unapologetically and unselfconsciously watching the camera, which is another thing I always really like. (Nowadays all you get is studied indifference or reflexive performance).

This camera watching is mostly absent in the river scene, sadly, although there’s a bit of it halfway through. Maybe they’re too busy working to stare.

Or maybe they’re just watching the boats, because they’re beautiful.

I could look at them all day.

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Notes

1. I watched all these on the BFI Player, as usual: Tai-ani: The West Gate; Foo-chow, China; River Scenery China.

2. As I’ve said, I really like minute long shots of anything, pretty much.

3. Somehow, I doubt anyone will be watching any of mine a hundred years from now, though.

4. Unless for some reason my account on youtube is the only surviving artefact of our mysteriously lost civilisation.

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Film Information

Title: Tai-ani: The West Gate
Year: 1921
Duration: 1 minute
Watch: BFI Player

Title:
Year: 1921
Duration: 1
Watch: BFI Player

Title: River Scenery, China
Year: 1921
Duration: 1 minute
Watch: BFI Player

Categories
This Film Is 100 Years Old

Der Fliegende Koffer (1921)

Der Fliegende Koffer (The Flying Suitcase) is another lovely Lotte Reiniger papercut animation, telling the fairy tale story of a princess imprisoned by her father in a tower to prevent a prophesied curse, only for her imprisonment to be the cause of that curse (this is why time travel is bad).

Anyway, the moral of the story is never imprison your daughter in a tower.

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Notes

1. I watched this on Blu-ray (it’s an extra on the Adventures Of Prince Ahmed video).

2. But got the images from this version on youtube.

3. The disc version is music-less, if that makes any difference.

4. But I think I preferred it that way.

5. Another Lotte Reiniger film, Das Ornament des verliebten Herzens, was the very first thing I ever reviewed on here.

6. Which is nice.

7. I would have reviewed more if I could find any trace of the ones she’s supposed to have made in 1920

8. But I couldn’t, unfortunately.

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Film Information

Title: Der Fliegende Koffer/The Flying Coffer/The Flying Suitcase
Director: Lotte Reiniger
Year: 1921
Duration: 8 minutes
Watch: youtube