Thursday, 14 August 2014

1895: L'Arroseur Arrosé

Director: Louis Lumiere
This is the earliest example of a fiction film I could find - possibly the first made, from the year of the invention of cinema.
As you'd expect, not a sophisticated story. A gardener is busy watering with a hose when some mischievous youngster sneaks up and stands on the hosepipe, blocking the flow. He removes his foot and the gardener ends up with a wet face.
It's actually rather well acted - the more so considering it's Lumiere's own gardener and not a professional actor - and that he must know full well he's going to get a blast of water in the face. He does a neat job of examining the nozzle and not flinching before getting soaked, and the young prankster plays along well when the gardener catchers him and administers a spanking, though he does glance at the camera on his way out.
It's a nice glimpse into a more no-nonsense age.  After getting soaked, the gardener chases the kid (though on closer examination he's probably about 30), tugs him along by the ear, gives him a good spanking then carries on with his work. Problem dealt with simply and efficiently. Today - well, what could you do? have a stiff word with his parents who would then restrict his X-Box privileges?  Just as well things weren't like that then or screen comedy would have got off to a weak start. Though perhaps it's not too late to arrest the gardener.      
Incidentally, while hunting for this on YouTube to provide a link, I found another film called "The Mechanical Butcher" - which is quite plausibly claimed to be the first science fiction film. It's hardly "Solaris" but check it out.