Century Film Project

Celebrating the movies our ancestors loved

The Fisherman at the Stream (1897)

To begin my project of reviewing the films of Alice Guy (I’m sticking to her maiden name because all the movies I plan to review predate her marriage to Herbert Blaché), I give you a very short movie of the nineteenth century. Coming one year after “The Cabbage Fairy,” this shows less fantasy and imagination, but no less whimsy.

Fisherman at the StreamA single frame shows us a man sitting on a rock with a fishing pole. Some nearly-naked young boys are climbing on rocks behind him, apparently with the intention of taking a refreshing swim. Suddenly, one of them gives the fisherman a shove off the rock. Soaking wet and fuming, the man chases the boy and gives him a short spanking, before his colleagues rescue him and dunk the poor fisherman once again.

This is far from an original film, being basically the same plot as Lumière’s “The Sprinkler Sprinkled” and even moreso “The Lone Fisherman” from Edison Studios. It’s basically the oldest gag in cinema – someone is minding their own business until a prankster dunks them or sprays them with water. In that sense, Guy is showing her business sense by giving audiences what they wanted with this movie, more than her creativity. This was probably easy and inexpensive to shoot and required little or no fore-planning. I recently learned from The Blonde at the Film that if someone is dunked, “you have to mention a cleansing Baptism – it’s a rule of subtextual analysis,” so, OK, I’m mentioning it, but frankly I think this is more about how inconvenient it is to get wet in your clothes.

Director: Alice Guy

Camera: Unknown, probably Alice Guy

Starring: Unknown

Run Time: 30 secs

You can watch it for free: here (no music).

Happy Birthday

Today is the second anniversary of the day I launched this blog, for what that is worth. It started out, really, as a place to record the movies I watched in a side-project of my daily movie viewing, and blossomed and sprang into something bigger and more serious. The point, always, in watching 100-year-old movies has been for me to learn more about early film history. In other words, I do this exactly because of what I don’t know, rather than to show off what I do know. I’ve learned a lot, but there’s still an awful lot more for me to learn. If you’ve come with me this far, I hope you’re enjoying the ride.

BirthdayCakeAnyway, this hobby has finally gotten serious enough that I’ve decided to professionalize it a little. I’ve now gone ahead and bought “centuryfilmproject.org” as a domain name, instead of taking the free hosting WordPress offers. Hopefully, the transition will be smooth and all the old links will work, but we’ll see. Speaking of link-rot, I’ve noticed lately that some of my early posts no longer connect to working videos. I’m not going to put a lot of time into fixing this – my advice is if you’re looking for one that you can’t get to, just put “title of film” “year of film” into Google and press the “video” option at the top of the result page. But, if you feel like letting me know about one you’ve found, comment and I’ll change the link as well.

For this year, in addition to looking at as many 1916 films as possible, I’m going to focus a lot on France. France was the first major film making nation, and I’ve only scratched the surface of French film so far. To kick this off, I’ll be looking at the short films of Alice Guy for the next month or more, but also anticipate more from Méliès, Feuillade, Lumière, and others. Before long, I hope my list of French movies starts to rival those I’ve reviewed from the US!