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.
A 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
Run Time: 30 secs
You can watch it for free: here (no music).