Serpentine Dance with Mme. Bob Walter (1897)

by popegrutch

In the course of this project, I’ve reviewed a number of serpentine dances, from at least three countries. They were popular subjects with early filmmakers because they emphasized hypnotic movement, could be shown to almost any musical accompaniment, and could be “looped” to play for extended periods with no obvious beginning or ending.

Serpentine DanceThis Serpentine dance goes on longer than a minute (almost two) which is a pretty good run for the time. The dancer smiles and seems to enjoy herself, although one doesn’t get a strong sense of “professionalism” from her movements or her demeanor. At one point near the middle, a good portion of her leg is visible, which may have been an added attraction for male viewers.

Serpentine Dance1Watching this, the first thing I wondered is whether it was also released with hand-painted color. The version I have is in black and white, which is much less striking than the color serpentine dances I’ve seen. Still, for audiences of the day, seeking the thrill of moving pictures in and of itself, this would probably have been all that was needed. French Wikipedia seems to mention a dispute over the authorship, but since I can’t read French I cannot comment on it.

Director: Alice Guy (so far as I know)

Camera: Unknown, possibly Alice Guy

Starring: “Mme. Bob Walter”

Run Time: 1 Min, 45 secs

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