Avenue de l’Opera (1900)

by popegrutch

When I first watched this one-minute film, I was inclined the think it was a mistake: someone had found a print that was reversed from the original and made the whole appear to run backward. Since my copy came without comment or explanatory note for this, it just reminded me that projectionists in the early years had to freedom to roll films forwards or backwards, fast or slow, at their own discretion.

What we see is a nicely framed image of a bustling Parisian street, which may well still be recognizable to the jet set as the Avenue de l’Opera, built in the 19th century to be a major thoroughfare and cultural center. The thing is, all the traffic and the people are going backwards. As if it weren’t obvious enough, the Gaumont release I watched plays the music backwards as well.

Avenue de lOperaWe’re so used to seeing movies shown in reverse now that it just seems weird to make a point out of it, but from what I’ve been able to find out about this movie, this is how it was intended to be released. Again, I find it hard to believe that audiences hadn’t already seen this, as a result of projectionists running films backward (when I was little and they showed us movies in 16mm at school, this was what we all clamored for), but it’s just possible that it was still rare enough to be a novelty in 1900.

Director: Alice Guy

Camera: Unknown (Possibly Alice Guy)

Starring: Unknown

Run Time: 57 secs

You can watch it for free: here.