Dranem Performs “Five O’ Clock Tea” (1905)
Alternate Title: Dranem, Five OClock Tea
This short sound-on-disc movie from Alice Guy is very similar to the Dranem film I discussed yesterday, even the backdrop is the same. The slight changes, however, may tell us something about ourselves in the modern world, as well as offering insights into the past.
As with “The True Jiu Jitsu,” Dranem walks out onto the small stage and performs a song. He has changed wardrobe slightly: his ponytail is gone, his hat is in a British fashion and he carries a walking-stick. Given the title and the getup, I immediately knew that this song was about the British, and would be making fun of middle-class propriety and the persistence of Victorian values into the Twentieth Century. His body language and movements reflect the change in stereotype – where before his motions were jerky and short, often tending towards bowing or withdrawal, here there are haughty and broad, displaying the concept of British arrogance.
One wonders whether Dranem made his career on lampooning other nationalities, or is it just that these are the examples that happen to have survived. Anyway, my own feelings about a Frenchman mocking the British are rather different to when he mocked the Chinese. Partly, from my familiarity with the culture, I know that he’s making fun of a lot of the same things that British comics would in later years (think “Monty Python”). But, there’s always that question of power as well – while the French were a colonial power and the Chinese were at this time colonized, the British were if anything leaders in the colonial game. Still, it’s a reminder of the very human nature of making fun of what is unfamiliar to us, the question of what kinds of humor are or are not acceptable in different times and places, and the difficulty humans have in accepting one another without judging.
Director: Alice Guy
Camera: Unknown (possibly Alice Guy or Anatole Thiberville)
Starring: Armand Dranem
Run Time: 3 Min
You can watch it for free: here.