Card Party (1896)
Alternate Titles: Une partie de cartes, Playing Cards
This early remake by Georges Méliès is interesting in both showing the degree to which early film makers were influenced by one another, but also how distinctive Méliès’s movies were even before he had developed his signature style. His vision is clear, even as he was uncertainly beginning to experiment with the camera.
In an intentional re-enactment of “Playing Cards” by the Lumière brothers, Méliès and two male companions sit at a table outdoors with playing cards and a woman serves them wine. The other two men seem to want to focus on their game, but Méliès is the center of attention, toasting the other men, gesturing with his newspaper and telling them something that makes everyone laugh. In an age well before the concept of the “movie star” had been born, Méliès shows a powerful presence in front of the camera. Whereas a person watching the original will simply remember that it was a clear image of people at play, the viewer here takes away the performance and persona of Méliès as a character.
As with Lumière, Méliès called in members of his family for this early film. The girl who runs out at the beginning is his daughter Georgette and one of the card players is his brother Gaston, who would later prove to be a terrible business manager, helping to end Georges’s career.
Director: Georges Méliès
Starring: Georges Méliès, Georgette Méliès, Gaston Méliès
Run Time: 1 Min, 7 secs
You can watch it for free: here.