A simple vignette of a men’s society from the nineteenth century, this was another of the experiments with the early Kinetoscope. Four men, a chair and a sign stand in for a typical barber shop. One man sits and is shaved by another, while the other two wait, look at the paper of talk to one another. The whole thing was set up in Edison’s “Black Maria” studio (so called because it was said to resemble a police van, and “black maria” was the slang term for these before “paddy wagon” became popular), just as the Blacksmith Scene had been in the same year. Barber shops were familiar and comfortable locations, where men escaped from their workaday duties and also the scrutiny of their wives for short periods – sort of like bars or taverns, only less disreputable. In the all-male environment of the Edison Studio at this time, it no doubt seemed a natural subject for an experimental film. Today, the idea of being shaved by someone else is fairly alien, and sets the period apart as distant to us, something that would be reproduced on film to establish the past, although to the filmmakers on this project, it was as natural a part of life as ATMs or traffic lights are to us.
Run Time: 26 seconds.
You can watch it for free: here.