Century Film Project

Celebrating the movies our ancestors loved

Tag: Ferdinand Zecca

An Excursion to the Moon (1908)

This movie is an unabashed remake of Georges Méliès beloved classic “A Trip to the Moon,” although with a shorter run time and a smaller cast and (evidently) budget. It nonetheless does preserve bits of Segundo de Chomón’s signature wit and gentle charm.

The movie consists of a series of discrete shots, each set up as a tableau within a proscenium-style stage area. The first shot shows a group of “scientists” or explorers, is a garden at night, the moon hanging overhead. One, who is kitted out in a classic wizard’s robe and cap, lectures at them and gestures to the moon. The others appear skeptical at his message. However, they follow him off stage after a bit of pantomime. The next shot shows the wizard/scientist’s observatory, with a large telescope in the background. The wizard shows his fellows the elaborate equations he has worked out on the chalkboard, then turns the chalkboard over to reveal a screen on which an animated image of a capsule flying between Earth and Moon appears. The others appear to congratulate him, and then follow him off this stage to the next scene.

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How Monsieur Takes His Bath (1903)

Alternate Title: Comment Monsieur prend son ban

This is a short trick film from Alice Guy, using techniques pioneered by Georges Méliès to have some fun at the expense of its main character. We’ve seen its like before, but it is very well done.

How Monsieur Takes His BathA man is alone in a room, with a bathtub next to him. He begins to disrobe, but when he puts his pants down, suddenly a new suit appears on his body. He tries again, and the same thing happens. He tries to accelerate, momentarily getting far enough ahead that he can take off his pants and jacket, but soon he has dozens of layers on and the movie ends with him wearing more clothes than he had at the beginning.

How Monsieur Takes His Bath1Given that this sort of movie had been around for 6 years, one might think that audiences would expect something more, but I have to note that, compared to the earlier Méliès films, the edits on this are quite precise and the man doesn’t seem to hop around due to jump cuts. Guy has been in the business for just about as long now, and has obviously learned her craft. Even the clothes he takes off pile up realistically as he throws them aside, not moving around or randomly disappearing due to continuity errors. The movie may not be a breakthrough, but it is a reasonable success. Two observations about the language: First, Guy deliberately uses titillating language in the title, as in “How Bridget Served the Salad undressed.” Second, there really is no English equivalent to the French word “Monsieur” here (“How Sir Takes a Bath” doesn’t work t all!).

Director: Alice Guy

Camera: Unknown (possibly Alice Guy)

Starring: Ferdinand Zecca

Run Time: 1 Min

You can watch it for free: here.