Century Film Project

Celebrating the movies our ancestors loved

Tag: Max Skladanowsky

Bauerntanz Zweier Kinder (1895)

Alternate Titles: Italienische Bauerntanz, Italian Folk Dance

Bauerntanz

I’ve given in to the idea that this week is all about short dance movies, so I thought I’d include another one from the Winterprogramm of Max Skladanowsky. This time, instead of a woman in flowing robes, we get two children in traditional “folk” dress. They move about quite a bit, somewhat alternating between dancing, hopping and running, and they go offscreen occasionally, the requirement of confining themselves to the stage probably being a bit difficult with all that energy. I might translate the title as “Peasant Dance of Two Children,” rather than “Folk Dance,” but the idea is that it hearkens to a more pastoral and innocent condition.

Director: Max Skladanowski

Run Time: 15 secs

You can watch it for free: here (first film in set).

 

Serpentinen Tanz (1895)

Serpentinen Tanz

This was another of the short films of the Wintergartenprogramm, along with the Boxing Kangaroo and Akrobatisches Potpourri, which represent some of the first projected films in German history. They were made by Max Skladanowski who has been somewhat forgotten as an innovator since his “magic lantern” failed to be as commercially viable as the Lumière projection system. This movie is a brief clip of a woman in flowing clothing doing a “serpentine dance.” Such dances were quite popular subjects in early motion picture film, as they demonstrated motion in an exotic and interesting fashion. To me, the movement on this clip seems a bit jerky – I tried a few different online options and all seemed to be the same – which could be due to bad preservation, bad streaming, or an inferior original, it’s hard to say.

Director: Max Skladanowski

Camera: Max Skaldanowski

Run Time: 10 secs

You can watch it for free: here.

Akrobatisches Potpourri (1895)

Akrobatisches Potpourri

This is another of the early films of Germany. Along with “The Boxing Kangaroo” it was shown as part of the “Wintergartenprogramm” by means of projection through a “magic lantern.” What we see is a group of acrobats creating a human pyramid and spinning on an axis. These are the “Grunato family,” who were famous circus performers in Europe at the time. The director was Max Skladonowski, who was attempting to get in ahead of the Lumière brothers as an innovator in projected film, but their camera-and-projector system was superior and he quickly faded into obscurity. Still, this is another interesting peek into 19th-century experimentation with film and nicely demonstrates the kind of “attractions” that were associated with early motion pictures.

Director: Max Skladonowski

Camera: Max Skladonowski

Run Time: 10 secs

You can watch it for free: here (advance to 2:21)

Boxing Kangaroo (1895)

Boxing Kangaroo

Alternate Title: Das Boxende Känguruh

Folks who only know me from this blog may be surprised to learn that I primarily studied German history in graduate school. It’s hardly obvious – I’ve only reviewed one other German movie since I started. In fact, although I’m interested in German history and film history, I consider most German cinema to be pretty mundane, with an unfortunate emphasis on “realism” over visual and dreamlike aspects. When we get up to the Expressionist period, that will change, but only for an all-too-fleeting moment, I’m afraid.

 

In the meantime, though, we might as well spend April Fools’ Day with one of the sillier German Century Films: “The Boxing Kangaroo.” I believe that “boxing” kangaroos had been a common feature of circuses prior to this time, but here is one captured in motion pictures. The kangaroo is dressed up and given boxing gloves, and has to defend himself against a mustachioed human boxer (who wears no gloves). The film seems to consist of three “takes,” either because the film strips were very short or because it was hard to keep the animal “fighting” for more than a few seconds at a time. The kangaroo clearly doesn’t understand (or care about) the rules of the sport, he just wants that silly little man to stop hitting. SPOILER ALERT: The kangaroo wins.

Director: Max Skladanowsky

Camera: Max Skladanowsky

Run Time: 17 secs

I have attempted embedding it above, if that doesn’t work, you can watch it for free: here.