1904: 3 movies

posted 2012 July 20

Le roi du maquillage
Directed by Georges Méliès;
Starring Georges Méliès

   Starting out innocently enough, Melies treats us to various characters first drawn by him on a chalkboard, and then played by him in full, expertly-applied makeup. The romantic backdrop and the dissolves between each character add an elegant flair to the precedings. When the final character shows up, however, the tone changes drastically, and it becomes clear that Melies can really throw himself into a character, especially the shady, nefarious ones. Thank goodness he got into movies!
   The title translates from French as "The king of make-up".

A Day in the Hayfields
Directed by Cecil M. Hepworth

   A beautiful collection of shots documenting the process of collecting hay. We see the various steps in the process, the technology of the times, the workers, the children playing in it, the horses, the dog, and the far-reaching pastoral vistas. Informative as well as photographically keen.

Japanese Acrobats
Directed by Edwin S. Porter,
For the Edison Manufacturing Company

   A handsome set and some staggering acrobatic tricks. There isn't much here to wow us cinematically, especially considering all the advancements that had been made up to this point, and so this piece harkens back to the Black Maria studio documentary movies that the Edison company had been making since 1894. And yet, the date is early enough, the stunts astonishing enough, and the set intriguingly odd enough in its juxtaposition for the movie to be included on this list.

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