Two men are playing a friendly game of cards, while a third man sits at the same table and watches them. As the game proceeds, a waiter brings a tray with a bottle and some glasses. The spectator pours the drinks, while the waiter turns his attention to the game, which he finds quite entertaining. Written by
this film is a close relation to 'Repas de Bebe', a static scene at a table, in contrast to the films of movement, such as 'Sortie d'Usine' or 'Arrivee d'un train', suggesting a schizophrenia in the Lumieres' aesthetic, between the settle domestic and the energy of motion.
Not that 'Partie d'ecarte' is a tableau vivante - there is plenty of movement here, as three cardsharks are served drinks by a hyperactive waiter, a waiter who disrupts all symmetry - the card game; the positioning of the players; the composition of the image, with his intrusive, gestural obsequiousness. In a way, though he IS linked to the game, a game based on chance; he too is a wild card unsettling all attempts at harmony, at minimising the risks of chance.
The film is wonderful for other things too - the precariousness of a social order; the image of the fat complacent bourgeois; the pleasant country inn; the pouring of drinks - another level of movement, or framing of movement, in this deceptive short.
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