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Baby's Dinner (1895)

Repas de bébé (original title)
As part of a maiden public film screening at the Salon Indien, on December 28, in Paris, Auguste Lumière pivots the centre of attention around his baby daughter, as he tries to feed her from a spoon.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Mrs. Auguste Lumiere ...
Herself (as Marguerite Lumière)
Andrée Lumière ...
Himself (as 'bebe')
...
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Storyline

A baby is seated at a table between its cheerful parents, Auguste and Marguerite Lumière. While the father is feeding the baby with a spoon, the mother is pouring coffee into her cup. The father gives the baby a biscuit, which the baby grabs, but doesn't eat, although both parents encourage it. The father resumes feeding the baby with the spoon. Written by Maths Jesperson {maths.jesperson1@comhem.se}

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Documentary | Short

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Release Date:

July 1896 (Uruguay)  »

Also Known As:

Baby's Dinner  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Contemporary audiences were as fascinated by the movement of the trees in the background as they were by the 'actor's' movements. See more »

Connections

Featured in Lumière et compagnie (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

 
collision between the tradition of family values, the modernity of the new medium, and the inscrutability of nature.
4 September 2000 | by (dublin, ireland) – See all my reviews

Two loving parents feed their happy baby on the perch of their country home. It is often said that these early Lumiere shorts are primitive because they have not yet mastered basic film grammar, such as camera movement, editing or the close-up, films like these being a simple, static set-u;, the camera pointing at the scene from a middle distance. But as filmmakers like Godard, Ozu and Kitano, for instance, realised, that very grammar can be a violation of the integrity of the image, forcing us to concentrate of the structure in which the image is only a unit, rather than the image itself.

There is nothing primitive or simple about this particular image; as critics have noted, this film offers two levels of movement, one human, recognisable, communal (the family); the other (the trees blowing) part of a different order altogether, of nature, cycles, immemoriality. So while the family represents a similar idea of continuity as the trees, of the species being reproduced, it sis also offered in stark contraast to them, as each member of the trio will eventually die, for all the nourishment and fertility, while nature lives on, indifferent.

This frisson of mortality undercuts the film's essential conservatism, and differentiates it from the sinister surveillance of the earlier 'Sortie d'Usine'. This recognition that the powers of the camera-wielding Lumieres are in fact limited, that they are not as omniscient as they once thought they were, is perhaps dramatised in the figure of the father, one of the brothers, one of the first great director-stars, paving the way for Chaplin, Keaton and Welles. His crossing the line from director to star, from passive to active, from subject to object, represents a breach between the observer and observed, a breaking of that invisible line, a destruction of that contract Hollywood will try so desperately to enforce, between reality and fiction. The watcher is now the watched, distinctions and hierarchies have been abolished.

Ironically, immortality has been conversely guarenteed - while the man behind the camera is lost, fading into a mere eye, a role taken over by every viewer, the actor brother is trapped forever in this rigid, simple domestic scenario, feeding the ever-hungry, unthinking baby, a harbinger of the medium he invented.


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