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The Miller and Chimney Sweep (I) (1897)
"The Miller and the Sweep" (original title)

 -  Comedy | Short  -  January 1903 (USA)
5.9
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Ratings: 5.9/10 from 285 users  
Reviews: 9 user

In front of a flour mill, two men fight. One is the miller, and he's swinging a bag of flour in the scuffle. The other is a chimney sweep, and he's swinging what may be a bag of flour, but ... See full summary »

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Title: The Miller and Chimney Sweep (1897)

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In front of a flour mill, two men fight. One is the miller, and he's swinging a bag of flour in the scuffle. The other is a chimney sweep, and he's swinging what may be a bag of flour, but when it breaks open, it's clearly something else. Well into the havoc, spectators gather and give chase to the flour-covered sweep and the "well-sooted" miller. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Comedy | Short

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January 1903 (USA)  »

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The Miller and Chimney Sweep  »

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1.33 : 1
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Remade as Fight Between a Miller and a Sweep (1899) See more »

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Excellent precursor to Buster Keaton.
7 December 2000 | by (dublin, ireland) – See all my reviews

THis is a bewildering, Absurdist Short. A miller, dressed in white, makes his way towards us from a windmill in a desolate landscape. Although the image is pared down, there is an obvious logic here. However, he is stopped by the sweep, all in black because of his work. They start pummelling each other for no particular reason - did the snooty miller insult the sooty sweep? Is this class war?

Whatever, he pelts his adversary with bags of grain which fly all over the fight, making redundant everything he had done prior to the fight, making redundant the windmill, so that all becomes as pointless as the fight. The miller's grain whitens the sweep's blackness - later Westerns wouldn't be so subtle, heroes and villains being colour-coded. Is there a racial tint here?

If this wasn't marvellous enough, the fighters are chased off the screen by a crowd of people who came from nowhere, an appropriately Kafkaesque ending to an odd story (or are they just the social conscience rising up against a fight that negates order and purpose?), and very unusual in the days of early silent cinema. This mix of comedy, surrealism, and the Absurd is an obvious forerunner for BUster Keaton, while the windmill reminds us of one of the great thrillers, Hitchcock's 'Foreign Correspondant'.


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