A satire on the way that audiences unaccustomed to the cinema didn't know how to react to the moving images on a screen - in this film, an unsophisticated (and stereotypical) country yokel ...
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A stationary camera looks on as two dapper gents play a game of chess. One drinks and smokes, and when he looks away, his opponent moves two pieces. A fight ensues, first with the squirting... See full summary »
Firefighters ring for help, and here comes the ladder cart; they hitch a horse to it. A second horse-drawn truck joins the first, and they head down the street to a house fire. Inside a man... See full summary »
A man and a woman talk beside a street near a corner where a cop stands. Just as a horse-drawn cart rounds the corner, the man backs off the sidewalk saying good-by to his companion. The ... See full summary »
Wintertime in Lyon. About a dozen people, men and women, are having a snowball fight in the middle of a tree-lined street. The cyclist coming along the road becomes the target of ... See full summary »
La cella di un condannato a morte. L'uomo sta dormendo e sogna il passato che lo ha portato in prigione : vita frenetica, cattive amicizie, alcolismo, l'assassinio di un cassiere di banca. ... See full summary »
A satire on the way that audiences unaccustomed to the cinema didn't know how to react to the moving images on a screen - in this film, an unsophisticated (and stereotypical) country yokel is alternately baffled and terrified, in the latter case by the apparent approach of a steam train Written by
Michael Brooke <email@example.com>
An Amusing & Even Thought-Provoking Little Feature
This early classic is done rather cleverly, is amusing, and is even a little thought-provoking. The rudimentary special camera effects really work just fine, and the scenario is so economical and straightforward that it belies the substance that underlies what you see. The story starts with an outgoing, but rather dull-witted, person watching movies and reacting to them in various ways. It's very simple, but done skillfully enough, and it's interesting in at least a couple of other ways.
The concept of using other films and film itself as points of reference has clearly been around almost as long as cinema itself. Some early films handled such material in a fashion that is both amusing and efficient. Unfortunately, film-makers of the present too often over-indulge in the use of self-referential devices, and in an overabundance of references to other films, popular songs, and the like, far beyond the point where any of this serves a constructive purpose.
Then too, since cinema began, the basic idea of confusing film with reality has changed only in terms of the specific applications. It's easy enough to laugh at the "Countryman", as we were meant to do in this feature, but viewers of movies and television in any era often find difficulty in separating film from reality: in forming opinions, in their priorities, and in their attitudes towards life. Just as the "Countryman" doesn't quite understand the nature of what he is seeing, so too, many films can dazzle the senses of today's audiences, and persuade uncritical viewers to think that the films have more substance than they really do. So there's more to this feature than merely a clever little film about the ways that early movies affected their viewers over a century ago.
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